Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was terms.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as NDP MP for Regina—Qu'Appelle (Saskatchewan)

Lost his last election, in 2006, with 32% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Speech From The Throne October 2nd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the hon. member who has just finished speaking.

This afternoon, in this House, the Reform member for Calgary Southwest said that he believed millionaires in this country paid too much in taxes. Is the hon. member in agreement with this statement by the Reform member?

Mr. Speaker, as you know, this afternoon in the House the member for Calgary Southwest of the Reform Party expressed the point of view that millionaires were overtaxed in this country.

What I want to know is whether the Bloc Quebecois agrees with the Reform Party that millionaires are overtaxed, that Conrad Black pays too much in taxes. That is the position of the member for Calgary Southwest of the Reform Party. Is my friend from the Bloc in agreement with that?

Speech From The Throne October 2nd, 1997

Now they are saying they pay more than their fair share.

Does the hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill agree that the millionaires pay more than their fair share in taxes? Does she agree with that position? Is that the official position of the Reform Party, that the millionaires in Canada pay more than they should be paying? Is that the kind of party that is representing people in this House? How can that relate to the ordinary people in my riding that live in the inner core of the city, that are suffering from day to day to put milk and food on the table?

Yet here is the Reform Party saying that millionaires pay too much in taxes. Millionaires pay too much in taxes is what they are saying. Does she agree with her fellow member that millionaires pay too much in taxes, those poor Conrad Blacks, those poor Frank Stronachs? Does she agree with that?

Speech From The Throne October 2nd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, does the hon. member really believe that we have tax fairness in this country, that the Conrad Blacks and other wealthy people pay their fair share of taxes?

Speech From The Throne October 2nd, 1997

Madam Speaker, first of all, I would like to congratulate the new member for Louis-Hébert on her speech.

I have a question for her. I have often visited the great city of Montreal, and I remember Montreal used to be the most important city in Canada, and it was booming. In the last 20 years, Montreal has experienced high unemployment and a great deal of poverty. Over that period a Parti Quebecois government has been in office in Quebec City for a long time.

How is it that, with a Parti Quebecois government, in Montreal there is high unemployment, poverty is on the rise and prosperity is a thing of the past? Does the hon. member have an explanation for this? This is really sad, because Montreal used to be the most important city in Canada.

Supply September 30th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I believe there should be a division between new programs, enhancing existing programs and tax cuts and paying down the national debt. The debate will be what new programs we will look at and what enhanced spending there should be. I believe it should be in the fields of health and education. When we get the tax cuts the debate will be over where they should take place. I believe we should start with the GST, reduce it. That is the fairest way to go about doing it. It is also the way to create jobs in this country. That is the real debate: what kinds of tax cuts, what kinds of expenditures and what kinds of enhancement to existing programs.

Supply September 30th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to say that I appreciate the frankness of the member of the Reform Party in advocating two tier medical care in the country. I certainly do not support what he is saying. He is advocating one system of medical care for the rich and one for the rest of us.

Maybe he does not know what ordinary people are like. Come to my riding in the inner city of Regina. How many of those people can afford a medical care system when they have to pay extra for it? They are very poor people and are living hand to mouth. The Reform Party is advocating two tier medicare which we have fought against in this country for many, many years and which the NDP will continue to fight against.

In terms of jobs, if the member of the Reform Party would unplug his ears and listen, he would find out that the greatest expenditure in the country has been on the interest on the national debt, approximately 35 cents out of every dollar. Another great expenditure in the country are the tax giveaways to multinational corporations, to the wealthy in Canada. If the member wants to look at an example of fiscal responsibility, look at the Government of Saskatchewan with a balanced budget and the lowest unemployment anywhere in the country at 5.6 percent.

Supply September 30th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to once again rise in this House and say a few words. I was not here for the last four years.

I want to first thank the voters of Qu'Appelle for electing me as their member of Parliament. Despite the fact that I was an MP for 25 years for Yorkton—Melville, this is the first chance I have had to represent my hometown of Wynyard in the House of Commons. I am really pleased to do that.

I also want to take a half a moment to pay tribute to my two predecessors in what is now the Qu'Appelle riding. Simon de Jong was a member of Parliament from 1979 to 1997 in the old riding of Regina—Qu'Appelle, and Vic Althouse was the member of Parliament from 1980 to 1997 in the old riding of Mackenzie. They both served their constituents and their country well and I think deserve the applause and the commendation of all members of Parliament.

In rising to say a few words in this debate today, I would first like to agree with the Reform Party that we obviously do need a public debate on the direction this country should go in terms of its public finances and spending. However, I disagree profoundly with the emphasis it places on where we should go. It condemns the 27 years of spending by the federal government in the past. It condemns the size of government.

The Reform Party, and this is why I will not support the motion, is really a throwback to the past. Its members are the Fred Flintstones of Canadian politics. It is a party that is basically anti-government. It is a party that does not really believe that the government's role in this country is to help create the equality of conditions for our citizens. It wants to go back to the past. It is a very right wing conservative party. For that reason we cannot support this motion before us today.

The Reform Party is spreading all kinds of myths, for example that government programs are the cause of large deficits in this country. It is spreading some mistruths in this country, that social programs are a big problem in terms of deficit and debt and unemployment. These things just are not true. It is about time the Reform Party was taken on.

Back in 1992 Statistics Canada issued a report which stated that the debt in this country, some 50 percent, was created by high interest rates; 44 percent of the debt from tax breaks and only 6 percent by government programs. Of that 6 percent only half of that is from social programs.

Yet we have the Reform Party saying that the government has spent too much, there are too many social programs, we need to be cut back and that is the cause of high taxes and high unemployment. That is not true. Statistics Canada said that the biggest cause of debt in this country was high interest rates. Who brought in high interest rates? Right wing conservatives like the Reform Party. Its friends like Brian Mulroney brought in high interest rates in Canada.

We saw the exact same thing in Saskatchewan with Grant Devine and the Conservatives there. Again, this is the right wing politics of the Reform Party. That is the biggest cause in this country of the debt and deficit.

The other cause is tax breaks primarily to wealthy people and large corporations. Again, those are the kinds of breaks that are defended by the Reform Party in Canada. For those reasons we cannot support today's motion of non-confidence in the government.

What we need in this country are decent social programs and a tax system that is fair for each and every ordinary Canadian. We do not need to go back to the past like the Reform Party that would have us privatize a lot of our social programs, have us set up two tier medical care in this country where we would have one system for the rich and one for the poor, where we only have tax breaks for the wealthy, where we get rid of the public pension plans like the Canada pension plan and turn everything into private pensions or RRSPs that favour wealthy people because they believe they can look after their own future better than anybody else. That is back to the past, the Archie Bunkers of Canada. That is the direction we should not be going in.

That being said, let us take a look once again at the Reform Party. Where does it want to do some cutbacks? It wants to cut back, for example, corporate income tax. It wants cutbacks in payroll taxes. When we look at the different options we have, one thing we have to weigh when we do have government expenditure is how many jobs are created because we have a major unemployment problem all across Canada.

I have here some figures about the different options if we had a government expenditure of $1 billion. First of all, the multiplier the formula applied here affects the expenditures in a different way.

If we spend $1 billion in direct hiring, it creates 56,000 jobs. Spending $1 billion on goods and services creates about 28,000 jobs. Spending $1 billion on infrastructure creates some 26,000 jobs. That is one factor taken into consideration when we talk about how we spend government money in Canada.

The most effective way to create jobs, if we want to cut taxes, is to start cutting back on the GST. In the campaign of the New Democratic Party we advocated the elimination of the GST on books and magazines. We advocated the elimination of the GST on children's clothing, which is exempt in most of the provinces now from provincial sales tax, certainly in my province of Saskatchewan.

We also advocated the increase in the GST tax credit for adults and children by 30 percent. It would cost $1.2 billion for those three items and create 20,400 jobs in this country.

On the other hand, if we were to have a $1 billion cutback in the GST, we would create some 17,000 jobs. But if there were a $1 billion cutback in corporate taxes, there would only be 14,000 jobs created. If there were a $1 billion cutback on personal income tax across the board, there would be 12,000 jobs created. If there was a $1 billion cutback in the payroll tax, there would be about 9,000 jobs created.

We have choices. The question is where do we spend taxpayer money. What are the programs that have the most impact and the most effect in terms of job creation in this country?

I think what we have to do in terms of expending money on behalf of the Canadian taxpayers is to invest more in health and in education, those areas that need more spending, bringing people up to a greater standard of equality of condition. Those are also areas that would create jobs at the same time as investing money in education and health.

If we are going to cut taxes, the place to start is with the GST. I think that would help stimulate the economy more than cutting taxes in other areas, and the statistics tend to bear that out.

We have a debate in this country over where we are going to go in terms of the direction of Canada. On one hand there is the Reform Party, basically anti-government and anti-public institution, a party that wants to privatize and deregulate and scale back and get rid of government in almost every respect and aspect.

That is what it stands for. It is a stroll back to the past. It misleads the people of this country. It propagates myths around Canada. A big problem we have is government spending. Another problem we have is spending on social programs.

Statistics Canada showed us in 1992 that 6 percent of the debt is caused by government spending in Canada and only half of that is spending on social programs. Fifty per cent of the debt is caused by the high interest rates that we saw during the Brian Mulroney years, another version of a very conservative party in Canada. Another 44 percent of the debt is caused by tax expenditures, tax loopholes and tax giveaways to the large corporations that are the friends of the Reform Party.

For those reasons we cannot support this motion before the House today.

The Late Alistair Fraser September 26th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I too wish to join on behalf of our party in expressing our condolences to Mr. Fraser's family.

I felt particularly moved when I heard about his passing. Mr. Fraser swore me in as a member of Parliament on four separate occasions: in 1968, 1972, 1974 and 1979.

He was extremely well liked and highly respected by all members of the House, on all sides of the House, during the time he was clerk of this Chamber.

He was also known as the Mr. Rules of this place, along with the former member for Winnipeg North Centre, Stanley Knowles. It is rather ironic that the last time my colleague from Winnipeg—Transcona encountered Mr. Fraser was at Mr. Knowles' funeral back in June. The two of them were friends and colleagues. The two of them were experts in the rules. They made an immense contribution toward the evolution of this place through a fairly revolutionary time. The rules were changed, which radically changed the operation of the institution. There was the introduction of television, which again changed the way this place operates.

He was also a great parliamentarian in terms of the real love of this place. He was a great advisor to those of us who were members in those days, particularly when we were new members of Parliament. He was always available to give friendly advice as to how we should conduct ourselves as members. He was fair. He was above the partisan battle of the House of Commons.

Best of all, he was a friend. Because of that, on behalf of my party, I want to extend to his family and to his friends our very sincere condolences on his passing.

Canadian Pension Plan September 26th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, what the member is for is for the minister to answer a question for once in the House.

In light of the decision reached yesterday with respect to the bill to freeze the annual CPP exemption at $3,500 a year, and the fact that it will hit low income earners, women and the disabled of this country very hard, can he explain why he wants to shift the burden onto low income people? Why is he playing Robin Hood in reverse in this country?

Canadian Pension Plan September 26th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is also to the Minister of Finance.

Yesterday the minister moved in the direction of privatizing the administration of the Canada pension plan through the creation of a fund of $100 billion to be managed by his friends on Bay Street, those boys in red suspenders.

In light of that, I want to ask the minister today whether he can at least ensure us that he will not change the rules where at least 80 percent of the pension money must be invested here in Canada.