House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was industry.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Conservative MP for Peace River (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 65% of the vote.

Statements in the House

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to make Certain Payments June 16th, 2005

Madam Speaker, the government is really shrugging off its responsibility to Canadians. The member talks about our aging society and the change in the demographics. This type of irresponsible spending with no planning does not do the kind of service that we need to do for Canadians for planning into the future.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to make Certain Payments June 16th, 2005

Madam Speaker, this is ironic. The arrangement with the NDP-Liberal coalition today is the exact same thing that put this country on the road to ruin and caused the massive start of the deficit financing back in the 1960s under the last NDP-Liberal coalition. This is the same kind of coalition that grew the size of government.

In 1965 we had about the same level of government in Canada as in the United States. About 30% of our GDP was taken up by government. Then we had the Liberal-NDP coalition. What happened? The size of the United States government was 29%. The size of our government grew to 42%.

That is what happened. The government grew the size of useless government. The Liberals deficit financed under Pierre Trudeau and the Liberal coalition with David Lewis. That socialism was a runaway disaster and the Conservative government of the day was left to pay a massive amount of interest payments of over $40 billion a year. No wonder the debt grew during the time to which the member is referring.

Then I recall coming here in 1993 when the Prime Minister, the then finance minister, continued to run up that debt. He did not stop it. He ran it up another $85 billion. In fact, our current debt today is still not down to the level when he took power in 1993.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to make Certain Payments June 16th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I am sorry to disappoint the members on the other side. They are not going to hear a speech that they have heard before, but it is going to be one that reminds them that there have been some strange twists and turns from the Prime Minister who has completed the cycle with Bill C-48. He has absolutely completed the cycle. His reputation is now in tatters.

He is the man who was the white knight as the finance minister who had this big reputation for balancing the books, although when we look at it closely we know what it was. It was balancing the books on the backs of the provinces and the municipalities, cutbacks in health care funding, cutbacks to the municipalities. That is how he balanced the books. Nonetheless he had this reputation as the big white knight. Where is his reputation these days? It is in tatters. In fact his reputation and his character are being called into question.

I brought over some reading material for this evening and I happened to look at Paul Wells' page.

I want to note, Madam Speaker, that we are hearing a lot of heckling from the other side but those members do not have the courage to get up. They are to embarrassed to get up and debate the bill. They can only resort to is heckling. I do not blame them for being embarrassed about this bill.

This shady deal with the NDP was done in a no-tell motel, and I am not sure who actually rented the room. Did Paul stay in the car and Jack rent the room, or was it the other way around? Basil Hargrove was in an adjoining room hollering through the door once in a while, giving advice, and Ralph was on a 1-900 tie-in from Regina. If I were the finance minister I would resign. I would be too embarrassed to continue on after that.

What did Paul Wells have to say about the Prime Minister? In Macleans the headline reads, “Behold the irrelevant Prime Minister”. He stated:

And while the Prime Minister's expressive eyes sometimes betray exasperation at the failure of the world to see things the way he sees them, they show no hint of self-doubt as he strolls into each new minefield armed with the tool kit of a demagogue.

That is what it is. We saw it in the election campaign, demonizing, misrepresenting, and now the Prime Minister's reputation is completely in tatters.

Canadians are disappointed. I remind the House that only 18 months ago he was the finance minister, the man who had completed a successful campaign to push out a sitting prime minister. After 12 years he pushed out Mr. Chrétien and the big story was he was going to sweep the country with 250 seats. He was going to take seats in Alberta, including my riding, and seats all over the country. Fast forward to the election on June 28, and it was a minority government. He blew it. In his efforts to unseat Mr. Chrétien and in the election campaign, he exposed himself as a weak Prime Minister, a man who will do any deal to survive. That is not what Canadians expect. They want leadership.

With a minority government after a nasty campaign, what did he do? The first deal he did was in the throne speech. He had to do a deal with the opposition parties to have lower taxes for Canadians. It did not take long to get rid of that promise however, once he got through that crisis.

Then the budget was delivered on February 23. The finance minister stood in the House and said that it could not be tinkered with and could not be cherry-picked. All of a sudden, a month and a half later, look what happened. The finance minister really should resign because he has been put out to pasture. The Prime Minister has undermined his own finance minister. He basically did not even include him in the discussions that were going on, except for that 1-900 tie-in. The Prime Minister has undercut his own finance minister. When things really got tough, he did the deal with the NDP.

It is absolutely shameful. It is the kind of deal we saw in the sixties and it is even worse. The deal in the 1960s put us in massive debt. We are still paying $35 billion a year interest charges as a result of that.

The deal with the NDP was not the end of it. Then the Prime Minister had to do the Kyoto amendment. Therefore, the budget implementation bill was a different bill than the budget itself. Then all of a sudden there was the NDP deal, where he had to line up 19 members at $240 million a member. That was the cost of that deal.

That was not enough. Then the Prime Minister had to do a deal with the member for Newmarket—Aurora, who was fast-tracked to the front of the line. I wonder about the backbenchers over there. Some people have waited a lot of years to be in cabinet. He has shown he will do any deal.

Contact was made with the member for Newton—North Delta. We have the tapes. We know exactly what was going on there. He was trying to purchase another member.

Fiscal responsibility? I do not think so. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Chief Executives, Don Drummond, the CFIB, the IMF and the OECD have all condemned the way the Prime Minister has operated. What did the Economist call him? It is disgraceful. Our international reputation is being besmirched because the Prime Minister will do anything to hang on to power.

This has shown me that we have a Prime Minister who is weak. He will do any deal to stay in power. He is desperate. He is clinging to power by his fingernails.

We have a $4.6 billion deal with the NDP and what is next when the budget is over, when the Liberals finally get this passed? Will the NDP raise the price again? Another $6 billion for the NDP? He is a weak Prime Minister. His character is being greatly destroyed in this whole process.

History will not judge the Prime Minister well. He has ruined his reputation in his desperation to hang on to power. It is shameful. Canadians are disappointed.

I was on the prebudget consultations across the country. My colleague from Portage was on that committee as well. We heard from hundreds of Canadians and organizations about what they wanted. Then we had the budget. The finance minister said nothing could be changed. Some of those priorities were in there. What happened? The Liberals did the deal with the NDP. What does that say to the people in those prebudget hearings? Should we even have them next year if this government is in power? It was a slap in the face to all those people who came to make representations in prebudget consultations. The Liberals are willing to do a deal with the NDP in a back room in a cheap motel. It is shameful.

I wonder how many people will come to the prebudget hearings next year when they know the government, because of its desperate needs, will do anything to hang on to power? What use is it to make a representation to the finance committee when the Liberals undercut it, the way they did with the NDP?

I do not think the NDP members deserve much better than what I am saying about the Prime Minister. This is shameful. That is not what Canadians elected them to do, to use blackmail, do this deal and keep the government in power. It cost $240 million per NDP vote. That is what the cost has been.

I heard the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance say earlier that Liberals members did not like what happened, but this was the cost of staying in power. If that is the cost of staying in power, surely they should have a bit of pride and say they are not willing to do any deal to hang on to power.

I would like the finance minister to explain why he is still finance minister, quite frankly. He should resign because he has been embarrassed by his own Prime Minister.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to make Certain Payments June 16th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, you will notice that the government members have not participated in the debate. The President of the Treasury Board has come in now and is heckling instead of participating in this very important debate on Bill C-48. If he wants to be involved, I suggest that he get involved in the debate rather than heckle the member--

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to make Certain Payments June 16th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I thought the member for Edmonton—Leduc really hit the nail on the head when he talked about the irresponsibility of this Liberal-NDP coalition budget. It is really illegitimate.

I was on the finance committee during the prebudget hearings. We heard from a lot of Canadians about what they wanted. We thought the budget in Bill C-43 set out the priorities that government thought important. We thought that was its agenda for the year. Then we found out that they had an illegitimate meeting in that no-tell motel room in Toronto and produced an illegitimate budget as a result.

The member for Edmonton--Leduc was talking about the debt. I would like to ask him a question. Was it not the irresponsible spending during the last coalition of these two parties, the NDP and the Liberals, that ran up this massive debt and cost interest charges of $35 billion to $40 billion per year, which Canadians are having to pay?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005 June 15th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Skeena--Bulkley Valley for the opportunity to deal with the myth that the NDP and some of the Liberals keep perpetuating about the corporate tax advantage we have over the United States.

If that were the case, why would Canadians increasingly look to invest outside our country? They would naturally want to invest here, but the government has not allowed the kind of tax rates that are required in order for Canadians to do that.

Quite frankly, the member is confusing the fact that we might have equal corporate tax rates, but the effective or the real corporate tax rate is something like one-third more than that of the United States. We have not even caught up and the United States is going to move again. We heard throughout the pre-budget hearings widespread concern that Canada is not on an equal footing with the United States. We heard it over and over again. I think that is a well documented fact.

In terms of the issue of why we should have parliamentary oversight and why we are putting the government through all this tough scrutiny, I think that is what Canadians deserve. That is why they sent me here.

The argument by the member for Skeena--Bulkley Valley that we should not be doing this because it costs money is similar to me suggesting that he should not get up and speak because the carbon dioxide that he gives off is contributing to global warming.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005 June 15th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Okanagan—Coquihalla.

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on the budget bill today. I have been here since 1993, Mr. Speaker, and maybe you have been here longer. I know that there are certainly a few members who have. This is a very strange twist and turn story for the federal budget of Canada. It is the strangest story that I have seen since I have been here.

In fact, it is hard to tell exactly where the government is coming from. It seems to have two budgets now. The budget that could not be touched on February 23, according to the Minister of Finance, suddenly is open game, depending on what the government needs to stay in power. It is a desperation move that is costing Canadians now and will continue to cost them into the future.

I heard the other day that the Minister of Finance is suddenly talking about productivity, about the lack of Canadian productivity and how far we have slipped. He is a recent convert, I should say, but I welcome him aboard.

This is a subject that we need to deal with. When I was on the finance committee, as well as when I was on the industry committee, we heard many times from a lot of Canadians that this is an area we should be concerned about.

The reason we should be concerned is that it affects our Canadian standard of living. I will outline that a little further as I go through this, but what it means is that real Canadians are hurting every day because the government is not allowing the creative forces, the competition and the natural abilities Canadians have to compete, because of too much taxation and too much regulation.

On June 9 Statistics Canada released a report that says labour productivity in the Canadian business sector edged up by 0.2% during the first three months of 2005 compared with the previous quarter, continuing its anemic performance of the past two years. In the United States, productivity has increased by 0.6%, three times the rate of growth in Canada. That is a consistent story. If we look at 2000-04, we see that Canadian productivity growth came in at 0.9% over those four years. In the United States, it was 3.8%.

What does this mean? For the average family it means that we are enjoying a standard of living that is something like 30% lower than that of our major trading partner and competitor, the United States. That is not good enough.

Per person, that translates into roughly $6,000 Canadian. For an average family of four, that is $24,000 a year. One might ask what that $24,000 per family means if we compare it to a family in the United States. It would mean that the average Canadian family could put a payment of $2,000 a month more on their mortgage. What I am saying is that this simply is not good enough, because the average family of four is lagging behind the United States by $24,000 a year.

This is important because it is costing real people in terms of the standard of living. An article from the National Post of March 30, 2005 states:

Canada should put a premium on policies to improve its fiscal prudence and economic productivity, given the uncertainties surrounding exchange rates, global commodity prices and the continuing process of trade liberalization, the IMF said.

The story goes on. I have an article from the Financial Post of April 11, 2005. A respected University of Ottawa professor, Gilles Paquet, portrays Canada, and in unflattering terms, I might add, depicting it as “a risk-averse nation on the brink of becoming an ageing society”.

What does that mean? We know that our demographics are working against us. There are going to be fewer people working in the future, supporting a greater number of people who are going to be collecting pensions. Therefore, we have to get our standard of living up.

Business groups, chief executives, economists and, more important, David Dodge, the Bank of Canada governor, have sounded warnings regarding Canada's lagging productivity growth. Statistics Canada reported that last year in terms of productivity growth the country posted its worst performance in almost a decade.

I have to say it is not that the government has not had warning. A number of people have been warning the government for years that this is going to cost Canada.

The National Post article goes on to state, quoting Gilles Paquet:

--a failure on the part of the elected officials to underline the importance to Canadians of productivity growth. “Leaders must be educators, persons called upon to reframe the citizen's views of the public realm,” the economist wrote. “Most officials in Canada have been passively recording the results in opinion polls, and have not shouldered their responsibility...alerting citizens to the importance of productivity gains and innovation.”

Jacqueline Thorpe wrote an article on April 28. She quotes Doug Porter, the chief economist for the Bank of Montreal. Talking about the budget of February 23 at that point, I think, he stated:

If this deal is an indication of the type of fiscal decisions Canada will see, then the currency market should instead react to the prospect of a near-term election as positive.

That was when there was a possibility of an election.

Right after the budget was tabled, the National Post asked, “What letter grade would you give the budget?” Porter responded, “We give it a C”. With the revisions, in the NDP-Liberal budget, now he says, “We give it a D”. This is a respected chief economist at the Bank of Montreal giving this government very much a failing grade with regard to its budget and budget fiasco.

Actually there is one more point. We had a gentleman at committee just the other day. I see the parliamentary secretary discussing this with you, Mr. Speaker. It was David Stewart-Patterson from the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. Here is what he said:

--no productivity growth, minimal growth in foreign investment, negative household savings and a manufacturing base that's struggling to stay afloat in a competitive, volatile, high dollar world do not bode well for the future prosperity of Canadian families.

He continued:

--lower taxes by themselves cannot ensure a prosperous future for Canadians, but if we want our economy to grow and our social programs to improve, we have to work harder at making Canada a place where more talented people want to live and work and where more investors want to create and grow businesses.

This is an important point. Investment is leaving Canada in droves. We have a net outflow of investment these days. Canadians are looking for better places to invest because this government's policies are driving them out of the country.

This is something we have been on for quite some time. I will go back to some of the reports that were done by the finance and industry committees when I was there.

This was the Conservative Party dissenting opinion to the prebudget process on December 14, 2004, in which we are talking about the record of this government not being that good:

A few basic statistics back up our contention that now is the time for major change--that more of the same is not good enough--that Canadians deserve better. First, during the past forty years Canada's GDP per worker has remained little changed compared with that of the United States--it remains stuck at about 85 per cent of the U.S. level.

...“Lest any Canadian thinks that the productivity gap is irrelevant, it more than accounts for the income gap of $6,078 per Canadian.” Surely we can do better--having a family of four with some $24,000 less income to spend than they would have in the United States is nothing to celebrate.

As for investment in productivity capacity, why is investment important? Because it creates jobs. The statement continued:

Throughout the hearings we heard that the productivity investment in Canada is lagging and that a number of key factors are the main culprits. Taxation levels affect the willingness of investors to build new industrial capacity in Canada. If taxation is too high and investment too low, the competitive abilities of Canadians cannot be unleashed. Countries like Australia and Iceland have shown the way and are benefiting from large gains in productivity investment--why can't Canada do the same?

Quite frankly, it is a very good question. It is the policies of this government over the last 12 years and the direction it has been taking that are sending all the wrong signals to Canadians. Cutting the corporate tax cuts that would put us on a more equal footing with the United States is a very bad signal to be sending to all the Canadians who want and need to invest in order to create jobs for Canadians.

Frankly, this government does not deserve to remain in power. The NDP budget is further evidence of its willingness to go to any lengths to cling to power. I think Canadians should put the Liberals out of their misery.

Points of Order June 6th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, as a member of the finance committee that heard the testimony of the member for Vancouver Island North, whose private member's bill this is, there was discussion in committee about this very issue. The clerk, receiving advice from legislative counsel on the committee, agreed that the amendment was in order and should be reported back to the House.

I know the member for Vancouver Island North has received further advice from legislative counsel, and available to the members of the House, that the amendment is in order. The bill will be before the House at report stage tomorrow where the member for Vancouver Island North will speak to this very issue. I would invite you to hear him speak at that time, Mr. Speaker, so that he can clarify this further.

Committees of the House May 30th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Finance.

In accordance with the order of reference of Monday, January 31, 2005, your committee has considered Bill C-259, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act (elimination of excise tax on jewellery) and agreed on Thursday, May 19 to report it back with one amendment.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments May 10th, 2005

That was an amendment that was brought in about a month later in a crass move to try to hide it in the budget. If we want to debate whether CO


should be classified as a noxious gas, the varying CO


that we give off as we breathe and plants use, why do we not debate that in the environment committee in the proper forum? No. The Liberals tried to sneak it through in the budget. Naturally we do not agree with that. Quite frankly, the member is way off base. He is simply clinging to power.