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

Department Of External Affairs Act October 4th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, as the Reform Party's international trade critic it is a pleasure for me to speak today on Bill C-47 and its implications for a modernized and revitalized Department of Foreign Affairs.

This bill does not make any huge changes. It changes the name of the Department of External Affairs to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and it changes the titles of ministers and the deputy ministers to reflect the new name of the department.

I suppose the name change is intended to ensure that the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade reflects the needs and values of Canadians in the 1990s. However I wonder whether changing the name of the department is necessary and whether the cost of doing so can be justified. I know that printing 4,000 new sets of business cards and redoing all the stationery does not amount to a monumental cost in the larger scheme of things, but the taxpayer expects a new standard of efficiency in government and this does seem to be frivolous.

The Department of External Affairs has operated for some 10 years with international trade as one of its components. It is suddenly necessary to add the long phrase of international trade to the name of the department. Why is this?

Why after so many years of operating just fine as external affairs do we now need the title of foreign affairs and international trade? What if in its wisdom some future government decides to move the international trade component back to the industry department? What if one day a crown corporation is formed to take over the trade promotion? What if that function is privatized altogether? Do we then have to go through this exercise all over again?

Changing the way trade promotion is handled is not inconceivable. Just this morning the Globe and Mail carried an article stating that a group of business people says Ottawa could save nearly $117 million a year by concentrating its trade promotion efforts on smaller companies ending duplication and tying trade to aid. The article goes on to quote the chairman of the International Business Development Review to say that it would require courageous decisions to wean business off trade support initiatives but the federal government would be surprised by the positive response from an overtaxed population. I encourage the minister to look at these options and explore this further.

Let us talk a bit about what Canadians do want from their department of foreign affairs as it is now going to be known. The foreign policy joint review committee heard many representations from Canadians. The resulting report will guide the department to restructure as necessary and to address those concerns and set Canada's future foreign policy.

Specifically Canadians told us of the need to restructure CIDA and to make it more accountable and more focused in its approach to development assistance. They told us of the need to more clearly define the criteria for Canada's participation in future peacekeeping operations. They told us that non-government agencies, NGOs, can play a larger role in Canada's foreign aid delivery and development. They told us that the need for Canada is to aggressively seek to develop the fast growing Asia-Pacific area for trade. There were many other suggestions and recommendations but we will have to wait for the report to hear them all.

We know for certain however that Canadians want economic security and that over two million Canadians depend on international trade for their jobs. For every $1 billion in new exports 11,000 new jobs will be created. Therefore the Department of Foreign Affairs must do its utmost to make sure that Canadian business succeeds in the international marketplace.

In 1993 Canada exported $181 billion worth of goods and services totalling 30 per cent of our GDP. To see this number increase Reform would like to see Canada be a strong advocate for free trade or freer trade worldwide. We have made some important steps in this direction and I give this government credit for that.

One of the most important vehicles for this will be the world trade organization which will soon be in place as a result of the GATT negotiations. It is vital that Canada help this organization to be successful. Canada must take a leadership role in the new WTO in making this rules based organization work. We must continue to strive for further trade liberalization in the second round of negotiations in agriculture at the GATT or WTO in six years time. Canada must actively pursue new free trade agreements which could enhance our international trade position.

Of special interest to Canada would be the rapid and successful expansion of NAFTA. When reviewing potential new members Canada should encourage our current partners, the U.S. and Mexico, not to drag their feet in these negotiations. In the long term the expansion of NAFTA will help us all. Canada is a trading nation. We need to develop this further.

Of principal interest to Canada however will always be our trading relationship with the United States which currently accounts for about 75 to 80 per cent of Canada's two way trade. This strong relationship with the United States has allowed Canada to become the seventh largest trading nation in the world, even though we are only 31st in terms of population size.

While Canada must always strive to diversify in the area of trade so that we do not remain dependent on our neighbour to the south for our prosperity, we must recognize that the Canada--

U.S. trade relationship is something which needs to be encouraged and promoted to the fullest.

Beyond nurturing our trade relationship with the United States, the Department of Foreign Affairs must always strive to carve out new markets for Canadian international trade. Its job is to tap into emerging growth markets throughout the world and make sure Canadian business can get its foot in the door and go on to develop a comparative advantage over our competitors.

One of the most exciting new growth markets for Canadian trade, as I have said, is the Pacific rim which within five years could represent 40 per cent of total global consumption of exports. Obviously the Department of Foreign Affairs should do its utmost to make sure that Canada remains an active and successful player in the region.

To date we have had some success. Japan is already our second biggest trading partner and purchases more Canadian exports than the U.K., Germany and France combined. In addition, China has the fastest growing economy in the world. With its huge population it is predicted that by early in the next century China could be the second largest economy in the world.

As has already been mentioned, Canada has a significant stake in expanding trade within our hemisphere, preferably through the NAFTA. It has already given Canada unprecedented and preferential access to Mexico's growing market of over 85 million consumers. Other countries such as Chile have demonstrated a very real desire to join this agreement. Canada must ensure that we are a leader in the area of NAFTA accession otherwise the Americans will take this leadership role and will dominate the agenda and look after their own trade interests.

The Department of Foreign Affairs should make sure Canadians remain well represented by acting as a leading force in defending Canadian interests and values. In order to successfully fulfil this task, foreign affairs should seriously consider reallocating its resources in order to optimize this important trade promotion task. This will require some tough decisions, including the withdrawal of resources from regions that do not represent growth markets for Canadian trade. Also in these countries where we have primary diplomatic and consular missions we should investigate cost cutting measures.

Our dealings with other countries of course must be on many levels and not just on those involving trade. Canada has a very special role to play in the area of international affairs because of our proud tradition of acting as an honest broker for dispute resolution and effective multinationalism. Canada must build upon this tradition and promote our position as a respected and effective middle power. With our capabilities, record of innovation and energetic use of diplomacy, many countries expect a special contribution from Canada in the area of international affairs. We should be proud to provide this service.

While Canadians will always want us to promote this positive middle power image, they also want us to live within our means. Therefore, Canada must aim for a foreign policy which is proactive, effective and fiscally responsible. This means that we must get our own fiscal house in order. We must concentrate on reducing internal trade barriers and generally reduce the cost of doing business here at home so that our companies can be more competitive in the world marketplace.

Whether acting as a catalyst for positive international change, a facilitator working to bring parties to an agreement, or mediators to defuse international conflict, the Department of Foreign Affairs must also strive to be a world leader in everything it does.

One area where Canada is already a leader is in our dealings with the United Nations which turns 50 years old this year. Improving the success of the UN is an important task for Canada. There are many ways to improve and overhaul it in the 21st century. I suggest there are several areas Canada should be looking at which would improve the efficiency, accountability and effectiveness of the United Nations.

First, rules that force countries to pay their UN dues must be enforced. Otherwise the UN will always be ineffective and all other reform will go for naught.

Second, the newly appointed UN inspector general must be given a wide mandate to rein in overspending, duplication and waste.

Third, an early warning system should be set up to pre-empt disastrous international conflicts and environmental degradation.

Fourth, an international court should be established through the UN to punish international criminals who currently use national borders and weak international co-ordination to avoid being punished.

Fifth, the structure of the UN Security Council and the veto powers of its permanent membership should be reviewed. During the review Canada should be considered for permanent membership because of its longstanding service and dedication to the United Nations and peacekeeping.

For any of these reforms to work it is necessary that the Department of Foreign Affairs play an effective role both behind the scenes and by publicly setting the agenda for change.

In conclusion, while the Reform Party was elected on a domestic agenda we realize we must be able to present a credible foreign policy and develop a good working relationship with the Department of Foreign Affairs. I would therefore like to express my support for the bill, not as a housekeeping measure to be dealt with quickly but as a sign of a new dynamic and efficient

Department of Foreign Affairs. There will be support for Canadian interests and values into the next century.

While the Reform will have plenty more to say in the area of foreign policy in the coming session, I hope I have illustrated some of the points we think are important for the department.

Department Of Natural Resources Act September 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Davenport for his comments regarding sustainable development. The member talked about the important need for sustainable development, particularly in the industry of forestry.

I wonder if he would consider that one of our most important natural resources we have in this country is our resource of top soil for farming. Top soil gives us the ability to produce food but is being eroded at an alarming rate.

Since the beginning of organized agriculture on the great plains we have lost about one-half of our top soil. Yet we have government farm policies that encourage this practice to continue. Where would the hon. member rate this in his overall scheme of sustainable development?

Canadian Wheat Board Act September 27th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I have a question for the member for Lisgar-Marquette.

I am a farmer in the Canadian Wheat Board area. We have heard a number of speakers on the other side who are not in the Canadian Wheat Board area extolling the values of the Canadian Wheat Board. A lot of these people who have spoken earlier belong to an area called the Ontario Wheat Board in which the directors are elected rather than appointed as with the Canadian Wheat Board. Does the member for Lisgar-Marquette agree that the Ontario Wheat Board model of an elected body rather than appointed is better than the current one we have at the Canadian Wheat Board?

Canadian Wheat Board Act September 27th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I have a question for the member opposite. He spoke about the support the bill has from all of the different organizations. I believe he went on to list 12 organizations that had indicated support.

Would he also have enough confidence to seek direct support from producers by making it possible for them to say when they apply for a permit book whether or not they support this type of check-off? I suggest to the member opposite that although there is a lot of institutional support, these people may not speak for the majority of farmers. The fact that they have to continually reapply to get this check-off back if they do not support it is very cumbersome.

Let us give producers the option of indicating whether they support this when they apply for their permit book. Would he support that?

Canadian Wheat Board Act September 27th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I enjoyed the comments of the member for Saskatoon-Humboldt. I recognize that she represents an agricultural riding. I want to follow up by getting her thoughts on the idea of consultation with farm groups.

I understand that in the hon. member's comments she suggested that farm groups are supporting this check-off bill. As a result of what my colleague from Vegreville said I suggest that it might be important to broaden the base of the consultations in these ongoing hearings that agriculture is putting forward to meet with individual farmers.

Although there is support from farm organizations, these organizations may not speak for the majority of individual farmers. If the hon. member checks the membership she might find that out. Would she agree it would be important to consult agriculture producers in large numbers, and not just the farm organizations, to build support for this check-off?

Also would she agree it might be important for the Canadian Wheat Board to have elected directors as opposed to those appointed by the federal government? Would that not also boost the kind of support that we need in order to build a strong agricultural industry?

Young Offenders Act June 16th, 1994

Madam Speaker, the secretary of state talked about a crackdown in this legislation which is coming forward. I certainly would like to know what type of crackdown is being proposed.

A constituent who has written to me, Mr. Forsen, talks about the need for tougher penalties. This gentleman is a grandfather. His two grandsons are repeat offenders and all they got was a slap on the wrist. He is afraid to leave home because he has been robbed by these two grandsons in the past.

I want to know what kind of crackdown the hon. member is speaking of here? She has suggested that only 25 per cent of the acts are violent, but I would put those I mentioned in that violent class as robberies were involved. Can the hon. member explain to concerned Canadians what type of crackdowns are being proposed?

Petitions June 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have before me a petition which has been signed by 32 members of my riding of Peace River. The petition deals with the subject of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Section 241 of the Criminal Code states that everyone who counsels a person to commit suicide or aids and abets a person to commit suicide whether suicide ensues or not is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years.

The petitioners therefore pray that Parliament not repeal or amend section 241 of the Criminal Code in any way.

Bankruptcy Act June 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have asked for time this evening to speak because there is a big problem in the Department of National Defence which is not being addressed.

I have asked several questions of the minister over the past three months that I do not think have been properly dealt with. The federal government moves up to 20,000 households per year, three-quarters of which are military personnel. The cost of these moves is up to $100 million. Once storage, real estate fees, legal charges, mortgage expenses and other benefits are thrown in the tab comes to well over $200 million. You would think that a big customer like the federal government which accounts for

up to 35 per cent of Canada's moving business would pay rates somewhat less than the industry average. Instead, the government pays 23 per cent more than the CBC, Canadian National Railways, Northern Telecom and Canada Post. How can this be?

Moves are handled by a four member committee representing National Defence, the RCMP and Supply and Services. This committee has its own bureaucracy of over 105 public servants, many of them located in defence headquarters.

To begin with, what are military men doing handling household moves? These trained military personnel should be doing things like peacekeeping and organizing food aid.

The federal moving business is tendered but it all goes to four major moving van lines. These van lines were convicted of price fixing in 1983 and fined $250,000. They are now under investigation again for various irregularities. The van lines get the government business and then dole it out to their carrier agents. You would think that the government could get better prices by tendering to more than just four companies. But the government's own rules prevent it from doing so.

It requires companies that bid to have exclusive carrier agents in at least seven provinces capable of handling 55 per cent of the government's business.

Such restrictions do not exist in the United States. In the U.S. local moving companies can represent up to three different van lines. These ridiculous restrictions guarantee the government's business to the four van lines, three of which are 100 per cent American owned.

There are move management companies which say they can save the government between $10 million and $25 million on its moves, given the chance to prove themselves. In fact, the previous government disbanded this moving committee and ordered that the two private sector companies be given the chance to administer government moves in a pilot project. But once elected, the present government cancelled this pilot project which seems odd given its stated commitment to ferret out waste and cut costs.

One move management company which could have participated in this pilot project has been doing moves for the House of Commons. This company says that it has saved 35 per cent in current tariff costs. In addition, this company collects its fee not from the government but from the mover. The government's moving committee, the one that was to be disbanded, said that it cost them only $100 to manage each move. My understanding is that the defence department's own audit staff has found the management costs per move to be significantly higher than $100.

I wonder why this audit, which was completed in February, is taking so long to become public? I have raised several points here which I would like to repeat: Military men should not be involved in household moves. Private sector move management companies should be given a chance to prove that they can save the government millions of dollars while providing the same level of service.

The van lines which have been convicted of price fixing in the past and which are under investigation today should not be given a monopoly over government moves.

I am sure the defence department is on a limited budget and has certainly seen restrictions. I know that it could well use this $25 million that is estimated to be saved in these household moves in areas such as better equipment for our peacekeepers.

I would ask the minister and the parliamentary secretary to pursue this.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement Act June 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for that question. It is a very important question and one that we have to give considerable thought to. Essentially when the white people came to Canada the Indians had all of Canada. Surely the member is not suggesting that we try to redo that wrong because it simply would not work.

I understand that there are some Indian bands in British Columbia that would take back the city of Vancouver. It simply cannot be done. In British Columbia they tell me there is 130 per cent of the land mass claimed in land claims because there is some dispute as to which ones own certain properties.

Therefore, you are absolutely right. We do have to have a fair settlement. I guess it is a matter of debate as to what is fair here.

I have raised a family of six children on considerably less land and I certainly did not have any cash settlement along the way. I think this is overly generous.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement Act June 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his questions. I think they are very important questions.

We are going through a situation in my riding where agriculture has been hit very heavily with the trade war that has been going on for over 10 years. I have a lot of constituents who have lost their farms, lost their land and I think they would ask that question and it should be answered. These people are finding it very hard going.

The Canadian debt is very high and it is part of the reason these farmers are losing their land. They are paying so much in taxes at a time when we are giving land to native people in big land claim settlements. I do not believe that can be supported and I do not believe that the Canadian public will support it.

We have to settle these land claims but we have to have some self-reliance and self-sufficiency built into them. That is not my understanding of what is being done in these two bills. It is sort of an open-ended arrangement where we really do not know what the cost is going to be. In effect we are giving a blank cheque. It would be one thing if they were signed, sealed and delivered and that was the end of it but that is not my understanding of the two bills that are before us today.

Some very important questions have been raised. I think that has to be built into the legislation and I would encourage the members of government to entertain some amendments to make these more effective so they can be sold to the Canadian public.