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

Canadian Foreign Policy March 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I commend the hon. minister on her comments this afternoon that add to the very important debate taking place with regard to our foreign policy.

I heard the minister speak about the need for aid in the areas that she represents, Latin America and Africa. Would the minister agree with the Auditor General and his comments that there is a need to downsize and reduce the number of countries we give aid to in order to better target our resources? Could the minister comment on that?

Canadian Foreign Policy March 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the minister. I will preface it.

One of the criticisms in the past of our trade department is it has not had really strong links with the private investment community, private business, and it felt a little bit left out. I think I hear the minister saying that is something that is going to be corrected in this review that is taking place.

Could he just assure me that in fact that is actually what he said?

The Budget March 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to add my voice to those of my colleagues who lament the government's budget of February 22. This budget is not a disappointment as some members have suggested. It is a disaster.

The government says it wants to create jobs, yet this budget is disastrous for job creation. The reason for this is the heavy burden of taxation everyone in Canada faces now and in the future as a direct result of the failure to curb government overspending.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce says that taxes are job killers for its 170,000 members. For every dollar the government taxes away, it is another dollar lost which could have gone toward job creation. Furthermore, the budget is disastrous for export trade because it stunts our ability to take full advantage of a golden opportunity.

We have just signed two very important trade agreements, NAFTA and GATT, that lower tariffs for our products around the world. I heartily commend this government for its role in those agreements.

Our Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has been doing an excellent job in developing markets abroad. Canada has gained a good reputation as a leader in helping the GATT to be established after the second world war and now the new world trade organization.

However our efforts are futile if we cannot give our industries a fair chance to compete. Our companies, small, medium and large, which have to break into and develop these foreign markets cannot do so effectively. They are hampered by disappointing results at home. They are hampered because our government will not act responsibly in fiscal management. They cannot sell strongly into their domestic market because their consumers are overtaxed and the cost of doing business is so high. That leaves them with limited resources to operate aggressively abroad.

At the moment our major trading partner, the United States, to whom 80 per cent of our exports go, is experiencing incredible growth. Our economy is also starting to pick up, led by promising increases in our exports.

If only this budget could have given a strong signal that we were getting our fiscal house in order the response from our business sector would have been incredible. The incentives would have been there to invest and take risks. The incentives would have been there to expand and hire new employees because the promise of tax relief would have been just around the corner.

By failing to deal with the deficit we are missing a golden opportunity to move further and forcefully into export markets. Canada is a trading nation. We simply do not have the population to warrant economies of scale that many businesses need. Our ability to be competitive internationally is crucial to our ability to grow and create jobs.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is presently doing a massive poll of 2,000 corporate members and 1,000 entrepreneurs. The purpose of this poll is to identify obstacles to job creation. Business people have been asked to list the five things that would improve their ability to create jobs. Guess what heads the list of responses: getting the federal debt and deficit problem under control.

The reason for this is that deficits and debt have caused the government to overtax our citizens. In fact personal income taxes have more than doubled in the last 10 years. Excise and sales taxes have gone up by almost 75 per cent. That means consumers have less disposable income. It also means Canadian companies face a smaller demand at home.

It was reported in the Globe and Mail this morning that Canadian individuals and corporations are the most heavily taxed in the industrial world, with the exception of France. This statement comes from our own Deputy Minister of Finance.

What is more, the $500 billion debt and the burden of refinancing approximately half of that every year crowds out other borrowers. When the federal government borrows huge sums of money it competes with private industry for the available capital. That reduces the amount of money available to finance private business expansion. It also drives real interest rates far higher than they should be.

Seventy per cent of the businesses reporting to the Chamber of Commerce survey are saying that the cost of business in Canada right now is much higher than in other countries. That is alarming. What is worse is that preliminary findings show that 22 per cent of the respondents intend to relocate all or part of their businesses outside of Canada because of high taxation and the cost of government regulations.

When taxes are too high businesses simply cannot survive and be competitive outside Canada. Many are forced to pass these taxes on through higher prices. If that means they cannot sell their products abroad they might as well move to where the cost of doing business is less.

This budget should have started the process of lowering government spending. That did not happen. Instead government spending increased. The promise that next year it will happen or maybe the year after it will really happen is not good enough.

There are lots of areas where cuts should have been made. Obviously social programs which consume a major share of the federal budget should be targeted to those who need it the most.

The leader of the Reform Party and others in the Reform Party have spoken of this already. This budget should have shown Canadians that government was really serious about job creation. We all know, or at least we should know, the private

sector, particularly small and medium sized businesses, creates jobs, not government.

This budget should have shown Canadians and the international community that the government is serious about tackling its huge deficit. If the government cannot bring its spending into line with revenues, how on earth are we ever going to handle the growing debt? In fact the international community is now responding to its concern about our failure to control government spending and overspending.

Canadian interest rates are rising. A good part of the reason for this rise in rates is the lack of confidence internationally in our ability to finance our debt. Higher interest rates mean it will cost more to refinance the federal debt and this will only compound our problem.

The way to job creation is to stop overtaxation. Let us not make our Canadian businesses have to compete with one hand tied behind their backs. The way to tax relief is to stop government overspending, not next year or the year after, but now.

Government Expenditures February 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, a supplementary question for the minister. I am still waiting for the answer to a question from two weeks ago. In the meantime the government tender closed on February 12 for this year's moving business.

Can the minister assure us that these tender bids will be open to public scrutiny when they are opened?

Government Expenditures February 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

In 1983 four household moving van lines were convicted of price fixing and are now under a prohibition order, of which I have a copy. Yet only these four van lines can bid on the department's moving business, from which 900 other moving companies are effectively excluded.

Can the minister provide a statement of whether its present government tendering practice is contrary to the letter or the spirit of the prohibition order or in fact may be illegal?

1995 Canada Winter Games February 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, from February 19 to March 4, 1995 the city of Grand Prairie will host the Canada Winter Games. I am proud to say that Grand Prairie is in my riding and is the most northerly city ever to host the Canada Winter Games.

This important event will bring together more than 3,200 athletes, coaches and officials who will participate in 21 different sports.

The games are held every second year, alternating between winter and summer. They are a training ground for future Olympians. The games are also a celebration of culture and for this reason Grand Prairie will be proud to display the many facets of our Canadian and northern heritage.

The theme of the games is Iskoteo, which is a Cree word for fire. The fire is in our sky with the northern lights. It is also in the spirit of the people who rise to challenge the climate and the power of the land.

Crown Liability And Proceedings Act February 4th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, today I am speaking as chairman of the Reform Party committee on international trade.

The topic is Bill C-4 which will permit the full Canadian enforcement of two NAFTA side agreements: the North American agreement on environment co-operation and the North American agreement on labour co-operation.

I will begin my statement by saying that the Reform Party supports this bill, although we do have a few areas of concern that I will be expanding upon later in my presentation. Our support of NAFTA is on the condition that Canadian businesses can take full advantage of this important agreement by reducing government spending and lowering taxes in this country; by eliminating interprovincial trade barriers, and by shifting emphasis from welfare to retraining and technological development.

Because we support NAFTA we support the necessary enacting legislation introduced in Bill C-4. I would like to commend the government for signing NAFTA. I was encouraged in the throne speech by the promise of an activist trade policy and by improving access to export sales. I was especially encouraged by the promise to work with provincial governments to eliminate internal trade barriers.

Canada is a trading nation and benefits enormously from trade liberalization. Canada produces a surplus of many goods and services which are in demand around the world. Yet Canada cannot possibly produce the full range of goods and services that Canadians need so it is to our advantage that we maximize and optimize trade. Greater and freer world trade will open up new markets and new opportunities. It will provide more jobs, raise our real income levels and add to the strength of the Canadian economy. The overall prosperity of Canadians will be enhanced.

In Canada, trade accounts for one out of every four jobs generated. In my riding of Peace River we are very dependent on trade to provide jobs; in the agriculture sector, oil and gas, and also in forestry. Twenty-five per cent of everything we produce is exported and the total value of exports is increasing all the time.

This underlines the importance of participating in both NAFTA and the GATT trade agreements. The NAFTA agreement allows Canada to reach its long-term objectives and will

strengthen environmental co-operation in North America; promote sustainable development on a continental basis; create an effective institution to oversee this agreement; effectively enforce and enhance compliance with domestic environmental laws.

In the area of labour co-operation, NAFTA will improve working conditions and living standards in all three participating countries and it will protect, enhance and enforce basic workers' rights.

In order to benefit fully from any trade deal, the government must ensure that Canadian businesses are in a position to participate fully in the new opportunities that exist.

The hon. member for Calgary Southwest and many of my colleagues have spoken about the importance of bringing down the cost of doing business. We must eliminate deficit spending so that we can finally lower taxes. We must eliminate interprovincial trade barriers.

There are many categories of barriers. In the agriculture and food processing industries over 100 barriers exist. They include production quotas, differential labelling, quality and packaging standards, and transportation and stabilization subsidies.

In the liquor, wine and beer industries we have provincial production requirements, local bottling requirements, differential mark-ups, quotas, packing requirements and marketing favouritism.

In the transportation industry, we have different licensing requirements, size and weight requirements, safety regulations, provincial transportation board discretionary powers, and varying fuel and sales taxes.

In the area of government procurement, we find explicit and implicit preferences for local suppliers and requirements for locally produced materials. With government procurement expenditures exceeding $100 billion per year, approximately 20 per cent of GNP, this is by no means insignificant.

In the area of labour mobility, there are different licensing requirements for professionals and trades persons from province to province. These barriers create significant impediments to people wishing to move to another province since skilled workers have to meet additional licensing requirements.

In the area of capital mobility there are industrial incentives, local investment funds and local tax incentives. Such carriers are often used for regional development and create an inefficient allocation of our financial resources.

The cost to our nation of these and other internal barriers is in the neighbourhood of $6.5 billion per year. Interprovincial trade barriers have fragmented the marketplace and hindered Canada's ability to compete internationally. Furthermore, these barriers give competitive advantages to large firms that can afford to comply with the stringent rules imposed by government. At the same time they hinder small businesses from reaching their market potential. Unless we can improve competition within our own borders and can lower the cost of doing business by providing some tax relief, we will never be able to reap the full rewards of the expanded trade opportunities that exist.

I have outlined our party's concerns on the need to let businesses take full advantage of this trade agreement. We expect the government to take the necessary steps to allow this to happen.

Let me get back to Bill C-4. Under NAFTA a compliance mechanism has been established in the event an arbitral panel finds persistent patterns of failure by a country to effectively enforce its labour and environmental laws. If a country fails to correct the problem, the panel may impose sizeable fines. In the event that a fine is imposed on Canada, and it is very unlikely this will happen as one speaker said earlier, the fine would ultimately be enforced by domestic courts.

At this stage we support this bill and its enabling legislation in order to move quickly to bring this trade deal into full effect. But we do have a few specific concerns that need to be addressed.

First, the bill states clearly that any panel determination that would enforce Canadian labour laws or standards cannot be appealed. We would favour the addition of an appeal process.

Second, we would insist that Canadian members on this panel be chosen on the basis of fair regional representation.

I trust that the standing committee reviewing this legislation will address our specific concerns.

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. It is a good question. I want to leave with him the reassurance that I believe strongly in the reasons for the testing. It is part of a deterrent that we need to continue to develop in terms of our own sovereignty and of peacekeeping roles we as Canadians undertake throughout the world.

I also believe in it because we signed a commitment in good faith and I think we need to honour it. I very strongly want to say that I believe it is an important part of our defence. It is something that should be part of the overall review when defence is reviewed. I would make the case that I support it on the basis of a strong defence of Canada and a need for peacekeeping.

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

Some from the Ottawa area I believe as well.

They were very innovative people. As a result of living in the northern climates they have had to be. Agriculture is probably the main industry, oil and gas is the second and forestry is very important to the riding as well.

The city of Grand Prairie is the biggest centre in the riding. It is a city of some 30,000 people.

The discussion today is very pertinent to my riding in that the cruise missile test does take place over a major corridor within the riding. Although, as somebody said earlier, the northern area is sparsely populated this is the most populated area along the cruise missile test route.

I also want to say that this area is very similar to the area that the Americans were looking at in their test, It has a similar climate to that of Russia, particularly Moscow. We are on the same latitude.

I just want to remind hon. members that I read the other day that Canada has the coldest capital of anywhere in the world so although I live in northern Alberta and we have a climate similar to Moscow that still makes it warmer than the climate here in Ottawa.

The terrain is very similar as well.

I would just like to say that the major debate over the cruise missile testing really took place 10 years ago. I really think to some degree this is a bit redundant today. The matter was raised and discussed to a great degree in 1983 before the testing took place and I do not think things have changed significantly since that time. As a matter of fact when the treaty was renewed in

February 1993 the debate should have taken place at that time if it were that important.

I do not hear any complaints or any concerns from people in my riding. I just came through an election campaign where I campaigned extensively and this issue was not raised on one single occasion. I do not know anyone who is opposed to the testing. There was little support in the riding for the ban of testing in 1983 and I think there is even less now.

I do want to say that I welcome the review of defence policy that is coming up. We certainly encourage the government to do that, but we do have commitments that have to be met in the meantime. We have to honour those commitments. We signed a renewal in February and I believe we are bound by it.

We heard yesterday in the peacekeeping debate that there still are trouble spots in the world, trouble spots that could develop into something major. The former Yugoslavian republic was the area where World War I started and that is a trouble spot again. We know it has the potential for growing.

We know there is some potential for problems in Russia although we certainly hope that democracy has taken firm root there and is going to continue to develop. However I do believe we have to be prepared.

I wanted to say as well that we have relied heavily on our neighbours and friends to the south for help with our defences in the past. We need to continue to do that. We do have partners in NATO that we rely on. We are part of greater defence organizations and I believe we have to honour these commitments.

It is my view the people of the Peace River riding support cruise missile testing in our area and in Canada. It is part of our defence. It is a deterrent. We have seen that deterrent used in Iraq very effectively. The UN had a mandate to go in and Canada was part of that UN mandate in that situation. The cruise missile was a big part of that deterrent.

I support the continuation of the cruise missile testing in the riding. In my view that is backed up by the people in the Peace River riding as well.

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

Madam Speaker, as this is my first speech in this House, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the Speaker on his election and as well, to you, Madam Speaker, on your appointment.

I would also like to take the opportunity to congratulate all members who have just been elected to this 35th Parliament of Canada. It is a historic time for all of us and a new era. I am certainly looking forward to the opportunity to participate with some humility.

I certainly want to thank the constituents of the Peace River riding for their confidence in me and also my family who has given me a great deal of support in the two years it has taken to achieve the goal of becoming a member of Parliament. I would also like to thank a number of friends in the riding.

I would just like to relate the story of when I was home at Christmas. Somebody asked me how I was making out and I said I was starting to feel a little bit more comfortable in the House. However, they reminded me that I should not really get to feel too comfortable here. I think that is a good piece of advice.

I just want to tell the House a little bit about the Peace River riding. My colleague from Athabasca has told us about his riding. We share a boundary. Together we represent sort of the northern half of Alberta. It is an extremely big riding, one of the largest ridings in Canada. The border on the west is the British Columbia border and on the north the Northwest Territories.

Just a little bit of history about the Peace River riding: Some 200 years ago there were two warring Indian tribes. They had gathered on the banks of the Peace River, a river that was not named at that point, for peace negotiations and therefore the name came about as the Peace River.

It was an area that was a main artery to opening up western Canada. Alexander Mackenzie used that route to the Pacific Ocean in 1793, some 200 years ago.

The area in general was settled in the early 1900s by immigrants from Europe, the United States, as well as people from eastern Canada developing a new territory. They were looking for new opportunities.