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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was grain.

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

Won his last election, in 2004, with 74% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Budget February 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I do not know that it is so much a matter of cutting out certain programs. It is safe to say that we could find a level somewhat less than $70 billion.

If we were able to lower our debt we would lower our interest payments and there would be at least a portion of the $40 billion that could be used to put into social programs. That would be my recommendation.

The Budget February 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am suggesting that there is a need for military in Canada today. Let us define what it is. We need a certain amount of military to exercise our sovereignty over Canada. We also need a certain amount of military to exercise our sovereignty over our 200-mile offshore limit. We also need a certain amount of military for search and rescue operations.

Let us define what it is before-and I use some terms I have heard from the other side of the House-we hack, slash and burn our military.

The Budget February 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the member raises an excellent question, one that I am sure we could debate on all day.

The first thing that springs to my mind is that whenever government gives something, it first had to take something away.

I am going to try to answer this question to the very best of my ability. I am not going to dance around it. If government had not been involved in unemployment insurance in the first place, if it was an agreement between the employer and the employee, probably the rate would have been down around $1.50. There would never have been a need for it to be raised in the first place so that it can be lowered at budget time.

I think that should probably suffice the hon. member.

The Budget February 24th, 1994

The underground economy's strength is directly proportionate to the high levels of taxation. Taxpayers need a break. The beleaguered Canadian taxpayer deserves a break.

Canadians do not want to cheat. They are prepared to pay their fair share of taxes. Does this budget provide a fair level of taxation?

Over the last 10 years successive governments have increased the tax burden of the average middle class Canadian. The Fraser Institute reports that even though before tax earnings have increased for the average family, the percentage of after tax income has decreased. It has to be an increase in the taxation.

At the same time the same governments allowed this debt to escalate to $500 billion, half a trillion dollars. Is it any wonder that the underground economy is flourishing? Does this budget give the taxpayer a break? I do not think so.

We in the Reform Party will do everything we can to ensure that the minister gets an opportunity to wear out his new work boots. We will continue to work in this House and in committees to convince the minister and his government colleagues that they must reform their red ink book philosophy before the minister brings in another budget.

The Budget February 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister bought the Minister of Finance a new pair of work boots for the budget the other day and it is a good thing because he has certainly got his work cut out for him.

Like all new work boots, or at least like any that I have had, it will only be a matter of time now before he gets a certain amount of organic material on them.

This was the minister's first budget and we can only hope that within the next three budgets he will get better at reducing the deficit. This budget will put Canadians another $39.7 billion in debt, bringing the total debt in two years to $550 billion. If we add the projected deficit of $39.7 billion to this and the $32.7 billion for the forecast for next year, one will find that we are adding another $72.4 billion to our already burgeoning debt.

Since we are living on borrowed money, as has already been pointed out by my hon. colleague from Calgary, and borrowed money is subject to interest of at least 7 per cent, if we are lucky, we are adding another $5 billion in interest to that debt.

To switch off of the negative for second, I do wish to commend the minister for showing at least some restraint and changing some government operations which will produce some savings.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that all of this will be negated by the cost of the 18 new programs and 15 new studies announced in this budget.

When will this government admit that we have a spending problem? Spending is the key, not revenue. The government revenues for 1993-94 totalled $127 billion. The Prime Minister said in this House not too long ago we cannot run government as if it were a business.

Even if we grant him that supposition, perhaps the government could be run like a household. Certainly, when we can no longer pay our bills in our household we have to take drastic measures; namely, do without some of the things that we can do

without in order to reduce our expenditures to fit our income. That certainly seems to make sense to me.

The whole issue of spending $70 billion a year on a social safety net and a further $40 billion on interest to service our debt simply has to stop. Past governments have certainly made the military their whipping boy at budget time. What do you know, this government seems to have taken right up where the other bunch left off.

We on this side of the House were quite pleased. We applauded and supported the government in its promise to undertake a military defence review. Instead it accelerated the process and we as members of Parliament did not have any opportunity for input. It completely prejudiced the outcome of the study by going ahead and closing bases and reducing others.

Perhaps if we had had a better equipped military we could have exercised sovereignty over the Atlantic fishery and we would not have to pay support to the whole east coast fishing industry. The cod stocks maybe would not be quite as low as they are now, and certainly they are depleted. Members opposite refer to our cod stocks as extinct. Now we have added all these otherwise self-sufficient business people to the ranks of the full time unemployed.

The January unemployment rate was 11.4 per cent in Canada. Stats Canada reports that there were 1,592,000 unemployed people in Canada last month and that does not take into account all those people who have dropped out of the system.

This budget simply nibbled at the edges in my opinion. The unemployment insurance program is a good example of that.

Reducing the generosity of the program is, however, a step in the right direction. After all, we are all aware that generous UI programs do have the effect of increasing the number of people drawing unemployment insurance.

The cumulative deficit of the unemployment insurance account amounts to $6 billion. It is a fallacy to believe that this is solely a worker-employer funded program. It is the government, the taxpayer of Canada, paying for the shortfall.

The unemployment insurance program changes announced in the budget begin to target social benefits to lower income Canadians, as the minister has said, to target those most in need. This as well is a positive step.

The Canadian unemployment insurance plan has become an inefficient income supplement plan rather than social insurance. We need to the "un" out of unemployment insurance. It should be employment insurance with extra emphasis on insurance. We buy life insurance, not death insurance.

The Reform Party policy is to make employment insurance a sensible, sustainable program of social insurance which provides compensation for temporary loss of employment. We believe the program should be funded by employers and employees who determine the level of premiums and benefits. This, I am sure, would go a long way in reducing the underground economy and ultimately relieving the tax burden.

To quote the hon. Minister of Finance, the underground economy is not simply about smuggling, it is about hundreds of thousands of otherwise honest people who have withdrawn their consent to be governed.

It appears that they are withdrawing their consent to be overtaxed as well.

Excise Act February 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I notice that the hon. member mentioned smuggling of alcohol. The price of a bottle of spirits in Canada is about $20 as opposed to about $10 in the United States. Eighty-seven per cent of the price of a bottle of spirits in Canada is made up of taxes. An estimated four million cases of 12 bottles are smuggled into Canada every year from the U.S. and about 13 million cases are sold legally in Canada.

Provincial governments and the federal government are losing billions of dollars in revenue as a result of this smuggling. I am wondering when the government is going to come up with a plan to reduce the taxes on alcohol because there is exactly the same scenario here. These cases are parallel in my mind.

I would like to ask the hon. member when she would recommend that taxes on alcohol be reduced.

Prince Edward Island Fixed Link February 15th, 1994

Madam Speaker, my topic is really quite timely given the fact that we expected a vote a few minutes ago and suddenly it was put off.

The other day I asked the Prime Minister when he would announce to the House that the government would not consider the defeat of a government motion including a spending measure to constitute the expression of non-confidence in the government unless it is immediately followed by a formal motion of non-confidence.

It is time to release the members of Parliament from the iron cage of party discipline in this country. I think that the House of Commons is probably one of the most regimented parliamentary systems in the world. We must not forget that we were sent here by the people of Canada. We were sent here to represent the views of the people of this great nation, not the wills of the political parties.

It is also time to debunk the myth that the government must win every vote or resign. The failure of a government measure, even a spending initiative, does not automatically have to mean the defeat of the government.

The Prime Minister, the cabinet and the bureaucrats set policy and dictate the course of action with the usual assurances of: "Don't worry. We know what we are doing. We know what is best". The time has come to give the electorate greater say in government.

For too long it has been politics first. Now it is time to put people first. How can we do this? We can loosen the chains. We can allow for free votes in the House of Commons. If for example a vote on a budget measure or motion was negative, it could be sent back to committee and improved before coming again to the House. If the government loses the non-confidence motion that follows that motion, then it would have to resign and call a general election. The people of Canada want more direct democracy and I would encourage the Prime Minister to comply with their wishes.

The Constitution provides for this. All the Prime Minister needs to do is rise in his place and declare that the government will not consider the defeat of a government motion including a spending measure to constitute an expression of non-confidence in the government unless it is immediately followed by a formal non-confidence motion.

House Of Commons February 2nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is a matter of record that the British Parliament defeated the Maastricht treaty without any disastrous results or damage to the democratic process.

Would the Prime Minister tell Canadians why they should settle for any less democracy than the people of Britain?

House Of Commons February 2nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister has refused to allow members to represent their constituents by having free votes in this Parliament. He has said in effect that such a reform would be contrary to parliamentary democracy. However the mother of Parliaments in London has already adopted this reform.

When will the Prime Minister announce that the government will not consider the defeat of a government motion, including a spending measure, to constitute an expression of non-confidence unless it is immediately followed by a formal motion of non-confidence?

Social Security System January 31st, 1994

Madam Speaker, here again we are using tax dollars to do something that private enterprise can do very well.