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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was particular.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Conservative MP for Kelowna (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 48% of the vote.

Statements in the House

House Of Commons Standing Orders February 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise to address Parliament. The committee on parliamentary reform has put Motion No. 6 before the House. I wish to do a particular thing here, that is to reconcile the responsibility of a member of Parliament as a representative and the technological means that currently exist that would better facilitate the overall operation of this place.

I particularly wish to applaud the motion currently before the House to amend the standing orders. I suggest that these proposed changes are really but a tiny step forward. Given the task before us, now is the time to take not a tiny step but a big step forward. Now is the time to determine what aspects of the old way of doing politics should be kept as a tradition and what things should be changed so that we can improve and represent our constituents better in this place.

I am not talking about some kind of fantastical movie script. I believe it is time to leave the "Jurassic Park" era of governing without worrying about offending the old guard of "The Firm". We have surpassed the technological "Age of Innocence". As those who govern this land we want to improve our standards and efficiency of governing. To do that we must move forward at a pace similar to those we seek to serve.

As a member of Parliament I have a number of roles as does every member in this House. These include at least three areas: first as a representative, second as a legislator and finally as a source of legitimization. Let us examine each of these in turn.

Let us consider the words of the chairman and chief executive officer of Canada's largest chartered bank who described the new frontier before us as a multimedia universe of converging services ultimately coming into the home through a single carrier, smart phones, smart TVs, smart computers, smart VCRs, smart faxes and smart cards that let us pay bills, transfer money, make investments, play games, show pictures, selected products and services, take college courses and maybe even vote. Let me repeat those last words "maybe even vote". Electronic voting is one element which would greatly improve a member's ability to perform the duties of representation, legislation and legitimization.

Consider first the area of representation. Being the representative of Okanagan Centre incorporates three dimensions, mandate, proxy and trusteeship. The mandate function is determined by my political party whose principles and policies I support. By proxy I am bound to represent, to the degree that they can be determined, the wishes of the constituents in my area. In an instance in which that cannot be determined it is my responsibility to act as a trustee to make decisions that act in the best interests of my constituents. To be a truly effective representative we require a dynamic synthesis of all three roles.

After the debate in the House a decision is made on the matter. The decision is made by means of a vote. Where representation certainly takes place during the debate, actual representation happens when the vote is cast.

Because members are required to be away from this place from time to time it is not possible for them to be present at all times when a vote is called. When a member does not cast a vote

it can be argued that the member's constituents were not represented.

Let us recognize that we have the ability today to ensure that every member is able to vote on every bill from anywhere in the world. The technology can work for us.

Let us look at the second function, that of legislators. The decision to introduce legislation is not arbitrary but rather the development of implementation of legislative measures which reflect the goals of all Canadians. In its ideal form legislation is a result of consensus among Canadians. A recent example of consensus gathering was the pre-budget debate in this House. Another was the consultation of the Minister of Finance in four major urban centres in Canada. Although it is commendable that the minister sought the advice of Canadians it is unfortunate that this type of consultation does not occur before every major government decision.

Further, it is too bad that many Canadians were excluded and did not have the opportunity to participate in the finance minister's sessions. An electronic town hall meeting similar to the one recently held by U.S. Vice-President Al Gore would have enabled residents from every part of Canada to participate simultaneously in such consultations through technological interconnections.

A much wider and probably more representative consultation would have resulted without incurring the costs of air fares, hotels, meals and sundry items, to say nothing of the personal energy that was invested by the persons involved in travelling about this country.

A final function of a member is that of legitimization. Democracy requires that the rules which govern society are respected. Respect results from an acceptance, not necessarily agreement with legislation either past or present. The notion of legitimization comes from belief that a member will act in accordance with the rules of decorum and do the utmost to represent the riding.

Legitimization occurs as a function of the member voting on legislation, responding to constituents and fulfilling the promises made during an election campaign.

The notion of legitimization may be taken one step farther to include access to information. A government which voluntarily shares information as well as seeks the opinions of its people instils trust between government and the people. Failure to observe this relationship results in cynicism as was evident during the last federal election.

Open and easy access demystifies the political process and reaffirms the need for our existence. I am suggesting that we examine the contents of the technology treasure chest.

Technology can allow individuals to communicate more readily and easily with their members and with the government as a whole. My job as a representative of my constituents would be made easier if the federal government took a big step forward and provided greater integration, technological integration, within the House and outside the House.

Many Canadians know that both government and business leaders need to understand the drivers of change within our economic system. Those who understand the impact of technology and the impact that it will have will be the successful leaders of the future.

Many aspects of the tomorrow envisioned by Alvin Toffler in his works The Third Wave and Future Shock are upon us today. Technology affords us the right to expect bringing into existence, probably in the House, the concept of electronic democracy. It is this concept that should be incorporated into any discussion concerning parliamentary reform, particularly as we try to fulfil the many roles that members must undertake to represent their constituents.

We are taking small steps in the proposed amendment, but now is the time to take a big step and significantly alter the standing orders of the House of Commons to incorporate technology and thus greater involvement from all Canadians into the decision making process. Imagine electronic referendums and more direct, less complicated democracy, electronic interaction with constituents and with this place.

Now is the time. Carpe diem. Let us seize the day.

Pre-Budget Consultations February 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, let me compliment the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance for initiating what I hope will be a new approach to putting Canada's financial house in order.

The budget is the most influential of all government documents because it affects the lives of all Canadians more deeply than anything else. It contains the vision and the direction of government and provides the means of implementation of those programs. Therefore it is particularly important that we recognize the Auditor General's admonition in this regard when he said a compelling need is required to reconcile the convention of budget secrecy with open consultation and debate.

The taxpayers' interests must be protected and who is in a better position to do so than the taxpayers themselves?

In the pursuit to open up the consultation process and improve economic health we have turned toward big, small and medium sized businesses for answers. In this regard I wish to direct the attention of the House toward the management of government grants and contribution programs.

At this crucial time it is necessary that we ask ourselves whether this traditional means of supporting the economy continues to be the most efficient. Are the billions of dollars spent to support these programs used in the most efficient manner? Are Canadians getting the best value for their tax dollar? I submit, no.

As an example, let us go back to October, 1986. The government of the day through the Federal Business Development Bank, signed a share subscription agreement that provided $79 million of equity to a publicly held company as part of a multi-million dollar plant modernization project. A similar investment of $55 million was made by the province of British Columbia, representing $134 million in government funding for the first stage.

In total, $161 million was spent on stage one with only $27 million subscribed by the company.

In December 1992 the company advised the government that it would not be able to meet its obligations by the December 31, 1992 deadline. To date the government, through the Federal Business Development Bank, has not received any dividend payments or redemption of any of its shares. The investment before the company declared it could not meet its deadline was written down to zero in March 1992.

Did we receive the best value for our money? No. Did the contribution of funds generate revenue? No. Were the interests of the taxpayers protected? Certainly not.

Quite clearly, the government and taxpayers took most of the risk and saw no return.

Whether one agrees or not with the various government programs, the process is not effective if it allows the government to undertake the major risks with little or no risk on the part of the companies involved. Canadians cannot afford these kinds of losses. They only add to the already large deficit. It is time that the government allows big business to grow up. It is time that we recognize big business will take its own risks if government provides the right climate. Big business can get in step with the new information based economy without subsidies provided by the taxpayers' money.

Where can Canadians get the most value for their money, and how can they use that money to create employment?

Small and medium sized businesses are the backbone of employment in this country, providing well over 80 per cent of all the jobs for Canadians. It is not done easily.

When I talk to business people about the difficulties of operating their businesses, they tell me there are two major problems. First, tax burdens make it increasingly difficult to operate, to expand and to employ people. Second, they lack the knowledge about programs and assistance available to them. Given that small and medium sized businesses employ most of Canada's work force, create new jobs and help to build strong communities, it is unthinkable that this sector must suffer from an inordinate level of taxation which inhibits growth and thus employment.

We must recognize that small and medium sized businesses will be the primary sources for employment of those Canadians who have lost their jobs because of downsizing. Small and medium sized businesses will put Canadians to work in new occupations. Success in these new jobs will require that both employer and employee work together to develop the skills necessary to accomplish that transition.

The major factor for success of this re-employment strategy will be a reduction of the tax burden to the small and medium sized business. A reduced tax burden will do much more to stimulate the economy and reduce the deficit than broadening the tax base.

The second major problem for small and medium sized businesses and the one which relates directly to my discussion here this evening is the lack of knowledge among these business people about government programs and assistance.

Allow me to run through some of the current government programs designed to assist Canadian business people.

Among them are the Small Businesses Loans Act, Community Futures including business development centres, self-employment assistance and the Community Initiatives Fund, the Small Business Financing Program and the Regional Assistance Program including western economic diversification, the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency, the Federal Office of Regional Development (Quebec), and the Federal Economic Initiative for Northern Ontario.

Under research and development we have the Industrial Research Assistance Program, the Scientific Research and Experimental Tax Credit Program, and the Technology Inflow Program.

Under export assistance we have the program for export market development, the Industrial Co-operation Program and the Export Development Corporation.

Under programs for aboriginal Canadians we have the Canadian Aboriginal Economic Strategy, Aboriginal Business Development, the Aboriginal Capital Corporation and the Joint Venture Program.

That is but a sample of the programs available. I have here in my other hand 13 pages and each page has approximately 10 different kinds of program descriptions from one department. In some cases, as many as three departments operate and administer a single program.

Mr. Speaker, if you were a business person which way would you turn, which program would be best suited to your business? Is it not possible that more than one of these could provide assistance?

A preliminary conclusion would suggest that there is an overlap of function and that the potential for bureaucratic competition exists. Can a business benefit from only one program or can the same business benefit from a variety of programs simultaneously? Is it any wonder that there is confusion? Can we be assured that this system in making efficient use of taxpayers' money will exist in this budget?

Whether a business is big or small the fact is that the old way of creating a climate for business success is not the most efficient. Grants and contribution programs must be re-evaluated in terms of need, purpose and administration.

It will be the first step in opening up the budget process as we have seen it here today for consultation and debate and making the necessary improvements that will ensure that we use our resources more efficiently so that taxpayers' interests are protected. Canadians have found ways to cut costs and put their respective financial houses in order. The government must do the same.

It needs an ambitious budget that demonstrates it is master of its financial house. Then big, small and medium sized business will triumph in their pursuits of economic success and Canada can move forward into the new knowledge and information based economy with confidence. That is our challenge. Let us do it.

House Of Commons February 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to alert members of Parliament and all Canadians to an incredible annual occurrence.

According to the 1993-94 estimates expenditure plan for this House, this place has approximately 130 million pages printed annually. The total cost to Canadian taxpayers for printing services is in excess of $4 million per year and the costs are rising.

There are alternatives. We can no longer depend on antiquated methods when we are surrounded by technology that will reduce costs.

I urge the government to utilize an information highway to eliminate the printing costs associated with Hansard and other government documents, and also to ensure the efficient and timely transmission of information electronically within the House and to all Canadians.

Alcohol Consumption January 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, today while reading the Globe and Mail I was struck most forcibly by the headline: ``Planned hangover merits sick pay''.

In Ontario it was recently ruled that it is acceptable, or at least tolerable, for someone to receive benefits from intentionally getting drunk.

An employee of the Metro Housing Authority decided on a Friday that he would require a sick day on Monday because of the anticipated effects of excessive alcohol consumption over the weekend.

I rise before this House because I am sure this case was not an isolated incident. How often does this type of abuse occur? How long must hard working Canadians endure the fiscal reverberations of social irresponsibility and whimsical behaviour?

On behalf of outraged Canadians, this abuse must not be tolerated at any level. Honest and hard working individuals should not be the victims of other self-indulgent behaviour.

Speech From The Throne January 24th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I was totally unaware that those questions were being directed to me. I thought they were to the member for North Vancouver. I was really diverting my attention to other matters and therefore cannot immediately respond to those questions.

Speech From The Throne January 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise in my reply to the speech from the throne to first of all congratulate you for being elected as Speaker of this House. Second, I would like to congratulate the right hon. Jean Chr├ętien as Canada's 21st Prime Minister.

My special thanks go to the people of Okanagan Centre who elected me. I consider it a real honour to be able to represent them. I will do the best I can to honour the trust they have placed in me.

The primary question facing this Parliament is how do we get the Canadian economy going again? I will address that question from three perspectives: first, by recognizing the need for innovation; second, the acceptance of research and development as an engine of economic growth; and finally, to begin the answer to the question, how can we get that job done?

This Parliament can be Canada's defining moment of the 20th century. As members of this Parliament, we have the opportunity to raise Canada's social and economic aspirations to higher levels of individual social responsibility and accountability.

To do so the government must establish an environment in which the wild government spending of the past is tamed and brought under control. If the government fails to bring its spending under control, it will also fail to motivate individual Canadians to act responsibly and be willing to be held to account.

As a society we are in danger of falling into a kind of cultural tyranny in which minds uninformed by traditions and standards are easy to shape by whoever is driven by a strong ideology. They may not be sympathetic to unity, honesty, integrity and fiscal responsibility. Those were the values that made Canada great.

To become more specific, in order for Canada to stimulate new momentum in the economy, some fundamental changes must be made in organizing our economic pursuits.

First of all, we need to understand that we have a new economy in which huge profits are no longer possible simply by making and moving things. The main producers of wealth and economic production have become information and knowledge, specifically biotechnology, artificial intelligence, the business of space and the creation of new materials, including ceramic composites and combinations of metals or plastics with fibres.

Second, we must note the accelerating development of knowledge and its application in various sectors of the economy. We need to realize that Canada's electronic industry is bigger than its pulp and paper industry, that the computer services industry employs more people than the auto industry and that more people in B.C. work in communications and telecommunications than in forestry, that more Ontarians are employed in business services than in the construction industry and more people in Quebec have jobs in the health and medicare fields than in construction, textile, clothing, furniture, auto, forest and mining industries combined.

These realities demand we give high priority to the acceptance of research and development as an engine of economic growth. What is required to do so? First of all, it would require utilizing the results of systematic studies of material sources, administrative structures and organizations.

New sources and applications of capital must be found and employed. It will be necessary to adopt new ideas about the relationships between public and private organizations, between various levels of government and between private organizations and government. Second, it will require a government that establishes an entrepreneurial attitude toward politics.

Last week our leader, the hon. member for Calgary Southwest, challenged this Parliament to be a House beyond precedent. It is in that spirit that we require entrepreneurial politicians who will undertake innovations that promise substantial political profit while running the risk of potential loss. With such an orientation the major requirement of government is to do what is right, just and fair. Then government is in a position to create an environment that encourages and provides for the exercising of initiatives by private citizens to apply their individual and collective skills, creative talent and knowledge in making Canada the successful nation that it can become.

What must be done in order to achieve that job? First, we need a change in attitude. We need to establish and maintain an educational system that trains entrepreneurs. We need a government that will establish and maintain an economic, social and political climate that assists Canadians to become able and successful entrepreneurs without removing all the risks.

Our families need to develop an attitude that will encourage our children to become resourceful and self-sufficient. We must nurture an attitude that supports community leaders who understand, speak and demonstrate personal responsibilities and accountability. These are leaders who know and accept the need to balance reward with the cost of taking risks and who are willing to pursue a new approach because it promises greater success.

Second, we need to think big. We need to think in the longer term which means long enough to permit the innovations a reasonable chance for success but short enough to discourage lethargy and bureaucratic stonewalling. We need to think beyond our respective families, friends, associates, shareholders and subsidiary companies. We must think beyond our constituencies, regions and perhaps even beyond the boundaries of

Canada to ensure that as many people as possible will benefit from the new approaches.

We need to develop a new role for government. We need a government that acts as a facilitator and not a benefactor and regulator supreme. We need a government that adopts principles of development that encourage growth and the application of private efforts as opposed to pandering to the pressures of self-serving special interest groups.

We need a new role for the federal government that rejects the insidious pressures to centralize power yet provides leadership and guidance for all Canadians in their pursuit of harmony, health, happiness and financial independence.

By changing our attitudes, thinking big ideas and establishing a new role for government we are building on a solid foundation that some have called ordered liberty. By that I mean a state of peaceful harmony and a constituted authority that provides for each of us the freedom from captivity, imprisonment, slavery or oppressive control.

It is this ordered liberty that has given us excellence in art, discovery in science and has undergirded the ethic of work and the ethic of service. It has tempered freedom and internal restraint, inspired public virtue and the inner impulse to do good and has sent legions into battle against disease, oppression and bigotry. It has built hospitals and orphanages. Finally, it has given mercy a human face.

To preserve that ordered liberty Parliament must regain its sense of duty and moral, as well as legal, obligation and accept its responsibility to do what is right.

With that sense of duty intact we must sharpen our focus and perspective by looking beyond the confines of this House. We must have a vision that is bigger than balancing the budget, extends beyond social and economic safety nets, embraces new ideas and arouses creativity. It is a vision that not only brings about reparation but also progression.

It is such a vision that will establish hope and instil a renewed sense of confidence in Canadians who will carry this country forward to a prosperous and new economy.