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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was liberals.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Conservative MP for Newton—North Delta (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act October 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am surprised that the hon. member's question has nothing to do with the whistleblower legislation, Bill C-11. This is simply a ranting from a different point of view.

I would like to highlight that the worst corruption record in Canadian history is from the current Liberal government, for patronage appointments, for corruption, for mismanagement, for wrongdoing and for the things I mentioned earlier.

The Conservative Party of Canada believes in appointments based on merit and on transparency.

What the member should have asked is why Bill C-11 is not very effective legislation. Even though it is a step forward in the right direction, I would like the bill to be much more effective so that it would really protect the whistleblowers. In fact, any whistleblower legislation should protect the public interest that it serves and, when applied, should be free to expose the mismanagement, waste, corruption, abuse and cover-ups within the public sector without the fear of retaliation or discrimination.

With this bill, the government has blown a golden opportunity to have effective whistleblower legislation. It could have implemented real protection and meaningful reforms that the Conservative Party has been asking for, and the opposition parties in general. However what the government has done is it has given us a half-baked, half-measure kind of bill.

Bill C-11 is a step in the right direction but it is not at the point where it will actually protect all whistleblowers for the wrongdoing they expose with the corrupt Liberal government and other corrupt governments.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act October 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise again on behalf of the constituents of Newton—North Delta to participate in the third reading debate on Bill C-11, an act to establish a procedure for the disclosure of wrongdoings in the public sector, including the protection of persons who disclose the wrongdoings.

It has taken more than a decade for this weak government to fulfill its promise and produce this whistleblower legislation. Canadians have had to endure the tainted blood scandal, the HRDC boondoggle, the ballooning gun registry, and the sponsorship scandal, not to mention the numerous other smaller scale spending scandals which have been regularly occurring in this mismanaged government and which have emerged on a regular basis since the government came to power in 1993.

In each and every case, the existence of effective whistleblower legislation could have made a significant difference, but the government has not been interested. It lacks the political will. The Liberals have been more interested in protecting their own reputations than in ensuring good government and the careful handling of taxpayers' money.

It took the sponsorship scandal for the Liberals to finally make good on their 1993 campaign promise, coupled with the pressure from members of the opposition and the Conservative Party. However, even now it is obvious that their hearts and souls are not in this legislation. Up to now, it seems that the Liberal government's policy has been to control occupational free speech rather than permit it.

Rather than rewarding whistleblowers, like governments do in the United States and many other countries, the Liberals have bullied whistleblowers, intimidated them, harassed them, fired them, and ruined their professional and personal lives. The Liberals have always believed in secrecy, confidentiality and cover-ups rather than transparency, accountability and corrective actions.

Let us take a moment to remember some well publicized whistleblowing cases. Bernard Dussault, the chief actuary of the Canada pension plan, reported that he was asked to modify numbers to paint a more positive state of the CPP. He was fired from his job.

Michèle Brill-Edwards, senior physician in Health Canada's prescription drug approval process, was pressured to approve medication that had caused deaths in the United States. She went public. She had to resign from her job.

Joanna Gualtieri, DFAIT portfolio manager for Latin America and the Caribbean at the time, blew the whistle on waste and lavish spending on diplomatic housing and embassies. The inspector general and the Auditor General later supported her allegations. She was harassed and marginalized within the department. Finally she had to quit and go through the expenses of court, her career completely ruined.

Marilla Lo, senior analyst at the Treasury Board, claimed abuse and harassment, including discrimination for promotions, layoffs, and abusive management practices. She was ultimately fired from her job. Of course she later won a wrongful dismissal suit, but was then forced into retirement.

Brian McAdam was a 25 year veteran foreign service officer, an honest officer in Canadian diplomatic missions in the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, South America and Asia. In 1991 he documented evidence of corruption at Canada's foreign mission in Hong Kong, real evidence, which I have mentioned in my earlier speeches. He was demeaned and ostracized by his colleagues. He finally gave up and had to take early retirement.

Michael Sanders, a financial analyst with the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, blew the whistle on the absence of sufficient safeguards to protect taxpayers against the collapse of major financial institutions. His fate was to be fired from his job.

Dr. Shiv Chopra, a senior veterinary drug evaluator in Health Canada's therapeutic products and food branch, blew the whistle on the drug approval process for bovine growth hormones, saying that human health concerns were being completely ignored due to pressure from drug companies. His fate was to be fired from his job.

There are many other cases, including those of Corporal Robert Reid of the RCMP, Dr. Margaret Haydon of Health Canada, Bob Stanhouse, again of the RCMP, and Dr. Barry Armstrong of the Canadian armed forces. The list goes on and on, but my time is limited.

Canada is well served by professional and independent public servants, who are often the first to spot problems such as those in the sponsorship scandal. They know when their department has been told to suppress test data. They know when someone is submitting inflated travel expenses or phony invoices or when the work is not being done but the invoices are being submitted. They know what laws they are supposed to enforce and they know when they are not being enforced.

However, federal public servants who disclose wrongdoing in the workplace have little or no recourse if their manager chooses to retaliate against them. Bill C-11 proposes an improvement over the status quo, but it is far from protecting the real whistleblowers and it is not nearly as effective as legislation in other countries.

Five years ago, in the face of government opposition, I introduced legislation to protect bureaucrats who reveal wrongdoing in the workplace. In 2003 the Liberals refused to vote in support of my private member's bill because they did not have the political will to introduce any effective whistleblower legislation. They simply lacked the political will, and that is well reflected in Bill C-11.

When I blew the whistle on whistleblowing, the Liberals had their ears plugged. My private member's bill, Bill C-201, was debated in the House. It was written with the assistance of real-life whistleblowers, many of whom I have named before. They have suffered harassment and reprisals for doing what was right, for doing what was in the best interests of this country but not the Liberal Party.

One whistleblower, Joanna Gualtieri, was of great assistance. She founded the institution called FAIR. Ms. Gualtieri has highlighted a number of points that must be included in whistleblowing legislation if it is to be effective. The following points were included in Bill C-201 but are not found in Bill C-11.

First is full free speech rights. Protected whistleblowing should cover any disclosure that would be accepted in a legal forum as evidence of significant misconduct or would assist in carrying out legitimate law enforcement functions. There can be no loopholes for this one.

Second is to permit all disclosures of illegality and misconduct. Whistleblower laws should cover disclosures of any illegality, gross waste, mismanagement, abuse of authority, substantial and specific danger to public health and safety, and violations of policies, rules and conventions. They are missing from this bill.

Third is the duty to disclose illegality. It is also missing from the bill.

Fourth is that the coverage under the bill should extend to all personnel and affected communities. This is also missing.

Last, and of course, there should be safety from harassment after blowing the whistle.

Bill C-11 serves more as a tool to manage whistleblowing and rein in potential whistleblowers than it does to encourage disclosing wrongdoing. We need effective legislation that would really protect whistleblowers.

The Conservative Party deserves kudos. It is through our efforts that we have these amendments, such as whistleblowers now reporting to an independent commissioner rather than to the president of the public service, the commissioner reporting to Parliament rather than to a minister, the RCMP being included in the group of whistleblowers and the Access to Information Act restrictions being reduced to five years from twenty years. In fact, there should be no restrictions. However that goes to the Conservative Party's credit.

Similarly, there is the amendment on the removal of government bodies. The government had the arbitrary authority to remove certain bodies from coverage of whistleblower protection, such as the public service commission, the pension commission, CPP commission, Bank of Canada and many others. Compensation should be given by the commissioner and the penalties against reprisals should be given by the commissioner, not by anyone else.

All those things were the accomplishments of the Conservative Party.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act October 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I highly appreciate the efforts and the comments by the member for Winnipeg Centre. Quite some time ago he had a private member's bill to protect whistleblowers. I improved upon that bill and introduced a bill in the early part of my political life. That bill did not get to see the light of day in the House of Commons. I reintroduced it in the House and it was debated.

It was surprising that the Liberals did not support either of these bills or the efforts of other opposition MPs to introduce protection for whistleblowers. I would conclude that the Liberal Party did not have the political will to introduce any meaningful, effective whistleblower legislation. Only when the government was ridden by scandal after scandal and only when the corruption became very evident to all Canadians, were the Liberals forced to bring in whistleblower legislation, and they came up with a half-hearted approach. That was after 12 years in government.

I compliment all opposition parties that have worked significantly hard and effectively in committee to improve upon Bill C-11. Finally we have legislation that is better than before, although not perfect yet.

Does the member for Winnipeg Centre believe that the Liberal Party did not have the political will right from the beginning and that it was the efforts of private members in the House to force the government to come up with meaningful whistleblower legislation?

Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act October 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, it is shameful that the government waited for over 12 years to come up with a bill to protect public servant employees when they blow a whistle. It is shameful that when public servants are vigilant and notice some wrongdoing, corruption, mismanagement or waste in the government and blow the whistle for public safety, security and national interests, they are not protected.

The second thing that is shameful, for the Liberals particularly and the government, is that it was a private member like myself and some other members in the House who came up with this initiative many years ago, noticing that something was wrong in the system and that whistleblowers needed to be protected. The government first refused to support that initiative and then it tried to criticize and mitigate the private member's voice that was coming forward to awake the government, which was sleeping at the wheel, to come up with whistleblower legislation. When the government finally came up with a bill, it was a hopeless bill. It would have done more harm than good for those whistleblowers.

When the bill was in the committee, I appeared before the committee and made suggestions and recommendations for amendments because we wanted the democratic process to work. I am not criticizing or demonizing the role of the committee. The committee did a good job. All members of the committee from all the parties worked hard in the committee without partisanship, which is why this bill, which was hopeless in the beginning, has been changed a little and has some positive changes.

The government's role was in de facto carried on by private members to awake the sleeping government that it should come up with whistleblower legislation and make it effective in a real sense. When it came up with Bill C-11 it was hopeless and it was the Conservative members on the committee who gave positive contributions, suggestions, recommendations and amendments. That is how this bill has been changed from a bad bill to a somewhat acceptable bill at this stage.

The members of the committee did a good job and the sleeping government has to wake up and come up with amendments that will be effective and make the legislation really workable. Sometimes when it comes up with legislation it is simply a framework but there is no substance to it. Sometimes it comes up with a little substance which does more harm than good, but it is the members of the opposition who keep the government in line and make the bills effective.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act October 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on behalf of the constituents of Newton—North Delta to participate in the report stage debate on Bill C-11, the public servants disclosure protection act. Bill C-11 creates a procedure for the disclosure of wrongdoing in the federal public sector. If enacted, this bill would finally give Canada whistleblowing legislation, something other nations have had for decades.

When we look into the background of the bill, we see that this government has had 4,350 days to fulfill its promise and introduce effective whistleblowing legislation. That is how long this government has had.

The former government House leader, the hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, said in 1992, while in opposition, “Public servants must be able to report about illegal or unethical behaviour that they encounter on the job without fear or reprisal”. In his speech, the hon. member then went on to quote a Liberal caucus-approved document, “Public Sector Ethics”, calling for whistleblowing legislation.

However, once secure in office, the Liberals quickly forgot about their promises. In the end, it took the sponsorship scandal for this weak-kneed government to dust off its decade-old promise.

Meanwhile, we have witnessed billions of taxpayers' dollars disappear. The sponsorship scandal could have been avoided or at least quashed years ago if whistleblowing legislation had been in place. The same holds true for the HRDC boondoggle, the George Radwanski affair, the gun registry cost overruns and so on.

Public service integrity officer Edward Keyserlingk, referring to the sponsorship program scandal, said that whistleblowing legislation could have saved taxpayers millions of dollars by giving public servants “the confidence to come forward”.

It is little wonder no one blew the whistle on this scandal. In the absence of any whistleblowing legislation, even well-meaning public servants are reluctant to come forward because they know that making trouble will be a career ending move.

This government claims to support whistleblowers, but its actions indicate otherwise. Let us look at the case of the three scientists from Health Canada who were fired in June 2004: Margaret Haydon, Shiv Chopra and Gérard Lambert.

They were among this country's most outspoken whistleblowers. They raised issues such as the safety of a bovine growth hormone proposed for use in dairy herds to boost milk production, the influence of corporations in government drug approvals, and the need to keep animal parts out of the feed supply to keep beef safe. All three were fired on the same day for undisclosed reasons, which, Canadians were told, had nothing whatsoever to do with their whistleblowing. The government must think Canadians are hopelessly naive.

The Liberals have been boasting about Bill C-11 and everything they are doing for public servants who disclose wrongdoing. However, firing dissenting research scientists sends another message. It tells public servants that debate is discouraged in the federal government and no one's job is safe.

As far as Bill C-11 is concerned, in its original form the bill would have done more harm than good for whistleblowers. However, after a lot of hard work by Conservatives in committee, some of the major flaws have been corrected.

I do not want anyone to get me wrong. The bill is still far from perfect but thanks to the pressure applied by the Conservative Party, the government has relented and tabled amendments to create an independent commissioner to hear and investigate disclosures of wrongdoing. This was an essential change to the proposed legislation.

Other amendments have not been forthcoming, including: having the commissioner report directly to Parliament instead of to a minister; prohibitions of reprisals against those who make disclosures of wrongdoing to the public, media, police or anyone outside the narrow process prescribed in the bill; elimination of provisions to change the Access to Information Act to allow departments to refuse to release information about internal disclosures of wrongdoing for five years; and, the bill would still allow cabinet to arbitrarily remove government bodies from protection under Bill C-11.

The bill represents an improvement over the status quo but it remains clear that the government is more interested in managing whistleblowing than protecting and encouraging public servants who uncover evidence of wrongdoing.

It would be interesting to know if there could have been a better way to protect whistleblowers. Like the members for New Brunswick Southwest and Winnipeg Centre, as well as Senator Kinsella, I have for years been lobbying for a strong whistleblower protection. In October 2000, I introduced Bill C-508, the whistleblower human rights act, which was probably the first bill introduced in that session about whistleblowing protection.

My legislation, drafted with the help of actual whistleblowers, including Joanna Gualtieri, Brian McAdam, Robert Reid and many others, would have given people the confidence to come forward but the Liberals could not muster up the courage to support an opposition member's bill.

When the bill finally came to a vote in February 2003 as Bill C-201, because I had reintroduced the same bill, government members refused to lend their support to my initiative. If the government had been sincere about whistleblowing, Liberal members would have voted differently that day. We know the government did not want to pass the bill at that time. Instead, it revealed how phoney its promise had been.

The last time I participated in the debate on Bill C-11, I highlighted a good comparison of my bill, which was drafted by whistleblowers, to Bill C-11 at that stage. There was a big contrast. Many members on the Liberal side were nodding their heads in favour of some of the things that I was proposing in my bill.

The government needs to do more to encourage the reporting of wrongdoing and should stress that it is an important civic responsibility. In fact, it should be the stated duty of every employee to disclose any wrongdoing that comes to their attention.

Based on the experiences of the whistleblowers I have met, their careers and personal lives have been devastated. I believe an employee who has alleged wrongdoing and suffers from retaliatory action as a consequence should have a right to bring a civil action before a court. As well, allegations of wrongdoing should be rewarded like in California where whistleblowers are entitled to 10% of the money government saves as a result of their vigilance.

It is vital that the threat of employer retaliation be eliminated to encourage government employees to speak up. This will assist in curtailing the misuse of taxpayer dollars. Every day there seems to be new reports of corruption and scandal with the government that could be eliminated.

When I blew the whistle on whistleblowing, the Liberals had their ears plugged. Four years ago, in the face of government opposition, I introduced legislation which the Liberals refused to support at that time. Now is the time they should be serious about making this bill effective. Since it was first introduced some important amendments have been made but it is still flawed. I think we will let it pass so that a Conservative government will have the opportunity to make it stronger.

Justice October 3rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, a recent survey found that 10% of high school kids in Surrey use crystal meth, North America's most dangerous drug. This highly addictive drug is cheap and easy to get. As a result of the Liberals' inaction, the crystal meth crisis is getting out of hand.

When will the government introduce mandatory prison sentences for drug pushers and a national drug strategy to help people, especially children, before their lives are devastated by crystal meth?

Justice September 27th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, last Saturday, I was joined by the member for Fleetwood--Port Kells and thousands of others in a candlelight vigil in memory of 82-year-old Mewa Singh Bains and 76-year-old Shingara Singh Thandi, two men who died in separate attacks while visiting Bear Creek Park in Surrey.

Apparently the seniors were beaten with a baseball bat by two young offenders, aged 13 and 15.

Those gathered Saturday night demanded justice and tough penalties for the guilty.

The Liberal government has done nothing to cut crime in our community. Our streets, parks and homes are not safe. We need minimum mandatory sentences for violent crimes, truth in sentencing and more resources for law enforcement. Hate crimes resulting from ignorance must be eliminated through proper education.

These heinous crimes should serve as a wake-up call for the Liberals. The government must stop pressing the snooze button and protect our senior citizens and other citizens now.

Liberal Party of Canada June 2nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, do you remember the 1993 election? The Liberals won because they promised to eliminate GST and do away with free trade, but they reneged.

Instead, they raised taxes and increased spending. In the process, their misplaced priorities damaged our health care, defence and agriculture. They bought votes with taxpayer money.

Then came the scandals: Somalia, tainted blood, the HRDC $1 billion boondoggle, the gun registry fiasco, the list goes on, and damaging Auditor General's reports, one after another. Meanwhile, western alienation has gone from bad to worse.

The Gomery inquiry brought the corruption in the Liberal government to light. The Liberals put tax dollars into the party's coffers.

They made deals with the NDP on the budget to prop themselves up.

Then came the new low: the Prime Minister's office buying MPs' votes to save non-confidence votes.

It is little wonder Canadians are losing confidence in the Liberals.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make Certain Payments May 19th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the hon. member who made the previous remarks has not listened to the audio recording of the chief of staff of the Prime Minister's Office.

With respect to this budget, as I have said, it is not helping my constituency, my constituents or the infrastructure development for small businesses to create jobs. It is not helping to get homes and accommodation for the homeless. It is not helping to alleviate poverty. It is not helping to fix the health care system for Surrey Memorial Hospital or Delta Hospital. This budget is not doing anything to give relief to my constituents. Therefore, I will be voting against this budget.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make Certain Payments May 19th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, this NDP-Liberal budget is not helping my community. Hospitals in my community are not being taken care of. Waiting lines will continue. There is a shortage of beds, doctors and nurses. That cannot be fixed by this budget. Students are not getting any benefits from this budget. Their spiraling debt will continue and their tuition fees will continue to increase.

This political budget agreed to by the Liberals and the NDP was simply agreed to in order to save the government's face and help it cling to power. The bill is a reflection of the new federal NDP budget, one the Liberals have amended after they said it could not be amended. The government's record definitely speaks for itself. Taxes are high and small businesses oppose this budget.

I am confident in opposing this budget because it does not help people back in my constituency. It does not provide any relief to communities where more jobs could be created, where infrastructure development could be strong, and where health care, education and the environment could be taken care of.

On the other hand, a Conservative government would reduce business taxes. By reducing business taxes we would be encouraging foreign and domestic businesses to invest in Canada thereby strengthening the economy. This would also mean better jobs for Canadian workers.

Lower business taxes mean greater returns for pension plan members, for their RRSPs, for mutual funds, and for a few common shares. Using that money would strengthen Canada's economy not for political payoffs but for investing back in the communities. I will have to vote against this budget until everything is amended.