Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was industry.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Canadian Alliance MP for Skeena (B.C.)

Lost his last election, in 2004, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Specific Claims Resolution Act February 28th, 2003

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-6, an act related to the Canadian centre for the independent resolution of first nations specific claims. It is my understanding that the purpose of the bill is to create an independent institution to provide for the filing, negotiation, and resolution of specific claims.

Try as he might to say otherwise, the Prime Minister will have an everlasting legacy over his treatment of the aboriginal people of Canada. I do believe that in his heart he has tried to get it right. It is just unfortunate that aboriginal Canadians continue to pay the price for him getting it wrong.

On almost all fronts, aboriginal Canadians are the poorest, most undereducated group of people in all of Canada. Their on-reserve unemployment rates rank as high as 80% to 90%. The drug and alcohol abuse is heart breaking, and the imprisonment and reoffending rate is higher than any other group in Canada. Yes, there is a legacy here. Unfortunately, to Canadians and in particular aboriginal Canadians, it is an infamous one.

Let me first make clear what the Alliance policy is with regard to settling of aboriginal claims. Our position in land claims negotiations would be to ensure respect for existing private property rights, affordable and conclusive settlements of all claims, and an open and transparent process involving all stakeholders.

Aboriginal Canadians will not be able to move forward as individuals or as an autonomous group until the outstanding claims are settled conclusively and with finality.

The Prime Minister and the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development are living in a world that has passed them by. They refuse to acknowledge that their past attempts to resolve the many outstanding issues have all failed and yet they continue to repeat the same mistake over and over again. Fresh approaches and renewed attitudes are needed in order to see substantial change for the betterment of aboriginal Canadians.

The bill would expedite only claims for cash involving less than $7 million and not any larger claims or claims for land. In addition, the commissioner and adjudicators would not be representative of all stakeholders, as they would be appointed by the Prime Minister.

As I understand the process involved under the bill, the centre would consist of a commission and a tribunal. In turn the claims process would proceed through three stages.

First, the input and preparatory stage where the first nations would submit their claim to the commission, arrange research funding and notify interested parties of the claim. Second, the validity stage where the Crown would decide whether or not to accept the claim. If the Crown refuses the claim, the first nation can ask for dispute resolution led by the commission. If that fails, the first nation can ask the commission to refer the claim to the tribunal to decide on its validity. Third, is the negotiation stage. When the claim is accepted by the Crown, or deemed valid by the tribunal, it would enter a commission led negotiation. If negotiation fails, the first nation could ask the commission to refer the claim to the tribunal for a binding decision on cash compensation to a maximum of $7 million. Obviously, this limits the ability of many first nations, and the federal and provincial governments where involved, to resolve claims because most claims are much larger than that.

I have several concerns regarding the bill. Although the centre is slated to be in Ottawa, there appears to have been no consideration for where the most cost effective location for the centre would be.

I am pleased to note that the Auditor General of Canada would audit the financial accounts of the centre annually and the report of the audit would be made to the centre and the minister. Although there is a time lag for the reporting mechanism of the centre to the minister and a further time lag of the minister tabling the relevant documents in the House, there is the appearance of some transparency.

What concerns me is that the minister would not be presenting the quarterly reports from the centre to Parliament. This is wrong and they should be tabled, thus keeping parliamentarians fully apprised of the centre's financial well-being. Let us not have another gun registry on our hands as Canadians cannot afford that.

Another of my concerns relates to the efficiency of the process. The government needs to re-examine its approach to defining access to the proposed claims centre. If it were to be more efficient, the minister would need to determine how to allow more access for legitimate claims. The government must ensure that transparency exists throughout the entire process. It is not reasonable to give government the right to hold up the process as it decides whether or not to hear a claim because it provides no timelines or final deadlines for government to provide an answer. Furthermore, it would provide no mechanism for the commission or the claimant to move the process forward in the event of extended delay by the government.

The government appears determined to continue to hold on to all of its dictatorial power, all the while paying lip service to aboriginal Canadians.

Clause 32 would allow the government to require the claimant to meet an excessive threshold of proof of having used all available mediation mechanisms before allowing the first nation to request a move to the tribunal in the case of an unresolved claim. This appears to be nothing less than another stalling mechanism for the government. Of special note is that this clause would also impose a cap on the validity stage of the process.

I am concerned about the arbitrary $7 million cap for compensation approval by the centre. I understand there were other proposals, as high as $25 million, however the amendment was defeated. Furthermore, the process used to determine the actual compensation is difficult, if not impossible, to determine.

One of my greatest concerns surrounds clause 77. This clause reads:

The Governor in Council may make regulations

(a) adding to Part 2 of the schedule the name of any agreement related to aboriginal self-government; and

(b) prescribing anything that may, under this Act, be prescribed.

Once again this appears to be a loophole that would allow the government to fill in the blanks after the bill has passed under the watchful eye of Parliament. Although the Prime Minister talks the talk about parliamentary democracy, he is unable to walk the walk. Legislation should not be something that can be added to arbitrarily after the fact.

Let me confirm that the Canadian Alliance supports the fair and expeditious resolution of claims in a manner that benefits relations between aboriginal Canadians and the federal government, and in fact all Canadians. The bill would not achieve that goal. The federal government has it all wrong with timing. Under this draft of the bill, first nations could not file claims based on events that occurred within the 15 years immediately preceding the filing of a claim.

The bill would raise false hopes and open the floodgates for more claims that first nations have held back. The centre risks being overwhelmed by cases, just like the Liberal gun registry, resulting in an even larger backlog and ultimately higher costs.

In the past three decades the government has settled only 230 claims. Some 500 claims are still waiting to be heard. First nations representatives tell us they expect up to 1,000 more claims to be filed. At the current rate it would take 200 years to deal with all of these claims. That is totally ridiculous.

In 1993 the Liberal red book promised an independent claims commission jointly appointed by first nations and the Government of Canada. The bill breaks that promise by concentrating the power to make appointments in the PMO.

Bill C-6 requires change and amendments before being ratified. I would ask all members of the House to support the current amendment that would send the bill back to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources. This legislation is flawed and requires serious change before becoming law.

The Environment February 28th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I asked the environment minister why he is so negative toward offshore oil and gas development in B.C.

Does the minister not know that the offshore oil and gas industry has a history of success around the world, from Alaska to California, Hibernia, and Aberdeen in Norway? For example, comments made in the B.C. legislature last week made it clear that the minister had no credibility with the B.C. Liberal government.

Why will he not admit that he is a major stumbling block toward development in B.C. and just sail off into the sunset?

The Environment February 27th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, how many more studies need to be done?

The B.C. energy minister stated in the B.C. Hansard :

Well, there are only a few negative people in British Columbia that don't want to see any development in the province. They're [the federal environment minister] and the two [NDP] members that sit in opposition. I can't tell you whether the $120 million is real, because I don't think [the federal environment minister] knows whether it's real. He continues to throw roadblocks in front of British Columbia on any kind of development we want to move forward with.

My question for the minister is, why? Is he really from British Columbia?

The Environment February 27th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday, February 18 the B.C. energy minister was asked a question in his legislature. That question was based on a statement by the federal environment minister that $120 million would need to be spent on environmental studies before the federal government would consider lifting the drilling ban for oil and gas off Canada's west coast.

Did the Minister of the Environment make such a statement and if so, on what does he base his numbers?

Assisted Human Reproduction Act February 27th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today as this is my opportunity to speak to Bill C-13, the reproductive technologies act, which is being debated currently at report stage.

The bill has sparked a good degree of concern from constituents in my riding of Skeena. I have received numerous letters, phone calls and e-mails expressing various degrees of concern for the details contained in the bill.

I would like to begin by outlining the concerns of my constituents, the concerns expressed by my party, the Canadian Alliance, and my personal concerns with the bill.

I do not disagree with everything in Bill C-13. There are in fact areas that I do support. I fully support bans on reproductive or therapeutic cloning, chimeras, animal-human hybrids, sex selection, germ line alteration, buying and selling of embryos and paid surrogacy. I also support an agency to regulate the sector, although we do want changes.

The Canadian Alliance opposes human cloning as an affront to human dignity, individuality and rights. We have repeatedly spoken out against human cloning, urging the federal government to bring in legislation to stave off the potential threat of cloning research in Canada.

In September 2001 we tabled a motion at a health committee meeting calling on the government to immediately ban human reproductive cloning. The Liberals deferred a vote on the motion. Their preference was to deal with cloning in a comprehensive reproductive technologies bill.

I would like to address what exactly the bill itself says. The preamble states:

--the health and well-being of children born through [assisted human reproduction] must be given priority...human individuality and diversity, and the integrity of the human genome, must be preserved and protected.

We support the recognition that the health and well-being of children born through assisted human reproduction, or AHR, should be given priority. In fact the health committee came up with a ranking of whose interests should have priority in decision making around AHR and related research: one, children born through AHR; two, adults participating in AHR procedures; and three, researchers and physicians who conduct AHR research.

While the preamble recognizes the priority of AHR offspring, other sections of the bill fail to meet this standard. Children born through donor insemination or from donor eggs are not given the right to know the identity of their biological parents.

The bill's preamble does not provide an acknowledgement of human dignity or respect for human life. Bill C-13 is intimately connected with the creation of human life, yet there is no overarching recognition of the principle of respect for human life. This is a grave deficiency.

Our minority report recommended:

That the final legislation clearly recognize the human embryo as human life and that the Statutory Declaration include the phrase “respect for human life”.

We believe the preamble and the mandate of the proposed agency should be amended to include reference to this principle.

I would like to now move on to the area of the bill of most concern to the constituents who wrote to me from Skeena riding, and that is research using human embryos. With regard to research using human embryos, the bill would allow the experiment under five conditions.

First, only in vitro embryos left over from the IVF process can be used for research. Embryos cannot be created for research with one notable exception: they can be created for purposes of improving or providing instruction in AHR procedures.

Second, written permission must be given by the donor, although donor is singular, and research on a human embryo if the use is necessary, and necessary is undefined, and all human embryos must be destroyed after 14 days if not frozen. We have some concerns with some of those issues.

Embryonic research is ethically controversial and it divides Canadians. As an example, numerous petitions containing thousands of signatures have been tabled in the House calling for ethical stem cell research. Embryonic stem cell research inevitably results in the death of the embryo. For many Canadians this violates the ethical commitment to respect human dignity, integrity and life.

Adult stem cells are a safe, proven alternative to embryonic stem cells. Sources of adult stem cells include umbilical cord blood, skin tissue, bone tissue, et cetera. Adult stem cells are easily accessible, are not subject to immune rejection and pose minimal ethical concerns. Adult stem cells are being used today in the treatment of Parkinson's, leukemia, multiple sclerosis and other conditions. Embryonic stem cells have not been used in the successful treatment of a single person.

Research focus should be on the more promising and proven alternative. Our minority report called for a three year prohibition on experiments with human embryos, corresponding with the first scheduled review of the bill.

Bill C-13 states that embryonic research can be undertaken if the agency is satisfied that such research is necessary. During its review of draft legislation, the health committee recommended that such research should be permitted only if researchers can demonstrate that, “No other category of biological material could be used for the purpose of the proposed research”.

During the committee's review of Bill C-13, we tried to restore the spirit of this recommendation with an amendment specifying that healing therapies should be the object of such research. The committee rejected this amendment and the Speaker rejected it coming forward for report stage debate.

Bill C-13 specifies that the consent of the donor to a human embryo is required in order to use a human embryo for experiments. The bill leaves it to the regulations to define donor. However there are two donors to every human embryo, a woman and a man. Both donors should be required to give written consent for the use of a human embryo, not just one.

With regard to the regulatory agency, the bill outlines the following. It creates the Assisted Human Reproduction Agency of Canada to issue licences for controlled activities. A board of directors would be appointed by the governor in council. The bill was amended in committee requiring board members to have no financial interest in any business regulated or controlled by the bill. The health minister is now trying to remove one of the new clauses which she says would prevent almost anyone from serving on the board. An annual report, though not specified in Bill C-13, is required through clause 74, which adds Bill C-13 to a schedule of the Financial Administration Act. The agency would produce the annual report which would be tabled in the House by the minister.

The concerns that we have with clause 25 are that it allows the minister to give any policy direction she likes to the agency and the agency must follow it without question. If the agency was an independent agency answerable to Parliament, such political direction would be more difficult. The entire clause should be eliminated.

The Canadian Alliance proposed amendments specifying that agency board members be chosen for their wisdom and judgment. This was a health committee recommendation in “Building Families”. We want to avoid an agency captured by interests. Members must be able to work together to pursue the greater good, not merely represent certain constituencies. The Liberals rejected their own recommendation when our amendment came up during Bill C-13 review in committee.

The health minister wants to delete one of the clauses requiring board members of the AHR agency to come under conflict of interest rules.

The health committee got it right. Board members should not have commercial interests in the field of AHR or related research, fertility clinics and biotech companies. Imagine an employee or investor in a biotech company with financial interest in embryonic stem cell research making decisions for Canadians on the regulation of such research, including the definition of the word “necessary” as specified in clause 40. Or imagine a director of a fertility clinic making regulations on limits on sperm and egg donations, numbers of embryos produced for IVF treatment. Such conflict of interest needs to be prevented in this legislation.

The health minister says subclause 26(8) would prevent almost anyone from serving on the board. This was clearly not the intent of the health committee.

With regard to donor anonymity, Bill C-13 states that although the agency will hold information on donor identity, children conceived through donor insemination or donor eggs will have no right to know the identity of their parents without their written consent. Donor offspring will have access to medical information of their biological parents.

Donor offspring and many of their parents want to end the secrecy that shrouds donor anonymity and denies children knowledge of an important chapter of their lives. The Liberals claim to want to put the interest of children first. In this case they think the desires of some parents should trump the needs and interests of children.

In its review of draft legislation, the health committee recommended an end to donor anonymity. The Canadian Alliance minority report said clearly:

--where the privacy rights of the donors of human reproductive materials conflict with the rights of children to know their genetic and social heritage, the rights of the children shall prevail.

This is absolutely essential.

When the issue came up during the review of Bill C-13, the Liberals defeated an Alliance amendment to end anonymity in a close six to five vote.

There are a number of other issues, however, in conclusion, I would like to say that with specific regard to these amendments debated today at report stage of Bill C-13, I will at this time be voting in favour of most of them.

However, with regard to the entire bill, I must reiterate that I have some very serious concerns which I have outlined here today. Unless and until those concerns have been addressed and the changes are made to the bill, I will be voting against it.

My vote against Bill C-13 will be made in good conscience, knowing that my party, the Canadian Alliance, has done everything in its power to try to improve the bill and knowing the government has once again used its majority in the House to push through what it knows is flawed legislation.

Fisheries February 26th, 2003

Mr. Chairman, I definitely do agree. We have heard it very loudly and very clearly that there is not enough money, training or personnel. There will some huge problems with the whole Coast Guard and DFO. It is a nightmare.

Quite frankly, with the few dollars that the minister has thrown at the Coast Guard in this budget is just not satisfactory. On the north coast, in my riding of Skeena, we heard very clearly, when the committee was there, about the problems with equipment breakdowns, old equipment and lack of personnel. It just is not on and it is time the government wakes up and realizes it.

Fisheries February 26th, 2003

Mr. Chairman, certainly my colleague has raised some very valid topics. One of the big problems is that DFO has not addressed its responsibility of dealing with aquaculture as a whole.

There have been huge cutbacks in DFO budgets. We heard earlier about the lack of scientific evidence and input into some of these problems, but aquaculture is an industry that is operated worldwide. It is in South America, Norway, Scotland, Ireland. There have been problems. We definitely have to learn from those problems. There is no question about that.

The point I am trying to make is that we have to learn in order to develop properly. If we do not do it right, it is like any other industry. It has to be done right. I do not care if it is a pulp mill, or a sawmill, or a steel foundry or any kind of industry, there have to be rules and regulations which have to be met and adhered to. I do not think aquaculture is any different.

Where we have fallen down is in setting out the rules and regulations and ensuring that they are adhered to, and there is where we have to learn in Canada.

Fisheries February 26th, 2003

Mr. Chairman, my colleague said that someone could learn a lot from the west about aquaculture. I think the west has a lot to learn about aquaculture. It is in its infancy in the west. I strongly believe that the industry has a future but it also has a lot to learn.

There have been problems in other venues with the industry. Right now in British Columbia there are some real issues around sea lice and siting of aquaculture operations. It is like any other industry, the rules and regulations have to be in place and they have to be enforced. DFO has fallen down very badly in terms of enforcing proper siting in dealing with some of the problems that have occurred with the aquaculture industry.

I believe the industry is willing to co-operate, to learn and move on. It also needs the co-operation of this government and the department of fisheries in terms of helping it to develop and grow into a viable industry in British Columbia.

Fisheries February 26th, 2003

Mr. Chairman, the whole seal issue started some 40 years ago when it became known that Brigitte Bardot went out on the ice flows, and it just became a very emotional issue. At that time, the stocks were very strong and we stopped harvesting in a major way. We can see what has happened.

There is no question that on the west coast we have a huge and growing seal population. They are just as devastating to the salmon as they are to the cod stocks. As my colleague said earlier, a seal takes a bite out of the cod's stomach and off he goes. He gets the liver and maybe a little more. They do the same thing with the salmon. One seal can knock off 30, 40, 50 salmon a day. That is devastating to the stocks. When hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of seals are knock off these salmon every day, it is a huge problem.

On top of that, they sit at the mouths of the rivers. Seals are pretty smart little guys and they know where the food is. They sit at the mouths of the rivers. When the fish go up to spawn, they knock them off. In the spring when the fingerlings, the little salmon, come out, the seals sit at the mouth of the river and fill their stomachs. They will have thousands of little fish in their stomachs. I have seen it when they have been cut open.

It is devastating to the fish stocks. If we are to have a fishery on either coast, we have to deal with this problem.

Fisheries February 26th, 2003

It is a little risky, given September 11 and the possible threats out there. Our coasts are unguarded and it is something that must be dealt with. It can only be dealt with by adequate funding and the Coast Guard badly needs that funding.

The only MCTS Coast Guard operation in my region of Skeena is basically radio, VHF systems. When it goes down it is sometimes down for weeks on end because of weather, lack of parts, or old equipment. It just is not satisfactory and the Coast Guard cannot do its job without proper funding. We must address that.

The major thrust tonight was brought on by the Conservative Party and its concern about the east coast fishery problems. I had the opportunity last year to travel the east coast with the fishery committee and listen to some of the concerns. The possible moratorium on the northern cod stocks would be devastating to Newfoundland and Labrador. It would decimate communities and quite frankly there must be a better solution.

The solution that we must consider for the longer term is dealing with the seal population. There is absolutely no way that we can ignore that any longer. It must be dealt with.

There is a problem in Yukon and northern B.C. with placer miners. Fisheries and Oceans Canada in Yukon is creating a huge problem for the placer mining industry. It would devastate the Yukon economy. It would also seriously affect the economy in northern British Columbia because of regulations that are being put in place by the fisheries department that are absolutely untenable and cannot be lived with. Again, it is an issue that must be dealt with.

If the fishery were really a priority for the government, we would not be debating it this way. This would not have been a take note debate and our comments would have been taken seriously. I strongly urge the minister and the government to take these comments under serious consideration.