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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was money.

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

Won his last election, in 2004, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Federal Election March 12th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, like many of my colleagues I have just gone through a long nomination process to be choose to represent the Conservative Party of Canada in the upcoming election.

I would like to thank all those who supported me and to congratulate my challenger for a well run campaign.

Now I turn my attention to the challengers from other parties. I know the chosen Liberal candidate. He has his work cut out for him because he has to run with a severe handicap. He is running on the Liberal platform, whatever that is. He will have to explain why he is running for a party that has done so much against the values held dear by my constituents. He will also have to explain why he supports a party that has spread the culture of corruption not only throughout the party but indeed throughout much of the federal bureaucracy.

The next election will finally dislodge the Liberals from their arrogant assumption that they have the right to govern. Governing is not a right; it is something that must be earned. The only thing the Liberals have earned is the public scorn for that culture of corruption.

I encourage all our membership to get out and vote on March 20, and keep in mind, we are not just electing a new leader. We are electing the next Prime Minister of Canada.

Sponsorship Program February 20th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, is this not wonderful. There has been two years spent on a single file and there is still no answer.

Perhaps the reason the RCMP have not completed their investigation of VIA is that they themselves are the subject of an investigation as part of the same money laundering scam.

Does the minister believe Canadians should ever expect to receive the real truth when one of the participants involved in the scam is tasked with examining the others?

Sponsorship Program February 20th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, in 2002 I pointed out to the then minister of public works that VIA Rail had laundered $1 million from the Liberal advertising scam and, worse, that Lafleur Communications Marketing was paid $112,000 to deliver the cheque to VIA and then donated $57,000 to the Liberal Party.

The minister, who is now the Minister of Finance, stated that he too was troubled by this file and had referred it to the RCMP for investigation.

Could he now tell us what the outcome of that RCMP investigation was?

Corrections and Conditional Release Act February 20th, 2004

No, it will be better. We will bring it in.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act February 20th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister has used an interesting choice of words.

This is a very typical example of Liberal legislation. Liberal legislation, for those who have not already caught on to this, is where the Liberals take a change that has been demanded by the public and they take just the tiniest little bit so they can say they listened to the public's concerns, have addressed them and now they will act.

Heaven help opposition members if they vote against it because they were the ones who said that the changes were necessary and here we are changing it. If the opposition votes against it, obviously it did not want these changes at all.

The fact is that they only take that tiniest little bit of change because they do not want to offend their strange friends who do not want to see any changes in the system that would actually cut down on the rights of criminals over the rights of law-abiding citizens.

Let us take, as an example, statutory release. They are talking about conditions that will be implemented to say that under these conditions prisoners may not now qualify for statutory release under certain types of violent crime and so on. However, conditional sentencing, which was brought in by her predecessor, who I think will become ambassador to the United Nations or something, has now been applied to violent offenders. When we brought it back to the House the public was outraged. What did the then justice minister have to say? He said that he had never intended that it should apply to violent offenders.

The Deputy Prime Minister is now saying that we are going to take these prisoners who do make it to jail, although not all of them do, and tell them they may not be able to get statutory release. Of course we have judges out there who are telling them that they may not even have to go to prison.

I would think, if the Deputy Prime Minister is serious about making some proper changes in the justice system, she would make changes first to the sentencing provisions by getting rid of class one and class two offences as being eligible for conditional sentencing in the first place so that those people are incarcerated.

Then we get to the question of statutory release. Statutory release, for anyone who does not understand what it is, is a very liberal provision that says that when prisoners have served two-thirds of their sentence, regardless of how they acted inside the prison, regardless of whether they have participated in any corrective programs, regardless of whether they have been incorrigible inside or fought with guards or other prisoners, they would be released. In fact, they could be in segregation at the time their statutory release comes up and they would go right from administrative segregation out into the public.

We did a study on this a few years back. I sat on that study, as did the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough who was in the Progressive Conservative Party at the time. One of the things we really looked for in the review of the CCRA was the total and absolute abolishment of statutory release. We both listened to the arguments as to why there should be a parole system. We both understand the concept of not wanting to keep prisoners until the end of their date, warrant expiry as it is referred to, and then simply open up the door and have them walk out. It is far better to have them go out under some form of supervision to reintegrate them into society.

We both accept that, except they have to earn that release. They have to earn the right to get out before warrant expiry to go back into the public under conditions and supervision. We accept that and in fact totally support it. However we do not support prisoners, who have not done a single solitary thing to earn it, being released.

This is what happens inside a prison. If prisoners behave well, if they show some remorse and try to rehabilitate themselves, avail themselves of the programs that might be suitable for them to take, particularly given their offences, they can get out earlier than two-thirds of their sentence.

However what often happens with some of these prisoners inside is that they do not see the need to bother making any kind of effort to co-operate with the guards or take any programs because they know they will be released automatically after serving two-thirds of their sentence. Even if they get caught with dope, fight with other prisoners or throw buckets of urine on the security guards inside the prison they know they will still get out early because of the statutory release provisions.

When we studied this at the subcommittee, the subcommittee that was tasked with the review of the whole CCRA, statutory release became a big point for the opposition. I proposed that we recommend to the government that we abolish statutory release. Interestingly enough, after studying it and after listening to a lot of witnesses all very much in support of it, the Liberal members of the subcommittee agreed to recommend that statutory release should be abolished.

We wrote a preliminary report that went upstairs to the PMO. The report came back with probably a very nasty note that said “Don't you dare make such a recommendation to us. Get back in there, call some new witnesses who will back you on the need for statutory release and change your recommendation”.

The Liberals came back, very sheepishly and somewhat apologetically, and told us that they would have to disagree on that one area but that they could agree to everything else. I said, “Not a chance. We made compromises in our position to get statutory release in because it was something we had identified as being important to the public”. So they marched in a bunch of their specially selected people and tried to come up with the argument that the jails would be overcrowded and that if we did not have statutory release, some prisoners would not be able to earn release and would be in until warrant expiry, which would lead to overcrowding in the jail.

We have to first listen to what the Liberals themselves were saying on this issue. They wanted to allow some people, who could not behave well enough to earn parole, out of jail. These are prisoners who cannot earn parole because their behaviour is not sufficient to trust them out in the public. They cannot earn the parole so we will simply give it to them automatically.

That is the kind of absurdity that is going on in the system. That is what is wrong with the minister's bill today. She wants to tinker around the edge. She wants to maybe make a few little provisions dealing with how to work statutory release. The reality of how to work statutory release is to get rid of it. We need something where prisoners will try to earn parole and work their way back into society.

I am all in support of the concept of rehabilitation. First, we want to prevent crime wherever possible. We want to change the system enough that we do not have people committing these stupid crimes that lead them to jail. When they are in jail, we want to encourage them to recognize that they made a mistake, that they will rejoin society and be a valuable, law-abiding member of society. This is not the way the system works right now and tinkering around the edges of it will not make those kinds of changes.

I could probably go on for about an hour on this subject alone but I see that I do not have that kind of time. I have some encouragement from the Liberal side, which does want me to go on, but, unfortunately, the rules they have put in place prevent that.

I can assure the House that if the government keeps tinkering around the edge of legislation, we will continue to oppose it. There is something wrong when it cannot come out with one decent piece of legislation that goes all the way, instead of legislation that tries to pretend it has done something.

We still hear to this day that the Liberals offered us a triple E Senate but that we turned it down. They still bring that red herring out every so often, all because they came out with an absolutely unworkable set of constitutional amendments that 70-some-odd per cent of this country turned down, even though it contained a couple of decent things. To this day they still maintain that we voted against the good things, which, of course, technically speaking, we did because it was embedded with a whole lot of bad stuff.

It is the same thing with the bill. There may be tiny bits of merit in it but we are always faced with the conundrum of voting for the little bits of improvement that the government is willing to make or to say no, because if it cannot be done right then it should not be done at all. Should we just tell them to get out of the way and we will do it? Well the day when we can do it is coming very close. We expect that in spite of all the scandals, all the investigations and the fact that we will not hear back on any of these investigations for awhile, the Prime Minister will go ahead and call the election. The main reason, as bad as the news is now, is that he knows it will only get worse.

When the Liberals come out with legislation like this, they deserve to be booted out. They should move over and we will bring in legislation Canadians really want.

Government Programs February 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister claims that as the former finance minister he knew nothing about the advertising scandal. That is a red herring. At least two years ago every MP in the House knew, so obviously he knew as well.

The real question is not whether he knew but rather why, as the finance minister, he did nothing about it. As finance minister he cut funding to health care, defence, the justice system, training, education, all areas important to Canadians.

Why then, as the government's key financial man, did he not do anything to curb the scandalous skimming of funds through the Liberals' money laundering advertising scheme?

In December the billion dollar firearms registry was forecasted to cost $113 million for the fiscal year ending March 31. The Prime Minister introduced changes to cut costs and now the firearms registry is $20 million over budget. The government temporarily suspended funding but the program kept on spending.

If the Prime Minister is not as guilty as anyone in this money laundering and kickback scheme, then at a minimum he is the most incompetent money handler and leader this country has ever had.

Final Offer Arbitration in Respect of West Coast Ports Operations Act February 16th, 2004

Madam Speaker, I get 10 minutes to speak to this bill. I would like to take 10 minutes to speak about the positive attributes of this bill. Unfortunately, it would take 30 minutes just to cover some of the incorrect statements, myths and errors the last three speakers have put forward. I would like to deal with a couple of those. The Liberal member that final offer arbitration is not appropriate for west coast ports.

It is strange. It is her government that actually imposed final offer arbitration as a settlement when it legislated a group back to work, and then attempted to pervert that. The government imposed final offer arbitration but did not allow the two parties to go back to negotiate and develop final offer arbitration or final positions.

It took the previous positions of the two parties which was done under a completely different system and said that is what would go to final offer arbitration. There was no allowance for any further negotiation, and that was fundamentally wrong.

The NDP stated that strikes and lockouts were the methods that have been used for centuries. That is absolutely correct. Is it not time that maybe we grew up a little? This was something that might have been appropriate back in the 1800s when a strike or a lockout was basically an economic tug-of-war between the employer and the employee. It was a battle between them.

It was a question of who could afford to go without work or go without work being done the longest? There was little collateral damage to families and maybe some people in the town, but generally it was centralized on the workers in the company.

We are in the 21st century and the impact is so global that now when a relative handful of people on the west coast of Vancouver go on strike, a farmer in Manitoba may lose his farm as a direct result of that strike. We must consider that a lot of other people are affected by this, not just the people involved directly between the employer and the employee.

I have an interesting anecdote for the member of the Bloc Quebecois who spoke. I was on transport committee meetings in Halifax several years ago. A member of the Bloc Quebecois was there. There was a strike at the port of Montreal during that time, and there was a push to have legislation to have them go back to work. I think there was also a problem with the rail system. But the Halifax people were just beaming.

They said that this was the greatest thing that ever happened to them, because all those ships that used to go down to Montreal were now coming into Halifax. They were just booming. The people were working full scale and the facilities were full. This was economically the greatest thing that ever happened to them. And beyond that, it gave them an opportunity to prove how good a job they could do in handling these shipments.

When the Bloc Quebecois member heard this, he disappeared. We never saw him again during the rest of the hearings. He went back and started getting ready to support the motion to get the people in the Montreal port back to work because he suddenly woke up and realized the harm that it was actually doing in his own province.

Sometimes members must open their eyes as well as their ears and realize there is much more to this than taking a partisan type approach to this, from a very stated view, and realize there are much more global problems to be dealt with.

It should be understood that collective bargaining does not involve strikes and lockouts. That is not part of collective bargaining. Collective bargaining involves negotiation, conciliation and mediation. We have no intention to interfere with that whatsoever.

It is interesting that the most recent speaker talked about how final arbitration is already an arrow in the quiver. Well, all those other arrows will still be there as well. They can still settle their negotiations in a variety of different ways. They just cannot have work disruption that would harm not only themselves but a lot of other people as well.

Finally, strikes and lockouts are not part of collective bargaining. They are a dispute settlement mechanism. Actually taking a coin out of a pocket and flipping it , heads it goes one way, tails it goes the other, is a dispute settlement mechanism. It is probably not very appropriate for settling a complex labour negotiation, but that is a dispute settlement mechanism.

We are saying that we need to come up with a 21st century dispute settlement mechanism instead of staying with the 19th century one, as suggested by the NDP.

There are many problems created right now, in terms of the damage it does to workers who have to go without wages and to employers who not only lose revenue during that time but perhaps lose contracts. It has a longstanding impact on the workers as well. Some of them may find, after they return to work, that they are laid off because there are no longer the same amount of contracts being handled.

One of the things that happens with final offer arbitration is parties do still negotiate. What often happens is that it is not a matter of picking one side or the other, it is a matter of seeing how close the two can get together.

I will use wages as one example. If a reasonable increase were $1.50 an hour, the union wanted $5 an hour and the company offers $1, invariably the $1 would be accepted. That means the union left 50¢ on the table that it rightly should have received. However, if it asks for $2 and the company is suggesting a new contract with no increase whatsoever, then the union will likely prevail and it will get 50¢ an hour more than it was reasonably entitled to. Both sides know this. Consequently, they tend to move as close to the line as possible and usually they get so close together they manage to settle.

We have heard that there is a 95% settlement without a strike or a lockout. Then the same 95% should be settled without resorting to final offer arbitration.

All we are doing is trying to find a 21st century solution for those few times when the dispute cannot be settled and has to go to some kind of dispute settlement mechanism. It should then go to one that does not harm all the collateral of the people involved as well as the employers and employees.

All the members who have spoken are right, the government has imposed settlement and has forced people back to work through legislation at various times. That suggests that strikes and lockouts do not really work that well, that there is a problem already existing.

What is interesting is that usually it is a strike. However two years ago when grain shipments were low and there was a big drought on the Prairies, negotiations were going on with the west coast grain handler and the employer locked the employees out. What happened? The union came to Parliament and asked to be legislated back to work.

We have to recognize that there is kind of a pendulum effect. When the pendulum is over here, one side says that they do not want to do anything different because the pendulum is on their side. Then it swings to the other side and suddenly this side that was clamouring for change says that they do not want it now, but the other side is now the one that is looking for it.

It is time Parliament took responsibility and recognized that it creates an overall problem in the system when we allow a dispute settlement mechanism that causes great harm to the economy of the country, to people, sometimes thousands of miles away from where the dispute is actually centred, this is a way of doing it.

If someone were to come to me and ask if this is a perfect solution, no it is not. If the NDP, the Bloc or even the Liberals have a better solution, we are wide open to listening to it. We just happen to believe that final offer arbitration, as a dispute settlement mechanism, when all else has failed, is a better system than the one we have right now.

If the government is really interested in democracy and in helping the workers and the employers of the country, the reality is that it should seriously consider this unless it has something better to offer.

Petitions February 13th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, my constituents also petition Parliament to pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being the lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Minister of Transport November 4th, 2003

Madam Speaker, in the final days of his dictatorial tenure as the transport minister, I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his latest excesses on VIA Rail. His outrageous new spending announcement is enough to finally focus media and public attention on the phenomenal waste of money that VIA represents.

Since the Liberals took office, VIA has used up $3 billion of taxpayer money, exclusive of this latest announcement. That money could have been far better spent on health care, justice issues, basic community infrastructure or simply left in the pockets of Canada's hard-pressed taxpayers.

However I certainly cannot thank the minister for the destruction he has brought on all the other areas of transportation. While he has focused on his pet rail fetish, our highways are crumbling, airport rents and the subsequent airline fees have skyrocketed and have tripled. Airline security has turned into another expensive and inefficient bureaucracy, and security at our national ports has been slashed.

Our country needs and deserves better. If the minister had just stayed home and played with toy trains, the taxpayers and the transport industry would be in far better shape.

Ethics October 28th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the government seems to think that our questions today are inappropriate, but what is inappropriate is the government's conduct which has necessitated our polling of its ministers as to their improper conduct.

Has the Minister of Labour received any undeclared gifts in excess of $200, except for the one that she belatedly reported this week?