Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was horse.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2004, with 39% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Cn Rail February 7th, 1994

There is a 33-mile rail line in my riding between Collingwood and Barrie. CNR is considering closing this line in the very near future.

The impact on the environment and the tourism industry in this area would be horrendous. Hundreds of trucks full of grain corn supplying two very successful companies in Collingwood would make the highways in this area impassable and very dangerous to the tourist industry.

I feel it is imperative that CNR reconsider its decision of closure of this essential rail line.

House Of Commons Standing Orders February 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for that excellent idea. It is something that we will probably take and incorporate in the way that we run our constituency offices and our Ottawa offices here.

It just goes to prove what I stated in my speech. If the House becomes more and more open we will be getting ideas from all sides. It is just the fact that the government's ideas are not always the best. They will become a heck of a lot better if we listen to the opposition at the same time and try to incorporate all ideas.

House Of Commons Standing Orders February 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member of the Reform Party for that question.

As I stated in my speech these are all things that are under review at the present time. No, I cannot say we are going to stop this immediately. It is a review that is going to be done, not only by the Liberal Party but by the Reform Party, the Bloc Party and any independent members as I understand the process. By that we are reflecting the view of all Canadians.

Yes, I heard the same thing during the election and I referred to it in my speech. I know this is an issue that will be settled in the near future.

House Of Commons Standing Orders February 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, as I rise on this occasion to make my maiden speech, I wish to extend my congratulations and best wishes as you face your new and most difficult task.

There is no greater honour for me than standing before this House as the newly elected member for Wellington-Grey-Dufferin-Simcoe. The riding, as the name suggests, is made up of municipalities of four counties in southwestern Ontario. In total there are 31 towns, townships and villages with four upper tier county councils.

The riding's boundaries are the historic and picturesque town of Elora, Nichol township to the south, the rural and agricultural communities of Clifford and Minto township to the west. The largest and most urban area is the town of Orangeville to the east and the beautiful port communities of Collingwood and Thornbury on Georgian Bay to the north. This vast and diverse riding is representative of the uniqueness and diversity of its citizens residing within its borders. Wellington-Grey-Dufferin-Simcoe is home to 112,000 people, and I wish to extend my sincere thanks for the trust and opportunity they have provided in allowing me to represent them.

I would also be remiss if I did not take this time and opportunity to thank my wife and family for their dedication and support and understanding as I embark on my new parliamentary career.

The topic of debate today in the House is parliamentary reform. It is probably safe to assume the reason two-thirds of us are here and new to the House is that many defeated incumbents paid little heed to the demands from the public about this very important issue.

If the House would allow me some licence to address the concerns voiced to me during the election campaign, I will proceed. One of the most visible and contentious areas which requires change is the pensions for members of Parliament. During the election there was a clear message that we must return to an understanding we are the representatives of the people and as true representatives we must understand and appreciate the values of those we represent, values of equity, fairness and service.

There is no member in the House who has not already felt the burdens of this office. It has been three brief months since our election and less than a month since the opening of the 35th Parliament. I ask the members present to consider the amount of time spent in Ottawa, the time spent in transit and the time spent in our ridings. Many members of the House have young children and spouses they dearly miss. Some members have left behind successful businesses to devote their energies to public service.

These are great sacrifices but sacrifices we chose to make of our own free will. Despite the enormous burdens of this office there must be a limit to the compensation for this job.

To return to my earlier point, we are here to represent the values of our constituents. There is a rage in the land about the current pension system. It violates the sense of equity of people as there is nothing to compare it with in the private sector. People are angry that after voicing their protests they have not been heard. It is unfair, they say, that politicians can write their own cheques and pay them with taxpayers' money.

During the election the Liberal Party presented its platform in a document some of us may be familiar with entitled "Creating Opportunity" or the red book. More recently in the speech from the throne the government reaffirmed its support for the independent review currently under way.

It is important that we remove the public irritants that have undermined politicians in the public eye. This Parliament must signal the end to double dipping. We cannot have people receiving both pay and pensions from the federal government. The taxpayer is willing to pay but the taxpayer is not willing to pay twice.

The age at which pensions are received must be reviewed. No one in the private sector receives full pensions immediately after vacating a position. The question put to us during the election and now before the members of the House is why should we.

What is the appropriate age? I do not have all the answers but if we are to represent and reflect the realities of our constituents, should we not be governed by the same rules of economy as them? Should we receive full pensions after retirement without an age restriction? I think October 25 told us no.

The size of pension is another component. Our pensions must be based on value qualified by reasoned assessment, not greed. The review under way must look at our duties and skills and other factors also should be assessed objectively. From this we should arrive at a figure more in tune with the feeling of Canadians.

The government House leader has now placed before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs a number of items to be reviewed. I believe this to be a great step forward.

Among some of the items to be discussed are procedures regarding members' statements, special debates, the taking of division by electronic means, the conduct of private members' business especially with regard to private bills and Senate public bills, any anomalies or technical inconsistencies in the standing orders, the reform of Question Period, measures to achieve more direct participation by citizens including citizen initiatives, the right of constituents to recall their MP, binding referenda, free votes in the House of Commons, debates on petitions and fixed election dates.

I applaud the government House leader on this initiative. I look forward to participating in the debate and review of these proposals.

We have seen recently that private members can make valuable contributions to the presentation of different ideas before the House, for example the great acceptance from members from all sides and the success of the debates on Canada's peacekeeping role and cruise missile testing.

These debates raised the level of decorum and intellectual exchange of ideas. This type of reasoned debate is what makes this House such a great institution. It is unfortunate that these exchanges do not receive the level of public interest as the often rowdy and point scoring mentality we have seen in some question periods.

In the remainder of my allotted time I wish to address one final issue. The lobbying industry has expanded rapidly over the past years. The integrity of government is questioned when there is a perception that the public agenda is set by lobbyists who have excessive resources to exercise their influence away from public view.

I believe there is only one collective body we must listen to and that is the Canadian people. In order to ensure that the voices of the silent majority are heard over the voices of the few we must strongly address the issues of conflict of interest, influence peddling and selling access. There must be openness and consultation with all Canadians, not just with the lobbyists arriving at decisions. It is this point I applaud the actions of the Minister of Finance in his pre-budget consultations. These consultations allowed the minister to hear advice from bankers, economists and social agency advocates. What is more important is that we were able to hear what was said in the open, in full public view, not just whispers behind closed doors.

In conclusion, I feel the points raised here today are a starting point and not in any way a cure all for the changes required in the operation of the House. I want to go back for a moment and restate that we must represent not only the people of our ridings

but their values. If we are indeed bold enough to bring this process of change, we will have succeeded in creating a government with priorities based on equity, fairness and service to the people of Canada.

Winter Olympic Games February 4th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the athletes who will be representing Canada at the winter Olympic games at Lillehammer, Norway. These young Canadians deserve our recognition and full support for their hard work and commitment to their sport.

I wish to mention one athlete, Michelle Ruthven, a resident of Orangeville, a town in my riding. I wish to extend to Michelle congratulations on behalf of myself and the residents of Wellington-Grey-Dufferin-Simcoe on her great accomplishments as a Canadian athlete.