Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was ontario.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Haliburton—Victoria—Brock (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2004, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Privilege October 29th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I of course was unavoidably absent from the House yesterday when the statement was made in Hansard that I deliberately misled the House. I find it unfortunate that the member would stoop that low when in fact the high road could have been taken.

My response was quite clear that with the new security environment, the Canadian Emergency Preparedness College would be expanding its training program and that a final decision had not been made yet. That was my answer, it is my answer today and it would have been my answer at any other time.

I wonder why the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, who has never mentioned and never asked the question in the House before about the college, now finds it her job to bring my reputation into dispute over some frivolous thing for which she has not cared. I would ask that she withdraw it, Mr. Speaker.

National Defence October 25th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, in response to the new security environment, the Canadian Emergency Preparedness College is expanding its training program. The December budget allocated significant funds for this purpose. Much work has been done but no final decision has yet been made. We are considering all possible options.

Annual Report of the Chief of the Defence Staff October 7th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) I have the pleasure to table, in both official languages, two copies of the 2001-02 annual report of the Chief of the Defence Staff.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills October 4th, 2002

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the remarks of the member for Palliser but I differ with him. I think about the clerks of the committees, the table officers, the people who put together the witness lists, the people who do all the work in the background and who bring together witnesses who are relevant to the business at hand.

Some witnesses give extremely good evidence. We as parliamentarians have to sort out whether a witness is a lobbyist, whether a witness will benefit from giving evidence, or whether it is a company the witness works for or someone the witness is lobbying for. Our job is to make sure that witnesses have credible credentials and have all the necessary tools at their disposal to make their presentations and to be examined.

In my short stint as chair of the subcommittee on HIV-AIDS studying poverty and discrimination, we had expert witnesses from the health field, from caregivers, from families that have been affected and from individuals who have been affected. I felt that the evidence given at that committee was from the heart, and I believe the government acted on that evidence.

I am now a member of the defence committee but I do not believe, as parliamentary secretary, that I should be on that committee. I think parliamentary secretaries should be there to help steer through certain legislation, or to give expertise, or to work hand in hand with the minister who is trying to put legislation through, but I do not think they should be influencing what committee members know or do not know.

I do agree with my hon. colleague on some points. I think of the defence committee, which travelled across Canada and to other parts of the world when we were working on the quality of life report. That committee brought in 89 recommendations. The former minister of defence had the backbone to initiate that quality of life report and make it work. Some 39 or 40 changes I think were relevant. The changes were brought in because the committee listened to the witnesses who had expertise, the people who were in the military. They gave us reasons to make those changes. The member for Lakeland came on that committee a bit later but he also agreed that the quality of life report--

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills October 4th, 2002

Madam Speaker, I would hate to miss answering the member's question although it was framed more as a statement. The fact is the government introduced prorogation and in doing that asked to follow that with a throne speech which is normal.

The opposition members had indicated earlier that we had run out of ideas, I think is what they said, that we were not functioning, that we were just putting in time. That is what the opposition was saying. When we prorogue, what follows is a Speech from the Throne. It is a way to not dissolve Parliament. It is a method that allows things to continue and yet reintroduce the Speech from the Throne.

The Speech from the Throne is a blueprint. The blueprint is laid out in the throne speech and it is debated in the House. Then new legislation is introduced that flows from the blueprint in the throne speech. Ministers are obligated now to bring forward legislation that lays out a new plan if there is a certain redirection of the government.

That is not a bad thing. I think it is a good thing. It is a rejuvenation. However I do not feel that we can as a government allow all the work that was done previous to prorogation to be wasted. That is exactly what happens if the bills are not allowed to be reintroduced at the stage they were at. We do value the witnesses and our colleagues and the work they have put into the committees, the hearing of witnesses and the travelling that was involved. If the member does not believe in that, then I cannot help that but I do believe that it was valuable work and it should continue and the bills should be brought back at the stage they were at prior to prorogation.

That has been done over and over again. It is not new. It is not something that members should be unfamiliar with. They have already been through it, unless they were not here before the last election and previous to that when I would understand that, but the hon. member was here.

I think the member is drawing at straws. He would just try to attack the government, which is fine, but the institution that is here and the rules that we follow are there for a purpose. They are there to allow for the orderly procedure of this Parliament to proceed. The only way the opposition can change that is to elect enough members to become a majority. That is the tradition of the House since it was instituted. If the member has no hope of doing that, then I obviously understand his frustrations.

I have a great obligation as a member of the government to make sure that I hold the government's feet to the fire, that I work at trying to make sure that government introduces legislation. The member for Malpeque agrees with me. He also is a bit of a rebel in here sometimes. We will continue to do that as members of the government. We will try to work as hard as we can for the taxpayers of Canada and to make sure that the traditions of the House are followed.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills October 4th, 2002

Who knows? I know it is Friday. I can get away with a lot on Friday.

I will pass on the comments being made by my good friends on the other side because it may lead me into something that I would have to explain later.

When we reached prorogation in 1970, 1972, 1974 and 1986, the House adopted amendments to the Standing Orders to carry over legislation to the next session in 1977 and 1982. The House adopted reinstatement motions on division in 1991, 1996 and 1999. The 1996 motion included provision to reinstate private members' bills. I am concerned that private members' bills are being pushed off to the side when sometimes it is the only way private members on either side of the House can actually send a message to the government as to what concerns them and the people of their riding.

In 1997 a private member's bill was reinstated after dissolution. Standing Order 86.1 allows private members' bills to be reinstated. That order was adopted in 1999.

If we look at previous legislation in 1996 and 2000, Bill C-5 was introduced on February 2, 2001. At second reading, it had six hours of debate over five days then it was referred to the committee. Are we to bring that back and start all over again?

As much as I think closure should not be necessary, in this particular case I agree with it because I want these bills brought back.

I want all the work that has been done by committees, by members of the House, and the people that have come in as witnesses to be worthwhile. Are we to waste all their time and start all over again?

We have to consider that the environment committee held 42 meetings on Bill C-5, totalling over 90 hours. The committee heard from over 100 witnesses. Are we going to throw that out? Is that fair to over 100 witnesses? That is we are bringing it back.

Why would we spend 12 days of debate at report stage and third reading, and 50 hours of debate? Why would we throw that away as members of Parliament? What would be the advantage of taking all that valuable work done by members, committees, and all those witnesses brought in at great expense, and not bringing the bill back? Most of the witnesses were very sincere and wanted to have their evidence as part of the legislation that would be passed by the House.

The total time that was spent on Bill C-5 was 17 days of debate, 42 committee meetings, and 146 hours of debate in committee and the House. That amount of time cannot be thrown away.

I have great respect for the traditions of the House. I have worked as hard as anyone with my colleagues to improve the general pay scales, the insurance policies and all the things that affect members of Parliament. I have been fairly successful doing that and I feel good about it. I never made the headlines doing it which is even better. Every member of Parliament is benefiting from that hard work.

Members try to modernize Parliament and the way we act as members of Parliament. I accept that there are some things that I will never be able to change. I accept the fact that there are certain things that are out of my league or my prerogative. I recognize that. I have had a lot of help from opposition members. I have met with almost all opposition members one on one to ask them what improvements could be made to the House and the way we are treated as members of Parliament.

Most opposition members think the only way change can be made is if they become the government. That is never going to happen. We must deal with the people that are the government and try to make improvements. Forcing the government to introduce closure is not the way to go.

We should be meeting. Why has not one member of the opposition been brought forward as a committee member? There is no list from the opposition. It does not want the committees to meet. Why is that? Is there a reason why the opposition does not want committees to meet? I find this very difficult.

We are ready to begin. Our committee members are all in place. We would like to begin and then the opposition says no, it wants a secret ballot or something. How undemocratic that is for other members. The opposition wants to control the government, but it is not the government.

How do we best operate for the people of Canada? How do we give the people of Canada the best economy for their money? It is done by passing the legislation that the government was elected to pass.

I look at the traditions of the House and they should be followed. The traditions should be discussed and we should reaffirm our own personal respect for honoured traditions. Those traditions are shared by the government and the party with which I am a privileged member.

Respect for Parliament and its traditions has been demonstrated again and again over the last couple of years as the government has spearheaded a number of changes to the practices of the House in a methodical and carefully thought out manner yet mindful of and respecting past parliamentary privileges and practices.

This being the case, it should come as no surprise that the provisions contained in the motion also reflect and respect the best practices, the past practices and the traditions of the House. To illustrate this, let us look at the motion and how it corresponds to our past practices.

Under the motion, any minister who introduces a bill during the first 30 sitting days of a new session of Parliament in exactly the same form as a bill in the previous session, and which has been at least referred to a committee, would be able to request that the new bill be reinstated at the stage to which it had progressed at the time of prorogation. Does that not make perfect sense?

Should the Speaker be satisfied that the bill is in fact the same as the previous one, he or she could then order it reinstated at that stage. As members will no doubt recognize, this indeed is in accordance with the past practice of the House. All we are doing is carrying on the tried and true traditions of the House as has been carried out since Confederation.

In October 1999, when the second session of the 36th Parliament began, the House adopted a similar motion as the one before us today. In March 1996, when the second session of the 35th Parliament began, the House also adopted a similar motion. Previous Parliaments have adopted similar motions including one that passed under a previous government in 1991. Members all know who that was.

A number of other precedents exist for this motion as well. For example, page 330 of Marleau and Montpetit cites a number of precedents for the reinstatement of bills following a prorogation. In 1970, 1972, 1974, and 1986 the House gave unanimous consent to motions to reinstate bills. In 1977 and 1982 the House adopted amendments to the Standing Orders to carry over legislation to the next session.

Such a long string of precedents testifies to the long-standing practice in the House of allowing the reinstatement of bills at the same stage as the motion proposes. The procedure contained in the motion is almost identical to the Standing Orders for private members' bills. It leads us to the conclusion to reinstate private members' bills at the same stage. It must also be reasonable to follow the same procedure in the case of government bills.

Members should take note that the UK Parliament, from which our own parliamentary traditions flow, is considering amending its rules to allow government bills to carry-over from one session to the next.

What we are suggesting in the motion is not some piece of wild-eyed radicalism. It does not represent a revolutionary break with the past. Rather it is very much within our own parliamentary tradition and that of the mother of parliaments in the UK.

The motion is not just a good idea because it is based upon precedents, rather it represents a proposal which is logical and can stand on its own merits. It is clear that many of the bills which would be reinstated following passage of the motion are worthy of our most serious attention and worthy of being passed into law.

The passage of bills takes time. As a parliamentarian, one of the things that probably bothers me the most is the amount of time it takes to pass something. I know we must give it a lot of consideration and that we have to work on it very hard, but the government presents many bills during a session of Parliament and not all of these are tabled early in the session. Bills take a long time, a lot of thought, a lot of consultation, and a lot of development. Some are tabled very late and leave us with a rush at the end. We should not allow bills to die because of the timing of when they are introduced. We should look at what makes sense as parliamentarians.

Closure is being brought in so that the motion can be dealt with, so that we can allow many important bills and committee work to continue at the same stage of consideration at prorogation.

I spoke earlier of the hours and hours that committees put in. We all sit on committees and we all spend a lot of valuable time. I do not want my time to be wasted. I have spent a lot of time on committees and I have listened to a lot of witnesses. I would like to carry on with any legislation that is before that committee at the stage it was at just before prorogation.

For this reason, and many more I will be supporting the motion and I will be supporting the closure motion. I feel that it is our parliamentary duty to not waste a lot of time and money, and to get on with the business of the House, not talking about adjournment but talking about the business that we must do here.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills October 4th, 2002

Madam Speaker, I also want to compliment the member for Elk Island. I found him to be at first attacking the points that attack this institution. I do not mind if he attacks the government. It is his job.

This is not new. As the member for Elk Island knows, I do not use notes very often, but in 1999 the opposition agreed to a similar motion to proceed without debate to a vote at the start of the session. The House has been doing this on an informal basis for over 30 years and is quite prepared to continue with that. For some reason the opposition is now saying that it does not want to go along with that and that it will force the government to use closure.

This is maybe the second time since I have been in Parliament that closure has actually been used. There has been a number of instances of time allocation. Time allocation is brought in by the British House with every bill. We are more British than the British. We do not use time allocation all the time. However there are times when the opposition wants to oppose a bill strenuously for some reason or other and that is not a bad idea. It would then allow us to overcome that with the motion of time allocation.

The difference this time is closure. I was hoping that the government would never use closure. Quite frankly, it is against my nature to think that we would have to use closure.

However the identical procedure that we introduced for reinstatement of private members' bills the House agreed in the last Parliament to enshrine it in the Standing Orders. Yet the opposition has voted against allowing the private members' bills to be reinstated. I find that to be contrary to what I would think was fair.

When we look at the bills that we will reinstate, there are a number of them which have gone through various stages. Let us look at the species at risk act, for instance. It has been debated for 15 years probably, over and over again. Finally we get to a point where the species at risk act can be brought back in at final stage then sent back to the Senate, but the opposition is against that.

The opposition is opposing the Criminal Code, regarding cruelty to animals and so forth. We have the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Copyright Act, the Pest Control Products Act, the physical activity and sport act, which the member for Elk Island and I both need, the assisted human reproduction act, which we do not need, the specific claims act and the first nations governance act.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 3rd, 2002

Madam Speaker, I know he bought a lot of stuff at the farmer's market, which helps our economy.

I do talk to farmers. In fact whenever there is a farm meeting called, I try to be at it. That is my obligation. As I said, there are 450 dairy farms in my riding. There are chicken feather groups, beef, hogs, grains and oilseeds. As we know, grains and oilseeds have taken a terrible beating on the market. Right now they are at the lowest price that they have ever been. It costs more to put them in the ground than what they get out of them. Grains and oilseeds did take a beating.

Also, I think the farmers that I talk to tell me they want fairness. They want to ensure that if Kyoto is ratified that it does not cost jobs. I am interested in that too, but I am also interested in the future of our country. I did a survey in my riding. Of the letters that have come into my constituency, 90% in favour of ratification of Kyoto. I am sure the member met people who wanted to hear his views and agreed with him.

As far as how I can counsel people who break the law, we have a law in the country. Obviously, Ontario is not in the Wheat Board and it is doing very well. Yet we have farmers who decide to go outside the law. I cannot counsel people to break the law. I do not know how anyone can do that. If we come to the House as lawmakers and then decide we do not like a particular part of the law or that it does not work for us, I cannot counsel someone to break the law. I do not want them to go to jail any more than anyone does.

I am a gun owner. I have even had the odd deer die in front of me at a camp. The fact of the matter is that I have to register my guns now because it is the law. Therefore, I will not counsel people to break the law. I will counsel people to keep the law of Canada.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 3rd, 2002

Madam Speaker, I want to compliment you on your hard work and the way you have balanced the debate in the House, allowing everyone to get their questions in. I look forward to your continued good counsel.

Earlier I said that I would not be splitting my time, but I am now because the member for Burin--St. George's has indicated that he would like to take part in this debate. I certainly welcome his wise counsel from that wonderful province known as the rock and will look forward to that.

I have listened to the speeches of the opposition and I hope the government is taking notice of them. There have been some suggestions at which we as a government certainly have to look and I hope the government will look at them. However I remind the opposition that the Speech from the Throne is a blueprint. It is not something cast in stone. It is not something that is legislative. It is something from which legislation will flow. Ministers will introduce legislation in conjunction with the blueprint that is laid out by the Speech from the Throne.

This is an opportunity for Parliament to restart, to rethink, to regenerate, to bring forward ideas and hopefully to go forward on a plan that includes the Canada we want. It is fair to say that we all want a better Canada. That is why we are here and that is why we take part in debate in the House.

That is why when I read the Speech from the Throne and I listened to the Prime Minister's speech, I was looking for certain signals that affect my riding of Haliburton--Victoria--Brock. I think of health care as being right at the top. The words were “to put in place the health care system we need and want”. I am not waiting for the Romanow commission. I do not think that will be any magic bullet. I think we all know what the problem is. The provinces claim that the federal government puts in 14¢ and the federal government claims it puts in 40¢ on every dollar. I want to know from where exactly those numbers come and from where they flow. I would like to know that our health care system will be continued.

My riding is the second largest riding in southern Ontario. The member for Wild Rose came to the Lindsay fair this year. He added some joviality to the situation. I think he had a good time and hope he comes back. It is a great place to be.

Local citizens went out and raised $6 million to build the new hospital. In fact the Lindsay fair board gave up five acres of land and will now move so that the hospital can be there.

In the survey I did in my riding, health care is the number one issue. Maybe it is because of people like Drew Gunsolus who was the chair of the committee and also the citizen of the year for going out and raising $6 million. Obviously our number one item is to ensure that we have a regional hospital in an area which is desperately in need of it. I have used the hospital many times. I was born there, as were the rest of the people in my family, including my wife. We have a great affinity to health care. If that is in fact the government's number one priority, then we owe it to ourselves to act on the recommendations that will flow from the Romanow commission. Health care to me was, is and will be something that is our number one item.

We then talked about getting Canada's children off welfare. This is an area that reaches very deeply into the heart of our society. We are dealing with poverty and homelessness.

In my riding there is an organization that is trying to get funding right now. It is called “A Place Called Home”. It provides facilities for people who, for one reason or another, have no place to go or no place to live, whether it be from poverty, abuse, down on their luck or whatever. I do not think anyone wants to be on welfare. I do not think anyone would like to think that their children can survive on welfare.

Welfare is a trap. If a person gets on to welfare, it is hard to get off. It is hard for people to get a job if they are on welfare. If people have jobs, it is easy to get other jobs. When people work and have contacts with other people who work, then they can improve and lift themselves up. When people cannot afford the clothes needed for an interview or the nutrition needed in order to be healthy, then it becomes a trap, a trap that is very hard to escape.

I think those two items in the throne speech will lead to action in a budget speech.

Do we have to wait for the budget for legislation to be introduced? I would hope not. I would hope that from the throne speech, as we talk to ministers and give them our input that they will act on that and bring forth legislation.

As the House starts this new session, I am very hopeful but I am also very apprehensive. I want to see the legislation. I want to talk on it from the prospect of rural Canada and from the prospect of Haliburton--Victoria--Brock which has, as I said has 44 municipalities, 24 Santa Claus parades, 18 cenotaph services and three area codes. It is a large area to cover.

Some people think of Ontario, particularly southern Ontario, as being very wealthy. I can tell the House that the county of Haliburton it is not a rich county. It needs every cent it can get of government to ensure that it has the same services as other places.

We find this throughout northern Ontario, in the areas surrounding Sudbury and North Bay. They have nothing different than what we have in southern Ontario. We have to look at this area and know that we do not have the economic advantages of Toronto, yet we want Toronto to be healthy and vibrant and to be a city that thrives. We want Montreal and Vancouver to be the same because when they are healthy our whole economy is healthy.

I was at the Shearwater air show this year. The member for that area was very kind to me and showed me around. He introduced me to all 20 of his supporters, and we had a great time.

I have looked also at the other items in the throne speech. The ratification of the Kyoto accord to me is very important. I have already signed on to the fact that I want the accord ratified. We have to do that for the good of the earth and the good of our children.

I have looked at the throne speech from the vast agricultural riding that I represent. We have grains and oilseeds. We have 450 dairy farms. The task force of the member for Haldimand—Norfolk—Brant was excellent. It laid a good groundwork for agricultural policy for Canada. I think the Prime Minister has looked at that.

We have to ensure that the NISA programs through agriculture are fair and that they reach everyone. I am looking with great hope toward legislation coming forward from this blueprint. This is not a document that has a bunch of numbers in it. Those numbers will come with the legislation.

Petitions June 21st, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to present a petition on behalf of the member for Peterborough concerning child pornography. The petitioners call upon parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that all materials which promote or glorify pedophilia and sado-masochism activities involving children are outlawed.