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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was lumber.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Independent MP for London—Fanshawe (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Terrorism November 3rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, recently a spokesperson for B'nai Brith, Adam Aptowitzer, publicly justified state terrorism by the government of Israel against Palestinian civilians. This incredibly inflammatory statement sought to justify the wanton destruction of Palestinian homes and the terrorizing and killing of Palestinian civilians because such actions might prevent Israeli deaths.

This twisted logic and valuing of Israeli lives ahead of Palestinian lives is totally unacceptable.

Also, the unfortunate recent remarks of Mohammed Elmasry indicating Israeli civilians were legitimate targets of terrorists were also very regrettable and he was correct to withdraw them as was Mr. Aptowitzer.

I believe that peace will only come to the Middle East when there is justice for Palestinians as well as Israelis.

To me, a Palestinian life is just as valuable as an Israeli life. The killing of any civilians by state terrorism or any other form of terrorism is illegal and immoral.

The path to peace in the Middle East lies not in terrorism but in the just treatment of all peoples--

Supply October 21st, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I did not hear all of my colleague's comments but I heard enough that I would like to just ask him a brief question.

I heard him state his personal position and I think he was quite clear about that, but I would like to ask him to speak to the position of the New Democratic Party. I see that the former distinguished leader of that party is close by.

My honest view is that the NDP position on defence, at least in my 11 years in the House, has been somewhat nebulous, if I can put it that way. Others might be less kind, but I would say it has been somewhat nebulous.

The member spoke for himself but to what degree can he speak for his party? Does the NDP support an increase in military funding for personnel in the forces and, if so, to what extent does it support that increase? If there is clarity from his party on this, wonderful, we would like to hear it.

Supply October 21st, 2004

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member's honesty and his candour, and I accept his statement, as we all do.

I will end with this. I spoke about hyperbole in this debate, the tendency on both sides of the House to exaggerate beyond what the facts are. This subject is too important. I know my friend agrees and I very much appreciate his candid and honest statement. It is too serious a subject to give in to the temptation to be overly partisan and to exaggerate. I caution all members, and I include myself obviously as chair of the defence committee, let us stick to the facts and deal with them as fairly and objectively as we can.

Supply October 21st, 2004

Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest to our new colleague. I also welcome him to the defence committee and look forward to working with him.

He talked about this being a partisan place. He certainly has demonstrated that and I would like to take him up on that a little just to set the record straight.

I indicated that I had taught some English, but my first degree is in history. I read and taught about the Pacific scandal. I read and taught about the Mulroney years. If there is a lesson to be learned from history in this country it is that his party has no right to point the finger at anyone else when the subject is integrity.

On the member's point, I think he has levelled a serious charge. He is a new member, but I cannot let it go. I have to challenge him in a friendly way. He used the term “gag order”, that when elected to office his party would “remove the gag order on the military”. I ask the hon. member to indicate to us where he feels there has been a gag order and what evidence he has that there is a gag order in place.

With respect, I say it is very unfortunate that he chose to say that Vice-Admiral MacLean and the chief of the defence staff General Ray Henault were gagged yesterday, that they were unable to say what they wanted to say. They were witnesses and were called witnesses for a reason. They were giving what is called testimony, evidence, at committee

I ask my colleague, and hopefully my friend soon, does he have evidence of this gag order? That is an extremely serious thing to say in the House of Commons about the interplay between the government and the military. If he has evidence, I want him to table it at the earliest opportunity. Otherwise I think he should retract.

Supply October 21st, 2004

Well, if it is in the platform, it has to be costed and with a detailed rationale. I did not see that and I would love to see it. If the member has it I would love to see it today, or perhaps he could share it with me as soon as possible.

Supply October 21st, 2004

Madam Speaker, my colleague, the vice chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, made some very interesting remarks. I am always very impressed with his reasoned approach and I look forward to working with him again as we have in the past.

If I did not misunderstand him, I would like to clarify. I thought I heard him draw an inference from the Speech from the Throne that somehow the government may be talking about scaling back the size of our Canadian Forces. Did I hear him correctly? Is he not aware that we are committed to at least 5,000 more regular forces and 3,000 reserves?

His leader spoke today about going to 80,000 men and women in the Canadian Forces. I wonder if there has been a costing of that size of increase to 80,000? Has there been a detailed rationale? I wonder if he is aware of that or was his leader just kind of throwing out the number.

Supply October 21st, 2004

Madam Speaker, the reality is that the government is committed to 5,000 more full time personnel in the very near future and to 3,000 more reservists. I agree with the member that the helicopter purchase has taken far too long.

I have been in politics 24 years and I have not been successful because I have ducked what I see is the truth. It has taken too long to purchase the helicopters, I agree. However, the member is comparing apples and oranges when she talks about bureaucrats in the military and outside the military.

Her leader calls for a force of 80,000 troops. If the member were to do a little research, she would also find that there are whole parts of the bureaucracy that have more than 80,000 non-military people. What the member says may be factual, but I would encourage her to look for a few more relevant facts.

Supply October 21st, 2004

I am proving it right now as I speak. I am not hollering. He and I will have a respectful exchange right now.

Let me start with Major General Leslie. I have here and I am prepared to share with my colleague and table in this House his answer to the question of why the troops in Afghanistan used green uniforms and not tan. He said:

We had tans and they stayed in our barrack boxes, for most of the soldiers. Certain select soldiers used them for certain specific missions, when they went up in the mountains, but I don't think I ever wore mine.

That is about as clearly stated as anyone could state it. I am happy to share it with my colleague later on.

Let us get past it because I think we have bigger issues to deal with and my colleague has talked about some of them. The phrase that he has in his motion states “the Canadian Forces have been permitted to decay”. That is the past tense of a verb as he knows and as we all know.

It suggests that the process is complete, that the decay is complete. Members would think, by that wording and it may have been unfortunate wording, that we had no men and women in the Canadian Forces, that we did not have any equipment, and that we were reduced to a Boy Scout troop here at home that just helped elderly people across the street or something.

That is not what my colleague intends. He has far too much expertise to intend that I am sure, but it is clearly what it says. I only point this out not to challenge necessarily his use of language. I point it out as part of the bigger problem. There is a tendency for hyperbole. There is a tendency to exaggerate that all of our equipment is junk, and that we cannot do anything. Let us show a little more respect for the work done by our troops.

We hear it time and time from our allies. We hear from our allies how our troops give outstanding service in the field. We hear about the outstanding work and the evaluation of their work from independent sources. Let us not add to the negative tone that exists so much in the debate around our forces. I think the men and women of the Canadian Forces deserve better. I think we can rise above that in this House.

Supply October 21st, 2004

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for showing that he can make his points without hollering and that he can use his expertise without having to turn up the volume. I could probably shout as loud as any member here, but I do not think it adds anything to the debate.

Supply October 21st, 2004

Madam Speaker, they do not really want the answer because they are interrupting me again, but I will try again.

For 15 years and every year under the former Conservative government and former Liberal government, cuts were made to the defence budget. As the member should know, and I believe he does, in 1999 we began to reinvest in the Canadian Forces and we have continued to increase the budget every year since. I define that as turning a corner. I want to see us turn it more quickly and I want to see us reinvest more seriously.

The member is a great one to quote history, but he is a bit selective when he does so. I congratulate him as well for having been the whip of three political parties. The first two parties, the old Reform Party and the old Alliance Party, as well as his current leader, are clearly on record in the House demanding cuts to the Canadian military budget. I could table those comments if anyone wants to challenge their veracity. It serves the hon. member's purpose to selectively look at history. That is his game plan. I have known him to do better on this subject.