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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

Human Rights February 16th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is essential that the Canadian government continue to call for the Mexican government to guarantee respect for human rights of all its citizens, in particular for the people who were brutally mistreated in the recent uprising in the Chiapas region.

The constituents of London-Middlesex were gravely concerned with reports of torture and summary executions of guerrilla combatants by government troops, and they condemn the indiscriminate bombing by the military.

I join with my constituents in urging the Canadian government to call on the Mexican government to respect the presence of human rights organizations, to allow the bishops of the area to mediate in the conflict and to act on the natives' call for land reform.

Canada has a responsibility to ensure that the human rights of the citizens of our new trading partner are respected. This can only be guaranteed through continued monitoring by the international community.

Prince Edward Island Fixed Link February 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to answer the member's questions.

First of all, if I might correct his comment, what I said was that as the minister did, I intended to speak to the motion and that I would find that to be an interesting process. I thought this House was all about the process of actually rising in our places and speaking to what was on the floor, without getting into some diatribe about some future referendum in Quebec which has very little, if anything, to do with what we are supposed to be speaking to here today. My earlier comments were that I would try to speak to the motion.

As to the member's questions, I agree with him. I have heard the term plebiscite used in reference to the vote in Prince Edward Island and I have heard the term referendum. I am sure he knows some people believe that to be an argument of semantics, that the terms are interchangeable. There are others who would say no, there is a very real difference between a plebiscite and a referendum.

My colleagues and friends from Prince Edward Island most often referred to the vote that was taken as a plebiscite. It was 60 to 40 in favour of this project in 1988. Frankly I think it is a political science or semantics argument.

As to my disappointment that the member asked me about, no, I was very pleased to hear the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition rise in his place today saying he would support the project. However, I heard Bloc members lecturing the minister about anticipated objections from the Bloc. I was in the House and heard the minister's statement. Not once did he make reference to members of any particular political party and what their views might be. He simply invited support from all members of the House and he hoped that he would not hear particular objections raised.

We are a little tired on this side of these gratuitous lectures and irrelevant comments and that is the source of my disappointment. However, I am very pleased the Bloc has seen fit to support the motion. It would just be nice if those members would speak to it.

Prince Edward Island Fixed Link February 15th, 1994

I do not want to talk about the Senate. It might be a neat idea if we actually spoke to what the minister has put before the House, the actual motion that is up for debate and not hear threats from members of the Bloc about a referendum that is looming in their province and their opinion or use this, as has been done by several members of the Reform Party, to argue about the Senate and the need for constant, daily referendums.

We had a very decisive referendum on October 25, 1993. The Canadian people spoke very clearly about the vision they have for this country. They spoke so clearly that the government has had to occupy some seats on the other side of the House. Let us not be under any illusion about the authority of this government and of its ability to act.

I congratulate the minister for his cautious review of this project. It was very thorough as he explained the entire Northumberland Strait bridge. I applaud and congratulate him for the restraint he has shown in the face of comments from members opposite which have, quite frankly, been largely irrelevant and very much off the topic.

I stand in my place today as a member of Parliament from Ontario, from the riding of London-Middlesex, to speak in favour of the motion. It is disappointing for me to hear members opposite, particularly the member for Calgary West who spoke earlier today, expressing very parochial views of regional self-interest. This is not a time for the narrow, petty objections we have heard so much today. It is a time to build this nation, not to tear it down. This is not an issue of the west versus Prince Edward Island or Atlantic Canada. This is a major project of national significance. Certainly it is going to benefit the province of Prince Edward Island and Atlantic Canada. If it benefits that part of Canada then we all benefit and I am proud to support it.

As Liberals we are the only truly national party in the House at this time. Perhaps that is the reason there is a national perspective from this side and a very regional and limited perspective from the other side, be it from Bloc members or from Reform members.

We have heard this silly argument that if we are prepared to reopen the Constitution in this matter then indeed we have to be ready to reopen the Constitution on any matter. To advance that in this House as a serious argument is highly ridiculous. This is a technical amendment to the Constitution. It was ordered by a judge in order to make the project possible. It is a far different situation from reopening the entire constitutional nightmare this country went through over the past several years.

Frankly, my colleagues on the opposite side are making irrelevant comments or certainly are groping to hang their own particular hobby horse on this motion.

I would like to speak to the motion as it is before us. The government has used a very open and transparent process to build this bridge. There have been massive public consultations. It has been one of the most democratic processes on a major decision to be made that this country has undergone, yet we are still hearing objections.

There is a partnership in place with the private sector to build this particular project. The development company assumes the majority of the financial risks. The whole of the Canadian public will benefit from this particular project. The SCDI will own and operate the bridge for some 35 years. It speaks very much to the idea of partnership our government put forward in its red book which was so heartily endorsed by the Canadian people.

The process has been very open. The theme is a partnership with the private sector. Obviously there are myriad economic benefits to be achieved by this project.

The Canadian people voted for a government which recognized the need to create jobs in this country. That is what the message was in October 1993. This project will create a number of badly needed jobs. As was stated earlier by the minister there will be 3,500 jobs over three and a half years in the construction of the project. There will be another 2,000 spin-off jobs once the project is built with fully 96 per cent of these new jobs to be filled by Atlantic Canadians.

I could be parochial and strictly take care of the needs of southwestern Ontario or address them in my comments today. I do not think that is my role as a member of Parliament. We have heard too much of that petty approach to politics today in this House, not on this side I might add but from members opposite, unfortunately.

We have to look at this as an important project to a part of our country which badly needs an economic boost. I am going to support it and I am pleased to see it will do so much for employment.

The project will also show an increase in tourism of some 25 per cent. One can readily understand the spin-offs in jobs that will create in the service sector as Canadians find it easier to get to Prince Edward Island. I have had the opportunity to visit that beautiful island as I hope have many other members and I intend to go back. It will be a pleasure to cross on the bridge.

Concern has been expressed about the ferry workers and the loss of their jobs. This is a worry for all of us. I am pleased that the minister in tabling his statement has shown very clearly there will be fair treatment for the ferry workers. They will have the first choice for employment on the bridge project. There is a fair severance package to be put in place for the displaced workers. As we speak consultations are under way with the unions to make sure this takes place.

We have heard some concerns raised about the environment. One of the few relevant comments from the other side addressed the issue of the environment. However it totally ignored the fact that a comprehensive environmental review has taken place to make sure this project is environmentally sound. In fact a federal judge ruled that the government has taken great care in meeting the criteria of the federal environmental review.

Frankly, there is no evidence whatsoever that there is any serious environmental concern with this project. In fact the over 90 studies on the environmental aspect alone reached the opposite conclusion, that the project is environmentally sound and that it will have no significant impact on the environment.

Of course that would include fishermen in the area. It has been acknowledged that fishermen in the area may lose an opportunity during construction to fish certain waters. Obviously they will. In recognition of this a $10 million compensation fund is to be established by the developer to compensate these very fishermen.

Again the environmental review has clearly shown that the project is environmentally sound and there is to be compensation for the fishermen in the area whose livelihood will be affected.

We heard about the engineering and safety concerns of this project. The bridge has been designed to the highest standards. It has a life span of 100 years before needing a major retrofit. It has been independently assessed by engineers and found to be very sound.

As the member of Parliament for London-Middlesex, I want to take a national view on this. I invite members from all sides of the House, particularly those members opposite, to rise above petty politics. Find some vision and courage and endorse this project which is nationally important for this country. Let us move forward to the 21st century with the vision that this is our nation, all of it, from coast to coast to coast and that is the way we have to look after it. Let us not try to set up one region against another.

It would be nice to hear the members opposite speak to the motion with a little more national vision than what we have heard so far.

Prince Edward Island Fixed Link February 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, unlike most of the members opposite I have listened to today, both from the Bloc and from Reform, I would like to do something interesting and actually speak to the motion that is on the floor of this House.

Supply February 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is a bit hard to believe some of the things we are hearing in the House today in this debate. We heard the member for Yorkton-Melville earlier complain that his constituents were not invited to comment on the budgetary process, the most open one ever held in the country.

I would remind all members of the House that we are members of Parliament and we have an opportunity and a responsibility to consult with our constituents. We did that in my riding of London-Middlesex in collaboration with my other two colleagues in London. We held a pre-budget meeting and heard the concerns of our constituents. I would remind members of Parliament that as talented as he is the finance minister cannot be all places at the same time.

The member for Laurentides castigated the past government for its financial excesses and I would certainly agree with her. I would note that the leader of her party was a cabinet minister in that past government. Perhaps he could rationalize that past performance for her.

I quite frankly doubt very much that I could support the Bloc motion. Where specifically do the terms of reference for the public accounts committee, of which I am a member and which meets for the first time today, fall short in what the Bloc seeks to achieve by its motion?

If I can have explained some of the shortcoming in these terms of reference then perhaps I might be persuaded to support the motion.

As has already been noted, it will be interesting whether the Bloc takes up its opportunity today to have the chair of that committee be one of its own members. I am unconvinced at this moment. I am flabbergasted by some of the remarks I have heard

by members of Parliament in the House. It is an abdication of their responsibility.

Immigration February 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Several of my constituents have told me of the difficulty experienced by many immigrants in trying to understand the functioning of the Canadian government and its many agencies. Obviously this problem is exacerbated when these newcomers do not speak English.

In order to minimize the sense of isolation felt by many immigrants, will the minister in the upcoming public consultations address this issue and will he undertake to have better co-ordination among all levels of government regarding this important matter?

Social Security System February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I really did mean to stand. I appreciate you giving me the floor.

We have now heard the last two speakers from the Bloc praising and extolling profusely the health care system of Canada. How great it is to hear that praise.

Then I have to remind myself that this is the party whose whole raison d'ĂȘtre seems to be to break up this country. I have a problem reconciling that effusive praise for our social services system with what is their political goal.

That leads me to my question. There seems to be a prejudging of the consultation process that the minister of human resources seems intent on starting throughout this country which is a very necessary consultative process. Could the member explain to us

why it is that the Bloc members seem to want to prejudge the consultation and why they do not seem to want to have the people of Quebec as part of this consultative process.

Maybe she can reconcile the irreconcilable of why they want to break up such a wonderful nation with such a great system.

Social Security System February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, since my hon. friend made reference to my earlier comments I hoped I would have the opportunity to ask him a question. I appreciate that.

I made my point that to reform is to improve a situation. It is to find a better way. Frankly that is the liberal way, and the party that has consistently done that most effectively in this country is the Liberal Party on this side.

Can the hon. member tell us how the destruction of the national health care standards, which is the result of those policies put forward by his party, would improve the situation for Canadians in need? Can he go on and explain to us those specific improvements in the social security system that the Reform Party stands for?

The hon. member uses the phrase "target social programs" and that is the difference. We want to target social problems. Can the hon. member enlighten us on those points?

Social Security System February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I had some speaking notes and I would like to correct the hon. member.

I was trying to make the point that social assistance should be short-term help, whether it is in the form of welfare or unemployment insurance. It ought to be in its best application short-term help.

I did not indicate in any way where do they go from there. Hopefully people on this short-term help will find with the assistance of government and the private sector gainful and decent employment.

If they do not, as they have not been unfortunately, the short-term help has had to become long-term help, hence the problem we find ourselves in.

Social Security System February 3rd, 1994

Sir, may I offer my congratulations on your attaining the position of Deputy Speaker.

The minister's initiative in the area of social services is certainly much overdue and much needed in this country and gives us all cause as Canadians for serious reflection about what really is the role of government, or what ought to be the role of government in our society as we move toward the 21st century.

A conservative would have us believe that government should do very little, that really everything should be left to the marketplace, that just like business and the market take care of everything and those who earn, wealth will trickle down to those who do not have such wealth and that everything will be wonderful in our society; so-called Reaganomics, if you will, or the path followed by Margaret Thatcher and by the previous government in this House.

It is quite obvious that such an approach to government in society has been a miserable failure. Never has the gap between those at the top, those who have, and those at the bottom widened more significantly in such a few short years as it did in the 1980s in North America and in Britain and other parts of the world.

It is quite obvious that the conservative philosophy is quite bankrupt as we move toward the end of this century and the start of a new era.

On the other hand, we have the socialist philosophy that government should do everything for us. It should take care of us from the cradle to the grave. There is very little that the citizen should have to do. Let government do it all. That has been tried in different parts of the world with very limited successes, producing such an incredible tax burden on countries that they have had to totally rethink the way their society is structured. It has produced a paternalistic society in which all too often the initiative of the individual is stifled almost completely to the point at which they simply feel that they are a ward of the state.

Between these two extremes of the far right and the far left you have what I feel, and history has proven it to be the sensible position, is the position of a liberal; a far more balanced position, founded on the ideas of some of the greatest thinkers of political science in history.

A liberal view espouses the fact that there is a social contract or that there ought to be in a society a social contract between the citizen and the state, that the state is there and gains power through the actions of the citizenry in giving that power temporarily to the state. The duty of government is to assist the citizen to realize his or her full potentials, then to work in partnership with the private sector and to let that citizen and the private sector work together for job employment, job creation and so on. To a large extent it is the private sector which will help to foster employment in a society.

A liberal rejects the notion that there is no role for government to play whatsoever. That is simply not a view that I can find acceptable. The lessons of history are that there must be a role for government.

In this debate about the reform of social security let me quote perhaps one of the best expressions of the role of government that I have come across in my life time. It comes from Hubert H. Humphrey, a former vice-president of the United States. There are some lessons we can learn from our American friends. Perhaps there are many they can learn from us as well.

Mr. Humphrey said the moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped".

Surely that is the kind of test we want to put before any government as Canadians. That is the kind of test that this current government is quite prepared to stand up and meet in its mandate over the next four or five years. The minister's initiative in this reform of social security is a very clear testament to that.

On this side of the House and in Canada in general there are those who say the Liberal Party should refrain from using the word reform since it is the label of one of the current parties in the House. I categorically reject that. The real reformers in this House are those members on this side who are true to their liberal principles. That is who the real reformers are.

I will never stop using the word reform because it is a word which history has shown to be a liberal word. The liberals on this side of the House are proud to be members of the Liberal Party and we intend to continue to have our voices heard within in our own caucus, within this House and within this country to make sure that our views are put forward with the views of Canadians all across this country who share the fact that there must be a role for government to play.

What are the areas of reform that need to be examined in our current look at these particular problems? The unemployment crisis we face, if not the most serious situation, is right near the top of the list. Never have so many suffered so much in such a few short years in terms of job loss. Not since the days of the great depression. We simply must attack that and do everything we can as a government and as a nation to get Canadians working again.

The best kind of social reform we could come up with is a program of job creation. It was quite clear in the election campaign which party was the only one prepared to speak consistently, day in and day out, about jobs for Canadians. On October 25 we saw reflected the result that Canadians understood who was prepared to address the real concern, the unemployment crisis.

In terms of attitude in society, unfortunately we have drifted into a situation where there are far too many Canadians who seem to be accepting unemployment insurance and welfare as a way of life. I like to believe and I do believe they are a minority. Frankly I know, coming from a municipal councillor background, that some people are prepared to accept it as a way of life for themselves. We cannot allow that attitude to continue.

That is not to condemn the unemployed. Far from it. I would be the last to do that. In fact I submit that most unemployed Canadians truly want to work, but we need an attitudinal shift which has to be led by the government. We must insist that people who are willing and able to do work but unable to find work are given some gainful employment, some meaningful role to play. We will help them over the short-term crises they face until they are able to find full-time employment on their own.

Whether that will evolve into some kind of guaranteed annual income or some system of workfare I am not sure, but I know very clearly from my experience that we cannot encourage and let continue the attitude that one can just stay at home and be supported by the taxpayer. That has to be discouraged in the very small minority of people who unfortunately have that attitude.

I would like to say a word about the co-ordination of social programs. As I mentioned my own previous experience was at the municipal level. It is all too clear to those of us who come from a background in municipal government that there has been a consistent downloading of responsibility from the federal government to the provincial government and then down to the municipalities that have nowhere to pass it on to except to local property ratepayers. It is simply wrong and unconscionable that should go on.

Quite frankly the redistribution of income should be handled by the senior levels of government, by the federal and provincial governments. That is a far more just situation for the clients of the system, for the people who need assistance. It is far fairer for them and it is far more just to local taxpayers in any given municipality.

I come from London, Ontario, and represent the riding of London-Middlesex. We have seen examples of where people have come to our city from other parts of Ontario and have unfairly created a significant problem in the welfare budget of that municipality. That very important program must be funded from federal and provincial budgets.

Yes, there is only one Canadian taxpayer. We know that, but it is not a responsibility that should fall upon the shoulders of municipalities. The Canadian Federation of Municipalities has been saying that for years. I am confident that Minister of Human Resources Development and the Minister of Finance will hear that message and take steps to redress the lack of co-ordination and of proper funding of the programs.

The area of child care was a subject referred to earlier by a Reform Party MP. There is nothing more important to fund than child care. There are people who need subsidized care. We must give that care to the children of the working poor. If we do not we see far too clearly the horrendous social problems that result. We simply delay paying the piper and create a number of problems.

With those thoughts, I am very confident as a member of the new government that we are on the right track. Real reform will take place, led by the real reform party in the House, and that is the Liberal Party.