House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was peterborough.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Peterborough (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 44% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Department Of Canadian Heritage Act November 16th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to resume debate on Bill C-53, an act to establish the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Although the proposed legislation will officially establish in law this new department, more than a year has gone by since the department was formed from the components of no less than five different federal departments. This exercise we are going through is part of this government's effort to streamline the way the federal system is organized.

That interim period between the practical establishment of the new department and the present regulatory establishment of it has, to say the least, proved to be very interesting and challenging not only for the new department but for the government and for the entire country.

The different sectors of Canadian heritage have had to get used to their new organizational relationships. In many cases this has meant breaking established links with their former organizations and forming new ones with the various entities brought together to create the new Department of Canadian Heritage.

To take one example which interests me, let us look at Parks Canada. Formally a part of Environment Canada, Parks Canada is now a vital and active member of the new ministry. Parks Canada is the steward of our national parks and our national historic sites which collectively represent some of our most precious natural and cultural heritage resources.

Some have questioned the move of parks to Canadian Heritage. In my view it makes good sense to have the program of Parks Canada housed in a department devoted to our heritage.

The historic sites and national parks are tangible expressions of our culture and the geographical realities that have helped to instil in Canadians a unique perspective on the natural environment.

It seems to me there is a special relationship between Canadians, aboriginal Canadians and immigrant Canadians, and the environment. This is expressed through Parks Canada and so it is part of our heritage.

In listening to various speakers regarding this bill, both those on the government side and colleagues in other parties, what has struck me is the fundamental nature of feelings that have been expressed. Truly this new department, the Department of Canadian Heritage, has responsibility for areas that strike a deep and resonant chord in all Canadians.

The Department of Canadian Heritage-I must admit it is a new name, but a new name that I like-is a department that is concerned about all those things that make us what we are, those things that set us apart in the global community. Anyone who takes the time cannot fail to be impressed by the range and diversity of the new department's program areas.

I do not intend to list each of these areas of endeavour, but I do want to note some of the major sectors for the benefit of those who have been following this debate. I have already mentioned Parks Canada. In addition the new department has responsibility for the arts, broadcasting, heritage conservation, cultural industries including film, video, sound recording and book publishing.

It is also responsible for the federal programs dedicated to the promotion of official languages; the pursuit of excellence in amateur sport, Mr. Speaker, which interests you and me greatly; the promotion of our cultural diversity and the encouragement of the full and open participation of every Canadian in society.

In short, the Department of Canadian Heritage is active in areas that have as their common objective the promotion of Canadian identity. I think everyone listening to this can relate to one or another of those areas of interest which this new department has that I have mentioned. In my riding of Peterborough, and I have only been a member of Parliament for a short time, I have already had personal discussions with constituents about virtually every one of those areas of heritage activity that I have mentioned.

As one can see from the proposed legislation we are discussing here, this bill will give sanction to a federal department that has programs that touch each and every Canadian. The department is a rich amalgam of sectors. Indeed I believe that the Minister of Canadian Heritage has the privilege to direct one of the government's most exciting and challenging new portfolios.

The word heritage means different things to different people. To me one thing is clear. Particularly this year at this particular time in this House one thing is clear: Our heritage matters and the department dedicated to it are necessarily of great importance at this time, at any time, to this country. I have no doubt whatever that the new Department of Canadian Heritage will prove to be an able and vital player in the federal arena as it goes about carrying out the responsibilities conferred upon it by Parliament.

Although the bill before us says a technical purpose, confirming as it does the creation of the department in statute, to me it nonetheless represents a far-sighted and enlightened step on the part of the government, a step that will benefit our children and for which I think they will thank us. In my view this department will help ensure that Canada remains a country that others will look to as an example, a nation built on its aboriginal foundations that is confident enough in its identity to embrace the peoples of the world, not only accepting their cultural differences, but welcoming and acknowledging them for what they are, living examples of human expression that link us to the past, link us to the rest of the world and provide us with the foundation and certainty necessary to face the future with confidence.

I have taken note of concerns expressed by some members about the rationale for placing responsibility for broadcasting within Canadian heritage while the telecommunications policy will reside in the new Department of Industry. These members pretend to worry about whether the government will be hamstrung by this arrangement and therefore be incapable of action in these two vital fields. I can only say the truth is far from that.

Canadians can be assured that both departments are co-operating, teaming their efforts and finding innovative and effective ways to satisfy their respective mandates.

We need look no further than the recent joint announcement of my colleagues the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Industry regarding the government's request to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, the CRTC, to seek input and report on a number of regulatory and policy matters relevant to the development of the information highway.

Both ministers recognize that the interests of all parties, consumers, business, creators, in short everyone, will best be served by an open and transparent information gathering process.

Accordingly the government has asked the CRTC to consider such issues as the regulations in new services, the contributions to the objectives of the broadcasting act that these new services would be required to make, and the transition to fair competition between the various players on the information highway, particularly the cable television and telephone companies.

It is all too easy to sit and wring our hands and worry that the two departments will not be able to deliver on their mandates. Those that do so have their blinders on and refuse to see what can be done or accomplished if the will and effort are there.

We have heard many speakers on this bill talk about the dawning of the so-called information age and what that will mean for you and me today and for our children tomorrow. Although no one can be sure about the future we can all be certain that adaptations will be the prerequisite for success.

With respect to the future viability of our cultural sector this government is committed to ensuring that Canadian content services have a strong visible and audible presence on the information highway.

For me, debate at second reading has proved both interesting and telling in this matter, interesting because of the breadth and scope of the issues discussed and telling because it has pointed out the fundamental differences in the perspectives of this government and members of the opposition parties.

The negativism expressed by those in opposition to this bill is in stark contrast to the confidence shown by the government in tabling this legislation and in the various pieces of legislation that will establish the other large new departments.

Never has our national heritage and its expression been more important than at the present time. The government's actions in this regard are founded on a sense of optimism for the future, yes, optimism in continuing ingenuity, skill, and energy of our fellow Canadians toward ensuring a thriving and prosperous future for this country.

I want to assure each and every Canadian that they have an elected government that is committed to serving them in the most effective, efficient way possible.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for giving me this time and I look forward to early passage of this legislation.

Supply November 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate today as someone who is a great supporter of rail transportation and a great believer ultimately in high speed rail transportation, but within the context of an integrated transportation system in eastern Canada. I do not believe that ever again we will see one form of transportation being used at the expense of others in one part of the country or another.

In rising in this way, faced with the position of members opposite, I would like to explain to the House some of the background of the government's position on this very important matter.

In November 1991 the then federal Minister of Transport with the ministers of transport for Quebec and Ontario announced a joint study of the feasibility of operating a high speed train service in the corridor between Quebec City and Windsor, the busiest transportation corridor in the country.

That study was to take between 18 and 24 months and the cost of $6 million was shared equally among the three governments. The decision to conduct the study was based on the recommendations of a joint Quebec-Ontario task force report that was released in May 1991. The task force concluded that the final

decision on whether to proceed with a high speed rail project could not be made without undertaking more detailed study.

The current study includes traffic forecasts, routing, available technologies, environmental issues, funding alternatives by the private sector and by the various governments that are involved.

All of these matters are key parts of making a good decision on whether we should proceed with high speed rail transportation and if and when we do, how we should proceed. If this project is to be successful we need all information that is available.

The May 1991 report also recommended that the Government of Canada should be an active participant in the current study, and we are. The objective of the feasibility study is to recommend whether government should initiate and/or support the development of high speed passenger rail services in the Quebec City to Windsor corridor.

We know, as do members opposite, that often governments are not the best organizations to run projects of this type. Often governments are not the best organizations to fund projects of this type. Sometimes they are, but it has to be determined. It it is not a straight forward decision. If the government should decide to do something, the government should pay for it and then run it. This study is designed to show what is the best mix, private sector-government involvement, including the involvement of this level of government which as I said is very interested in this project.

Members opposite describe the government's current policy as shortsighted. In general, to me anyway, shortsighted means lacking in long term vision. I suggest that what we need in this case is long term vision, not short term expedient decisions. Studying the implication and impact of high speed rail in eastern Canada is taking the long range, proper view of the issue.

Putting in a modern railroad system is not like cutting a portage through the bush. It is not something you can set off with an axe and do. Likely you end up at the right place. It is a matter of great public interest and importance that takes time and planning. For that we need information and proper study.

I believe the federal government is demonstrating its sense of responsibility toward Canadians by not rushing blindly into deciding the future of high speed rail in this particular case. It would be irresponsible to decide on a project of this magnitude without having the benefit of all the necessary information.

The current study is the largest, the most in depth analysis of high speed rail ever undertaken in Canada. Over 30 consultants are involved. We must realize this study does not simply involve studying rail transportation and various options for that. The effects of these proposals on airlines, bus routes, trucking which the member opposite was just discussing and all other modes of transportation have to be considered.

My own riding of Peterborough is along this corridor. In Peterborough there is Trentway-Wagar which is one of the few large Canadian owned bus companies. We should nurture companies such as that in the same way we should nurture the Canadian trucking industry in the same way we should nurture the seaway along this route. The Quebec City to Windsor route is probably the most dense and complex transportation route in the world. The seaway is there. The House has received a report on the seaway which is having problems. We need the seaway. We need it in eastern Canada, we need it in western Canada.

Members opposite were concerned about highways in Quebec. I am concerned about highways in Ontario. I do know that what we need in this corridor is the proper mix: air, bus, trucks and the seaway altogether. That is why this government is looking at the impact, the overall positive, we hope, impacts of a high speed rail system on all of those modes of transport, their effects in eastern Canada and their effects in the whole country.

Is properly studying high speed rail for a period of time-we are looking ahead to 1995 and then ahead for many decades-inappropriate for a project so large with such wide implications? I would say not. I would say it is not shortsighted to undertake this study. We must look at the real costs and benefits over the long term to properly assess the feasibility of a multibillion dollar infrastructure project of this type.

Our decision on the future of the high-speed train should not be based on the apparent short term benefits. The government has demonstrated its commitment to deficit reduction. Given the very high deficits, governments will want to ensure that any new infrastructure project will not require large amounts of public funds.

We must look at the funds we are going to spend. We must look at the amounts that are involved and how those funds are going to be used. I repeat that the potential of a high speed rail service should be examined in the light of the broader context of the overall transportation needs of the whole of Canada.

The present schedule of the government provides for the tabling of a final report of this study I have described to the three governments, the government of Quebec, the government of Ontario and the federal government early in the new year. Like other members on this side of the House, I look forward to that report just as I look forward to our having the best possible integrated transportation system in eastern Canada.

Royal Canadian Legions November 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the Royal Canadian Legion was founded in 1925 to look after the veterans of World War I. The first ladies auxiliary was formed a year later. The first Remembrance Day was in 1931 when 50,000 attended in Ottawa. This resulted in parliamentary recognition of Armistice Day. Today the legion has 600,000 members in 1,800 communities.

In Peterborough riding, legions in Havelock, Keene, Lakefield, Norwood, Peterborough and Warsaw, in addition to taking care of veterans affairs, donated tens of thousands of dollars to local charities this year alone. They supported disadvantaged children, minor hockey, Meals on Wheels, Civic and St. Joseph's hospitals, Easter Seals, the United Way, local churches, animals in distress, Terry Fox, homes for the aged, high school students, the lung association, Telecare and many other fine causes.

Canadian veterans who are no longer with us would be proud of their legion today.

Petitions November 2nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions on the matter of Leonard Peltier. One has 175 or so

signatures, the other has 75. They are signed largely by people from Peterborough riding but also from elsewhere in Ontario.

These people petition Parliament stating that at the time of the Lakota-Chippewa native American Leonard Peltier's extradition from Canada to the U.S., the information provided surrounding Mr. Peltier's case was fabricated by U.S. authorities. Since that time new information has emerged that indicates that Leonard Peltier was not guilty of the crimes for which he has spent the last 18 years in prison.

Therefore these petitioners request that Parliament hold an external review of the 1976 extradition hearing and that he be brought back to Canada for asylum.

I would like to say the last time I presented one of these petitions I made the point that an internal review is already under way but I would stress that these petitioners want an external review.

Tourism November 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, our eastern Ontario caucus was informed that the only increase in tourism in our region during the recent recession was the result of overflow tourists from Quebec. These were visitors brought to Canada by Quebec government advertising.

I believe the federal government through the new tourism commission should work with the private sector to promote Canada by promoting Canadian heritage. In eastern Ontario, for example, the Trent, Severn and Rideau waterways are part of our national heritage. They are a great attraction to tourists from other provinces and countries.

Promotion of major features of Canadian heritage will attract tourists to Canada from around the world and will encourage Canadians to travel in Canada. At the same time promotion of Canadian heritage will strengthen our sense of national identity.

Let us encourage interest in our heritage in Canada and around the world.

Department Of Public Works And Government Services Act October 26th, 1994

No, Mr. Speaker.

Department Of Public Works And Government Services Act October 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to speak on Bill C-46 which is the bill setting up the new Ministry of Industry.

Like the member for Eglinton-Lawrence, I was surprised to hear members of the opposition referring to this as merely mechanical, organizational legislation.

Bill C-46 which sets up this new department is in fact a part of the-

Small Business October 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the Standing Committee on Industry has just released its report on banks and small business.

I hope the government will act on this report to make Canada an even better place to do business.

I thank all those who helped the committee produce this report and in Peterborough riding my thanks to all those who appeared

before the committee or who submitted briefs and to those who appeared before the task force on small business in Peterborough; thanks to the greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, local banks and all those individual business people who gave me good advice during the process. Finally, I extend my thanks to the chair and staff of the standing committee and to my colleagues on it.

Let us continue taking care of business in Canada.

Petitions October 5th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I present a petition from citizens who oppose physician assisted suicide. They petition that Parliament ensure the present provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada prohibiting assisted suicide be enforced vigorously and that Parliament make no changes to the law which would sanction or allow the aiding or abetting of suicide or active or passive euthanasia.

Petitions October 5th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I present a petition urging the government not to amend the human rights code, the Canadian Human Rights Act or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in any way which would indicate approval of same sex relationships.