Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was business.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Toronto—Danforth (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2004, with 41% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Budget March 30th, 2004

They work in those companies.

The Budget March 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I have tried repeatedly to educate my NDP opponent, Jack Layton, on the whole issue of taxes. On the notion of punishing achievers, whether they be small businesses or even large businesses that are paying Canadians good solid union wages, if all of a sudden we become such a persecutor of those people that are paying good solid union wages, those people are going to end up in countries where people get ridiculously low wages.

Jack Layton has to start cheerleading business. He has to start cheerleading those people that are creating jobs in this country, especially the small business men and women and especially those corporations that have good environmental standards and that pay good solid union wages. The day that this country slips into punishing achievers, that is the day when our fiscal framework will go right into the toilet.

The Budget March 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question.

The greater portion of moneys we receive in this country is through personal income taxes. We all know that and we are all constantly trying to refine that area of the personal income tax system; however, the member is referring to the fact that corporations are not paying as much tax. I believe that is the point that the member is trying to make.

I am absolutely dumbfounded at the NDP opposition, and I told this to Jack. I said, “Jack, you are right off track on this”, because tax deductions for the one million small business men and women in this country who create almost 85% of the jobs is a good thing. The top 150 corporations in this country pay very little tax. In fact, they are the ones that we should be reviewing in terms of their tax payable, but to make a blanket statement as Jack Layton has said repeatedly, that we should not be giving tax preferences to small business men and women, is the wrong tack to take.

It goes to my point about rewarding achievers. The greatest achievers in this country are small business men and women, and to deny them a better tax system, which is what Jack Layton is always saying, I philosophically disagree.

The Budget March 30th, 2004

I believe in and my colleague has reminded me about affordable housing. This is another thing that drives me crazy about my future opponent, Jack Layton. He made the statement that the government has done nothing for affordable housing. In the GTA alone, we have averaged $273 million a year for the last 10 years. That to me is a lot of money. That is separate and apart from the shelter money that we supply for the homeless.

We do not have an unlimited treasury here and I believe that there has to be a balance. If we ask a young person or a small business man or woman today if they would rather have a business loan at 5% or a mortgage at 3.5%, but to do that would mean that we would not be able to satisfy every need, that we would have to use balance, I bet that 9 out of 10 Canadians are going to say that they like the fiscal direction and the financial plan that the government is on.

That is why I say that this budget is like a crafted jewel because it has put most of the opportunity into entrepreneurship across this country. Our job growth, our job capacity, our domestic and international opportunities, and our future communities rest with small business men and women. That is my case.

The Budget March 30th, 2004

It is absolutely true.

In terms of early child care, we will never forget the former minister of human resources development. One of her great legacies in the House of Commons is something no one can ever take away from her and that is the work she did in terms of early child care over the years. I salute her. It has just been amazing.

This is again speaking for people who are in pain. In the end, the real inner joy we get from serving in the House is being able to be a voice and do something for those who do not have a voice, and do not have the resources to speak for their cause, their child or destitute farm. That is the real thrill and the budget passes all of those tests.

I will remind people again of how last Monday, through the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, there was a billion dollar announcement made in western Canada to help that sector. Again, this is speaking for people in pain.

We have maintained, in the budget, the trajectory that the former minister for CIDA put us on. It was a trajectory of ensuring that we do not just speak for those in pain in our country, but that we reach out to countries around the world that are in pain.

The Budget March 30th, 2004

The member from the New Democratic Party said that leaders in this country who achieve and who accomplish pay lower taxes.

I personally have no problem. He has just made the very point that I want to make. I believe we should reward our achievers. I have never believed, as the NDP do, that we should punish people because they work hard and they achieve. I just never bought that philosophy and I have been elected four times over NDPers who tried every election to knock me because I said I wanted to reward achievers.

We will go at it one more time with Mr. Layton, and I can use his name because he is not in the House. I have watched Jack Layton day in and day out, year after year. He gets this big thrill in trying to punish achievers. The country needs all the achievers that we can find. I will never be caught talking about punishing achievers.

I want to make the point that the real essence of why we come to the House, and it is a great trust and honour to be here, is to speak for those people who do not have a voice and those people who are in real pain.

The budget deals with people in pain from nearly every part of the community. This is what drives me nuts about NDP members, that even though it is written here, and there is $150 billion worth of program spending, they just do not want to admit what goes on in terms of things that are done in the whole area of health.

It was an amazing thing the other day. The acting leader of the NDP stood up and asked the minister, how come he did not do anything in the budget for health care? The Minister of Finance stood up in response and said that, in fact, Mr. Romanow said very fine and positive things about the budget.

The Budget March 30th, 2004

That is anti, the coalition of the antis; anti-everything. There is $150 billion worth of program spending here for nearly every sector of the economy. I have been listening to opposition members this morning and they are just anti.

I would like to try to make the case why I think the budget is like a crafted jewel. I want to begin by referring to a book called The Ingenuity Gap written by Thomas Homer-Dixon. This book was written a couple of years ago by I believe one of our finest minds in Canada. He makes the case in his book, The Ingenuity Gap , that the system over the last 20 years of qualifying people to get into university, whether it be business school or law school, has been decided by the SAT exams primarily.

The way those SAT exams are designed tends to marginalize people with creative thinking. They tend to favour people who have a high degree of logic in their thinking. As a result, over the last 20 years we have a lot of people who are in influential positions, whether it be in business or in government, who do not have a lot of creativity. In fact, a lot of them even shun the creative process.

As a result, when creative thinking comes to leadership, because they do not feel comfortable with it they tend to put it aside. As a result, we have a lot of people in key positions, in government, in business, in running institutions, who tend to be anti-ingenuity. The reason that is a problem today is that the world is moving so fast and decisions need to be taken so quickly and the coping mechanisms to react to decisions that need to be made quickly are just not there. We just do not cope. We do not make good decisions, by and large.

The reason I say the budget is like a crafted jewel is because it is a celebration and a recognition that men and women with ingenuity is where we will put the resources of the treasury of this country.

First, let us talk about the fiscal prudence that is in the budget, the fiscal prudence that is celebrated around the world. We are now respected because of the fiscal management. This is just not a debatable point. By being managers over the last 10 years, taking a country that had incredible deficit challenges to a point where the treasury now, because that deficit has been eliminated, is saving Canadians $115 million a day just in interest savings.

What do those low interest rates do? Nothing is more important to the one million men and women who own and operate small businesses. They tend to be the source of creativity and ingenuity. Nothing is more important for a small business man or woman than to have access to cheap capital or low interest loans. Because of the fiscal responsibility that we have been on for the last little while and that we continue to be on with the new Minister of Finance, we are creating an environment where all that ingenuity, which is critical for job creation, which is critical for new products and new services, can flourish.

Anyone who is fair-minded in their assessment and judgment will realize that, first and foremost, the biggest winners in this budget are the one million small business men and women across Canada. Ingenuity is critical for these individuals. I am not knocking major, larger, multinational corporations, but most of them do not have an environment where ingenuity can flourish. This budget states that small business is our cornerstone.

Second, and again making the case that this budget is a crafted jewel, I have to look at what it will do for young families. In the last little while, it has been an amazing experience for people to enter the housing market and get mortgage rates on a home at 3.5% or 4%. This is a most amazing period in time. There is nothing more important than having access to such low mortgage rates. This is another area in building confidence, especially with younger families right across the country. This is another factor in this budget equation that causes me to think that this budget is a crafted jewel.

Let me move into various sectors of the economy.

The commitment in this budget to the automobile sector is almost unprecedented. There are over 250,000 families in southern Ontario. The government's commitment and respect, and support for the auto sector affects the lives and stability of probably one million people. This budget deals with the automobile sector in a way that cannot be denied. I have heard from several people in the automobile sector and they are absolutely delighted with the commitment that the Minister of Finance has made toward that sector. I am blessed here today to have colleagues from Windsor, Brantford, and Thunder Bay, whose influence was felt by the Minister of Finance.

Low interest rates are a stimulus for the automobile sector. When have we ever seen the cost of automobiles so low? When have we ever seen interest payments so low? Some manufacturers have told us that the margins they are making right now are the most disciplined they have ever been during their manufacturing lifetime.

The tourism sector is now on a rebound because of the government's fiscal prudence and because of its stimulus and support to the industry in Canada. The whole reawakening of the fact that tourism now represents 14% of the total jobs created in this country is another factor in this budget that causes me to believe it is like a crafted jewel.

I want to talk about some of those areas in the budget that deal with people who are in pain and in real need because ultimately they are the reason why we are all in the House of Commons. We do not come to this House for any other reason than to speak for those who do not have a voice.

We respect the people who have lobbyists, that have a voice and do really well in society. We do not punish achievers on this side of the House unlike my opponents in the NDP.

Those members have this thought process that I have been trying for years to change. We do not need to punish achievers. We need all the achievers in the country that we can find because they generate jobs and their risk taking is very important for stimulating the economy.

The Budget March 30th, 2004

A crafted jewel. I would like a few minutes to make this case. We are unlike the coalition of the antis over there. I have listened to the speeches and Canadians have to be--

The Budget March 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make the case today that the budget is like a crafted jewel. Unlike the comments of the hon. member--

Supply March 22nd, 2004

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the question by the hon. member for the separatist party.

The people in my community would never ever support people ripping off the government, or stained contracts, nor would any part of this country, but this party, the Bloc Quebecois, has one mission in mind: to separate this country, to destroy this country. If other people in this chamber or in other parts of the country have a better way of promoting the federal presence or pulling the country together than all of the various ideas that we used to keep the country together, then they should bring them forward.

The fact of the matter is that what we did over the last three or four years brought the country together. We have to look at the numbers. We have to look at the record. We now have a federalist government sitting in the province of Quebec under the leadership of Jean Charest.