Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was billion.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Reform MP for Calgary Centre (Alberta)

Lost his last election, in 2000, with 22% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Points Of Order April 25th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, what would the last day be without a point of order?

During question period a topic came up about a smelly substance and I would like to identify that as a Liberal deodorant called Shameless.

Committee Of The House April 23rd, 1997

Madam Speaker, I am hearing some interesting comments being thrown back and forth. The last Liberal questioner just does not understand the objective of the Bloc. The Bloc is not out to give tax breaks to the rich. The Bloc is out to tax the rich. It is exactly the opposite. It is complaining that billions of dollars are disappearing because they are hidden in family trusts. It wants to tax those people. It wants its share of the revenues.

How can a Liberal member who is listening to the debate say the Bloc wants to give tax breaks to the rich? This is what is wrong with the Liberal government. It is the spin it wants to give the thing. It is the perception it wants to create. Liberals are interested in perception, not reality. They are not listening to what the debate is all about.

It is a shame that a gentleman who is as good at communication and can express himself so eloquently would waste those God given talents on distorting the truth and the facts.

Nevertheless I am a member of the Standing Committee of Public Accounts. I was also present when the issue was debated there. As Reformers my colleague from the riding of St. Albert and I were very concerned about the issue. The Liberal spokesperson from public accounts who addressed the issue refuted what the Bloc members had to say. She did a reasonably good job of explaining the circumstances.

I find interesting now that it is relatively over, so to speak, her recollection of the facts: the events are now wonderful. She praises the auditor general when the chairman of the Standing Committee of Finance, who was present in the House today, openly criticized the auditor general for having the audacity to question the transfer of these trusts to the United States. That is the reality. He criticized the auditor general and now the Liberal spokesperson is praising the auditor general.

Another fact conveniently distorted or interpreted different from the way I saw things happen was when this hit the newspapers and it was out there, the Bloc Quebecois did make a big issue out of this and raised family trusts. It was on family trusts from the very first meeting we had on the GST the first year it came here. It is an issue that it is very concerned about and very much interested in.

This issue comes to the forefront and lo and behold, the finance minister tried to pre-empt the responsibilities of the public accounts committee and take away its right to review the situation. He shoved it off to the Standing Committee on Finance where it wanted to review all of this and not have it under public accounts.

We know the public accounts committee is the one that is supposed to be looking at the comments of the auditor general and from that ask for witnesses and testimony. We felt that the Standing Committee on Finance could do what it wanted and we also looked into it.

In pursuing the issue I have some other facts I would like to present. Looking into it, trying to get to the bottom of it, trying to find out whether there were some tax dollars that should have stayed in Canada that ended up not being collected, those are honourable and good questions.

Imagine a system once they form the government in the new country of Quebec. They are going to publish names of taxpayers they are investigating. That is not right. That is not the kind of tax system I would like to have or a country I would like to be in. That is a private matter and is very confidential. On that issue I definitely disagree.

The chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts in one of his questions earlier today was concerned about what kind of system we have where somebody asks for an advance ruling. I think that is good system. An advance tax ruling on a complicated

issue is a service that Revenue Canada should provide. It is a service that is very valuable and is used very often.

When some people are into very complicated financial transactions and the implications of moving funds around in trust to find out how the tax department would treat it, whether it would be taxed right away, deferred or not taxed at all, these are important elements to consider. Advance tax rulings are a process we in Canada, a lot of individuals and businesses, appreciate.

The actions of Revenue Canada on this issue are suspect for the reason, as I recollect the facts, that on the second ruling the department in all its documentation, in everything that was in the files prior to the last meeting, indicated it was not going to give a favourable ruling. It was to rule against this movement of assets, taxable properties, within a family trust

All of sudden it is reversed. Why? The purpose of the public accounts committee was to find out and ask witnesses. We still do not have a clear answer on that. We do not know why there was a reversal. Certainly it is its right to reverse it but when all the documentation, all the arguments and all the evidence as it builds a file and review a case are leading it in one direction, why all of a sudden is it changed?

The Bloc is asking good questions. Why is there special treatment here? Was there special treatment? Was there favouritism? Was this an order by a cabinet minister who said reverse it? Was it politically motivated? We tried to get to the bottom and we could not. The Standing Committee on Finance then made some recommendations and it theoretically closed the loopholes.

What was happening that was wrong while the committee was doing this? While the Standing Committee on Finance was reviewing the issue, the Minister of National Revenue froze all other transactions of this nature, denying for six to seven months the rights of other Canadians to obtain advance tax rulings and to make transactions within trusts. It was done at the expense of other taxpayers.

It was something the Minister of National Revenue should not have done. She should have allowed the process to continue because if the decision was a good decision and if the decision had the facts to support the action from a tax point of view, it should have been a precedent which would have been available for other Canadians. It seemed to us in committee that the government was trying to hide it, push it under the rug and not let us get to the bottom of it. It was frozen.

Then the loophole was closed and we were told it is finished. However, like I say, there was a price to pay in doing that.

I would like it to be known that this transaction had with it a tax liability. The trust went to the United States. It went to New York state. We found out that the way the deal was made, the way the ruling came down, this could be allowed to happen but only if during the next ten years, from 1991 to the year 2001, if any of those assets were cashed in, if any of it was liquidated, the tax liability would be owing to Canada and Canadians would receive that money. Theoretically, as we are debating this issue today, if those individuals were to do anything to liquidate certain assets within the trust, the moneys would be taxed and the tax would be owing to Canada.

After the ten years the tax would be owing and payable in the United States, in New York state. However, these individuals did not do this to avoid paying tax. The tax liability is there. It is a question of whether it is payable to Canada or to the United States. Ten years from the date of the agreement the tax is owing to Canada.

As well, the tax rate in New York state on this trust would have been higher than it is in Canada. Therefore to argue that these individuals were trying to avoid taxes or trying to pay lower taxes is not true. I would like to let it be known that these people were just looking for ways to get their trust moved around.

Did this happen in such a way that there should have been an immediate tax liability on the assets payable to Canada? I do not know. I do not know the technicalities. I cannot say whether there should or should not have been. However, other Canadians should not have been denied the same rights while this was being looked at.

The public accounts committee went as far as it could, with good intentions. We were not quite satisfied with all the answers. There were minority reports filed.

With respect to the matters of tax liability, tax avoidance and tax concurrence there is an honour system in Canada. I am starting to get the sense that the government is becoming tougher and is not willing to trust Canadians. The government amended the Income Tax Act in the last budget, which is to come into force this year. Now we are going to be requested on our income tax forms to not only report our income, tax liability, how much was deducted at source and how much is still owing, but a year from now the government is going to ask all individuals to list their foreign assets. We will not only have to report our income and the liability on that income, we will have to report our foreign assets. Why? The government does not trust Canadians. It feels that some Canadians are hiding assets offshore and not paying tax on them when they are sold, not declaring their gain on the assets.

Our system in Canada hires a lot of people. Revenue Canada has a budget of $2.2 billion, 44,000 employees. There are some darned

good auditors. Those auditors are the ones who should be looking at who is and who is not paying taxes on offshore assets. Why not do that?

If there is a problem with the business immigration plan and some immigrants are not following the system, audit more of them. We know that when a tax avoidance scheme or a tax shelter develops and the business community takes undue advantage of it, the auditors audit research and development grants until we find out what is legitimate and what is not and we find out that some people were cheating. That is how to solve it, not putting in the Income Tax that one must under penalty of imprisonment or under penalty of something else. That drawing and quartering is ridiculous. That is not the way we should be going.

Today something happened in public accounts that is all related to what we do as a committee. A very important issue was raised about generally accepted accounting principles and how government commitments are booked; the $961 million transition payment to the three Atlantic provinces; the $800 million commitment for the foundation for innovation.

Bloc members were ready to debate this. Reform was ready. The auditor general was at the committee along with the deputy minister. These people were kind enough to show up to discuss the issue so that I would either stop criticizing or continue to criticize the finance minister. There are seven Liberal members on that committee. Not one of them showed up and the chairman had to cancel the meeting. That is a shame and I do not think it is in order.

I feel I have contributed as much as I can to shed light on what happened on this issue.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997 April 22nd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member for Red Deer referred to earlier, he is absolutely right. This government has missed the problem. It has identified the wrong problem.

The government has taken the low bar on the high jump and said deficit is the problem. "We will solve that. What we will do is we will promise Canadians to spend less than the Conservatives did. We promise Canadians that we will bring in a lower deficit than the Conservatives did and that will solve our problem". I submit that did not solve the problem. It only adds to the problem.

I know this bill will be voted on at the end of the day. This is probably my last chance to speak on a monetary bill. I do not know if there is anything else on the agenda this week. The one thing I would like to leave with the Liberal Party and with Canadians across the country is I would like to remind them that it is a noble effort and it is worthwhile and it is a necessity to lower our deficit and we have to get to a surplus.

To the degree that this government has lowered the deficit, I compliment it. It is the right direction to go.

The degree to which it brags and overexaggerates the benefits that we have achieved to date is a disservice to the Canadian public.

What I am really concerned about as a Canadian is that the finance minister, because the global economy and global markets have improved over the last four years, has missed the opportunity to make the cuts sooner in the other areas he has avoided. They dilly-dallied for a whole year before actually making cuts. The first budget was all talk. He then lobbied with his cabinet and colleagues and did a good job in getting them to agree to some cuts. They took some of our ideas from the zero in three, the ones they thought they could sell. That is smart. If you see a good idea just steal it, take it and take credit for it. That is fine as long as it is good for all of Canada.

They went too far on the cuts in social transfer. They put it all together. In health, education and welfare they cut $7.5 billion, which is way too much. Provinces are having trouble. Hospitals are having trouble. Everybody is concerned about this issue. It has been an issue in Alberta where a lot of angry people have had to be addressed concerning the closures of certain hospitals, especially in downtown Calgary. I am very familiar with the issue there and which hospitals were closed. That is from a regime that did not promise any tax cuts or give any tax cuts. It just promised to balance the budget over x period of time. This issue is important.

In our zero in three budget we would have only cut $3.5 billion from health care, education and welfare. This is clearly $4.5 billion less than the Liberal government did.

The reason I accuse the Liberals of downloading on the provinces is they made their cuts in social transfers to provinces rather than cuts to to their own departments, notwithstanding the promise of the finance minister that we will sacrifice as well in order to justify this. If Canadians would accept the government's $7.5 billion cut to the Canadian health and social transfer, it would cut 18.8 per cent from departmental spending amounting to $9.4 billion. To date, it is only at 4.2 or 4.5 per cent. It assures us that it will get there but it has now changed the rules on how it will get there. It is not quoting $9 billion any more. It is not quoting a final number any more.

What the government is saying is that it will reach its 18.8 per cent cuts in program spending but it will redefine what program spending is and then move a whole bunch of spending off balance sheet accounting. It is now going to say it has met its 18.8 per cent. Pretty soon we might find in a year that it is $5.6 billion or another billion dollars, because I know it is projected and I know what will happen, but $5.5 billion will now represent 18.8 per cent and once again it will brag about how it has met its targets and objectives.

My biggest problem with what the Liberals have done is that they will go to the public after they call an election and ask and seek for a vote of confidence to stay the course and support a pan-Canadian view of this country where we have to give inducements to three provinces to buy into a harmonized sales tax at a cost of a billion dollars to the rest of the country. That is not even revenue neutral. It means that the finance minister had to dip into the current account to pay for that. The Liberals are going to ask for a vote of confidence without telling the Canadian public what they will do if they ever balance the budget.

What will they do? We say we should balance the budget and the sooner the better. Our party makes a firm commitment date as to when we would do that. We say that we would cut. Where we would cut more than the Liberals of course is in direct subsidies to businesses because we feel that distorts the marketplace. There is another $2 billion to $3 billion there.

In my opinion, if the minister had done that he could have really been looking at a balanced budget a lot sooner.

We say a tax cut after we balance the budget and after we have created a surplus. We take that money, apply some of it to the debt and some to lower taxes for all Canadians, not just the rich Canadians they accuse us of. Everybody's personal and spousal exemptions would rise to $7,900. That helps everybody. That is what we would do with a surplus. We would then lower the cost of government and lower the overhead. We do not need 300 MPs in this House. I think the majority of MPs would agree with me on that on a non-partisan basis. Why are we increasing it by six?

The Prime Minister has said in his broken English and broken French, the same way in both languages, that maybe we spend, maybe we do not spend and maybe we will have more money. As

soon as we hit a balanced budget are they going to go back to increasing spending on different programs? Are they going to continue to create that dependency on a big federal government so big government will look after everybody? Then we will just add to that debt.

Somebody has to address the fact and the reality that sooner or later, I do not care how small it is, whether it is a $1 billion payment, this government or any government will have to make a repayment on that debt. In our personal lives we cannot go on forever and ever increasing our debt without making a payment on it. It is fine to reduce your interest cost, your deficit, but we cannot continually go on adding to our debt. Sooner or later the bank calls us on our loan. Sooner or later it takes away our car if we do not make a payment.

Somehow or other government politicians and the bureaucracy-I do not think it helps sometimes-seem to think that the public purse is somehow different. The debt is $600 billion but they think the only problem to solve to get to a balanced budget is the deficit. They think that will solve the problems of everybody. That debt has to be addressed.

A prudent government and a prudent finance minister would have pushed harder and talked about the debt as a percentage of the gross domestic product. They would have talked about how we are going to repay it over 30 years, or at least some of it. We do not have repay the whole $600 billion but we should be making a $1 billion or $2 billion principal repayment at least every term of government. I agree that the repayment should be over the long term, that we should bind government to no more deficit spending except under extreme circumstances or emergencies.

The difference between the United States and Canada is gross taxation levels. High taxes kill jobs. Lower taxes will create jobs. The proof is that in the United States total state and federal taxation amounts to 27 per cent of the gross domestic product. The total value of the goods and services the Americans generate is taxed at a level of 27 per cent for individuals and corporations. In Canada taxation at all levels represents 35 per cent of our gross domestic product. The U.S. unemployment rate is 5 per cent and our unemployment rate is close to double that. The United States has lower taxes, more people employed and a larger population than we have. It must be doing something right. I maintain it is in the field of taxation. Therein lies the problem.

If we could ever give tax cuts we would go a long way to solve our economic problems and to improve our economic situation. We have to create less dependency on a big federal government. If we want to do that we have to give more disposable income back to the people so they can look after themselves. There will be less need for people to look to welfare programs and unemployment programs. I do not want to talk about unemployment because I will get off topic with that slush fund he has cooking, taxing us to the tune of $7 billion which is in that EI fund already. That is a generous surplus. I agree the fund should theoretically contain that surplus, but it is not really a surplus. If he is so far ahead of his deficit target, that is one small selective tax cut he could make. He may do it.

I know a lot of economists make representations to the finance minister, and he does listen, of course only if it is politically convenient to do so. He may do it at some point during the election campaign after the Liberals receive enough heat and they get enough criticism from the general public about their arrogance and how they brag about how well things are. The Liberals may receive heat about keeping half the truth from the Canadian public, the truth about the debt, the truth about the rising interest costs. Even though interest rates are low, the sum total of what this government is now paying in interest has gone from $30 billion to $50 billion. Is nobody worried about that? Is nobody worried about a $650 billion debt, notwithstanding the interest rate? Is nobody worried about how much money we are going to have to pay? That will be the single biggest cost to any future federal government. That is scary and that is after spending is reduced.

I submit there is room for another $10 billion worth of cuts the Liberals have not touched. Some government will or through attrition we will get down to that lower level of spending. After we get there the federal government will be able to provide the services Canadians want. It will take us two or three years to get there but it will be done.

Interest costs will rise if the Liberals continue to add to the debt. They will brag. They will say: "Vote for us. Give us a vote of confidence because we will have a balanced budget in two years".

I am worried about what they will do with the surplus. Will they ignore the debt and increase spending? Will they say they have taken enough flack from the Reform Party on health care and increase spending on health care by $1 billion? If they feel they have taken enough flack from the Reform Party in an area will they increase spending there? Will they say the foundation for innovation is so great that they will double its budget? Will they say regional development is doing good they will triple its budget? Will they ignore the debt?

We cannot ignore the debt. It is the single biggest problem facing the country along with the interest cost that services it. It has to be addressed.

I must be a voice in the wilderness. I am the only person who talks about the debt and high interest costs. No government member talks about them. The finance minister mentioned debt once in his 60-minute speech. We do not talk about it. He brags about everything else in his economic statement. An economic

statement should fairly and accurately represent the economic status of the country at any given time.

The minister dwells on the positives. That is misleading. He gets an f from me for not talking about the other side of the story, the debt. While the deficit has decreased how much have interest costs gone up? That is an important component.

Yes, we are a rich country. Yes, we can sustain a high level of debt. Yes, people will continue to lend us money. However, we are 40 per cent indebted to foreign countries.

The finance minister and the Prime Minister can brag about not borrowing any more and about the decrease in borrowing requirements. The foreign borrowing or borrowing requirements of the government have decreased from $32 billion to $14 billion. That is tremendous. That is a plus. That is good. We all want that.

It could have been twice as good as that. We could have got there twice as fast if the cuts I am talking about were made at the time I am talking about. They should not have wasted time. They should have lived up to their commitment to cut $9 billion from departmental spending.

The Liberals wasted two years. They failed to act for two years. They did not make the cuts, even the cuts they said they would make. The President of the Treasury Board got all the other ministers to agree to doing it to justify the $7.5 billion. That has now been done. I would defend the $7.5 billion, but I would do so by ensuring that departments lived up to their commitment, which was to cut $9 billion. That has not happened.

They will come in with a $14 billion to $15 billion deficit. We must consider the two years of inactivity. If they had made those cuts during those two years they could brag about a balanced budget. The election would be about what they do next. Do they address the debt or do they talk about spending on new programs or increase spending on programs?

If the Prime Minister and the finance minister come up with a sequel to their red book they had better address those things. What will they do when there is a surplus? A surplus is coming. Spending has been frozen. Certain departments have been told to cut back. There will be a surplus. It will take them a year or a year and a half longer than it would take us.

Nevertheless historians and economists will be able to go back and refit the numbers to see what would have happened if they acted here or there.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997 April 22nd, 1997

In school I was taught that is called plagiarism. When you copy someone else's written material and claim it as your own, it is plagiarism.

The finance minister is the beneficiary of low interest rates. He has allowed our huge debt to grow. However, he will not give credit where credit is due. He is taking full credit.

For example, I will give a quote that I could use as mine: "In politics, perception is everything". I could claim that is my quote but I would be lying, it would not be true because that quote belongs to none other than the Prime Minister of the country who is more interested in creating perceptions and smoke and mirrors than he is about the reality of life in Canada.

I gave the finance minister an F for another reason. He failed to tell the Canadian public about the debt. It was mentioned once in his budget speech. He talked for 60 minutes and he mentioned the word debt once. He has added $111 billion to the debt. He says that he has broken the back of the deficit and improved the economy when the debt now is over $600 billion.

Should he be so lucky to be in the government the next time around, I feel sorry for him when the debt grows to $650 million or $700 million. Even with the low interest rate policy he is going to have a hard time making ends meet and paying for the departmental programs in place now.

What if interest rates go higher than 5 per cent, 6 per cent or7 per cent? What if they go back to 9 per cent? I am very afraid of that.

I heard members opposite during my intervention asking what we would have added to the debt. We would have added $45 billion to the debt as opposed to $111 billion. We would have balanced the budget in three years from when we took office. We would have a surplus this year ending 1997.

I am sorry, I talked right through my time. I do want to ask the member to make one more comment on the vision of the government. Why does he really think it has a vision when the Prime Minister and the justice minister say: "We will handle the problems one at a time".

Budget Implementation Act, 1997 April 22nd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a comment and then ask my colleague a question.

The biggest problem I have with the budget implementation act, Bill C-93, is with the budgetary habits of the Liberal government and the budget of the finance minister this last time around. I gave him an F on the budget, not necessarily for what is in it and for the numbers that are in it, but I gave him an F for what is not in the budget. I gave him an F for the perception that he is creating by distorting the strength of our economy.

He brags and assures Canadians that the back of the deficit is broken with a projected $19 billion deficit which of course will be down around $14 billion range. How can the back of the deficit be broken when we are talking about $14 billion deficits? The finance minister becomes inept because he brags about how the Liberals have restored confidence to the Canadian economy and yet he takes all the credit. Let us look at the factors that created the turnaround in the Canadian economy in the last three and a half years.

First was a worldwide drop in interest rates. Second, the drop in those interest rates was as a direct result of the Bank of Canada's monetary policy and the high interest rate policy during the Conservative regime that tried to curb inflation. The Liberals railed, ranted and ravaged the Conservative government and the then governor of the Bank of Canada for their high interest rate policy. It is because that governor was right and did the right thing that Canada kept in pace and in tune with other world economies.

Now the finance minister is bragging: "We have brought interest rates down to their lowest level in the last 30 years. We have implemented such a wonderful budget that we now have the lowest interest rates in 30 years. We deserve all the credit. Canadians will put us back into power because of our sound fiscal policies and this wonderful budgetary objective and restoring confidence in the Canadian economy".

Criminal Code April 21st, 1997

I respect the example the minister gave me about the 11-year old boy and his mother, and the need to move quickly. That is no different from the pleadings and representations made to the minister by Debbie Mahaffy in terms of having a victims bill of rights, victims impact statements and things like that being clearly identifiable in the law.

Is the minister sure that he is not being pressured by a pending election when he rushes forward with this bill?

Criminal Code April 21st, 1997

Mr. Chairman, I have one final question. I would just rephrase a good start to a fresh start because I feel it is a fresh example of co-operation between all parties. In any event, because of the nature of the amendments to the Criminal Code the concern is that they not be thrown out by some future supreme court justice.

There is a lot more to discuss in the bill. Why does it have to be done by Friday of this week? Why can we not take two to three weeks? We fast track bills through the House at second reading, report stage, third reading, over to the Senate and back, with exception of the blood bill of last year. Why can we not take two to three weeks from today and do it a little more slowly for the sake of not infringing upon the civil liberties of honest, law-abiding citizens, groups, associations or other bodies?

Criminal Code April 21st, 1997

Mr. Chairman, the minister did address the questions I asked.

It is like I am acting as a director of a huge public corporation, the Government of Canada and, with due diligence, I am making sure as a director that the right questions are asked. I think that is what we are all trying to do here.

The minister said that this is not specifically Quebec related. We all know that the leader of the Bloc Quebecois and the justice critic for that party have been asking questions on this issue since 1995. March 1995 was the first time a question was asked in the House of Commons on this issue. At that time the minister indicated that the code had enough tools, as he has done until recently. A political perception might be that this is being rushed through for a pre-election purpose to build up and shore up popularity in a province in which the Prime Minister may or may not have the proper poll numbers.

I did not create those stories. I did not allege those charges. They are very well documented in all the press and media. That has made me very concerned that we not rush this legislation through in such a way that we do not show the Canadian public that we are trying to provide good governance. It is the Minister of Justice and his department which has that responsibility. I make an analogy to the victims bill of rights where the argument used was not to proceed. That addresses the answer. I just wanted to make a comment on the minister saying it was pan-Canadian.

With respect to criminal organizations consisting of five or more or three or more, they will not declare in writing their intent. It is like gun control. I hate to touch on it, but criminals who need handguns, rifles or shotguns for the purposes of committing crimes will not register them because it would lead to a quicker trail to them. They will get one illegally and commit the crime anyway. We will see if gun control will reduce crime. We will also see if this definition of criminal organization will reduce warring activities across the country.

With this preamble and setting the stage, if we now define criminal organization which up until now has not been defined in the Criminal Code, what different powers will it give police officers that they do not have now under the 800 sections?

As I understand the law, if they suspect somebody of committing a crime or they suspect somebody of being guilty of something, if there is suspicion and sufficient evidence, police officers can obtain warrants. Search and seizure are available. Surveillance is available. Wiretapping with a judge's permission is available, as is requesting tax records of somebody who has committed income tax fraud. I am the revenue critic. I know how heavy, hard and strong tax avoidance audit groups work. They do a darned good job. I know the powers they have.

Now we are defining criminal organizations. Will it give police forces that much more power when they already have the same powers on an individual basis?

Criminal Code April 21st, 1997

Mr. Chairman, the minister did not answer the two questions.

Criminal Code April 21st, 1997

I have a comment and about three or four questions. I wanted to build the framework of where I am coming from, much like the minister has in his response so that we better understand what he is trying to do. I think that is important. I do not mean to be wordy like a normal politician is. I am trying to do my job effectively here. However, I happen to be a wordy individual so please bear with me.

First, that is my argument, rationale and reasoning to possibly look at lowering the number because if the minister says "ordinary meaning," a group means three or more. In light of that and because the minister was a lawyer and worked in the courts, is there any previous precedent that would contradict any of those three words that he uses in his definition and that would exclude his five or more? That is one assurance I would like to have.

Second, in terms of the impact on law-abiding groups, about the Rock biker gang to which he symbolically referred, are we prejudging? Will this law prejudge the Hell's Angels and Rock Machine as criminal organizations de facto when this bill is passed? Are there people already known to the government and the police who have committed criminal acts punishable by five years or less within that group presently? If so, why have not one of the over 800 sections in the Criminal Code that are there to help police officers in the performance of their duties been used to put these people before the courts to try them for the acts that their group has done?