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

Member For Calgary Centre April 18th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to those who have helped me in the constituency, those who have worked hard with me in both offices, Calgary and Ottawa, and government members, a lot of whom showed courtesy and kindness in helping us along.

I agreed with many of your rulings, Mr. Speaker. However, there were a couple that I disagreed with. It was always when you cut me off and would not give me an opportunity to speak a little longer.

Mr. Speaker, it was an honour and a privilege to serve and represent the people of my riding. This House is a great institution. It is worth defending, it is worth fighting for and it is worth keeping together. It is worth keeping all Canadians in Canada. Canada first.

Canada Marine Act April 16th, 1997

Yes, That is $260 million. That is a lot of money.

The same government has representatives who say that taxpayers will not be on the hook. I am here to remind them that they were already on the hook and dished out a quarter of a billion dollars on Pearson airport.

I have to keep on the same vein because Liberal opposition members are listening to my intervention and hanging on to every word. They want to know how know the Pearson airport has cost taxpayers $260 million.

Why are they not doing something about it? Why are they not apologizing? Why are they not admitting they fumbled it, made a mistake? In that event they might do better if there is an election call in the next week or two.

The Reform Party supports Bill C-44 respecting the Marine Port Authority. We will vote in favour of it. I appreciate the opportunity to point out some of the flaws that are still inherent in the bill.

Canada Marine Act April 16th, 1997

It has already cost us $185 million in rent concessions, over $15 million in legal and the $60 million dismissal fee.

Canada Marine Act April 16th, 1997

I just heard an intervention by a Liberal member. Are the Liberals listening while I am making this point? My point is the exact opposite. They are not listening. They ignored two or three common sense suggestions which would improve the bill. They are playing political partisanship games, hoping to come up with a bill and take all the credit for it after asking all stakeholders to participate. The parliamentary secretary thanked everyone who participated, even members of the opposition.

In the legislation I see danger down the road. There is no comprehensive dispute settlement mechanism. That is the same thing that is wrong with NAFTA. The government seems to shy away from making things simple and clear in the future. It wants to continue to confuse matters so that people have to hire lawyers to settle their problems.

This is a sign of an incompetent minister who does not take the time to review the bill before it is sent off to committee for debate where many amendments have to be made to make it better. It is the same as what the Minister of Justice did lately by trying to tag on to the Reform notion of victims rights. He tried to claim it as his own and tried to take credit for it. Lately he has been saying that he has made amendments to section 745 to make things better for citizens but has failed to address the real problem.

The last two justice bills we have debated were just admissions of failure. The Minister of Justice should be trained to read every clause and go through it clause by clause. When people are trained as lawyers they become much better at it than individuals like myself who are businessmen. We rely on lawyers to do this for us. We rely on them to look at.

There was supposed to be an immediate impact statement but in comes another bill that defers the impact statement to the year 2012. It is the same individual and the same department. That is incompetence.

I am not talking about the quality or the intent of the bill. Its intent is good but the quality of work comes under criticism which I am trying to do in a constructive fashion. We waste everybody's time when we play political partisanship, when we do not listen to the people we asked for input, and when we come up with garbage that has to be rewritten five different ways.

I am not talking about dotting an i or crossing a t . I am talking about common sense amendments which should be obvious. If they want a bill that states immediate impact statements should be allowed, why do they put in an amendment that states they are not allowed until the year 2012? What is the message being sent? If they make an amendment respecting the ports police that will put people out of work, some consideration should be given to them and they are ignored. That is not competent work.

With all the amendments put forward a better job of debating them could have been done in committee. It did not need to come back to the House. I do not think many MPs knew what they were voting on in all the votes we took. I sat here and relied on our critic

or others who had looked into the matter on my behalf to say that it fit with our party policy and is something we can support.

That is a disservice to the members of the House. We do not have the time to listen to stuff like this coming back from committees with 65 amendments and try to get our heads around them. We are making it harder for MPs to do their job better.

The Liberals presented the bill. During debate and in the intervention of the parliamentary secretary for the transport minister, the member from Hamilton indicated that he liked the port authority and the way a crown corporation could be co-ordinated with the private sector because, he said, "taxpayers will not be on the hook". I agree with that intent. I fully endorse that objective.

Let us look at the Department of Transport. Did it apply the same philosophy when it looked at Pearson airport and cancelled the contract? That can be called an airport authority. We are moving toward airport authorities. There is an airport authority there now. We set up a marine port authority. We now have an airport authority that will have directors. It will be not for profit. It will reinvest money and improve things there.

Was the department's decision on Pearson done with the idea that taxpayers would not be on the hook? That is what was said at first and a lot of taxpayers believed it. In fact a lot of people voted for the government because they felt privatization of the airport would lead to huge profits for the private sector.

I did not have a clue. I would not have known whether or not that was true. Somebody seemed to know. The current Prime Minister was in opposition then. He must have had some information when he said private developers were greedy sons-of-guns that would sock it to us and charge us hundreds of millions of dollars. Therefore he could not let the deal go through. What happened? It was cancelled. They sued for damages, which the government was willing to give. Then they sued for profits. They cannot sue for profits. How can they tell what the profits are? That was dumb.

The Department of Transport fought them a bit too much. Then what happened? A year went by and we found out when they got to the discovery stage and everybody was filing their information that the government's defence was that it could not be sued for profits because it had looked into the deal and those guys would have lost money on it. Which is it? It cancels the deal because they would have made too much money and then defends itself by saying they would have lost money.

Guess what it cost taxpayers. The parliamentary secretary used the Marine Port Authority as an endorsement on how good the bill is. Taxpayers were not be on the hook. We might be because of the ambiguity in terms of the disputes in the bill. Let us say they are not as serious or will not cost as much as the Pearson airport. Who knows?

Pearson airport cost $60 million off the top for withdrawing the lawsuit. Somehow or another somebody got enough money. I would like to know how the airport authority will come up with $700 million, how that money will be granted and how much of it will be a loan from the federal government somewhere down the line. We do not know the details. Pearson airport has already cost taxpayers about $200 million. Am I right?

Canada Marine Act April 16th, 1997

Madam Speaker, back to the matter at hand.

Bill C-44 provides ports with federal agency status, allowing them to continue paying municipalities grants in lieu of property taxes after becoming independent port authorities. The result of this is stable taxation for ports that may suffer a difficult adjustment period as unsubsidized entities. However, harbour commissions which were paying no fees, grants or taxes before the passage of Bill C-44 will overnight be forced to pay grants to municipalities at the same rate as existing ports.

Reform put forward an amendment that would have allowed harbour commissions a five-year tax phase-in period as a financial buffer similar to that provided to the ports. The government shot down this proposal despite the fact that the parliamentary secretary is from the Hamilton area.

Bill C-44 stipulates that in determining the membership of a port authority's board of directors, one director shall be directly appointed by concerned municipalities, one by the province and one by the federal government, with the balance to be appointed by Ottawa in consultation with port users.

The minister has stated his intention to appoint user representatives from a list of candidates provided by those users. However, and this is subject to interpretation, but technically Bill C-44 does not oblige him to do so.

Reform simply wishes to ensure that the minister eliminates the possibility of undue patronage by agreeing to place in the bill, on paper, in writing what he has already stated before the transport committee which is his support for the list concept as advocated by user groups.

Bill C-44 in its current form does not provide for a dispute settlement mechanism for shipper fee charges similar to that contained in Bill C-101 or Bill C-14. Reform would like to see such a mechanism included in the final version of Bill C-44.

I have evaluated all the aspects of this 90-page bill. If there is a dispute it will be very difficult for somebody to come up with a resolution. Things could be tied up in the courts for a very long time.

On behalf of our transport critic who is in his constituency today, I have agreed to submit some of his personal comments and opinions on the bill, which of course I share as a Reform Party member. He tells a little bit of a different story than the parliamentary secretary to the transport minister told in his third reading intervention. The hon. member indicated that he really appreciated how so many people had spent two years and much work was done by many people to provide basically what he called a member's bill. We all know the dangers of writing laws by committee and allowing everybody to have a say on every bill. I am concerned that perhaps when there are some disputes it may not be as effective as it should be in solving those disputes.

Our transport critic believes that Bill C-44 is essentially good legislation. It has the general support of all affected groups in the transportation industry. When the bill was sent to the Standing Committee on Transport it was not with the intention of deciding if it was acceptable or should be rejected. The intention was to listen to those involved, that is, witnesses from the marine sector. These included port authorities, shippers, port tenants, municipal and provincial officials and others affected by this legislation.

In preparation for these hearings, the Department of Transport was to prepare a briefing book which would explain the impact and rationale of the legislation. Although the bill was sent to the committee before the spring recess in 1996, no briefing manual was provided over the entire duration of the summer. On return to Parliament that fall our transport critic asked what the delay was and when the document would be supplied. We were told that the briefing document was completed and had been sent out to all members, including the Reform transport critic. Obviously it had not. Only after several complaints to the committee was the document in question finally delivered.

The committee then proceeded with hearings across Canada and in Ottawa. As a result of the testimony of witnesses, many amendments were offered by all parties who are members of the committee. Some were passed, some were withdrawn and some were rejected. Among those which were withdrawn were four government amendments that were supportable in the opinion of our transport critic. They dealt with changes to the Pilotage Act which would have permitted lower costs for Canadian operators in the St. Lawrence seaway.

The Bloc Quebecois, for purely political purposes, staged a filibuster at committee to force the government to withdraw these amendments. The government did back down and withdrew four amendments which were designed to aid the control of cost of shipping in the St. Lawrence. The government members of the committee rationalized this as necessary to move the bill along quickly and suggested they would be able to reintroduce them at report stage.

The first part of their rationalization soon disappeared when the bill completed clause by clause examination and passed from the committee.

Over four months have gone by without the government bringing the bill to the House. What was the rush? Was it nothing more than a ploy to allow the Liberals to claim they had attempted to bring those amendments in but were unable to do so because of the opposition parties?

The second part of the government's rationalization also disappeared when it did not reintroduce its amendments at report stage in the House. In doing so the government was once again deceitful in its tactics. Reform was awaiting the submission of government report stage amendments to confirm that it was in fact reintroducing the four amendments dropped at committee in support of Bloc Quebecois tactics. We were told that the amendments were printed and that a copy had been sent to us. It had not been.

We complained and apologies were offered. We were told that a copy would be sent immediately. It was not. It was only when the Reform transport critic sought out the information from a bureaucrat that a copy was finally delivered on the afternoon of April 7. Lo and behold there were no amendments from the government.

As the hour was late and we had expected the government to bring Bill C-44 to the House on April 9, we had to scramble to table the missing amendments. It was not until the next day that we discovered that three of them had been tabled not by the government but by a government member acting on his own. It is nice to see there is some integrity left in its caucus, even if it only one or two members.

There were other controversial amendments. These were the amendments made by Reform in response to the testimony heard before the committee and in an effort to do exactly what the committee's intention was supposed to be: make the bill better.

One of the amendments involved the policing of the ports. Ports operating under the umbrella of the Canadian Ports Authority were policed by the Canada Ports Corporation Police. The bill will bring an end to the existence of the Canada Ports Corporation and none too soon. It was an absolute waste of money. However, with the end of the Canada Ports Corporation also came the end of the Canada ports police.

In typical Liberal fashion the government and government members on the committee gave no thought to the ramifications of the removal of the ports police. "Let the municipalities look after it" was their cry in committee.

Various cities and municipalities should look after basic policing, but the taxpayers of those communities should not be stuck with taxes for any additional policing that the ports may require.

The Reform amendment did not tie the hands of the government. It did not place any extraordinary costs on the ports. It had the support of most of the interveners who came before the committee.

In addition to the testimony heard at committee, the Reform transport critic met separately with members of various councils. Their position was that if they had to look after policing they were prepared to do so as long as they did not have to impose costs on the taxpayers of their communities for extraordinary policing requirements. That is what the Reform motion was all about.

It was a very simple and straightforward amendment but it was turned down by the Liberal majority. It would be bad enough if the government simply disagreed with the Reform amendment. As it turned out it would appear the government agreed but simply did not want it on record that it was Reform that recognized and corrected this deficiency in the bill.

For four months the bill sat with no action while the government tried to resolve the problems in other ways. In the end it did but it ended up doing exactly what the Reform motion would have done without all the costs and delays we have been subjected to by the Liberal government.

Another amendment that was treated in the same way involved the payment of municipal taxes by ports. At the current time ports under the Canada Ports Corporation pay full grants in lieu of taxes. Ports operating under the Harbour Commissions Act were not required to pay local taxes. However many negotiated some form of payment for services to local government.

The new legislation will establish many of the ports previously operating under the Harbour Commissions Act as Canadian port authorities. As such they will be required to pay full grants in lieu of taxes. The Reform Party has no problem with the payment of these taxes but there should be a phasing in period.

The Reform amendment provided for a five-year phasing in period. Ports which were already paying full grants in lieu of taxes would continue to do so. Ports which were not required to pay these grants would pay no less than what they have already been paying. No city or municipality would have received less than they had already been getting.

At the same time the phasing in period would have allowed time for the ports to prepare for the previously unbudgeted impact of these payments. The Liberals rejected this sensible amendment out of hand.

Once again it appears the government actually agreed with Reform but did not want to admit that it was Reform that had

identified and corrected this deficiency in the bill. Through closed door negotiations the government went about trying to do exactly what the Reform motion would have achieved so that it could take credit for correcting a mistake of its own making. This time it failed. As a result many small ports which will become Canadian port authorities under the legislation will be placed in financial risk. What a way to start a new program.

One amendment the government brought in that should be commented on is the one to continue the current status of Hamilton as a harbour commission. This was done for purely partisan political purposes by Liberal members from Hamilton. It is a betrayal of the committee's and the government's commitment to Hamilton Harbour Commission tenants and shippers. It is simply one more example of how the government looks after itself, no matter the cost to Canadian taxpayers.

There is some good in the bill. In fact there is quite a bit of good in it. However the objective of the committee, which was to examine the bill and with the input of concerned parties make it as good as possible, has not been met. The issues were clear. The solutions were clear but the Liberal government has failed miserably. It has failed not because of marine philosophy but because of political gamesmanship. It should not take pride in whatever accomplishments the bill might present. It should be ashamed of failing to provide what it could have been.

I did not sit in on the committee hearings, but our transport critic shared his information with me and has asked me to make an intervention on his behalf. When people are asked for input to help design a bill by consensus and by using the best ideas, why would members of the standing committee wish to play partisan games? Why ignore the ports police and put them out of work? Why ignore a period of adjustment? Often government members say that a phase in period is needed yet they did not allow one here.

Some of them were common sense amendments and common sense suggestions but the government refused to take them. As a member of Parliament I sat here last night voting on the 125 amendments to the bill. Could there not have been an initial draft by a cabinet minister and the Department of Transport for which I have a lot of respect? The department has done one heck of a good job during the 3.5 years of Liberal government. I will give it full marks for how it has run things. In this one area it came up with a marines port bill. Could there not have been a rough draft rather than 125 amendments? We sat here last night voting on 65 different votes on the 125 amendments.

Canada Marine Act April 16th, 1997

I will do it again. If you owe the government $5,000, fill in your return showing you owe it $10,000, then you have an overpayment. You tell the government it owes you $5,000, you owe the government $5,000 and now you are even.

Canada Marine Act April 16th, 1997

That is a joke. Did you miss that?

Canada Marine Act April 16th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I rise today to add the Reform Party's contribution to the debate on Bill C-44. It is a wide ranging government bill that has a number of purposes: first, to streamline, consolidate and modernize the marine regulatory regime; second, to make Canadian ports more competitive, efficient and commercially oriented; third, to dismantle the bureaucratic and discredited Canada Ports Corporation resulting in the establishment of autonomous port authorities and the divestiture or closure of certain harbours and ports due to inefficiency and/or redundancy; fourth, to dismantle the ports police division of Canada Ports Corporation, shifting this responsibility to local and regional police forces; fifth, to commercialize the St. Lawrence Seaway through a joint venture with the U.S. seaway authorities; sixth, to commercialize various government ferry services and other infrastructure relating to maritime trade and transportation, including numerous Marine Atlantic operations; finally, seventh, to amend the federal Pilotage Act and amend and repeal other acts as a result in order to improve the cost effectiveness, efficiency and self-sufficiency of national pilotage services.

The Reform Party supports the general intent of Bill C-44. We believe that the independently run port authority concept strikes a good balance between the operation of ports as crown corporations or as purely private sector interests.

Marine user groups, port managers and chambers of commerce in the Pacific, Atlantic and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence regions of the country have all voiced their support for our party's stand on this issue. Reform is reasonably satisfied with the contents of Bill C-44 following the passage of various amendments by the Standing Committee on Transport. However, the bill remains imperfect and will continue to point out its ongoing shortcomings, as I will here at the third reading stage of the bill.

During the past summer the Reform's transport critic, the member for Kootenay West-Revelstoke, studied Bill C-44 and made notes on various concerns. He went on the road to discuss the bill with a wide range of marine stakeholders. Virtually every group consulted expressed similar or identical concerns, including the following.

Bill C-44 abolishes the Canada Ports Corporation which of course hires the Canada ports police and transfers these policing responsibilities over to the municipal police forces. At the request of many concerned city councils, Reform proposed an amendment allowing municipalities to be compensated for any extraordinary policing costs beyond the community norm, with the exact figures to be determined by the Canada Transportation Agency, which come about as a result of this transfer. The government refused to support this amendment.

Bill C-44 allows the federal government to levy an annual fee or stipend against each port authority as payment for certain services provided to the ports by Ottawa. Although Reform does not object to the concept of a fee per se, we strongly object to its calculation on the basis of ports gross revenues pre-tax, as such a policy could drive ports with low operating margins into the red. We believe any fees should be levied on net revenues post-tax, after tax, conforming to the standard accounting practices which should be enforced to ensure that ports cannot hide or wipe out profits that actually exist on their books.

That reminds me of Gracie Allen, of Burns and Allen. She had a way of figuring out taxes and the complicated tax nature of even the American system. She said: "If you end up owing $5,000 to the government when you file your return, file it to show that you owe $10,000. That means you have a $5,000 overpayment and the government owes you $5,000. If you owe the government $5,000 and it owes you $5,000, you are even and that is your tax return". I see a member opposite trying to figure that out and does it make any sense. I was trying to advise people on how to show the government that if you owe it $5,000, actually it owes you $5,000 and therefore you are even and so do not send money. I do not think Revenue Canada will like that.

Member For Calgary Centre April 15th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, as this is my last member's statement I would like to mention things I remember as the MP for Calgary Centre.

It was a chance to get to know MPs from all across Canada; to listen for the melancholy bells which bring us into the House to vote; to play musical chairs in the House of Commons; to work on my tan while playing football on Parliament's front lawn; to be affectionately referred to by the Liberals as the $150,000 man; to have the Speaker rule my definition of a bribe out of order; to need an extra two minutes to finish a 40-minute speech; to refuse, along with 50 of my colleagues, to take the gold plated pension plan as a display of leadership by example; and to represent and vote the wishes of my constituents as opposed to always having to vote the party line, proof that free votes work.

Finally, I will always remember the phrase I used when I was Reform Party whip.

"Mr. Speaker, members of the Reform Party vote yea, except for those who wish to vote otherwise".

Criminal Code April 14th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I know the member for Calgary Northeast is quite interested in sentencing, in amendments to the Criminal Code that involve sentencing and in having the punishment fit the crime. We have some problems in that area.

Is it the lawmaker's fault? Is it the politician's fault? Is it our fault here in this Chamber that we do not tell judges what the punishment should be? Do we give judges too much leeway in applying a sentence to a particular crime? We often read stories the paper that make us shake our heads. We wonder why the judge gave such a light sentence for an apparently horrendous crime. The public is upset with that.

What is the cure for that? Is it a justice minister who would bring amendments to the Criminal Code to narrow the punishment and be

more specific? For example, should there be minimum sentencing for certain things?

Then there is the idea of living out the sentence. I have never understood section 745, the faint hope clause. If you are guilty of premeditated murder, you will be sentenced to life. You have the right to appeal your sentence after 25 years and then you are given a second right of appeal after 15 years. It seems like we are tinkering instead of getting more specific and narrowing the range. Could the member comment on that.