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

The Budget March 18th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the member from the Bloc is very keen and I enjoy listening to his speeches and comments. It is a view from a younger generation, the generation that is going to have to pay off the huge debt, if we ever get out the deficit which the government cannot get us out of nor can his own provincial government get out of its deficit.

During his speech he said that the federal government is ignoring the wishes of Quebec and that the province of Quebec should be doing more for itself and the federal government should get out.

In one way I support his concept that the federal government should butt out of a lot of areas. My colleague for Edmonton Southwest discussed this a few minutes ago. The provinces should get together and tell the federal government: "This is what you are are going to do, these are the areas you are going to look after and these are the areas we are going to look after". That should be the new Canada constitution. I am sure the province of Quebec could contribute to something like that without separating and look after the areas it wants to look after.

Here is my point. Quebec looks after its own immigration policy, whereas in the rest of Canada the feds do it. Job training is going to be looked after by the provinces, including the province of Quebec. Quebec looks after its GST, whereas we in Alberta have to do it through the federal government. The CPP is looked after by the provinces. A lot of these programs are already administered by the province of Quebec.

I am suggesting to the hon. member that the Quebec government sit down with the federal government and say: "These are the areas we want you to look after for us. These are the areas we will look after ourselves, thank you very much". I would like to hear the member's comments.

The Budget March 18th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the member from the Bloc mentioned somewhere in his speech that there is something not right here, that this budget is not working and something is not right.

I would like to point out to him that it is not just the budget that may not be right for Quebec, it is the fact that this whole separation movement in the province of Quebec is causing a lot of the poverty as well.

There is a lot of uncertainty for businesses as to whether or not there is going to be growth. The numbers of businesses that have closed down in Montreal and Quebec City and that are moving out of Quebec must be obvious to the member. He must see that they wanted to separate, they lobbied to separate, they have tried to separate for four years, they had a democratic vote and the democratic vote resulted in a loss.

Therefore, why do the separatists not give it up and try to change things in Quebec, make things better for Quebecers within Confederation, within the country? Then they would get growth in Quebec. They would get that $4 billion deficit eliminated. The PQ is not doing a very good job either in running that deficit. That is how they can help people in their province. They should take some responsibility and quit these shenanigans with a referendum vote every four years.

The Budget March 18th, 1997

Tax increases.

The Budget March 18th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to compliment the member on his speech. He worked very hard and diligently at it. He stayed up late at night to write every single word of it and I know he believes everything that is on that piece of paper.

Does he believe in the contradiction he is perpetrating on the Canadian public? He says that the government has created 700,000-plus new jobs. The finance minister and the Prime Minister have said that that is a net number.

Then, in his speech, he indicates that the unemployment rate has gone from 11.4 per cent down to 9.7 per cent. If you take the drop and the number of unemployed when this government came into power, which was at 1.5 million, it rather rounds out to close to 1.4 that still exists, which allows for some variance in there and some cushion.

How is it that this member can defend the cabinet ministers' claim that they have created 770,000 net new jobs, yet in his speech say that the unemployment rate has only dropped from 11.4 to9.7 per cent? Maybe the member could address that discrepancy.

The Budget March 18th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member talked about how opposition members have-and I know I have been one of them-criticized the finance minister for creating the myth that he has broken the back of a deficit that still stands today at $19 billion.

I attacked the government for trying to take credit for the jobs it claims to have created when the net number is only 100,000, from 1.5 million to 1.4 million. Yet it claims to have created a net 700,000 jobs.

I criticized the finance minister for taking credit for having low interest rates. What advantage are interest rates to people who cannot borrow money? It does not matter what the rates are. What advantage are the interest rates when credit cards are not affected by their lowering? Interest rates set in Canada, as they are in the United States, are usually set and tied to inflation.

The member will recall a gentleman by the name of John Crow who used to worry about inflation. We had high inflation and he set interest rates high to curb it. It took lot of years of struggling.

I remember the Liberals on this side of the House, when they were in opposition, being against the high interest rate policy of John Crow and criticizing him. He is the individual who deserves credit for the low interest rates in Canada today. Inflation has been killed and brought to its knees. Then interest rates came down. That is who should get credit for the low interest rates, not the government or its budgetary policies. In spite of the budgetary policies of this government interest rates came down.

I heard many members of the House take credit for the low interest rate, jobs and breaking the back of the deficit. It is all a myth. They are spinning a myth. The reality faces them in black and white. Yet they brag and congratulate a finance minister who has failed to address the real problem of the debt and the high interest costs to service it. We will all pay for that in the long run. No one is addressing that except the Reform Party.

The Budget March 18th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the minister on his speech. It was very enthusiastic. It is obvious that he believes everything is rosy and great and that the items in this budget and all his plans and best wishes are going to create all the wonderful jobs by the expenditure of these moneys that he has outlined so carefully.

However, I would like to remind him that the light he talks about at the end of the tunnel is not a great vision for Canada. The light at the end of the tunnel is the single biggest problem that this government has failed to address, the debt. That debt is going to be over $600 billion. There is no plan by the finance minister or this minister to address how they are going to amortize or mortgage that $600 billion in some reasonable economic way, like a 35 year period, to pay it down.

He brags about the great finance minister who has addressed the deficit. The government is still spending, according to the latest numbers, $19 billion more than it is bringing in. There are some members opposite who would like to start spending more. They think that because the government is ahead of its deficit targets is new found money, a surplus. That is not a surplus.

What I would like to point out is that this minister is complimenting the finance minister and himself for a job half done. I know he will say that nobody is always ever happy and that they want to always get further and better. However, on this job issue, I am getting sick and tired of listening to government try to take credit for creating jobs, to say that their job is to create jobs. Then other members get up, and actually this is a more intelligent response, but it is not the government that creates jobs. It creates the environment and the right conditions and the private sector creates the jobs. But the government has not done its job yet. It has only done half a job. It is still running a deficit.

On the jobs that the government says it has created, I heard this all last week in question period 770,000 new jobs. Then the finance minister claimed that was a net number.

This is the question I would like to ask the minister directly. He should know this because he is in charge of job creation as well. When the Liberals got elected jobs, jobs, jobs was the platform and 1.5 million Canadians were out of work. Their job strategy was infrastructure, a number of these other items that are in the budget and this was going to reduce the unemployment rolls.

Unemployed according to statistics is 1.4 million. If we are talking net numbers it would seem to me, if I do the arithmetic, this government, if it wants to take credit for creating the jobs, created 100,000 new net jobs, not 770,000 new net jobs. Otherwise the unemployment would have been 2.2 million, not 1.5 million.

Somewhere in there the arithmetic is not right. Somewhere in there somebody is spinning a myth that Canadians are getting a bit confused by. I as a member of Parliament do not have this straight. I do not understand how this government can stand up and say it created 770,000 new jobs and it is the private sector that creates the jobs, which is a contradiction right there, and then have an unemployment rate that is only 100,000 lower than what it was.

The Budget March 18th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I have a comment and a question or two to ask of the member for Niagara Falls.

I know he is a businessman. I would like to make this analogy. He praises this budget. He says that it is a good budget and that he is proud of it. When the government first came into power its members talked about how they would reduce the deficit to 3 per cent of GDP. Somehow we thought the deficit was $38 billion but that was inflated to $42 billion.

According to the budget the deficit for the current year now stands at $19 billion. Would he agree with me that a deficit in a business can be stated as a loss? When the government took power the previous government had run up a loss of $42 billion. The Liberal government has now reduced that loss on an annual basis down to $19 billion.

The member is saying that he is proud of a budget, that he is proud of a business, that he is proud of a finance minister who brags about breaking the back of the deficit or that he is proud of a finance minister who loses on behalf of Canadians, who spends more money than he brings in by $19 billion.

How can the member say that he is proud of a budget that loses this kind of money when the whole criteria of a budget should be to get to a balanced budget, and the sooner the better. I know the member is a businessman. I know the member understands that he could not run at a loss for 30 straight years and keep adding to his debt unless he had unlimited natural resources in Niagara Falls. Maybe he does. I know Canada is rich as well. I do not understand how Liberal members can brag about a budget that brings in a loss of $19 billion.

The member talked about the serious commitment of the government. We found out yesterday that to reduce the deficit the government has cut transfers to provinces by $7.5 billion. That represented about 23 per cent of its overall deficit cutting regime. Then the government representatives said: "Yes, we know it's tough to swallow. You provinces will have to handle it. You guys will have to work it out at lower levels yourselves and locally. But we're going to bite the bullet as well. We are going to reduce program spending and departmental spending by 18 per cent or so, by $9 billion".

The government was supposed to cut regional development by 50 per cent but it is still the same. It is still half a billion dollars away on transport even though it has done a good job in that area. If the government is serious about its commitment, then why have the cuts to departmental spending, the government's spending within its own jurisdiction, not been made to their full extent? The cuts are only half of what they should be according to the member who said that the commitment was strong.

Copyright Act March 17th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to make it clear that on this set of motions I am voting nay as opposed to the previous ones so it will not apply in the same way.

(The House divided on Motion No. 7, which was negatived on the following division:)

Copyright Act March 17th, 1997

I would like to vote yea on this motion.

An Act To Amend Certain Laws Relating To Financial Institutions March 17th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his answer. I guess what he is really saying is that over the last four years the government has cut $7.5 billion in transfers to the provinces and only $1 billion of departmental spending and that the reduction in the deficit has come from increased taxes. Is that correct?