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

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

Mr. Speaker, prior to question period starting at two o'clock, I was on my feet during my 20 minute allotment. I was not finished. I was told by the Speaker who chaired question period that I would get the floor after Routine Proceedings. I do not have the floor. I was given a certain amount of time to finish my speech because I have some very important things to say on that bill.

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

Well, it is a new point of order then.

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

Mr. Speaker, a point of order.

Excise Tax Act March 17th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I promise I will not use the word you and I debated in the House a little while ago or refer to the definitions the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance was so worried about.

I will call it an inducement. I will call it a payment to another province that tried to make up for a shortfall in revenue in terms of the provincial sales tax it was charging. They have now converted it to a broader base of goods and services which in effect has the final impact of raising the GST in the three Atlantic provinces from7 per cent to 15 per cent.

After two or three months consumers will realize that they have to pay more for goods and services in the three provinces thanks to the Liberal government and thanks to Atlantic MPs. During the

election campaign I hope they remember that and vote for the people who will represent their region.

I find it interesting that two groups are responsible for having the bill come back to the House. It passed third reading; it was pushed through. The Liberal government was praising its merits and the value of a harmonized sales tax. One of the two groups is the provincial government of New Brunswick and Premier Frank McKenna.

He is no longer a Liberal in the true tradition in that he has broken with the rank and file Liberal philosophy. He has chosen to do something the Reform Party prides itself in doing. He has chosen to represent the people who voted him into power. He listened to the people in his region and argued their position so that they got a chance to have an impact on a collective group like the House of Commons.

The second group that had influence was the Senate banking committee. If it were not for its members taking the time to go to the Atlantic provinces, the government would have been able to force, pressure, foist, push, cajole or put it on to the people of Atlantic Canada and then brag about how good the harmonized sales tax was for the rest of the country.

The Senate committee listened to the people of the Atlantic region. As a matter of fact the master of myth, the Minister of Finance, even felt it was so important that he should show the courage to show up at the committee to tell Atlantic Canada why he felt he had to have tax inclusive pricing.

Having done so it all came out: all the things Reform Party members said in the House of Commons and all the things committee members said in the Standing Committee on Finance on what was wrong with harmonized sales tax: that it was ad hoc, that it was partial, that it was confusing, that it was coercion.

Yes, that payment of $961 million to the Atlantic provinces was definitely an influencing factor for those three provinces. Not that it was better for business or for anybody, because at the end of the day everybody in the Atlantic provinces who made representation to the Senate committee complained. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Retail Council of Canada complained that the Liberals were not listening. However, the finance minister said that consumers wanted this and the government was going to give it to them. That is why we have tax inclusive pricing.

The minister was not listening to the people. This was strictly a poorly concocted, politically motivated effort so that in the next election the Liberals can stand up and say they kept their promise to replace the GST.

Because the deputy leader quit, we all know the Liberals did not keep the promise they made door to door to get elected which was that they would kill the GST. They said they hated it, they would kill it, they would abolish it and they would scrap it. They know they did not keep that promise, so they want to shift the debate on to another level, another plane which is to read the red book which said "replace". They wanted to put this in there. They wanted to change the name. They wanted tax inclusive pricing so they could call it the harmonized sales tax and nobody would be referring to the GST.

They did not get their way. The GST is still there. I am very disappointed that at the end of the day we have a bunch of politicians who end up lacking integrity and losing their principles. How can a person as knowledgeable and as competent as the Minister of Finance lose his principles? How can a person like that, who sat in opposition dreaming of being in government and who finally is in government, entrench the GST in people's lives forever when he said that if one ever combines a provincial sales tax with the goods and services tax we would have the net result of entrenching the GST? Is this his legacy to the people of Canada? Is this his idea of representation and doing what is in the best interest of all Canadians or is this just an example of partisan politics at its worst?

Another gentleman, one I respect an awful lot and one I think is a Reformer in Liberal clothing, is the current Minister of National Defence. I remember when he was minister of transport, the job he did there, the way he did it and how he took that department and downsized it. He did not fire 44,000 employees like the secretary of Treasury Board has. He had all those people relocated. He privatized some aspects of the service of that department that should be in the private sector and retained those aspects of the department that should be in the public sector. He then went to the area of unemployment insurance and was on his way of doing a good job there and then the rug got pulled from underneath him because they needed help in defence. Now he is there.

However, as much as I respect him I will criticize him. I criticize him for a lack of integrity and for changing his principles. Is it not important to stand on principles? He is one of the Atlantic MPs. When he was on this side of the House he said there was no way a government should ever impose a hidden tax. He said that the tax must be open and visible because that was the only way to hold the government accountable. Both the finance minister and the defence minister were right then. What has happened? Why have they changed their minds? It is not wrong. It is right. That is the right attitude and the right philosophy.

I sadly conclude that the only reason they have done this is strictly for politically motivated purposes. Where are the Liberals today? They are sheepishly talking about how they are going to meet the deadline of April 1. They are going to go ahead with this

bill because harmonization is important. They have backed off on the tax inclusive pricing because the Senate has forced them to do it.

Why are they not standing up and condemning the senators? Why are they not condemning all those people in front of the hearings who said they did not like this tax and the government knows better than the people do on what is good for them?

Why are they not praising today tax inclusive pricing? Where are all those advantages that they talked about before, how the harmonization would blend in nicely with the consumer and the retailer, and that the price the consumer sees on the item is the price they pay at the till, everybody will just spend more money, everybody will be happy, the whole economy will grow and everything will be wonderful?

Why are they not talking about that today? They are not hammering on all those advantages any more. Where did they go? This was so important. What about the consumers, Mr. Finance Minister? Mr. Finance Minister, you said that you will give the Canadian public what it wants, and what it wants is tax inclusive pricing and this government gives the people what they want. Where is he today? Where is he on this issue?

I am proud of the fact that Canadians and especially those Canadians in Atlantic Canada took the time to go to those hearings and made themselves heard. I am proud of what the senators did. I will give them a lot of credit too. They have some power.

We as members of the third party here have no power. It shows the dangers of a democratic dictatorship that does not listen. All the things that we pointed out have come to pass. They are true. The Senate has done its job. That is why I am always in favour of a Senate; the type of Senate is another story and another debate. At least it is a check and control. It is a chamber of sober second thought.

The government and the cabinet need a lot of second sober thoughts. They are ramming some of the worst legislation in the history of this country on Canadians. From gun control to endangered species to financial institutions, the government is wreaking havoc on the whole economy and the rights and freedoms of Canadians and corporations across the country.

This harmonized sales tax is another example of that. The government is setting bad precedents. We have a finance minister who has been criticized by the auditor general and who made this $961 million payment to the Atlantic provinces one year ago. He charged it off to the year ending 1996.

I will read from the public accounts how we are supposed to do our accounting and how we are fairly supposed to represent the finances of the nation. This finance minister who has been getting all the credit and all the praise from the left wing leaning Liberal press in this city has gone against generally accepted accounting principles. The auditor general says so, most CAs, most CGA, CMAs, RIAs and MPs would say so who have an accounting background.

In the public accounts of 1996 the auditor general said: "The inclusion of the transitional assistance of $961 million in the 1996 deficit and accumulated deficit represents a departure from both sound accounting practice and the government's own accounting rules".

Second, so that people who are listening understand what we are to do when we charge something into a current year's budget, we have to have an agreement in place on how the money is going to be spent and who the two parties are that are involved, not a letter of intent, which is what the finance minister argues on this or, as it says here, the financial obligations are reported as liabilities if the underlying event occurred prior to or at year end.

We are speaking of March 1996. This deal takes effect April 1, 1997. We still do not have a harmonized sales tax in place. Why did Atlantic Canada get $961 million, if not as an inducement to procure these signed agreements? Even today the agreement is not in place and the money has been put out.

We are talking about integrity. These are the finances of the nation and we have a finance minister who is so cocky, so overconfident that he feels he can do anything with any piece of legislation, that he can ram it down the throats of Canadians and nobody will question him on it.

Thank God there is a Senate, especially with this kind of House where we are fractured, where we cannot hold the government accountable because we do not have enough manpower to do it.

I think the Liberals are very lucky to have a free thinking, open minded Liberal premier in the province of New Brunswick. I predicted that those three premiers in the Atlantic provinces would lose their jobs if they went ahead with the harmonized sales tax, the tax inclusive pricing. At least somebody was listening.

Frank McKenna, in a newspaper article written by April Lindgren of the Ottawa Citizen , said he is unapologetic for doing what he did even though he is a Liberal premier: ``When you are a provincial government and the federal government is of the same persuasion, there is no law requiring that you park your brains and your opinions at the door''. That is what the backbenchers from Atlantic Canada have done on the issue. They parked their brains and their opinions at the door. They are like trained seals. They just follow the pack, do what the cabinet says must be done and what the finance minister says should be done because they are high in the polls. Everything here is related to polls. They are trying to get

themselves re-elected. Liberal members support what is in their own self-serving best interests and not the interests of Canadians.

I commend the premier of New Brunswick for having the courage to tell the truth. The truth is that the consumers will have to pay the tax.

Copyright Act March 13th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the amendments by the member from the Liberal Party who just spoke.

Our critic will elaborate a little more extensively on the one difference I would like to make which is that the exemption should be more than just 60 days. If radio is as important as the member has said, if radio does as much as it does in that riding of hers and allows the finance minister to spread his words of wisdom and myth in that community, then certainly the hon. member would want more than a 60 day exemption and the member would appreciate a six month exemption which our critic has recommended. I think that is about the only difference on this particular amendment that we would have.

There are a couple of other things I would like to say on this whole issue of broadcasting and radio. What the member failed to say in her speech is that radio is already paying rights to play the music, the rights to record and to delay broadcast and so on and it pays a hefty fee. I have had representations from radio stations in Calgary but obviously SOCAN is charging the music composers and now it wants to extend this and pay royalties to the performers and the record producers. I have a problem with this.

What the radio stations really do is in the process of paying for their right to play the music and to play the artist's production they are promoting the very artists who then are trying to increase, like a tax on the radio stations which makes it very difficult for radio stations to survive. It is not that lucrative, as some may think, and to raise their prices and to raise their costs to promote the very artists who now want more money from them is a problem.

The problem is if we look at performers, they get paid, they get money. The good ones go on to make big money. Record producers charge a hefty fee to get into that studio, to get into an area where they can put an artist on a CD, on a single or on an album. These people get paid for their services and they get paid handsomely for their services. Yet it is the radio stations that promote these artists and now these artists thank them very much by saying "we want to tax you more". This government is going to comply and go along with that. I do not think that is right. It is unacceptable.

The other thing this brings up is the possible conflict with our neighbour the United States. As we all know, Canadian radio stations do not just play Canadian artists. Canadian radio stations also play U.S artists. By making radio stations pay extra for the Canadian talent is going to put them at a disadvantage to their American counterparts who will not have this extra fee imposed on them. They have an association similar to Canada, similar to SOCAN, and they are not doing that.

It is also possible that we might be contravening some of the agreements and rules within the North American Free Trade Agreement with respect to the use of these extra funds by groups like SOCAN and where does that money go and are we then giving a special advantage or favour to the Canadian artists.

SOCAN, the collective which is apparently in charge of collecting the 3.2 per cent royalties from Canadian broadcasters, has an overhead of $19 million annually. This poses a reasonable question. How much of this additional levy imposed on Canadian broadcasters is going to end up in the hands of Canadians artists? The projected annual revenue of neighbouring rights is in the $12 million to $14 million range.

Another reasonable question is where is this additional levy imposed on Canadian broadcasters going to go. The artists tabled a report showing an administrative cost of collecting the neighbouring rights of $1.6 million to $1.8 million annually. This is not credible given the overhead of SOCAN performing a comparable function.

When this legislation was introduced in the spring of 1996 following consultations between the government and the industry a compromise had been reached whereby all radio stations with revenues under $1.25 million would be assessed an annual fee of $100. The neighbouring rights percentage would be applied per station on all revenues in excess of $1.2 million. These were to be phased in over a five year period.

The committee recommendations were that the bill required that a $100 basic royalty be applied to those stations with ad revenues under $1.25 million. Full royalty tariffs would apply to stations with ad revenues above that threshold. However, those stations above $1.25 million ad revenues originally were going to be granted a five year phase in.

These amendments have reduced that phase in period to three years. Sixty-five per cent of the radio stations come under $1.25 million ad revenue.

This reduction from five years to three years is in direct response to demands by artists and pressure from the Bloc Quebecois during committee hearings. Again, we feel the Liberals and the Bloc have worked to the advantage of a small group of Quebec artists at the expense of the users.

The heritage minister did not include ephemeral exemptions in the original legislation and now she is forced to further jeopardize

the industry's compromise in an attempt to get the co-operation of artists, composers and performers.

With respect to the aspects of this amendment, which we are supporting, I want to point out that in all cases what this bill is doing is trying to ensure that certain people get paid for their creativity.

The system we have now has been designed in such a way that the industry itself is supposed to take care of those people who create the product.

The industry itself should be ensuring, through the collection of the SOCAN fees on radio, on television, in entertainment theatres, et cetera, every place where their product is being played, that money gets to the artists.

The artists have, in conjunction with complaining all along, said that they do not get enough of the action from an album, that they do not get enough fees when they perform somewhere, that their agent takes away too much commission, that record producers charge too much, that the money is not distributed fairly, that there are too many layers of administrative red tape just like government. Then what have they done?

What we have to be careful of in this House is that we do not give in to their representations totally and willy-nilly without recognizing that the industry has a responsibility to these artists as well, not just government, not just the Copyright Act.

If these artists come to parliamentarians like us and say they are not getting enough money, and record producers and performers say they are not getting enough money, it is not the Copyright Act that is supposed to ensure that they get enough money. The Copyright Act already guarantees them that they get something for the creative product they have produced.

It is the industry itself that has a responsibility. Members should look into what publishing companies charge for their piece of the action when somebody composes a piece of music.

What do agents get when they represent certain entertainers, certain performers and certain Canadian artists? I know some Canadian artists. I used to book Canadian artists. I know what these people charge. I know what record producers charge to go in and cut an album in their studios.

They are getting paid. If these artists are being taken advantage of, it is not by the government and it is not by the laws of this country. The law in place is good enough to ensure they get paid.

It is the industry itself that should take a look at itself. The artists should be complaining to the industry and the whole layer of bureaucracy on how to get the money to them.

Alanis Morissette apparently has sold 20 million CDs around the world. At $20 each, that represents potentially $400 million. What do members think she gets out of that $400 million? Do the politicians here think she gets 10 per cent? Do politicians here think she has now made $40 million, that she has receivables of $40 million? No. She gets a lot less. She has generated that music. She has generated and made her value worth $400 million on CDs alone.

I will continue. We have some other amendments to continue and debate.

Copyright Act March 13th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. As you read out from the blues it is quite clear to me that our whip asked for unanimous consent. Since our member who put forward that motion is gravely ill we asked that our critic for the area be the mover and that it be deemed to be carried.

Mr. Speaker, the word "deemed" is in there if you want to reread that for the minister of heritage and the parliamentary secretary because those are the two who are objecting to this. Maybe they will see that your interpretation is the correct one and that the seconder is deemed and therefore the motion should move forward and not be objected to by the government as is the case.

Points Of Order March 13th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief. The reason for the delay on the part of the Reform Party is that we also had to review the tape.

Copyright Act March 13th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, it is too bad some members are not paying attention. When you recognize somebody on debate why are they asking for the question?

The parliamentary secretary has pointed out that we are debating Group No. 5, Motions Nos. 7, 54 and 57. He has also insisted that anybody who does stand up and debate should not go off on a tangent and should not elaborate on anything else. They should stick to the issue.

Now all of a sudden they are applying the narrowest sense of the terms and rules of this House which, up until now, certainly a lot of members and the Speakers who have monitored the debate have given a lot of discretionary variance to for members to bring up any particular issue on these amendments that we are debating.

What concerns me is that we have a process and a system in the House of Commons whereby we have three stages to a bill and after second reading it goes to committee. It can go to committee after first reading for debate and discussion. Going through the fine print is the responsibility of standing committees. It is their responsibility to try to improve and point out flaws in bills and to make sure that the interpretation of all members and all parties is the same so that when the bill becomes law Canadian citizens can understand it.

When people look at an issue, when they want to know what the law is, what they can or cannot do, they can pick up a bill, for example Bill C-32, go to this page, which is being amended with these three motions, read it and understand it.

I am not a lawyer. Maybe I should be. I will bet a dollar to a doughnut that if we took this bill and some of these amendments with the language being used to lawyers out there who are going to be hired to interpret the copyright act, to interpret who has to pay and who does not have to pay, to interpret collective agencies, who qualifies and who does not, what they can charge for and what they cannot charge for, there will be a difference of opinion out there. They will not understand the wording.

It is amazing to me that we try to introduce bills that are very complicated. Instead of using fewer words, being clear and concise, they carry a lot of baggage.

I have given this preamble for a purpose. I had a fight about seven or eight years ago with the people of SOCAN. There was another one. It was called PROCAN. We had two collectives coming after my butt for running a nightclub in Calgary, playing music and having live entertainment. These people professed that they had the right to charge me money because I was playing music.

I said that makes sense. I guess it is performing arts and I have to pay it. I looked into it. The reason I bring up this story up is for a better understanding of why I would be voting against the Bloc member's amendments on this bill. The more collective agencies there are, the more people who claim they have the power to protect the rights of the originators of copyright information or copyright material, the more confusion there is.

When I had my nightclub, they came to me and said "here are the fees". They had a list of the artists and entertainers. Because I was playing this type of music, because my establishment had a certain number of seats and a certain amount of square footage, the fee was x .

I wondered what right they had to do that. I questioned their right to do that and what law forced me to do that. After all, if I had a live performer in my club, I paid them perhaps $5,000 a night. I paid good salaries because we only brought in the best entertainers.

Mr. Ian Tyson was a favourite of mine. We had him in our club quite often. I paid this fee to the artist. Then I questioned why, on top of that, I had to pay a performing arts fee to SOCAN and PROCAN.

When I buy an album or a tape, we are all paying the fee for the artist. The artist makes money from live performances, records, tapes and videos that are put together. Members may argue that they might not get enough of a percentage from it but they have agents who negotiate that.

Certainly someone like Garth Brooks makes a heck of a lot more now than he did when he first started. Yes, it was an opportunity for me at one time in my club to book him for $5,000 a week. Now he is getting $150,000 an hour or more, who knows what he is paid now.

These collective agencies then come forward and say "because you are playing this kind of music, on top of what these people make, we have to collect more money from you because you are repeating it". Radio stations play their music. They have to pay.

Then along comes another association called PROCAN, another collective agency. The Bloc is recommending we create more. It says to me "you have to pay because you are playing this kind of music, these people originated from the States, it is a bit of a crossover".

I said "I am not paying. I am already obligated. Some other association said I had to pay it. Before I pay anybody, I want to see the lists of the artists you represent". I made both of them bring me the list. I had a file so thick of all the different artists and all the different venues they represented. When I cross referenced it with the other list, lo and behold some names of artists were on the two separate lists. I asked how they could be charging me double. Either one had them or the other had them. I raised quite a fuss and I refused to pay both of them until they got it clear who represented which artists.

That lasted for a year and a half. I was able to get my back up and directly fight the system. Through that I may have been one of the people in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Vancouver who forced these people to get their act together and create just the one.

My point to the Bloc member is that the fewer collective agencies there are the better, and the clearer it is who you have to pay for the rights to use somebody's music or work. I agree with the principle that a fee should be paid for that since after all artists are at the low end of the totem pole and they get the least. I understand that principle and I would certainly support making sure they get some money.

Let us not go overboard. In the process of trying to protect these artists, performers and professional entertainers there are all these fat middle people called agents, producers and everybody else who take the cream off the top. The tougher you make it for the person who tries to hire these people to perform on a stage in theatre, the more expensive they are.

One of the reasons the philharmonics across the country are in trouble-they raise some money but it is hard to raise money and hard to pay them-is because the performers are asking too much. You can bankrupt the system. If we go overboard with this copyright bill by having too many collective agencies, which will confuse the general public that uses the copyright material, we will be in trouble.

The point in my intervention on these motions is to argue why it is not wise to have a number of collective agencies. They become like tax collectors. Lord knows we have enough tax collectors in this country and we pay enough taxes already. The point is that yes, we are interested in protecting the creators of original material and yes, we are interested in protecting intellectual property. Those people should be rewarded for their efforts, especially if they have talent and if they create a reusable product.

I do not know all aspects of this bill. I was not on the standing committee when it was debated clause by clause, but I hope that somewhere along the line the members of the committee and the parliamentary secretary recognize that there are a lot of people involved here and everybody has his or her hand out. I hope we are able to tackle the layer of fat of the different people who want a bunch of money before the people who should get it get their fair

share. By going too far in protecting artists are we satisfied and clear in our mind? Do members of all parties have an understanding before this bill gets passed that we are not just padding the pockets of the producers, the agents and all these other people rather than the artists?

Supply March 12th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I have a comment and then I will ask a question of the hon. Bloc member with respect to the motion before us today as presented by the Bloc.

I take exception to the first sentence which condemns the federal government because of its reprehensible policies which in large measure are responsible for increasing poverty in the province of Quebec. What increases poverty in any province? What increases the lack of opportunity and the lack of growth in any province? It always starts with the people who live there. It starts with the municipal level of government, then the provincial and then the federal government comes into play.

With the exception of the Canada health and social transfer, the CHST, which the federal government has reduced and which Bloc members could argue is the reason there has been less money going to Quebec in that program, other than that everything else that is happening in the province of Quebec that is going downhill is the responsibility of two parties, the PQ and the BQ.

When I came here three years ago the PQ was running a deficit of about $4 billion. Within a 5 per cent margin, even under Bouchard it is still running a deficit of $4 billion. When every other province and every other level of government are reducing deficits, that provincial government did not make substantial reductions in its deficit. It was not in the billions of dollars. Maybe it was in the hundreds of millions.

Now the premier has to negotiate with the unions to get them to agree that there will be a balanced budget by the year 2000. It is all to come. It is all promises. Nothing is actual. Nothing is factual. He is in real trouble.

The BQ has done nothing in the House to admit that fact. It said it was coming here for one term and not running again. Now it is running again. It came here to say let's separate. The majority of people in Quebec voted no to separation. They voted no to getting out of the union. They want to stay in Canada, yet there will be a third referendum.

The BQ is responsible for the poverty in the province of Quebec. Because of the uncertainty, because of the unstable economic climate, a number of companies have moved from the city of Montreal which used to be a great city.

I grew up just outside Ottawa. I used to be proud to visit the big city of Montreal. I thought at that time that it was so much bigger than Ottawa, so much more beautiful than Ottawa. It is still a beautiful city but unfortunately when I go down streets now I see barricades in front of office buildings. I see graffiti written on the walls of office buildings in downtown Montreal off rue Sainte-Catherine. It is embarrassing.

I am a proud Canadian. I love the province of Quebec. I saw it every day of my life when I was growing up by looking across the river. Here we have a party that will not admit the fight is over. It came here. It had its shot and lost.

Bloc members say they believe in democracy. They say they believe in the will of the people. Why do they not accept the will of Quebecers who say they want to stay in Canada?

That uncertainty is creating instability. That political blindness is hurting a province that could do a lot better by getting its economic house in order and not crying for regional development funds that only go more or less into high risk ventures, which would mean subsidizing failure. I say to the hon. member across the way in the Liberal Party that is why I do not believe in regional development programs. They do not go into infrastructure. They go into failed high risk ventures.

It is the member's party and the PQ that are responsible for the poverty in Quebec.