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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was colleague.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Canadian Alliance MP for Dewdney—Alouette (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 58% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Childrun June 12th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, June 1 marked the 18th annual HSBC Childrun to raise money for children with cancer at B.C.'s Children's Hospital and throughout the province.

The Childrun is a family fun run with individuals, as well as corporate and school team members, running, walking or wheeling around either a one or five kilometre course.

This year, 2,882 participants, including 31 school and 19 corporate teams, raised over $100,000 for childhood cancer. I wish to congratulate all of the participants and teams for their contribution to the fight to cure childhood cancer.

My entire family participates in this annual run to help raise funds for B.C.'s Children's Hospital Oncology Clinic. We would like to thank everyone who sponsored us, including many members of the House. We would also like to thank the doctors, nurses and staff at the Oncology Clinic and 3B who help so many families through very difficult times.

Question No. 144 March 18th, 2003

What did Canada Post pay in tuition, time off and for any other expenses associated with the professional development training of Ms. Pierrette Ringuette-Maltais during her employment with the corporation?

Supply February 13th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I find it amazing today in this debate that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration would continually get up and say that this is just a debate, that we should not ask these questions, or that he would ask why we expect them to have answers about cost estimates and about what information is going to be on this card, should we choose to put this information on the card.

I would ask my colleague whether he would agree with me that the government should have answers to those questions, that the minister should have the answers, that his representative, the parliamentary secretary, should have answers on this very important topic, and that to come to the House without those specific proposals is in fact unbelievable. Would he agree with me?

Supply February 13th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I have two questions for my friend on the Liberal side.

First, why does the government feel it would be necessary to create this new data base, this new card program, to address a security concern, when it mainly would deal with law-abiding citizens? If the government has a problem with security and terrorism, it should focus its efforts and concentrate on that area rather than create this huge new registration of people through a national identity card program.

Second, does he not think that the minister should come forward with at least some proposals on how much this might cost or perhaps do some test runs on a voluntary basis with the kind of technology about which he talks? Does he not think this would be helpful in swaying people to think his way about the idea of a national identity card?

Air India February 13th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, Inderjit Singh Reyat pleaded guilty this week to his role in the 1985 Air India bombing, Canada's worst mass murder. It is an insult to the families of the 329 victims that he killed that he was sentenced to just five years.

Now we learn he is due to be transferred to the minimum security Ferndale Institution in my riding, also known as “Club Fed”. Not only will he be doing soft time for this heinous crime, but he will be eligible for parole in 10 months.

How can the Minister of Justice possibly defend a system that could see this mass murderer back on the streets by next year?

Business of the House February 13th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I believe if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That notwithstanding Standing Order 87(2), the draw for private members' business which is scheduled to be held today at 1.15 p.m. be postponed until Thursday, February 27, 2003 at 1.15 p.m.

Supply February 13th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I certainly raised that point. In fact, I gave a direct quote from the former minister of immigration just to highlight that there are concerns among government members about the whole notion. The member would have to take that up with the minister to find out exactly what she was thinking when she said that. I cannot answer for her.

A more salient point that was made by the former minister of immigration, the current Minister of National Revenue, is:

It's premature to suggest that this would be acceptable to this Cabinet. We haven't had a discussion about it. It's not on the table.

That is the whole issue of the national identity card itself.

In terms of whether having another card would stop the police from being able to ask for it, no, I guess it would not. However, I do not know exactly what the minister was driving at with that particular point. I only know that when a former minister of immigration raises concerns about a program being introduced by a cabinet colleague it should raise a red flag for all of us that there is not a unanimous moving forward from the cabinet even on this idea and that there are a lot of questions to be answered. And when cabinet colleagues have questions, we should have them too.

Supply February 13th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I would say that there is no way that having a national identity card would alleviate those fears of identity fraud. There was a day when none of us really thought about that whole notion, maybe even five years ago.

However, I even find myself wondering, when I am on the Internet, if somebody is now scanning my computer as I am on it, do I have the proper firewall and do I have the proper protection against identity theft.

Certainly, this card would not ensure that there would be no identity fraud any more. I think it is false faith. The minister is asking us to put our faith in a system, in a technology, that has not even been developed yet and is saying that this is the answer, this will end identity fraud, when in fact he cannot verify that.

He is asking Canadians to take a giant leap of faith. I would say, wait a minute, let us stop and take a very close look at this first. Let us solve the problems with the systems we have now before creating another one which could then suffer from the same kinds of problems.

Supply February 13th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, in regard to the technicality of the motion itself, I believe the intent of the motion is to enter into a debate. Our colleagues from the NDP are saying that they are not in favour of a national identity card program whether or not it is just at the debate stage. I would say the Alliance agrees with that. I cannot speak for my colleagues from other parties, but certainly the questions I raised today go a long way in sending a message to the minister as to where he needs to go with this idea.

I am glad the minister has not made a decision. That is good. I am surprised the debate has gotten this far down the road without the kinds of questions I asked earlier being addressed. As a minister of the crown, I would have hoped he would have had some cost analysis for us on what it will cost. I would have hoped he would have set down some ideas for doing some test trials on a voluntary basis on this program. I would have hoped he would have had some very specific outlines for us before bringing it forward as an idea and saying, “Hey, what do you think about this?” A time and a place for that is fine.

The fact that the minister is putting so much of his time and energy into this idea signals to us that it is more than just an idea. It is something into which he is putting his time and effort. He just said he wants to show leadership on this issue, so I would argue that it is more than just a point of debate; it is something that he wants to see happen. He is now expending his energy to try to solicit support for this idea. He has said that if it becomes clear that there is not support for the idea, he will not move forward with it.

I am simply saying that there are a lot of questions to be answered about this program before we can proceed with it. If the minister wants our input, he will get it. He is getting it today. He has had it in committee. He will have it when he travels to other areas of the country.

I repeat that what the minister should be doing is focusing on the programs that are not working very well right now in terms of our identity documents. He could work with his colleague from foreign affairs on the whole issue of passports. I know he wanted to move on the maple leaf card which a previous minister introduced to try to solve the problem around the IMM 1000 documents. However, the whole issue of the security of our documents has not been addressed.

Whether it is a national identity card, a biometric card or a combination of both, there is no way we can say that fraud will never happen again if individuals can have access at the ground level to those documents and fill in false information from the very beginning.

I would say let us look very carefully at what the minister is saying, because there are some very big holes in the claims he has made here in the House and across the country. This is a good place to bring those questions forward.

I thank my colleague for the question because it gave me a chance to expound a little bit more on the details of my arguments.

Supply February 13th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to enter into the debate today. I want to thank the minister for speaking to this topic and laying out his thoughts. He raised a number of questions during his debate, which I believe he should have answered. It has really left us wondering more about the topic rather than quenching our thirst for answers within this whole notion of a national identity card.

I also thank my colleagues from the NDP for bringing the motion forward. I thought they may have chosen their opposition day today to talk about the conflict in Iraq, but they have chosen this topic and we will certainly entertain debate on the topic.

The Canadian Alliance is supportive of the NDP motion. We have some serious concerns about the national identity card.

I will begin by first examining the minister's reasons for bringing the initiative forward. He says that we need positive proof identity that offers personal and collective security in light of the events surrounding September 11. People may agree or disagree with that but the debate is about whether this national identity card solves that particular question.

Second, the minister said that global travel would increasingly depend upon the integrity of travel documents, that the United States was considering this and that Canadians may no longer be able to use their drivers licence to cross the border. That is possible and we do need to be concerned about that, but again, is a national identity card the way to solve that particular issue?

The third reason the minister gave for entertaining the notion of a national identity card was that the federal department was responsible for issuing immigration and citizenship documents. He said that because the provinces issue birth certificates which are the basis for passports for travel, drivers licences and health insurance cards, and that these documents were not security proof, we needed one universal card with biometrics. We heard him making that argument in the House again today.

I ask, in rebuttal to that claim, is this the way to go? Is this the card that will solve that particular question?

The minister also said that Canadian companies were at the forefront of these technologies. When my NDP colleague from Winnipeg Transcona asked the minister which possible contributors to the Liberal Party may be involved in producing these cards, he received a wrath of scorn from the minister and Liberal colleagues. However I believe that is a valid question. The minister referred to that as a cheap political point. I would suggest to the minister and to the government that when there have been so many concerns about friends of the government benefiting from government programs or the contracts that go along with any development of any program, that is a valid question.

I also found it disappointing that the minister, while deploring that comment from our colleague from the NDP, then engaged in the same kind of activity by referring to members of the Alliance.

The minister also said that the new permanent resident card would be state of the art, that we needed to keep an open mind and that we should not rush to judgment. He said that we required objectivity and that we needed to consider other countries and what they were doing. The minister is putting a lot of faith in biometrics and he is asking Canadians to take a giant leap of faith, not only in his idea but in his government, with the notion of biometrics.

I was going to include a quote but I will skip that and basically summarize what we heard from the minister this morning. He claimed that putting biometrics in an imbedded chip or in a card would be a fail safe way of protecting Canadians' identities. That is a claim that is not provable at this point because the technologies are not at the point where that can be verified.

In making that claim and in placing so much importance on the issue of biometrics being the way to protect our identities as Canadians, the minister has missed a key point in the argument, that being, to believe this point is to put faith in something that is not yet there in the way of technology.

Given the track record of the government and what we have seen in the past with other programs, as my colleagues alluded to this morning, we have some serious concerns. We do not need to look back too far to see where there were some serious concerns about the administration of government programs by the current government. Now the minister is asking us to put our faith in him and his government to put together a national identity program that will actually protect the identity of Canadians. I would simply say that we are not ready to do that.

A number of concerns have been raised, not only today but in the past. One of the major concerns was brought forward by the former minister of immigration and the current Minister of National Revenue. When this idea of a national identify card was brought forward she said:

It makes me nervous. I don't think we need it. That's what I would worry about--police--somebody coming up asking for your ID card. If you're walking down the street minding your own business, nobody would expect in a free and democratic society to be stopped and asked for ID papers

That was said by the former minister of immigration, the current Minister of National Revenue, on the topic. She went on to say:

It's premature to suggest that this would be acceptable to this Cabinet. We haven't had a discussion about it. It's not on the table

Given what has been going on in cabinet lately, we are all very well aware of what is going on in terms of the Prime Minister who is on the way out and a prime minister who is on the way in, the debates that go on in caucus and the turmoil that has been there. It is no wonder that this has not received approval of the cabinet yet.

I would be interested to know whether or not it has been on the table at cabinet yet and whether there is even agreement among ministers. I do believe that if our NDP colleagues had a votable motion today it would be a very interesting to see exactly where members would stand, in fact, where members of the cabinet would stand on this issue because there certainly does not seem to be agreement even within cabinet on this topic.

What the minister said in the House this morning, just minutes ago, raises all kinds of questions that should have been answered by him but were not. I will dig a little deeper into that in a few minutes.

I want to focus on what some of the other government members have said in terms of the national identity card idea. The member for Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies said that the federal government did not have a stellar track record. I referred to that earlier in the House. He said that millions of additional social insurance cards were in circulation, that passports had been stolen from Canadian offices abroad and that the firearms registry had experienced cost overruns. He then asked the minister if he could ensure that this would not be another bureaucratic nightmare. That was a member of the government asking that. It is no wonder that he had those concerns.

I was surprised a few minutes ago when the minister of immigration told us in the House and told all Canadians that he did not believe the social insurance card was an identity document. What a surprising revelation in the House today. My goodness, a social insurance card is an important document. We know that not too long ago all kinds of databases were being gathered around Canadian social insurance cards and social insurance numbers. All kinds of information was being databased and collected without anybody knowing exactly what was going on. When it came to the light of day that this was going on, the government had to backpedal and try to find some explanation for gathering information around our social insurance numbers. That was an interesting comment that the minister made.

However I am straying from my comments and I will get back to the very important comments that have been made by Liberal colleagues on the topic.

The member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel said that he had difficulties with both the privacy and moral aspects of identity cards. The member for Haliburton—Victoria—Brock said, “I have this big brother problem”. He noted that the federal privacy and information commissioners both expressed deep concerns about ID cards. The member for London North Centre is the chair of the immigration committee. Many of our colleagues are travelling with the immigration committee, and they will not be able to participate in today's debate, which is unfortunate. He said that he had honest scepticism about this whole issue.

Certainly this whole big brother concern, this privacy issue concern, is one that has been raised by others in this place, and which I and my Alliance colleagues raise as well. Placed in the context of the track record of this government in handling other sensitive information about Canadians, the government is asking us to trust it. It has given us more than ample reason in the past not to. The government's track record is really one of utter incompetence when it comes to the administration of important programs.

There was an important witness at committee, Mr. Morris Manning, who is one of Canada's leading constitutional lawyers. He warned the committee that the ID cards would increase racial profiling, do little to combat terrorism or identity fraud and invade people's privacy by creating a huge database of information.

That claim goes directly against what the minister said earlier in the House today. He told us that these national identity cards would protect our identities and decrease racial profiling. There are arguments on the other side of that issue, so really there is no conclusion. The minister is making assertions without proof that his assertions are in fact true.

There are all kinds of things I could get into but I want to focus on rebutting some of the comments that the minister made this morning in the House.

He said that the topic of a national identity card is not about a card, it is about an identity policy in our country. He asked us to look at the information that banks gather about us, our social insurance numbers, which again he referred to as not an identity document, and to look at the computer, the Internet and all the information out there.

It is because of those kinds of technologies and that information that is out there that Canadians have concerns about the privacy of their own information. We have seen identity fraud. The minister referred to it. Those kinds of concerns are not alleviated by the idea of bringing in a national identity card. In fact they are likely magnified because we have seen many examples of Canadians' information being used in ways that have come back to cause them great concern and great damage.

The minister referred to 12,000 people who have had their identities stolen. I believe that is what he said. It does not take much for us to look at that as a serious concern and something that we do not want to have happen to ourselves.

The minister said that creating this card is all about how we can remain ourselves and protect the Canadian way. I would argue, how can Canadians remain themselves if their identity is not securely protected?

If we do put our faith in this system and the system fails us, what have we gained? Nothing. What have we lost? Quite a bit.

The minister referred to a survey in which 76% of Canadians said that they want to see the protection of their identity. That is a large number of people. That survey he referred was of about 3,000 people. The minister then took a giant leap and said that these same people agree that his notion of a national identity card is the best way to protect their identity. That is illogical. The minister is getting a conclusion from a piece of information taken for another reason.

Yes, 76% of people want their identities protected, but does that mean they agree that the national identity card is the way to protect their identity? No, absolutely not. For the minister to make that conclusion I believe is illogical and one that we should take into consideration when examining this idea of a national identity card.

The minister has a lot of other priorities he could focus on and we are wondering why he is proceeding with the national identity card. My colleague from Winnipeg—Transcona mentioned that earlier. Let us fix the systems that are in place now before we embark on a new one.

I could go on for an hour about the refugee determination system. I am sure members would love to hear me go on for an hour on that topic. It is one that I have studied over the years as a member of Parliament. There are all kinds of problems within that system. There are problems with the IMM 1000 document, with our passports and the security of very important identity documents. Those things have not been cleaned up. Why now embark on a new program that has so many questions left unanswered for us?

The minister also raised all kinds of questions. Can this technology help? How will the biometric information be stored? What about the cost? What about the management of this information? These are all valid questions that we have for the minister. We had hoped he would answer those kinds of questions rather than pose them.

If he is at the point of bringing this idea forward, we hoped he would have some kind of cost estimate as to how much this program would cost, given the debacle with the gun registry, another one of the government's billion dollar boondoggles, given what has happened with the HRDC information surrounding our social insurance numbers which I referred to earlier and given any number of mismanaged files on the government's part.

We even had the amazing event not long ago in the House where government members would not approve the estimates for the gun registry. That came to light again in the House yesterday when it was raised that money is still being spent on the gun registry. Where is that money coming from for the Minister of Justice when it was turned down by members of the House, including government members?

I had hoped the minister would bring forward in his debate today the idea of at least a trial project on a national identity card, of running some kind of small scale voluntary program where individuals could test the model before launching into a full scale initiative. It certainly would have been prudent. I think it would have helped his case had he done something like that ahead of time. He could have come to the House with accurate cost projections and information about how a trial project would have worked in terms of the biometrics that he talked about, rather than asking us to take a giant leap of faith in the whole area of this card being the protector of our national identity when the indication is quite clear from many individuals that these concerns have not been addressed.

The minister said he was glad we had this opportunity for debate today. However, if this idea has come this far down the pipeline without having had a full debate at cabinet and without having had these kinds of questions answered, I wonder if it is not just a way for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to trumpet something that likely will not see the light of day.

I thank my NDP colleagues for bringing forward this motion today. I look forward to what other members have to say on the topic. Certainly I would have hoped to have had a vote on this topic to see where members stood on the issue because I do not think there is a consensus. I hope the minister takes from this debate that there are serious concerns about the idea of a national identity card because it has not been clearly thought out by the government and given its track record, we cannot put our faith in it to administer such a program.