Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was friend.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as NDP MP for Kamloops (B.C.)

Lost his last election, in 2000, with 28% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999 June 12th, 2000

Madam Speaker, I was not going to refer to my friends in the Canadian Alliance but since they have been calling us liars, I feel that I have to make some comment.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999 June 12th, 2000

Madam Speaker, I too look forward to making a few comments on Bill C-24. The comments of my friend who just spoke made me think about an issue. These days there is a level of cynicism in the land attached to politicians. One wonders where that cynicism comes from, what is it that makes people—

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999 June 12th, 2000

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I normally would not interrupt my friend, but he obviously has made a mistake in his speech when he said they were charging $5,000 per person to attend that fundraiser. I wonder if he could—

Canadian Tourism Commission Act June 12th, 2000

Fisheries is a little different because we are on the west coast in British Columbia. Saskatchewan and Manitoba, being more central, do not get big chunks of fisheries support. I am talking about a program that should have some equality across the country.

I could tell my hon. friends in cabinet sitting across the way and members of the Liberal caucus that sometimes I hear questions like: Why do Liberals not do better in the west? Why do Liberals not do better in British Columbia? One of the reasons is because British Columbia never gets its fair share of anything. It is frustrating.

The other day a number of Liberals from British Columbia admitted that something is wrong with the picture. They admitted that B.C. never gets its fair share. Members of the opposition have said this and we now have members of the government caucus saying it as well. Perhaps something will change. It is a wake-up call.

While we support this piece of legislation, we in British Columbia hope that steps will be taken to ensure that if programs are laid out across the country to support festivals or to advertise various parts of Canada people should remember that there are different parts of Canada and they should all get at least fair consideration in the international promotion that will go on as a result of this crown corporation.

With that I will conclude my remarks. Perhaps some of my friends across the way would like to ask me a few questions.

Canadian Tourism Commission Act June 12th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, it is a real pleasure to speak in the House today, a packed House thanks to the people in the gallery and my colleagues on this side.

Unlike my friend who just spoke, we will support the legislation. It is not often that I have some positive things to say about the government but I am forced to say some positive things today because Bill C-5, an act to establish the Canadian Tourism Commission turning it into a crown corporation is something we support.

I want to explain the reasons we support it and then make a few critical comments that are aimed to result in some positive change.

The Canadian Tourism Commission was founded in 1992 after a very extensive consultation process with tourism operators across the country. Something had to be done. Basically, people did not know much about Canada outside Canada. There was not much of a marketing effort around the world to encourage people to visit Canada, so this commission was set up. Because the government wanted to get something under way quickly it was easier to create an agency of government than to set up a crown corporation.

The reality is, this agency is working quite well. It works in partnership with the private sector. We have a whole number of private sector tourism operators involved, we have provincial and territorial governments involved, and of course the federal government is involved. This partnership of different levels of government plus the private sector has resulted in a very dynamic organization which is promoting Canada around the world in the sense that we get people to come to Canada and then it is up to other groups, both the private sector and provincial governments, to attract them to Quebec, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, P.E.I. or wherever.

Something had to be done. If there is one criticism I have at this early stage it would be that this crown corporation to promote Canada abroad needs to have a larger budget. To take an ad out in one of the big Japanese newspapers, for example, is very costly. To run a series of advertisements in some of the big airports around the world is very costly. If we are going to do this, then let us do it properly, and that is going to require money.

When it was operating as an agency it was very cumbersome. It required a whole number of departments to have input, and to make the changes that are required today in promoting tourism means that we have to move very quickly.

For example, what was in place was a massive marketing program targeted to attracting people living in the Asia-Pacific region to visit Canada. We know how quickly that economic collapse happened in the Asia-Pacific region. Overnight, bang, it was all over, there was an economic collapse and obviously not many people were visiting Canada, so they had to shift.

Because it was such a cumbersome organization it took weeks and months of fiddling around before it could actually shift to target a different market. This will be facilitated somewhat because of the crown corporation status that it will now have.

I look to two provinces which have mirror legislation. British Columbia, the area from which I come, has Supernatural British Columbia. It has been a magnificent crown corporation. It has done wonders. We have people coming from all over the world by the tens of thousands into what has to be probably the most attractive airport anywhere in the world. You have been there, Mr. Speaker. I think you would agree that the Vancouver airport is world class, second to probably no airport in the world, and people are coming by the tens of thousands, every month, travelling to beautiful British Columbia, based on the advertising and the promotion that the crown corporation is doing, to say nothing about the province of Saskatchewan and the Land of the Dancing Skies organization, which again has been very successful.

The evidence we have would indicate that moving to the status of a crown corporation is a positive move based on what we are seeing provincially.

I think all members agree that tourism is certainly one of the growth sectors of our economy. We know what we have. When people find out what we have, whether those people are coming from Switzerland, China, Indian or Mexico, they come to Canada and they are amazed at what we have to offer.

We know because we live here, but I suspect even we could benefit from these programs to learn what it is like in other parts of the country: people from the west going to the east, people from the east going to the central part, people from the central part going to other parts of the country. I had the pleasure last year of spending some time in Canada's north. I must say that it left a lasting, lifelong impression on me, in terms of what that part of Canada has to offer.

I have two quick points. One is about revenues. My friend from the Canadian Alliance referred to it, but I think it bears repeating.

In 1995, 70% of the revenues for this operation came from government and 30% came from the private sector. When I talk about the private sector I am talking about Air Canada and some of the big hotel chains that obviously stand to benefit from people coming to Canada on their vacations and so on. In 2000 the percentages have flipped around. There is now 70% private sector financing and 30% government financing. We can see the popularity and how well this is moving in terms of taxpayer money.

There is a critical point that I want to address this afternoon. I do not want to detract from some of the positive comments I have just made because we will support this bill at third reading. However, the other day the Liberals were talking about a program called Public Works Festivals. If a festival is going on in a community or a region, the Government of Canada will sponsor it to a point to help local organizers.

I note that 72% of the money went to festivals in Quebec and approximately 20% went to festivals in Ontario. British Columbia, with 13% of the population of Canada—and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will really be keen to hear this statistic—received about 2.5% of all of the festival sponsorships.

Questions were asked in committee about why this imbalance exists. We were told that not many applications were received from western Canada. When I asked how people in western Canada knew about the program, if it had been advertised in western Canada, the answer was no. If a program is not advertised, how do we expect people to apply for something under the program? It is bizarre, but it points out one of the weaknesses in our system.

If we are going to have a system in place to promote and support festivals across the country, it should be equally accessible to Canadians regardless of where they happen to live. The fact that 70% of the money went to festivals in one province, obviously at the expense of other parts of Canada, is simply not fair. We have to ensure, and perhaps the board of directors of the crown corporation will be helpful in ensuring, that there is some equality across the country. There has to be some resemblance of fairness and equity in these programs in Canada.

I see that my friend the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is here. I know how keen he is on some of these issues, so I would like to throw out a bit of a challenge to him. Over the years that I have been a member of parliament I have been very aware of the various federal programs that apply to provincial jurisdictions; in other words, federal programs that receive applications from provinces right across Canada, including the territories. This is what I have found, and I know members will be astonished at this. British Columbia has approximately 13% of the population of Canada, and yet I am unaware of a single federal program from which British Columbia receives 13% of the funding. I have made it a hobby over the past 20 years to study this issue. For 20 years we in British Columbia have been getting skewered. We always get the short end of the stick.

Petitions June 12th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to present a petition pursuant to Standing Order 36. These petitioners from Kamloops point out that the federal government pays just 13.5% of health care costs, which has led to the incredible crisis in our health care system. They are worried about the fact that we now seem to be opening the door to a two tier American style health care system in the country.

They want parliament to take whatever action is necessary to stop for profit hospitals and restore federal funding for health care.

Taxation June 12th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, banks have closed hundreds of branches and laid off thousands of employees, services have gone down in the banks while service charges have gone up, and profits have reached obscene levels. We now learn that the Minister of Finance is planning to give the banks a half a billion dollar tax break.

In light of the fact that the Minister of Finance said there is no money available for social housing, would he say that this tax break to the banks is simply not on?

Species At Risk Act June 12th, 2000

It has happened. We could look at Ontario, for example. Ontario has had as many ministers of the environment as we change socks on an annual basis. Quite frankly they are, by their own admission, not qualified to be ministers of the environment. They do not know much about it. Let us imagine if that were the case here. This legislation would be a complete mockery. Therein lies a crucial weakness in the legislation, the fact that we have to take away the aspect where politicians will be the final arbitrators of this issue.

There is a role to play for politicians. There is a role to play for elected representatives. However when the legislation is passed, if in fact it gets passed in the next little while, there will not be a single identified species at risk. In other words, we will have to start all over again to develop this list. What a crazy process.

What is embarrassing about it is that our two NAFTA partners, Mexico and the United States, have had legislation in place, the United States since 1973 and Mexico since 1992. Both acts are a whole lot stronger than this one. They are concerned about the fact that the government says that this has nothing to do with species that migrate across interprovincial or international borders.

If a moose is wandering around in the forest it does not realize it is crossing a border. A border will not stop it from going into Alaska or elsewhere in the United States. It will not stop it from going between Saskatchewan and Alberta or wherever. Of course moose do not behave in that way. When ducks or geese fly around they do not stick to one provincial area. They are crossing provincial boundaries and crossing international boundaries. The legislation does not acknowledge that fact. It does not provide that kind of protection.

The minister says that is not their jurisdiction. If it is not federal jurisdiction whose jurisdiction is it? There are very puzzling elements in the legislation.

Back in 1992 hon. members will remember that Canada was the very first western nation to sign the biological diversity convention. That convention requires Canada to pass legislation protecting endangered species and their habitat. That was back in 1992 and nothing has happened.

Here we are now in the year 2000 and legislation has been introduced, but I have yet to find a single person who likes the legislation. I have yet to see a single group of people who like the legislation. A vast array of environmental groups have lobbied us. They have visited our offices here and our constituency offices. Many of them are personal friends. They say the legislation just is not on, that it has to be changed.

For example, even groups like the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association and the Canadian Mining Association say the legislation needs to be strengthened. When we have the mining association and the pulp and paper or the forestry industry saying such things, we have to ask who supports the legislation. Before the government brings in legislation we would think somebody somewhere would support it. Even one group or one person. However so far nobody supports it except the minister.

We have to change the legislation when it gets to committee. As some previous speakers have indicated, it is an all party committee. I think we are all determined to improve the legislation. I have identified a couple of problem areas. My colleagues from Churchill River will undoubtedly reveal some other concerns.

We should consider that the disappearance of habitat is responsible for 80% of the species that disappear. We are all aware from popular literature that as a result of the paving over of the countryside, the vast amount of cutting in the forests and the occupation of many wilderness areas as a result of tourism and travellers that the habitat of many of our species is disappearing. This is something we have to come to grips with, as well as the issue of compensation.

In closing, when we protect a particular habitat there has to be both a carrot and a club. The carrot would be to encourage people to work to preserve habitat. If they fail to do so there has to be some kind of club that will penalize them.

When we take productive lands out of use in order to protect a habitat some compensation has to be there. I am thinking particularly of the comments of the cattlemen's association to this point and the people indirectly involved who would lose their means of employment as a result of a protective initiative being taken. They too have to be compensated in some form. These are some of the clarifications we will pursue in committee.

Species At Risk Act June 12th, 2000

Madam Speaker, I want to make clear at the beginning that I will share this speaking spot with my hon. colleague from Churchill River.

I must say that there are some mixed feelings as I stand to make a few comments regarding Bill C-33 today. It is a piece of legislation dealing with endangered species that we have been requesting for many years. As a matter of fact I can remember, going back almost 20 years, groups making representations to committees and to us as individual members of parliament saying that we need to have such legislation.

The United States has had endangered species legislation going back to 1973. People were making the case that we needed to have it in Canada, particularly in areas where there is the migration of animals or migratory birds going between Canada and the United States. After years and years of lobbying we finally now have a piece of legislation, Bill C-33, before us which is known as the Species at Risk Act or SARA. It is a long overdue promise now before us, but I must say, and I say it with some reluctance, this is actually not a very good piece of legislation at all.

I suppose it is better than nothing but not much better. As a matter of fact it may not even be better than nothing because it gives the impression that the government has actually done something to take some serious steps toward ensuring that species at risk will be protected in Canada.

The throne speech said that the government would introduce legislation to ensure that species at risk and their critical natural habitat were protected. The reality is this legislation does not do that. It does not ensure that species will be identified and protected. It certainly does not ensure that habitat will be protected.

The two fundamental elements of any kind of endangered species legislation, that is the identification and protection of the species and the identification and protection of their habitat, are not included. They are absent.

It is puzzling that it is left to the Minister of the Environment or to politicians to decide what species are at risk. With all due respect to my parliamentary colleagues, I am not sure we are experts in this field. Well known scientists have documented the fact that there are 351 species at risk presently in Canada. These scientists are eminently qualified to make that determination. Now we will turn it over essentially to cabinet. They are a nice group of people but they are not really equipped to determine what kind of species ought to be identified at risk, let alone whether or not the habitat should be protected.

To be fair, we might have a good Minister of the Environment or there might one in the future who would lead this discussion in cabinet, but what if we had a crummy minister of the environment? What if a red neck anti-wildlife type of person who was made Minister of the Environment and as a result—

Species At Risk Act June 12th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the previous two speakers, both of whom I have the utmost respect for. I very much appreciated their comments.

My question concerns species at risk that move across international boundaries. Would the member inform the House if he is aware of sources in the United States which have indicated in a very harsh and critical way their views of this legislation in terms of not being able to protect species that move across international boundaries, either Canada and Alaska or Canada and the southern states?