House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was forward.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Progressive Conservative MP for Brandon—Souris (Manitoba)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply October 23rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the member for St. John's East, who would like to share some of his comments with respect to the motion.

I appreciate that my colleague from the Bloc has brought forward the motion. I listened to the convoluted logic of the government House leader and as I said earlier, I can honestly say I was very confused with his Alice in Wonderland logic as to whether it is or is not a confidence motion.

In my opinion, this is not a confidence motion. This is a question that is being asked in every coffee shop across the country. It is a question that is being put to me constantly in the shopping centres, on the streets, in the parking lots, in phone calls. People are asking why is the Prime Minister hanging on by his finger nails when he should be passing the baton to the next prime minister, the soon to be leader of the Liberal Party, and provide Canadians with what they are desperately searching for, and that is good government?

Unfortunately we do not have that. We have a Prime Minster who, for any number of reasons which I will get into, has decided that he will hang on for as long as he can. I must admit it will be to the detriment not only of good governance but to the detriment of this country. He is doing a disservice not only to the country and to the people who demand government, but he is doing a disservice to himself.

I wish, if nothing else comes from this debate today, that we pass the message to the current Prime Minister, “Please, sir, quit doing this disservice to yourself. Please get on with your retirement years and do what it is that you wish to do, write a book or smoke some marijuana”, which is the last thing I heard that he wanted to do when it was legalized. “Please get on with your life and let Canadians get on with what they would like to see right now, which is good government”.

To the chief technocrat of the government benches, the government House leader, no, this is not a vote of confidence. This is simply a motion that has been put forward which says, “Please, Mr. Prime Minister, with all your good graces, as soon after the new leader is chosen in your party, please make way for that leader and let Canadians get on with their work”.

It was said earlier that this is without precedence. This is something we are living in history. It is a historic moment because never before has there been this kind of transition from one leader to another. We have seen that within our own parties. I have lived through a leadership convention and when it was over the new leader took over the day after. We have seen it in the Alliance Party. We have seen it in the Reform Party. We have seen it in the Bloc. We have seen it everywhere except on the benches of the government.

The fact is there are forces at play. Unfortunately they are forces of personal egos, which I do not think have any place right now in the form of good government in this country.

Why can the Prime Minister not leave? Why can he not accept this as being a friendly motion to suggest that once this move is taken, Canadians would like to see this transpire very amicably between him and the member for LaSalle—Émard? The problem is that there may be a little more animosity between the member for LaSalle—Émard and the current Prime Minister than we would wish to have in our country.

There are a number of issues. One is ego. We have talked about that. As a matter of fact, there is a headline that reads “PM's delay delivers 'bad government': The Prime Minister letting ego dictate lengthy good-bye”. That is not good for the country.

That sentiment, which is shared not only in the newspaper headings but as I said earlier, in the coffee shops, is one which we and the backbench members of the government get to listen to on a regular basis. I do not think there is one soul over there on those benches who has not heard it, if not once, at least a thousand times. There is not one person on those benches and on these benches who does not realize that the next leader of the Liberal Party will be the member for LaSalle—Émard.

Let us get on with business. Let us not drag this thing on until February and keep a rudderless government in office when Canadians are crying out in desperation to deal with issues that are so very important. That is where we have to get.

There is no magic about February. The only magic is that there is an individual who does not want to let go, an individual whose ego is bigger than the country and certainly bigger than Centre Block. It is a person who probably just wants to stick around to celebrate a birthday in the House again. It is an individual who probably just wants to stick around because there is something magic about 40 years. We just heard about 37 years from the chief technocrat on the government side. Maybe he wants to stick around simply because it is 40 years.

The motivation of why we should be here in the House is to provide good leadership to Canadians which they so justly deserve. Maybe he just wants to stick around and have those fingers hanging onto the power because he wants to do his swan song. He wants to have his meeting at the summit of the Americas. Maybe he wants to take his international travel to a new height.

That is not good government. That is not what Canadians deserve. Let us make sure that the individual who is going to replace him does so sooner than later.

There is also a serious problem. I have been involved in business for a number of years. When an individual stays a little too long and when that individual is not wanted, there is a real danger of sabotage. There is a danger of that same sabotage taking place here in the government. That is really a concern.

If the existing Prime Minister wants to make it so unhealthy for the new prime minister, the only ones who will be affected are the country and its citizens. We should not put ourselves in that position. We should not allow the outgoing Prime Minister the time to be able to sabotage the incoming prime minister, because nobody wins. The only thing that wins is ego.

There are so many issues which are unable to be attended to right now. We heard the finance minister say he could not put forward a budget in February because he does not know the direction the new prime minister is going to take. We need a fiscal plan put forward. If we cannot have a fiscal plan put forward until after the new leader is prime minister, we are going to be rudderless again for that four or five months.

The finance minister said that we cannot have that fiscal stability which we crave and need so much in this country. We have a loonie that is soaring which is good. There are some issues that have to be dealt with but the finance minister cannot deal with them because he has not been given direction by the new prime minister. We have to set the budget. We have to have the long term vision defined as to where we are going. We have heard other members talk about the democratic deficit. We have to talk about that and put it forward to Canadians but we cannot do that because the new prime minister does not have the ability to do it.

We have to deal with one of the most serious issues right now, which is Canada-U.S. relations. We have a Prime Minister who should not be there after November 15, who cannot even get a meeting with our major trading partner, the President of the United States. Sure, he had the photo op. I am sure there were a whole bunch of little bureaucrats, little minions running around so that the Prime Minister would be seen with President Bush, and he was. It was wonderful. He went on a tour up the river but they cannot sit down in a room and talk prime minister to president right now about softwood lumber. They cannot talk about mad cow disease which is devastating my community. It is devastating agriculture as it has never been devastated before.

We do not have a Prime Minister who can sit down with the President of the United States to deal with major issues because the president does not want to talk to him. Let us fix the problem. Let us not wait until February. Let us fix the problem after November 15 so we can get those relations back together.

Our economy depends on this. This is not about ego. This is not about hanging on just because there are some personal animosities. This is about our country. This is about what we have to achieve in order to retain our standard of living the way we want it retained. Let us get off the pot and make sure we redevelop those relationships with the U.S.

What about federal-provincial relationships? Cooperative federalism has been in a deficit in the government for the last 10 years. The prime minister in waiting has attempted to develop those cooperative federal-provincial relationships.

Let us start now. Let us not wait until February. Let us start in November. We can work toward a great plan to bring the provinces together instead of trying to divide them. We now have an opportunity to make our country much stronger with the provinces and territories. Let us not wait for six months just because of ego, just because somebody wants to hang on to power for that much longer.

What about our military? What about the military that we have sent to Afghanistan? What about their requirements? Some tough decisions have to be made not only by the Minister of Finance, but by the Prime Minister in order to put the resources together and into a priority for the military at the current time. We need that desperately.

What about natural disasters, as was talked about? Mad cow is one, the fires in British Columbia are another and the hurricane in Nova Scotia is another. There is a great need. I have always stood in the House and said that what we really need is a natural disaster plan. We need something we can take off the shelf and say “Here is a consistent plan”, but that is a whole speech for a different day. What we need now is a Prime Minister who is prepared to tell his ministers to go forward and fix the problems, to put some financial compensation packages on the table that we can accept and which Canadians deserve right now with some leadership.

I am going to let my colleague take over from here. This is not a non-confidence motion. This is a motion that should be and has to be accepted by everybody, especially the government of the day. Now is the time to get the message across and have the current Prime Minister retire, and retire with some shred of dignity, which we have to insist that he take.

Supply October 23rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I will have an opportunity to rebut a lot of what the chief technocrats from the government have to say, but I am very pleased to be involved in this Alice in Wonderland explanation that the member has given.

I guess my question would be, after all the accolades the House leader of the government has given, that he would not be adverse to having the next election fought with his current Prime Minister. After all the wonderful things he said about the Prime Minister and his government, why would he not vote for this so they could go to the polls with the current Prime Minister and let the people decide whether he should or should not resign?

Would the hon. House leader not suggest that we go there sooner than later with the current Prime Minister as his leader?

Agriculture October 9th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, today I received a self-serving communications package from the Minister of Agriculture telling us how wonderfully he has been handling the BSE file, but hello? The border is still closed to live cattle. It is not open.

The agriculture committee was making arrangements to go to Washington. Unfortunately, the minister decided to cancel that trip. He made the chairman cancel the trip to Washington. I want to ask the minister, why is that? Is he threatened or is it the fact that he just does not like a proactive initiative?

Income Tax Act October 9th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, a long time ago, in another life, I learned that one should not get involved in labour negotiations. I believe that unionized labour has what is known as a collective agreement. In those collective agreements they have certain clauses, some of those clauses being separation and severance pay.

If the union has done its job properly, I suspect those separation and severance agreements have been well clarified and the workers of the Oakville plant have been taken care of. I have no doubt that their union looked after them. Therefore they should have those severance clauses in that agreement. I can assure everyone that I am not about to renegotiate a collective agreement.

Income Tax Act October 9th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, this is another example of NDP industrialized fearmongering. I suspect if the member is talking about the subsidies, then perhaps all those industries should get paid all the royalties and taxes they paid and all the employee benefits they have paid over the last centuries. I do not think that would be the case.

As for China, there is a reality here. By the way, more fearmongering that we should be bringing our salary scales back down to those levels of China. As long as I have ever dealt with any industrial user, any manufacturer, any retailer, I have never heard anybody say such a foolish thing, that we should be bringing our salary levels down to those in China. That is absolutely ridiculous.

We have in Canada something in which we take a lot of pride, our quality of life. Our standard of living is dependent upon those things that we are talking about in the bill. We are dependent upon industry and upon jobs being created. We do not want to bring salaries down to Chinese levels. Actually, we want to bring them up to American levels. That is where we have been going all along.

We want to increase our standard of living and our quality of life. That does not mean less salaries, that means more. This in fact will allow that to happen. Less money going to governments, more money going into exploration and more money going into industrial investment will bring more jobs, more activity and more wealth to the workers of this world. That is what we are trying to achieve. No, we are not trying to bring it down to China levels. We are trying to bring it up.

As for subsidies, as for standing on one's own, taxation changes or a reduction in taxes does not mean that it is a subsidy. It means that these industries are paying less to governments, which, by the way, mismanages most of those dollars. I would rather see industries managing their dollars for the economy as opposed to having the government manage those dollars. That is where we are heading and I would like to see a reduction in those dollars paid to government.

Income Tax Act October 9th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the most intelligent thing I have said was that the government historically has not been very successful in managing other portfolios. It has not been very successful in managing departments. The list is endless. There are too many other things that we could add to the list, but Bill C-48 is not one of them.

I stand on behalf of my colleague from Kings--Hants on this piece of legislation. The Progressive Conservative Party will be supporting Bill C-48 simply because of the equality that is necessary in the sectors.

It is absolutely vital that we continue exploration in the oil and gas industry. It is absolutely vital that we encourage that exploration to continue. Bill C-48 is a way of doing that.

It is absolutely vital that the revenues that are generated are part of Canada's economy, part of our GDP. Our quality of life depends on it. I know the NDP would like to nationalize just about everything that we have, but that is not philosophically the way we should be going in this country. Bill C-48 will make it more fair with the tax rates that will be put into place.

We in the Progressive Conservative Party will be supporting this piece of legislation.

Income Tax Act October 9th, 2003

Now I am even getting heckled from the government side, Mr. Speaker. However those members should be our friends on this issue because Bill C-48 has to go through.

Income Tax Act October 9th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak at third reading of Bill C-48. My colleague the member for Kings--Hants has had carriage of this piece of legislation. He is now with the finance committee somewhere across the country and it has fallen to my delicate hands to take it to the next stage.

Our party will be supporting Bill C-48. I appreciate that the members from the Bloc, and certainly the member speaking after me from the NDP, have different philosophical positions with respect to business management and labour. Certainly their philosophical positions will come out in their opposition to this piece of legislation. The NDP and the Bloc make no bones about it that they are not friends of industry. They are not friends of business. They are not friends of being able to generate the economy in the natural resources sector.

I appreciate my colleague from the Bloc helping me in protecting Manitoba with respect to this legislation. He indicated many times that Manitoba would be the net loser should this bill go forward. I do not agree with that. I believe in competition. My province of Manitoba has certainly seen the benefits and the opportunities in the mining sector. It sees the benefits and opportunities certainly in the natural resources sector. As a matter of fact, the majority of Manitoba's GDP is from natural resources, whether it be agriculture, mining or forestry. We see that there are advantages.

As a matter of fact, Manitoba has put in quite a number of changes to its own tax system, tax rate and royalty system to encourage mining. We have some very large mining operations in Manitoba with Inco and Falconbridge. We want to continue to be able to compete in the world market. In order to do that Bill C-48 corrects some of that inequality.

We were somewhat dumbstruck when it was brought forward in the 2000 budget that there would be a reduction in the general corporate income tax rate from 28% to 21%. We were actually thunderstruck when we found out this did not include the natural resource industry. Oil and gas, minerals and mining were excluded from the 2000 budget. I do not know whether the NDP at that time stood up and said wow.

There is a huge industry that has been neglected. Bill C-48 brings that back into line. There is an equity issue that has to be resolved and Bill C-48 resolves it by adding the mining sector to the reduction in the tax rate from 28% to 21%.

There are other issues with respect to the legislation. There are phase-outs. Certainly the 25% phase-out is going to have some concerns. My colleague from the Bloc spoke to that. Manitoba will have a reduction in revenue streams because of that tax reduction.

That may be true, but we also have enough foresight to recognize that there should well be revenue streams or revenues increased by encouraging exploration, by encouraging mining operations to come into Manitoba, northern Manitoba specifically, and by encouraging these industries to not only explore but process the raw materials they extract from the earth. This is what we were built on and this is what we want to continue to do. We want to encourage that so there will be more union jobs developed in Manitoba, so union jobs can be increased in the sector that this is trying to assist. Bring equity back into the system.

I hear somewhere in the background the member from Windsor suggesting perhaps that is not the case. As I said at the outset, there are philosophical differences. I believe in the private sector developing economy. I believe in that. Also I believe that profit is not a dirty word. That may send them into apoplectic shock, but the fact is there has to be profit in a sector.

There has to be profit in an industry in order for that industry to reinvest in itself and reinvest in its employees, in their training and their pension plans. That is what the economy is all about. I do not have to lecture the member for Windsor West on economics 101, but I do have to lecture the member and say that the inequalities in the industrial sectors do not bode well for Canadians.

We do have tough competition in the oil and gas and the mining sectors. We have competition offshore. China has some very strong advantages compared to us. The labour costs in China are substantially less than they are in Canada. We have to compete in the way we can and that is obviously in our tax rates. We cannot take from the industries so often that they are not able to reinvest back into this area.

I appreciate the Bloc's position on most of the issues. The Bloc members are suggesting that there will be revenue losses. I appreciate the Bloc trying to protect Manitoba, but we really do not need that protection. We can look after ourselves.

More than that, I am sure the Bloc's concern is more about the federal-provincial jurisdictional issues as it always is. Obviously the Bloc has some difficulties with the federal government getting involved in any kind of provincial jurisdiction. This is one of those areas. When Bill C-48 becomes law, it will be necessary for the federal government to work with the provincial governments to ensure that the resulting provincial revenues are redirected to the affected mining industry.

Basically, my good friends in the Bloc are telling the federal government not to step on Quebec's jurisdictional toes. In fact, this is a federal responsibility. Bill C-48 is a federal responsibility in setting tax rates for the industry. It is up to the government to set those rates.

There is never any perfect legislation. We certainly know the government is not perfect; that is an understatement. We know there could have been amendments--

Petitions October 9th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the second petition, again on behalf of the constituents of Brandon—Souris, is also with respect to their right to making informed choices and having access to non-drug medicinal products of their own choosing. They wish to provide Canadians with greater access to non-drug preventive and medicinal options.

I present both of these petitions to the House.

Petitions October 9th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present two petitions on behalf of my constituents of Brandon—Souris.

The first petition asks that medical expenses be a tax credit. They wish Parliament to take the necessary steps to change the Income Tax Act to allow receipts for vitamins and supplements to be used as medical expenses in personal income tax returns and again have them GST exempt.