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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

Petitions February 2nd, 1998

Mr. Speaker, it has been a busy month since the House last sat. It is my pleasure to present a petition with respect to the Canadian Wheat Board bill, Bill C-4, which will come back to the House either today or tomorrow for further debate. I would like to read the petition submitted by a number of signatories.

It states that Bill C-4 does not make the necessary changes to the Canadian Wheat Board that the majority of western Canadian farmers want to ensure that the CWB operates in the best interests of the producer, that Bill C-4 opens the possibility of including more crops under the Canadian Wheat Board's jurisdiction which will adversely affect the marketing and processing of non-board crops.

Therefore the petitioners call on Parliament to withdraw parts of Bill C-4 that would allow for additional crops to be marketed by the CWB and that no more crops be brought under the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly.

I wish to table this as a petition of my constituents of western Canada.

Search And Rescue December 10th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my second question with some regret is for the Minister of National Defence.

The Minister of National Defence earlier in this House suggested that the Reform Party was playing politics with the helicopter acquisition. Well, the government has been playing politics since 1993. For the last 81 days, the minister has been saying “soon” to the purchase of the helicopters.

Will the Minister of National Defence tell us, are those helicopters, the EH-101s, to be purchased and when will they be purchased by this government?

Federalism December 10th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

We are very concerned with the Prime Minister's paternalistic approach to co-operative federalism. The Prime Minister's approach to co-operative federalism is to tell the premiers what to do and how to do it. The premiers have not agreed with the federal government's position on Kyoto, fiscal dividend, youth unemployment and transfer payments.

Is the Prime Minister prepared to listen to the premiers for once and not dictate federal policies?

Canada Co-Operatives Act December 9th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am learning to speak French, but I have difficulty answering in that language.

I would suspect that the co-operative is no different than any other business venture. It depends on the people who are involved in the management of the co-operative. It is obviously involved with the business acumen and experience that people have as to how good the co-operative is itself. Some co-operatives do not succeed. In some cases it is probably because of undercapitalization, underfinancing. That is usually the reason most businesses fail regardless of whether they are a co-operative movement or in the private sector.

I said initially in my opening comments that in our particular case co-operatives are a feel of the communities. The communities and the people develop the co-operatives. It depends on the motivation of those individuals as to how successful those enterprises are going to be.

I can honestly say that in western Canada the co-operative movement was very successful because people helped people work with people. It was a grassroots movement. The profits that came from the development of that business were put back into the business. I would suspect it is a bit of a culture that came from that particular co-operative movement and perhaps the opportunity to have better capitalization when they went into the enterprise in the first place.

That would be my opinion. There are any number of reasons why some are good and some are not good.

Canada Co-Operatives Act December 9th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I once again speak to Bill C-5, which I have debated in the House of Commons twice before.

I will repeat one comment that I started off with the last time. When I was elected to the House of Commons I told myself and my constituents that when good legislation was put forward by the government I would congratulate the government on it and not simply be destructive in my criticism but be constructive.

I say to the government and to the Minister of Industry that this is a very good piece of legislation. It allows co-operatives to go forward into the 21st century with the ability to make necessary changes to be competitive not only within themselves but with other industries.

Brandon—Souris is the home of almost everything. The House has been privy to my rantings with respect to all the good things that have happened in my community. We are also the home of a number of very successful co-operatives. Members may be aware that the co-operative movement came to us from western Canada. Co-operatives involved people organizing around the common goal, usually not for profit but for the economic benefit of all their members.

Co-operatives promote grassroots development, led by people rather than by government. They are a reflection of local people taking the initiative to understand the problems they face and to develop solutions. Co-operatives find their roots in community based enterprise around the world, and certainly in Canada.

The principles of the 1970 Canada Co-operatives Association Act were based on provincial legislation dating back to the early 20th century. While the provinces have been updating their co-operative legislation over the years, there have been no changes to modernize the framework of the federal act since its inception.

As a result, in March 1996 the Canadian Co-operatives Association and its francophone counterpart jointly submitted recommendations to modernize the federal act. The proposals were the product of consultations with both their memberships. As previously mentioned, the most notable feature was the changes that most closely aligned the Canadian Co-operatives Association Act with the Canada Business Corporations Act. Both associations agreed these changes enable co-operatives to modernize their operations to better compete in the domestic and international markets on a level playing field.

Bill C-5 deals with a number of very innovative changes to that legislation. The legislation came out of consultations, consensus and the co-operation of an organization that brought forward to government, in a very long process over five years, what it felt was necessary for the co-operative movement to continue into the 21st century. As we are well aware, a number of changes are required to compete in this globalized world in which we now live. It was done, as I said, in full co-operation with the membership.

One issue they dealt with was the form of capitalization a co-operative could now do. The co-operative has a larger scope in adopting the structure between traditional and open market approaches, providing greater flexibility in establishing methods for members to finance their co-operatives.

The bill attempts to balance the rights of members with those of corporate directors, which is very important.

Bill C-5 makes changes to the rules governing membership by removing all restrictions. The rules are now solely determined by the co-operative and are laid out in its charter bylaws. This means membership would be open to all, provided current members approve.

Bill C-5 makes changes to the rules governing the issuing of shares. The conditions of issuing membership shares are set out in the incorporation charter.

Bill C-5 will permit co-operatives with share capital to issue investment shares to their members and to the public, provided the members have agreed to do so and have set out the rules in the charter bylaws.

Traditionally co-ops have looked only to their members to finance their operations. This means that co-operatives can now become more competitive with their capitalization. I speak of Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, a very prime example of what a very progressive co-operative can do in the competitive market.

The proposed changes equip the industry with the tools necessary for raising badly needed capital investment. It is a response, for instance, to declining membership investment, resulting in co-ops not being able to upgrade existing expensive and outdated infrastructure. This policy follows changes adopted by some of the provinces.

I point out that Bill C-5 is not a controversial bill, as I said earlier. It was done with co-operation and with consultation. We in the Progressive Conservative Party will be supporting the bill.

Agreement between all parties on the bill was slow as it took over as five year period to develop, but I believe they achieved a reasonable compromise with minor amendments at report stage. Overall the bill is a positive step in bringing co-operatives into the 21st century by making them more flexible, efficient and competitive.

The changes in Bill C-5 are wide scale adjustments but I am confident overall co-op membership, some 4.5 million Canadians, will benefit.

That being said, this gives us a very good model by which to develop legislation: listen to the people, listen to the industry that is being affected and put into legislation the necessary changes that allow it to adapt.

I will make an analogy between that and another piece of legislation brought to the floor of the House recently in which I have been involved. I will make a comparison between Bill C-5, which I have already said is an excellent model that has worked extremely well, and Bill C-4 respecting the Canadian Wheat Board.

Bill C-4, unlike Bill C-5, does not have a common goal that provides for the economic benefit of its members, the producers of the Canadian Wheat Board. Unfortunately Bill C-4 did not have the same consultative process as Bill C-5 has had. In committee we were told we had to rush Bill C-4 through without having the proper consultation because it had to get to third reading before the Christmas sitting was over.

It was sent to committee where we had to get it through. Bill C-5 took time, took legislative opportunity, to make sure adjustments were made. Bill C-4 did not come about in that fashion. Bill C-4, unlike Bill C-5, does not take the initiative to understand the problems producers face or to develop solutions.

Bill C-5 did that. We listened to what the industry was saying about what it needed for the future, for the 21st century. Unfortunately the government did not understand the problems facing producers and did not put into place the necessary legislation to deal with those problems into the 21st century. Bill C-4, unlike Bill C-5, does not allow farmers to decide in their best interest to ban together to gain better control over the marketing of their products.

In Bill C-5 the membership makes the rules. The membership is the owners. In Bill C-4 that is not the case. The government still maintains ownership. The elected board of directors is only 10 out of 15 and the chief executive officer will be appointed by government. It does not allow the producers, the major stakeholders, to have a say on how they will be operated.

Bill C-4 unlike Bill C-5 has not updated its legislation and modernized its framework to adjust to the 21st century since the inception of the Canadian Wheat Board in 1935. Unfortunately Bill C-4 does not allow the producers to have a voluntary or opt in, opt out situation.

I am making an analogy between Bill C-5 and Bill C-4. I appreciate the model which has been put forward in Bill C-5. Unfortunately it has not been carried through. Unlike Bill C-5 the proposals in Bill C-4 were not the product of consultation with all stakeholders. The government already predetermined the options of producers before they were even allowed to speak in committee.

As I said earlier, the committee would not allow members or stakeholders to come forward to speak to a very important piece of legislation that would control their operations for the next numbers of years.

Bill C-4, unlike Bill C-5, fails to modernize the operations of farmers so they can better compete in domestic and international markets on a level playing field. Bill C-5 allows for the co-operatives to compete on a level playing field with private corporations. It allows them to modernize with more capital. It allows them to make sure that they will be competitive and in business come the 21st century. Bill C-4 unfortunately does not allow producers to do that.

Bill C-4, unlike Bill C-5, does not speak to the wishes expressed by the majority of farmers. Bill C-5 took that into consideration. They sat down will all the stakeholders, talked to them and listened to them to put in place the right piece of legislation that would allow them to do that. Bill C-4 would not.

Bill C-4 and Bill C-5 could do so much for farmers. Bill C-5 achieves this with great success while Bill C-4 fails miserably. I hope the government over the holiday season has a change of heart and starts to listen to farmers, particularly those in western Canada, and does the right thing by providing Bill C-4 with the much needed tools that farmers want to compete in the 21st century, much as Bill C-5 does.

The co-operative movement is a very important movement in my community. During the question and answer period the last time I rose to speak, a question was asked by another member as to whether a member of a co-operative could speak honestly about it. I can stand here today and proudly say that I am a member of a co-operative. We have one in Brandon, Manitoba, to which I belong. It is the best way to provide that service.

I do not wish to prolong debate longer than necessary. I believe all parties are in agreement with this piece of legislation, which is unusual in the House. The Progressive Conservative Party recognizes that in some instances the government listens. In some instances it will let the people be a part of the legislation that is necessary to govern them. We will be supporting the legislation when it comes to the vote.

Taxation December 5th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Finance who should have a simple response. No rhetoric, please.

We know that Canada has the highest rate of personal income tax in the G-7.

Today's polls show that Canadians want fewer taxes. Quebec Liberals want to retire the debt, but cabinet members want to spend, spend, spend. A simple answer, please. Who is the Minister of Finance, the Santa Claus of finance, listening to, Canadians, his cabinet colleagues or the Liberals in Quebec?

Brandon, Manitoba December 3rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, members of the House will probably be getting a bit tired of my good news Brandon stories about the Canada Games and the Olympic curling trials, but once again I rise to congratulate the community of Brandon in southwestern Manitoba on yesterday's announcement.

Yesterday Maple Leaf Foods announced that it will develop a new world class hog processing plant in the city of Brandon. The capital investment will be $112 million and initial employment will be 1,150 new jobs.

The investment in the plant is a key component of Maple Leaf's ability to compete globally. The CEO of Maple Leaf Foods said the plant will be a model operation worldwide, making it the best processing plant in the world.

I thank the many people who made this possible: Maple Leaf Foods, the province of Manitoba, the city council of the city of Brandon, and especially the economic development officer, Mr. Don Allan.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act December 1st, 1997

Not enough. The comment was made that EI premiums have been reduced four times. It is our very valid opinion that they can be reduced dramatically to offset this CPP contribution.

Motion No. 14 is to freeze the yearly basic exemption for ten years. We believe that there should be a freeze on the YBE, but it should be for a ten year period, not in perpetuity for the simple reason that there are changes in our inflationary factors in Canada. Let us put it in place for the first ten years and review it after a ten year period.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this very, very important piece of legislation. I hope that the government will look at the ramifications that this legislation will have on the Canadian public, the Canadian employees and employers of this country. This legislation will have serious, negative ramifications.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act December 1st, 1997

Madam Speaker, it is not necessarily with great pleasure that I rise to speak to this piece of legislation, but I certainly do have the opportunity to speak, albeit somewhat limited because of the closure that has been suggested by the Liberal government.

I find that in itself terribly damaging to this piece of legislation.

Normally when legislation is put forward by the government in power, it is done with the best interests of Canadians at heart when the legislation is proposed.

The government suggested that this legislation cannot be debated in the House and did not give the opportunity to consult Canadians about this piece of legislation which will impact them quite dramatically over the next numbers of years, not only from a premium perspective but also from the perspective of a return on those dollars that are going to be invested in the CPP program.

I take exception to the fact that Canadians were not consulted, that the people who will be paying the majority of the premium price have not had an opportunity to tell us one way or another what their views are. This government has decided in its own wisdom to stop the debate, “Let's not give anybody an opportunity to talk about the pros and cons”.

There are a number of citizens who would love to have the opportunity to speak to this. The first are obviously the seniors. We have a high proportion of seniors.

They have been talking to me. They have been calling me and asking what is going to happen to them. As well, they have a need and a desire to make sure that their children and their children's children are taken care of in the years to come.

Those seniors would like to be consulted. They are currently reaping some of the benefits of a Canadian pension plan that was put in place 30 years ago. It also behoves the government to consult with the baby boomers—I put myself in that category and you too, Madam Speaker—who are going to be affected quite dramatically by the fact that we will be faced with substantial increases in premiums and may not be able to get any return on investment.

The Canada pension plan, I believe, should be based on a very simple premise. That premise is a pension plan is a pension plan. It is not a tax. It is not an opportunity to raise money to pay for others who have gone before us.

A pension plan is a pension plan. When money is put into a pension plan, you expect to have a rate of return and certainly a return on that investment at some later date.

That is not the case here. Until the government admits that this is a tax grab, believe me, we will be debating this bill as long and as hard as we possibly can for the benefit of all Canadians.

Let us look at the legislation. I will talk to the motions before us. By the way, they are good motions in some cases and in some other cases perhaps not quite as valid.

This is just one attack on what is happening with our pension structure in Canada. Other effects are going to be on the OAS, the old age security, and on RRSP contributions as was mentioned earlier by a speaker from another party.

Make no mistake about it. The Progressive Conservative Party wishes to have a sustainable, stable Canada pension plan, but a pension plan, not a tax. We believe in sustainability. In fact, we believe that premiums have to be increased in order to make the plan sustainable.

We have said all along that in order to do that, we would like to offset these regressive payroll taxes that are being proposed now with the huge, intolerable increases, excessive increases in the CPP premium.

That can be offset quite simply by taking the EI premiums that are currently in place and generating substantial revenues that are going to offset the deficit. This government in a self-congratulatory fashion is saying that those dollars are going to the deficit.

There are other methods to reduce the deficit. The huge resources that are being generated from EI premiums should go into the CPP. Those are payroll taxes. Payroll taxes destroy jobs. I am sure that everybody recognizes that the change in premiums to $1,635 in the year 2003 is a premium matched by the employer.

An employer will have few options to fund the premium increase; reduce the salaries of their employees which would give them less disposable income; do not give increases in the following years because of the excessive changes to the CPP premium level or lay people off. In fact, at that time nobody would be contributing, not to society and tax revenues but also to the CPP. The final and worst option is to lose money in the business and not have a business in the future. That does not help anybody. That is what happens when there are regressive payroll taxes.

Our plan is simple. Have a sustainable fund and make sure that the offset of the CPP premiums come from EI. The Reform plan, unfortunately, is very simplistic. It does not have a plan. We should simply throw up our arms and say every man, woman and child for themselves. Let us simply say that a $600 billion unfunded liability does not exist. It does not work and it never has worked. However, these are very simple solutions for complex issues.

I would also like to say that it is not only seniors and the baby-boomers that I am concerned about, but the people who come after. I too have children, ages 22 and 18. They are going to join the job market as soon as I have paid for their university education. They will be in the job market and be contributing members of this society. In fact, they will be contributing a substantial amount of money to a plan that may well, for all intents and purposes, not be available to them when they are depending on it.

Remember the simple premise? A pension is a pension. CPP is a pension. When we contribute to it, we should get a return back on the investment. If we are not going to do that, then call it what it really is, a tax.

I hate looking at the term benefit. There are benefits that are paid. No, there is a return on the investment that is being paid. The return on that investment is proposed to be decreased on an annual basis. However, in fact, the premiums are being increased on annual basis.

We have heard the numbers and they are not refutable. Contributors will be getting no return on their investment when they want to collect CPP in the not too distant future.

Motion No. 11 from the NDP, unfortunately we cannot support it. It is a proposal to eliminate the premium table. We have always said that we believe in the CPP. There has to be funding in order to have a sustainable fund. There has to be a premium table. Premiums have to be paid and certainly premiums have to be increased, but with a decrease in the EI premium as well. That is sustainability. That is not regressive payroll taxes.

Questions On The Order Paper November 26th, 1997

With regard to the Agriculture and Agri-food Canada “At Work in Rural Commununities” resource kit, (a) what was the breakdown of the exact cost of production and distribution; and (b) what categories of people received a copy of the kit?