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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

Agriculture April 9th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the Ontario Minister of Agriculture said recently that the federal government is letting down Ontario farmers. The province's farmers are left worried and uncertain about the future of their income stabilization program and are without adequate protection from economic hardship.

It seems the government needs an election or a byelection in order to make a policy announcement. With a byelection in Perth—Middlesex, can we now expect the agriculture minister to say something, anything, that is going to be acceptable to Ontario farmers?

Sex Offender Information Registration Act April 8th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Conservative Party will vote yes to this motion.

Infrastructure April 8th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the Stratford recreation and agricultural complex needs a Canada infrastructure grant, but therein lies the problem. The Prime Minister waited six months to call a byelection and the good folks of Perth—Middlesex have not had an MP to assist them. The Liberal candidate has been absolutely no help.

Will the minister responsible for infrastructure ensure that this application is brought forward as quickly as possible or will his government hold up this deal for ransom?

Ethics April 7th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, in response to a question on Thursday about the Barbados tax loophole, the Minister of Finance said:

Perhaps the hon. member could be more precise about what loopholes he believes exist.

He also said that these provisions

--are not changed unilaterally. They do require negotiation.

The loophole in question is section 11.2(c). The minister knows that he is able to put an end to the provision unilaterally with six months notice.

Could the finance minister now tell the House why the loophole still exists? Who made the decision to keep that loophole open?

Ethics April 7th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the ethics counsellor told CBC's Disclosure that he needed the permission of the member for LaSalle--Émard in order to publish the list of the 12 meetings he had with CSL officials during his tenure as finance minister. Such a list will tell us the dates, the topics and the people present during the meetings.

As the person responsible for enforcing the code of conduct for his ministers, will the Prime Minister instruct the member for LaSalle--Émard to please make that list public?

Agriculture March 31st, 2003

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is April Fool's Day and the biggest April fool's joke played on Canadian farmers is the Minister of Agriculture and his agricultural policy framework. Earlier this year the minister said:

--we need to and will have [the APF] completed by April 1st so that farmers know and can plan with what support there is from the government in the next year.

The joke is definitely on farmers. Now the minister has no deadline, no plan and no program. Could the minister tell us when farmers can expect his beleaguered policy framework will come into effect, or will the minister continue to--

Canada Transportation Act March 28th, 2003

Madam Speaker, I echo the comments of the previous speaker. My colleague from Gander—Grand Falls, who sits on the transport committee, has spoken previously on this proposed legislation and has indicated that, from the logistical aspect of the airlines themselves, he cannot support the legislation.

However, in saying that, I would like to thank the member for Lethbridge for putting forward legislation that is legitimate. The issue of abductions is a serious one, with non-custodial parents looking for ways to have access to the children. We have heard that in a number of cases this has been achieved. Children have been abducted and taken far from their homes and their custodial parent. We recognize that there should be, and in fact are, certain protections, certain abilities, certain attempts to resolve this issue and stop them at the onset.

However, it is our party's opinion and our transportation critic's opinion that this, unfortunately, is not the vehicle by which a lot of this will be corrected. If anything, the enforcement of this would be almost impossible.

As a father I have travelled alone with my children, as has my wife when she was bringing them to points where I was located. It would be very simple for her, if she did not have the right to have my children, to forge notarized documents that said she had total custodial rights. I suspect that would be one of the ways anyone could get around this legislation. If people were doing something of that nature they would not be terribly honest at the best of times, so I am sure they would try to circumvent the law and the legislation in any way, shape or form that they could. Enforcement would almost be impossible. Any document provided by an individual to the airlines would have to be scrutinized, and that in itself is almost impossible. The enforcement, the logistics would not make that possible.

Also, to circumvent this legislation, it would be very easy for a parent to simply go by vehicle, by rubber tire, across the border or fly overseas or to other points on American airlines which would not have this type of legislation in place.

Again, it would be difficult to enforce and difficult to restrict the kinds of movements that the hon. member legitimately, as I said, is trying to prevent.

It would also put a lot of the onus on the air carrier. I read the legislation and it says “the holder of a domestic licence”. The air carrier itself, under this legislation, would be responsible and would have some liability attached to it. Even though there may well be a forged document, there may be one circumstance where in fact someone could slip through. This legislation, in my opinion, would then hold the domestic licence holder liable. It is difficult enough currently, under the circumstances of the world, to operate an airline under our current regulations. To have the airlines now anticipating these kinds of issues and problems would be very difficult and it would be something else stacked on to the operations of the airlines that would make it most unprofitable.

I will not take a lot of time in the House on this. I simply wanted to be on the record of saying that I appreciate the member's concern. I have a lot of respect for the member for Lethbridge and I do know that his heart is in the right place when he brings forward this kind of legislation. However sometimes one has to think with one's head as opposed to one's heart and, unfortunately, the head says that the legislation is not enforceable and not something that we can put into place and make work.

That is not to say that we should not put in place other measures. That is not to say that the custodial enforcement procedures that we currently have should not be enforced in another fashion. That is not to say that we condone non-custodial parents abducting their children and moving them outside of our jurisdiction. That is not the case. We have to firm up the consequence. We have to firm up on our ability to stop that from happening in this society but this is not one of the tools that I and my party believe is available to us to stop this.

I thank the House for the opportunity to speak to this on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party. We will not be voting in favour of it when it comes forward. I look forward to helping the member perhaps draft something else that may be more workable for this circumstance.

Budget Implementation Act, 2003 March 28th, 2003

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca for that softball lob.

Absolutely, there should be a number of issues if the government was really trying to put something in place. It should give a long term budgetary process that municipalities could follow.

It should also look at some sort of tax regime where municipalities could have other opportunities to raise taxes other than just property taxes. Perhaps there could be tax point sharing, where the municipalities could use the money. Perhaps the excise tax on gasoline should go to the municipalities to assist in their--

Budget Implementation Act, 2003 March 28th, 2003

Madam Speaker, is that not usually the way the Liberal government operates. It does not take any of the responsibility itself but always blames someone else. By the way, that government has been in place since 1993, 10 years ago. The Liberals blame someone else because they do not want to take any of the responsibility.

I really am sorry that the member, whom I have an awful lot of respect for, is starting to believe the government's own propaganda and spin. I remember when the member would look at everything at face value and certainly analyze it to the point where he would look for the truth. Unfortunately, he is looking for something outside of the truth right now.

I have that truth. I have met with the people. I have met with the real people who are being affected on the front lines of the municipalities. I would ask the member to please talk to who used to be his friends and get their opinions on this because their opinions are not the same as the member is putting forward right now. They are ashamed of the infrastructure program that came forward.

The member held up a letter from the FCM. Of course the FCM is going to say, “We are not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. We will take what is given to us. We are not going to bite the hand that is giving us this little pittance”. I should also say it is that same membership of the FCM whom I have spoken to, the big city mayors. They are absolutely disgusted with the promises that were made and with what was delivered.

Let us get back to realities. The member and I agree on one thing. Infrastructure, sewage, water, bridges and roads are absolutely vital to the continued growth and the continued economy of this country. I know he agrees with that. What he will not say publicly is that with the pittance the government has put into this priority, it will be 100 years before the municipalities and provinces ever get to the level they should be at. Unfortunately, we are going to be left in the dust by our American neighbours. They will be far ahead of us economically, head and shoulders above us in the not too distant future, if they are not already today.

I am sorry that the member has not taken the time to listen to the people whom he serves and hear the real story as opposed to holding up one line of one letter and suggesting that is the fact.

Budget Implementation Act, 2003 March 28th, 2003

Madam Speaker, the Deputy Speaker allowed me to start my time after question period and I do appreciate that. I also appreciate you being in the Chair, Madam Speaker, to listen to this debate. Where else would you rather be on a Friday afternoon than sitting right here in the House debating and talking about and to a budget that was put forward by the government which seems to put as many spins as possible on it.

However, after having spent time in our ridings and time visiting the country we now recognize full well that there is very little support for this budget and very little that Canadians would like to say in a positive vein about the budget.

I will touch on a couple of points but I first would like to say that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance is deluding himself and living in a bit of a dream world when he tries to put the spin of having this budget accepted, not only the majority of priorities within the budget but the one with respect to infrastructure.

The individual himself, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, at one point in time being the president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, certainly would have been singing a different tune. He would have been suggesting that the government has let down the municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities with the absolute sorry contribution that it has made to the infrastructure program.

As a matter of fact, yesterday I had the opportunity of dropping into an executive meeting of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities. These are people I know and the member for Oak Ridges knows. The very first thing these local politicians, people who have the real finger on the pulse of what is going on, not only in their communities but certainly within the province of Manitoba, asked me was, “Is it not a travesty that we were perceived to have been promised so much from this federal government with respect to infrastructure and we received so little?”

They went on to say that there was such a desperate need for infrastructure dollars that they were actually embarrassed with the inability or the lack of funding that came forward in this budget with respect to infrastructure.

I can also say that my leader had a meeting with the mayor of Winnipeg who sits on the big city mayors' caucus. He also echoed the comments of the AMM, where he said that they were led to believe that there would be sufficient help in putting the infrastructure dollars into municipalities but that again they were very disappointed. Some $15 billion is needed to put infrastructure back into place. Right now there is $3 billion that was identified over 10 years, but of that $3 billion is a special infrastructure fund, one that is called strategic, which normally, if one were to look in a Liberal dictionary, we would see that the special or strategic infrastructure fund usually means political pork-barrelling infrastructure funds so that they can pick and choose perhaps the ridings, perhaps the contractors or perhaps the consultants they want to use for these projects. Unfortunately, there really is a lack of control and accountability on those dollars in the strategic fund.

Not only that, let us analyze this: $15 billion just from the cities themselves for infrastructure, but next year for budget year 2003-04, there is $100 million. I understand the Liberals are thinking of bumping that up. I do not know to what levels just yet but I know there has been some talk of bumping that up. However let us assume that it will be twice as much, and that would be about enough to do one major project of water and sewer.

Budgets are important and are necessary to identify priorities. I have a soft spot in my heart for the infrastructure priorities, not only for municipalities in sewer and water, but we see it now in the issue of what is going on in Iraq. The three major issues facing the people of Iraq right now are water, sanitation and transportation. That is what is necessary in our own communities, safe water, sanitation and sewage, and transportation; the roads, the bridges and the ability to move goods and services and people, not only within our communities but across the border, because that is what our economic lifeblood depends on.

The government certainly does not see that as being a necessity. What it sees as a necessity for the expenditure of these dollars are wonderful policy programs such as the gun registry which has wasted $1 billion. The government says it has not wasted it, that it is an investment of $1 billion in a registry that certainly will not be able to provide any return on that investment.

Certainly this is one policy direction all Canadians would like to see them stop spending the money on, yet it continues to throw the taxpayers' good, hard cash into that black hole. It is not prepared to put it into what I consider to be a priority, which is infrastructure, sewers, water, bridges and the like. The government's priorities seem to be different from our priorities.

In talking of infrastructure there is another area that has a soft spot in my heart. I have put forward a private member's bill to the House with respect to a national highways program.

It is very important to understand that the federal government has abdicated its responsibility. It takes no responsibility, no jurisdiction whatsoever of a national highways program.

There are many interprovincial and interconnecting highways, one in particular being the Trans-Canada Highway. In my province there are no dollars, zero dollars that go from the federal government into the capital costs for rebuilding or reconstructing that highway into a twinned highway, or for that matter the operating or maintenance costs for that highway. Those are totally provincial dollars that go into maintaining a national infrastructure, the national highway system.

I do not know if members are aware of this but there is a wonderful in today's newspaper. Canada is the only country in the G-8 that does not have a national highways policy. We are the only country in the G-8 that does not put any money back into a national highways program so that goods and services can move from point to point.

There is an organization in this country called the Canadian Trucking Alliance. If the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance wants to stick his head in the sand, I am sure he will not be happy to hear this, but the Canadian Trucking Alliance has been extremely disappointed with the lack of government direction on the national highways policy.

The United States has done a wonderful job. That federal government has decided unilaterally to put dollars into that infrastructure because it is absolutely mandatory that the lifeline and the lifeblood of the federal government in the United States remain open. As a matter of fact, our truckers now are using that highway system in the United States because it is certainly far superior than what ours is here in Canada.

I put forward a private member's bill and suggested that two cents per litre, which is half of the excise tax, be allocated to the funding of that national highways program. It was defeated on the floor of the House because the federal government obviously does not want to see that as a priority.

The federal government collects in excess of $4 billion in excise taxes on gasoline. It is probably more now because the price of gasoline has increased quite dramatically. It also collects the GST. However, of the excise tax of $4 billion being collected, none of it goes back into the infrastructure that it comes from. None of it goes into the highway system.

If we did not have the highways, as we are seeing now in pictures from Iraq, believe me, goods and services would not be moved to the necessary points. That is what we are facing right now in Canada. It is absolutely despicable that the government's budget does not speak to that infrastructure.

There is so much more I would like to talk about. One point would obviously be the mismanagement by the government. I have already mentioned in passing the $1 billion that was spent on the gun registry which could have gone into infrastructure, health or something else.

There is also the $1 billion that has been wasted on the EH-101s which the government did not purchase. It has invested $1 billion into helicopters, but it does not have any helicopters. The government wasted a $1 billion of taxpayers' money. That money could have gone into the highway system, the health care system or the education system.

There is so much that we could say is wrong with the budget. Unfortunately, there is not enough time to put all of what is wrong on the table.

Agriculture probably will be a mere shadow of itself after the government gets through with it. The starting point is April 1. The government has failed to deal with that issue. I feel very sorry for people who are involved in that industry because there is absolutely no assistance from the government.