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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was reform.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia (Manitoba)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements And Federal Post-Secondary Education And Health Contributions Act February 9th, 1994

Madam Speaker, of course we have serious problems in the country, including the good province of Quebec. I would not suggest for a moment that we overlook some of the serious human problems that arise from unemployment and other difficulties we have in the economy.

All I was trying to suggest in my earlier remarks was that one cannot measure this great country, this Confederation, in financial terms alone. There is a lot more to this country than raw data, raw figures and raw numbers. The Bloc is rather myopic in this and perhaps cannot see through the barrier that it has placed in front of it, but if it would try to evaluate this country in a more wholesome way and take into account all the elements that make up the country it would come to a much more positive assessment of Canada.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements And Federal Post-Secondary Education And Health Contributions Act February 9th, 1994

Madam Speaker, all I want to say is that the Bloc suffers from double vision and I suggest it should see a doctor.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements And Federal Post-Secondary Education And Health Contributions Act February 9th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments of my hon. friend from Calgary West. I am glad he supports the principle of equalization. I did overlook the matter of drafting in the NHL. However when it comes to straight financial arrangements there is no equalization.

With respect to Manitoba's share under the equalization program, my good friend from Calgary is suggesting that perhaps Manitoba is not treated as well as Saskatchewan. I am not prepared to give an evaluation right here and now about that. Earlier today in question period the Prime Minister pointed out that this is a very complicated formula.

I would like to say this to my friend from Calgary. I do not think that equalization can be all things to all people. It cannot be the panacea or the answer for every fiscal problem faced by the federal government or by the provinces.

I would just point out one thing to my hon. friend. When it comes to western stabilization or the famous Crow rate, western farmers share in that program to the tune of $700 million, somewhere in that neighbourhood.

That is a program for western farmers. We are all in favour of it. As far as I know, people in Newfoundland do not share in it. People in Nova Scotia do not share in it and so it goes. People in Quebec do not share in it.

What I am getting at is that while perhaps equalization does not take care of every difficulty that we have in this Confederation, we do have other programs. If the speaker is asking whether we should not revisit the formula that is used under equalization, no, I would not bury my head in the sand. If that is what he is asking it is fine and dandy with me.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements And Federal Post-Secondary Education And Health Contributions Act February 9th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I was not expecting to speak at this time, but I certainly welcome the opportunity to talk about the equalization program.

As I said yesterday, the equalization program as we know it embodies some of the great ideals and great values of Canadians. I cannot think of a much greater ideal under our democracy than sharing one's wealth, sharing one's resources. It is an ideal and a value that all of us cherish. It recognizes that there are those provinces and those people who perhaps have it a little better than others. It may not always be that way.

It had been my experience that the province of Ontario was the fat cat province. We always looked on Ontario as rich, with plenty of people, the home of manufacturing, the leading province, certainly the leading English speaking province. We expected Ontarians to share some of that wealth with the rest of Canadians. It was always very laudatory on the part of Ontarians that they wanted to do that. They wanted to share their resources and their wealth.

In the last three or four years things have not been going so well for Ontario. In relative terms it is still a rich province but it has not been doing as well as in the 1940s, the 1950s, the 1960s and the 1970s. At certain periods of our national life some provinces contribute to other provinces that are not doing so well. That is why I am a very strong supporter of equalization and of this equalization program.

It was pointed out by one of the Reform speakers yesterday, and I appreciated his comments, that the proposal put forward in the bill by the finance minister gives the program an element of certainty. We are going to know for the next five years what this program is all about. We may not be totally happy with the floor

or the ceiling that is set but as least we know for the next five years where we are going with respect to equalization payments. Right now it is in the $8 billion range and the projections under the five-year figures put it at about $10 billion.

Let me say one other thing as I talk about equalization and this element of caring and sharing under it. There are others in our society that could learn a lot from the government about equalization.

What comes to mind is the National Hockey League. We know there are a number of NHL cities in the country that are scared to death they will lose their NHL franchises. The city of Winnipeg where I come from is one. Even though Edmonton has won five Stanley Cups and in the last 15 years has been one of the most prosperous and talented teams in the NHL there is even concern about the Edmonton Oilers moving. In fact Mr. Pocklington who owns the team has been trying for more than a year to move it. I do not think Quebec City is in a much different situation.

What I am getting to is that the NHL does not have equalization. I suspect the NHL is run by a bunch of right wingers who believe in dog eat dog, everybody for himself and take whatever you can. That is what they have been doing. But it certainly works against the best interests of smaller cities. There is no doubt that if the NHL does not deal with this problem, if it does not put a cap on players' salaries or if the NHL does not deal with some of the financial problems, smaller cities like Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Quebec City will not be able to keep that financial pace. They will ultimately lose out and those franchises will move to larger markets in the United States.

I bring this up only because there are others in Canada who can learn a lesson from equalization. I cannot imagine this Canada without equalization. I cannot imagine not helping the province of Newfoundland, or the province of New Brunswick, or my home province of Manitoba.

My province geographically speaking is smack dab in the middle of the country but we are in terms of wealth a have less province. I do not say have not. I do not like that term. I say have less. However, thanks to equalization and other transfer payments of one kind or another, Manitobans can expect a certain standard of living, a certain standard of services thanks to a vision that our forefathers had a long time ago. I am very proud of that.

In conclusion, I want to say that I am very glad the government has re-enunciated its commitment to equalization. We know where we are going for the next five years. It is very important. We have heard this from a number of government agencies, not only from provinces. They want to know where we are taking them. They want to know where they stand. I think that is very reasonable.

I support Bill C-3 and I hope we can move forward with it very quickly.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements And Federal Post-Secondary Education And Health Contributions Act February 9th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I am very glad we can have some lighter moments in the House, even after listening to some nonsense from separatists.

The previous speaker's comments relating to equalization payments were replete with data, numbers, all kinds of figures suggesting how the province of Quebec was getting the shaft in Confederation. I would invite the previous speaker from the Bloc to go beyond equalization payments. I can assure her there is a lot more to Canada and a lot more to equalization payments than sharing in the national wealth. It has to do with Canadians sharing in the entire cultural life of the country, sharing in its full experiences. That is what Canada is all about. It is not just raw numbers and raw figures as the Bloc suggests. I would invite these people to look beyond these narrow figures, which I suggest are placed in a context that really makes for a bogus argument, a bogus presentation.

I would also say this. Yes, all of us are ignorant. One would think after listening to the Bloc that the only thing Quebecers are concerned about is how they are being shafted in Confederation and their preoccupations with the Constitution. I do not pretend to be an expert on Quebec but I know there is much more to that province and certainly much more to Quebecers than any concern about the Constitution and certain financial arrangements.

I would also say the same thing about people who come from the other nine provinces. We do not know enough about Quebec. We ought to learn a lot more.

I really appreciated the comments of the member for Broadview-Greenwood. We can do a much better job of telling the Canadian story. I have always been a critic of the CBC, even though I worked there for 18 years. In a way the CBC enforces or perpetuates the two solitudes. We have an English language network and a French language network and neither comes together which is very unfortunate.

I would like to see many more exchanges, French language programs appearing on the English television network and vice versa-

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements And Federal Post-Secondary Education And Health Contributions Act February 8th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of observations and a question. Maybe I can allude to the question and then go on to the observation.

I appreciated the remarks of the previous speaker with respect to this matter and especially Bill C-3. I want him to elaborate a little with respect to his comments on programs outside of the equalization program.

Perhaps I misunderstood him but the message I got was that the hon. member supported the notion of equalization within the ambit of what we call the equalization program. Then he began to raise questions about the notion of equalization as a principle as it pertains to other programs and he specifically mentioned a couple of programs. One in particular was the RRAP. If I recall correctly he pointed out that on a per capita basis Newfoundland was getting about $12, Alberta about $2, and Ontario even less.

It makes me wonder if he is saying that equalization is fine insofar as the large equalization program is concerned, but when it comes to specific programs, RRAP for example, that we should not consider equalization at all, that we should just throw it out the window. Also, if we use population as a basis Alberta will get whatever its share is according to population and Ontario the same and Manitoba the same. That is what I am beginning to wonder.

I do think that equalization as we understand it embodies the highest ideals of this country. It reflects our society, that being a caring and sharing one. It says we are one country. We are not two countries; we are one and everyone is going to be treated equally in so far as some of these basic programs are concerned.

As I listened to the previous speaker from the Bloc a few minutes ago I thought that it must be embarrassing for a separatist in this House to be participating in this kind of a debate. Embarrassing. In fact to participate would suggest that the participants are almost shameless because when we talk about equalization we are talking about the benefits of Canada, the benefits of the citizenship of the country. That is what equalization is about: As Canadians they are treated by their federal government with a particular standard of respect. It does not matter where they live, in Newfoundland, Alberta, Quebec or wherever, they are going to be treated with respect and with a certain touch of equality. Imagine the kind of embarrassment

those people must be feeling right now because they want to shove that all aside.

I want to get back to the previous speaker from the Reform Party because I want a little more clarity. I think the member understood my question. Is he suggesting more or less disregarding equalization outside of this program called equalization?

Social Security System February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments made by the previous speaker.

I would like the member to elaborate a bit more, if he can, on what he calls real taxpayers. If I am hearing him correctly he is suggesting that if we just listened to real taxpayers we would be more apt to make the right decisions. I would like to hear a more explicit definition of a real taxpayer.

How do we take conflicting advice? I would suggest his constituents are not unlike mine. I can assure the previous speaker that I have, as he calls them, many ordinary taxpayers, ordinary citizens and ordinary Canadians in my riding. They disagree on how to move the country forward.

Constituents are not monolithic. They are not of one mind. They are the macro of this institution. We are the micro. We reflect the opinions and views of Canadians. We come here with all the conflicting views and philosophies. We fight it out, most of the time verbally, to get the job done.

Constituents are not much different. I can assure this new member that he will be receiving conflicting advice from his constituents every day that he sits in Parliament. He will be receiving advice on taking a collective approach on certain issues, sometimes the laissez-faire approach, sometimes the government approach and sometimes the individual approach.

What I am leading to is that the member should try not to be so simplistic in his approach or advice to this institution and other Canadians. He should just listen to Canadians. Canadians are divided. At the end of the day after we hear the conflicting views and advice we have to make a judgment. That is what Burke was saying 200 years ago. We are obliged to offer our constituents our judgment.

We cannot be robots because the constituents are pressing different buttons. They are pressing different buttons every day. They are telling us to go this way and they are telling us to go that way. Yet I hear the Reform Party say: "No, our constituents are of one mind. They are of one opinion. They are monolithic". That is baloney and I think they have to come to grips with that. I want you to respond to that.

Petitions February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is my duty to present a petition on behalf of more than two dozen citizens, most of whom live in my riding of Winnipeg-St. James. Pursuant to Standing Order 36 the document has been certified correct as to form and content.

The petition reflects the concern these people have regarding the language policy of the federal government. It proposes a referendum on the issue. This would be a national referendum involving all electors in the provinces and territories.

I humbly present this petition to Parliament for its due consideration.

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

Maybe you should move to east Los Angeles.

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

I did not suggest you did not.