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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was reform.

Last in Parliament September 2002, as Liberal MP for Saint Boniface (Manitoba)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 52% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Social Security System February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague. He has raised a number of excellent questions.

First, I agree with him completely when he says that we have to help the less fortunate any way we can. As for francophones outside Quebec who presumably have benefited from their association with the federal government, I would simply like to remind my hon. friend that all of us have at some time or another, for different reasons, benefited from the federal government, not just francophones outside Quebec. Perhaps I misunderstood, but listening to him, I got the feeling that because there are not many of us and because we are scattered across the country, we need the federal government. Look, we have been fighting for a long time for our language and culture, and we are doing a good job of it, even if there are only a handful of us. Yes, it is true that we need the government from time to time, but I assure you we can stand on our own two feet.

As for the existence, supposedly, of two factions within the party, let me say that we are a united party. We may have our differences. I have three daughters and I can assure you that, while I raised them all the same way, there are differences nevertheless. In spite of this, we are a family and we love one another a great deal. I love them a lot and I hope the reverse is also true.

Therefore, please do not compare the Liberals with the Reform Party, because such a comparison could make me seriously ill. We want to improve upon existing measures. A Liberal looks at an existing measure and thinks about possible improvements. That is what we want to do.

Lastly, my hon. colleague speaks of Quebec and yes, occasionally, even of Canada. Even my young colleague who made an excellent speech earlier mentioned all of Canada, as did others. But you must do so more often. You are the official opposition and must speak for all of Canada. When you see a problem outside Quebec, you should speak about it because you sit in opposition, I hope, on behalf of all Canadians.

Social Security System February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to be given the opportunity to address this question because it is one of the more important ones that we will be discussing for several months no doubt during this 35th Parliament.

There are a number of basic questions that we need to study together in the spirit of co-operation and openness. Obviously we bring forth different values and different views. I accept that and respect it.

Perhaps the first and most fundamental question for me concerns what programs we need as a nation in order to respond in a very generous and fair way to Canadians in need?

That begs another question immediately. Who identified these Canadians in need and who defines what a particular need is? Clearly the government has a great responsibility in doing that. It has also indicated by virtue of the debates that is has held on a number of questions such as peacemaking, cruise missiles, the pre-budget debate and this debate that it is interested in the views of all parliamentarians. The government is to be applauded for having taken this initiative.

What the Liberals want is a restructuring of our programs to meet more needs with greater efficiency. I would hope that we can embrace that priority, that goal, that objective. This is the Liberal position and this is what we, as members of the government, are going to fight to have happen.

Without being malicious or unkind, as I understand the various comments that have been made, the NDP, for example, and I can speak primarily of Manitoba because its members are more numerous there proportionately speaking than they have been in the House, is really saying do not touch anything. Do not touch any of the social programs.

I am sure there will be a number of members who will be anxious to correct me if I misinterpret the Reform Party. I would welcome that. The Reform Party has been described by other colleagues as cut, cut, cut or slash and burn. Those are not my words but I have repeated them. I would prefer to be a bit more dignified and say dismantle and rebuild. Perhaps it comes to the same thing.

It seems to me that we have already been told that all the Bloc Quebecois does is talk about is Quebec. I do understand how important Quebec is for the Bloc, but it should remember that it is the Official Opposition and that, as such, it must speak for all Canadians, and represent them all, from coast to coast.

Quebec, or rather the Bloc Quebecois, is asking for a transfer to Quebec, with no strings attached. But this raises the following fundamental question: Why only to Quebec? It seems to me that overlapping and duplication represent a problem not only in Quebec, but also in the rest of Canada.

Overlapping and duplication happen in two ways: between the federal government, the provinces and territories, and within each jurisdiction; and within the federal government, the provinces, the territories, and sometimes even within municipal governments. Co-ordination does not always exist even within a province or a region. The fact is that we have three levels of government, where overlapping does occur, and the issue is not raised often enough.

Members on all sides want to get rid of overlapping which is very costly for Canadians. Why? So that we can respond in a better, more efficient way to the needs of all Canadians.

There have been some references this morning with respect to child care. I want to remind all members that the Liberal Party of Canada which has been chosen by Canadians to govern has made a commitment to child care. It is a very responsible one, up to 50,000 places per year to a total of 150,000 providing the economy grows at 3 per cent or more.

In the current economic situation in which we find ourselves, with a debt which has exceed $500 billion and a deficit in the rage of $45 billion, surely linking this kind of program for those most in need with those particular conditions, 3 per cent growth, is a responsible decision.

When we talk about funding our social programs it seems to me that we cannot avoid talking of taxation, revenues and expenditures. One option is to reduce, cut, slash, call it what you will. Another is to recognize the fundamental issue, on which we are all in agreement, that the middle class in particular feels that it cannot bear any more taxes. It is angry. There is anger out there.

However, there is another issue and I do not say it in an arrogant and pompous way. Are there others out there who are not paying their fair share? It is true that there are influential and rich families able to shield millions or perhaps even billions of dollars? Should we be asking questions such as should there be an inheritance tax in this country?

Is it true as well that there is money being transferred to other countries and being shielded, at least in part, from taxes being paid to Canada for the benefit of all Canadians? Is it true, and I believe it is, that there are Canadians who earn substantial sums of money each year but who pay no taxes? Is that fair? Is it equally true that there are profitable corporations that pay no taxes or virtually no taxes?

If there is some truth to all the questions I have raised, and I have not even raised the whole question of the black market economy which apparently if everyone were paying taxes according to the rules would probably eliminate the deficit, is it any wonder that Canadians are saying just a minute, why is it that the government cannot get money from those sources that are not paying their fair share?

I invite all of my colleagues, and I say this in a very serious way, to share their ideas openly in this debate. I recognize that there are divergent views. That is what democracy is all about. I believe that is what a strong democracy is all about.

We should all try to come at least to some basic agreement on what we are trying to do. It seems to me that while we may vary in our approaches to how this might be done, what we collectively want to do is identify the Canadians in need and define conditions under which they can be helped.

If we can do that I believe that putting forward the mechanisms, the programs to respond to that will be much easier.

Whether we are from the Bloc Quebecois, with a particular orientation, or other parties in which we believe in a Canada as a whole with some improvements to what we have, which is probably the finest country in the world, I have always wondered why one would ever want to change something that is the finest. Perhaps some day after having listened a bit more I shall come to some sort of understanding.

I would like everyone to make a commitment to look at social programs, look at taxation, look at the fundamental issues facing this whole country in such a way as to build a better country for all Canadians.

Social Security System February 3rd, 1994

Why would you do that?

Social Security System February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to congratulate my colleague on her address. I listened attentively and I appreciate a number of the comments. I agree wholeheartedly that most Canadian taxpayers really believe they pay too much-and I also believe that they do-and there is anger out there. They are angry.

My question is not a trick question. It is a very important one to me. I am trying to find out whether or not it is true that rich and influential families can in fact shield some or a great part of their wealth through trust funds. If it is true that a certain number of wealthy Canadians pay no taxes at all, that a number of profitable corporations supposedly pay no taxes, that clever people with the human resources as well as other resources are able to shield or protect some of their money by taking it to foreign countries, is it still appropriate then to ignore these people or perhaps ask them to pay their fair share?

Thereby we probably would improve the economic health of the country and help to protect those programs we have. It does not mean they need not be changed in order to be more efficient.

Would my colleague care to comment on that?

Petitions February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition pointing out that single income families with special needs children have not only a unique challenge but incur extra expenditures in raising their child or children.

Often one or other of the parents have no choice but to stay at home. Frequently the children must be sent to specialized day care centres incurring extra costs, sometimes significant extra costs.

These petitioners believe that the current system of taxation is unfair to them. They would like a review by the government of this particular situation as it looks at all of the difficulties and the unfairness that exists in our tax system.

Pre-Budget Consultations February 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask but one question and I will do it briefly because I see other colleagues want to raise some as well.

The hon. member who has just spoken will realize that the Liberal Party formed the government because it had the largest vote of any other party in the last federal election. During that election the Liberals stated that we wanted as a first priority to create jobs. We put forward a job creation plan in the short term to boost the economy immediately, the infrastructure program. We laid out our long term program: the youth corps and more apprenticeships, ensuring that small and medium sized businesses have the climate to permit them to create jobs as they have during the last decade. They create over 85 per cent of new jobs.

I have a specific question. Is the hon. member now questioning, subsequent to the election, the wisdom of Canadian people in having elected the Liberals as a majority government? We said that jobs were our first priority. Is he suggesting, now that we have been elected, that we should now change that? He did say, if I recall correctly, that we should not be spending on the infrastructure program because it would simply increase the debt and it would not really make any significant difference. His leader made similar comments. Whose side is he on? Is it the people's side or his party's side?

Speech From The Throne January 28th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his passionate address with respect to a very important issue.

I have three brief questions that would perhaps help the discussion. He pointed out if my memory serves me correctly that 32 people have been killed by 23 individuals who had been paroled. As he indicated, even one death is one too many. Does he know how many overall have been paroled? In other words, these 23 parolees he speaks of are what percentage of all parolees? I do not know if he has that information.

There is another point I want to raise as a question. He indicated a need to improve the system. Of course all colleagues from all parties would agree that that is so. In fact, we made a commitment to do that in our electoral platform and it was repeated again in the speech from the throne.

Is he indicating that better appointments and better rules are necessary? I thought it was a suggestion that appointments would be the main ingredient there.

Finally, I had an independent study group of qualified individuals look at rates of crime in an attempt to see whether or not they correlated with capital punishment. In other words, in countries where there is capital punishment and in those where there is not, was there a correlation between rates of crime? It varied up and down. Sometimes it was yes and sometimes it was no.

I was wondering whether or not the hon. member had any credible studies which showed that if there were to be capital punishment in this country that all of a sudden violence-quite apart from the violence that the state of course would become involved in-would decrease.

Poverty January 28th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the city of Winnipeg has the highest percentage of low income households in western Canada. Twelve thousand households use food banks every month, almost three times as many as in 1990.

Unfortunately there has been a collective growth in the number of people using food banks across the country.

More than 60 per cent of single-parent families live below the poverty line. We know full well that children who live in such miserable conditions are unable to realize their full potential in school and are more likely to contract infectious diseases.

While the two-pronged approach to job creation offered by the government's platform as well as other specific programs is not a panacea, it will address this lamentable situation and boost the standard of living of thousands of Canadians currently living below the poverty line.

Only through the creation of jobs will the quality of life improve for these unfortunate Canadians.

Speech From The Throne January 28th, 1994

He is right, you know.

Petitions January 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have one petition to present this morning. The petitioners point out that single income families with special needs children should be eligible to claim child care expenses on their income tax. They feel these families are discriminated against for their decision to remain at home with their children.

They point out that there is often a significant cost incurred by families advised by physicians to place their children in day care centres catering to special needs children and these costs remain the same whether the family has a single or double income.

The petitioners believe this policy is unfair and discriminatory. They ask that it be reviewed and if possible that something be done in the forthcoming budget.