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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was debate.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Conservative MP for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 41% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Bankruptcy Legislation October 28th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I respect the position you have taken on this, but because this is private members' business I would seek the unanimous consent of the House to declare the vote on this motion invalid and to defer it to a vote on another occasion to be determined by the whips.

Supply October 28th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I notice the motion is worded very carefully. I would like the member to clarify that he associates child pornography with pictures, writings or whatever that actually have a real victim rather than the meanderings of some people writing or drawing in their own private home. There has to be a real victim.

Open Government Act October 28th, 2003

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-462, an act to amend the Access to Information Act and to make amendments to other Acts.

Mr. Speaker, this is a private member's bill that is the result of all party cooperation from backbench MPs extending over several years it will dramatically overhaul the current Access to Information Act and extend its reach to include all crown corporations and government agencies, government funded non-profit organizations, the Senate, the House of Commons, the Library of Parliament, ministers and their exempt staffs, officers of Parliament, cabinet confidences and government opinion polling, among other things.

This bill I think is very much in order in the temper of the times and I think, Mr. Speaker, you will find that most members will support it.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Encroachment upon Quebec Jurisdictions October 27th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I certainly think a great deal more needs to be said on the motion and I want to add a few words to it.

While the other member was speaking, he referred many times to Quebec as a nation. I think it will be very helpful for Canadians of both languages across the country to appreciate that in English and French there is a very significant distinction in the definition of nation.

I was just looking at the definition in the 2003 edition of Le Petit Larousse comparing it to the pocket Oxford Dictionary , which is also on the table in the House. In every respect the definition in English and French is almost exactly the same. Nation, both in English and French, is defined as a community of people, people who share the common heritage, linguistic unity and that sort of thing.

However there is one major difference between the English definition of nation and the French definition of nation. In the English definition it states very clearly that nation implies a state, political boundaries. In the French definition there is no reference to state whatsoever.

I think it is extremely important for Canadians across the land, particularly English speaking Canadians, to appreciate that when our French speaking colleagues talk about nation, which has, shall we say, almost an incendiary effect upon we Canadians who are strong federalists, we must understand that they are not speaking in terms of a separate political entity. That is most important.

I go back to the days of the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords, long before I became a member of Parliament. I was extremely distressed during those debates on the use of the word nation and its implication in English that this did represent separate political communities.

I think we can acknowledge that when my Bloc colleagues talk about nation, they are really talking about the cultural, linguistic, historical people, so to speak, and not in fact about separating the French speaking nation from the rest of Canada. Indeed, the French speaking nation in Canada goes beyond the borders of Quebec and encompasses the francophones in New Brunswick, Ontario and elsewhere.

With that point being clarified, let me say one further thing. I cannot support the motion even though I appreciate where it is coming historically with my colleagues from the Bloc opposite. The reason that I cannot support the motion is the idea, and it is a long held idea, that if any group that defines itself as a nation in the country has jurisdiction over one particular aspect of life, like education or whatever, and the federal government wishes to introduce a program in that area, then that nation, province or whatever community we are talking about should have the ability to reject that program and be compensated.

I have no problem with rejecting a federally instigated program. What I have a problem with is the concept that one should automatically get compensation. I cannot agree with that. I extend the idea or the concept of nation beyond those who speak French to the first nations, for example.

Across the country, we have, although I do not know how many altogether, but it must be at least 30 or 40 aboriginal groups that are identified by a different language. Forget about the fact that they are aboriginal. The reality is that we have more different nations of aboriginals in this country than there are nations in Europe. If we were to apply what is being proposed in the motion before the House, that a nation should be able to reject a federal program and receive compensation to put up its own program, then we would have to apply that rule to all the first nations in the country.

This is where the equality thing comes in. I have great confidence that the portion of the French speaking nation in Canada, which constitutes Quebec, does have the expertise and ability to administer and run a program very competently. Indeed, we have seen time and again where a Quebec program has been run better than a similar program with a similar aim in other parts of the country.

However the unfortunate thing is that under the current constitution, and maybe it requires a constitutional change, the motion that is before the House would have to be applied to the first nations and the reality is that many of these first nation communities are very small and do not have the management skills, and the tradition of democracy for that matter, that would enable them to reject a federal program and receive compensation.

I appreciate where my colleagues in the Bloc are coming from on the motion and I have a lot of sympathy for it. I certainly think it is extremely important for the country to maintain the French language traditions. It is more than language. I have always thought of our francophone heritage as the heart and soul of the country. Our English speaking heritage tends to be the pragmatist and the mind of the country, but the heart of the country is, I believe, in those who look to the past to old Quebec.

I am an historian and I read French as well as English. I am very conscious and sensitive to the historical contribution to the character of Canada that has been a part of the traditions that are expressed by my Bloc colleagues opposite. In the end, however, as long as we believe in the Constitution and in the interest of equality of all nations within Canada, I cannot support the motion.

United Nations Day October 24th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, today is United Nations Day. It is a pleasure for me to tell the House how important this organization is to Canada.

We feel that multilateral cooperation is the best way to ensure long term international security.

The UN has experienced numerous difficulties in the past year. As a result, there are many questions about the organization's role and operation.

It is essential that the UN remain at the centre of the international response to the challenges the world is now facing.

Canada will continue to support it in that role.

Supply October 23rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, there is only one cabinet and only one Prime Minister. The problem may be that the Liberal caucus is not giving full support to some issues being considered in the House and in committees.

However, there is only one government and if members opposite want to argue to the contrary, they are free to do so, but it will not change anything. The government is the government.

Supply October 23rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, it is very simple; my wife also tells me that I do not know how to dance.

Supply October 23rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I have to disagree with the member opposite.

A prime minister gets his mandate from the people when he leads his party to an election, wins a majority and then takes his place. That is why I said that when we get a situation where leaders change while a government is in office, then an election is immediately called. That is why the member for LaSalle—Émard or the member for Hamilton East, should they win the leadership, would be expected to call an election. I do not think that would be in the public interest in that Bill C-24 does not kick in until January 1.

So no, I have to reject the premise of the member opposite.

Supply October 23rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.

I rise to defend my Prime Minister. When I say that, you, Mr. Speaker, will know well from your experience in the House that I am one backbench MP who has many times disagreed with my Prime Minister, many times spoken in the House against my leader's legislation, and many times expressed in the most candid way that not always has the government policy been correct, although by and large, obviously, because I am on this side and not on that side, I believe it to be so.

The reason why actually I take some satisfaction in standing here with the motion and defending my Prime Minister is that I believe it is incumbent on a team and the members of the team always to support their leaders, so long as they have confidence in those leaders, and I certainly have confidence in the current Prime Minister.

If I have time I will make allusion to some of his successes in the past, which include reducing the debt by $100 billion, turning back the forces that would split the country apart, the forces of separatism, and most importantly, the position he took on Iraq, which led Canada away from a traditional course and into a new course of independence in foreign affairs that I think will reverberate down through the ages.

It is not easy being a leader. I think one of the characteristics of a good leader is the ability to make decisions knowing full well that from time to time a mistake will be made. It is not easy, sometimes, to make these decisions and be brave. It is easy in hindsight or easy to sit on the side benches or from behind the curtains to second guess the decisions of a leader, but the reality is that to lead is a difficult task. So long as we, the members of the team, have confidence in that leader, then we should be supporting him. I do so now.

Let me address two points that have come up in this debate. One is the question of why the Prime Minister chose to leave in February 2004 rather than at some earlier time. I was there at Chicoutimi about 14 months ago at the national caucus meeting where the Prime Minister announced that he would leave in February 2004. Now, I have watched this person for a very long time and I understand his knowledge of the House, and I have acquired some knowledge of the House myself. You will appreciate, Mr. Speaker, that February is a very appropriate time because it is budget month and budgets for the government are prepared 11 months in advance.

So in fact, in February the presentation of the budget marks the end of a year of governance. Reading the current Prime Minister's mind, I am sure he would think that February would be an appropriate time to leave office because he would obviously have the satisfaction of leaving government in very good shape, because as we know from the current finance minister's remarks yesterday, it does appear that we are going to continue with a surplus situation. This means that the current Prime Minister is going to leave the financial situation of the country in good state and I think I can say quite confidently that this would be part of his strategy to ensure that his successor, whoever that might be, will have the best ammunition possible to go forward in the next election.

There is a second reason, which I think came up subsequently to his original choice of February, as to why the current Prime Minister would want to stay on until the new year, even though the convention date at which the party will pick a new leader is in mid-November. I refer to Bill C-24, the political financing act, which kicks in on January 1, 2004. This legislation overhauls and reforms much of the political financing mechanisms that are used at the federal level.

In fact, the federal Parliament had fallen well behind many of the provincial legislatures in terms of the transparency and the rules that should apply to political financing of riding associations, political parties and so on and so forth. Obviously not only would the Prime Minister want to see the next election fought under these new rules, the only way he could be certain of that would be to stay in office at least until the new year.

I am not suggesting that his successor would not want to fight an election under these reformed political financing rules, but the reality is that in the debate on Bill C-24 there were a lot of reservations among MPs on this side of the House and on the opposition side.

The reality is that a new leader chosen in mid-November would come under immediate pressure, no doubt about it, to call an election at that time. By staying on until the new year, the current Prime Minister guarantees that his successor does not have to deal with that type of pressure and that his successor can, in an orderly fashion, work toward preparing himself for his new role as the prime minister.

There has also been quite a bit of debate here that in this sort of interregnum period we are in right now government legislation and government operations are stalled. I think that we on this side of the House have to be candid and admit that this is indeed, to some degree, the case. Some legislation has been stalled. We are not advancing forward as quickly as we should on some bills. I particularly refer to Bill C-7, the Indian accountability bill, which is a very important bill. Also, the citizenship bill is stalled as well in committee, and there are other examples like that.

But I do not think that we can lay the blame either on the current Prime Minister or on his possible successor, because what has really happened is that my colleagues on this side are experiencing something they have never experienced before, and that is a leadership race, which always, I am told, because this is my first experience, activates loyalties, because politics and leadership races are very partisan processes. I think that some members on the Liberal side have indeed had trouble understanding where their loyalties should lie while this debate goes on.

I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that the weakness that the opposition is seeing is really a certain amount of confusion among my colleagues. That confusion is reflected sometimes in the lack of attendance at question period and sometimes in the lack of participation in open debate.

I am absolutely confident that after November 15 when the question of party leadership is settled and it is very clear that there will be a change in prime minister in three months, I fully expect my colleagues will have no problem then differentiating between the party leader and the prime minister.

I would expect, Mr. Speaker, that you can look forward to an active Parliament, not a Parliament that is dismissed, not a Parliament that is prorogued, but MPs who are willing on this side to continue to tackle aggressively the issues of the day. I am very confident that it has been simply a questionof a new experience where suddenly members of the Liberal caucus have a sense of divided loyalties, but that shall pass.

Finally, I would just like to reiterate that the Bloc motion makes it very clear that even the Prime Minister's traditional political enemies in terms of separatism acknowledge that this Prime Minister has earned the right to go when he chooses. I think the NDP is correct in supporting this side, which will most assuredly defeat this motion.

Supply October 23rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, more along the line of a comment, the member opposite made a suggestion that the current Prime Minister might want to sabotage the chances of his successors. I have to say that in my entire 10 years of experience under the current Prime Minister, he always, always puts the country first. He would never, ever in any sense, make things difficult for his successor if it in any way had an impact on the country.

I would point out to the member opposite that if he would make such an allusion, he should consider making a similar allusion to his former party leader and prime minister, who came under tremendous criticism from Canadians and who lost massively in the election of 1993. I do not believe for one second that that previous Conservative prime minister ever would have sabotaged the chances of the nation for his own personal animosities or personal peccadillos.

I think it was a cheap shot and the member should reconsider his remark.