Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was horse.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as Liberal MP for Lanark—Carleton (Ontario)

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

Statements in the House

Petitions March 27th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present to the House today pursuant to Standing Order 36.

The petitioners are asking that Parliament not amend the human rights code, the Canadian Human Rights Act or the charter of rights and freedoms in any way that would tend to indicate societal approval of same sex relationships or of homosexuality.

Agriculture March 24th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I am rising today to speak against Motion No. 314.

Let me begin by reminding members of this House that according to the hon. member for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre, and I quote: "Motion No. 314 is based on the premise that it is time to examine not only how government works but also what government does". I agree with him because our budget of February 27 represents perhaps the most fundamental rethinking of how government can work better for Canadians.

The motion presented to the House also proposes that the government pursue negotiations with the provinces and the agri-food industry in order to reassign jurisdictional responsibilities in agriculture and eliminate overlap and duplication. I also agree with that. I agree with him because the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has in fact worked effectively with his provincial colleagues over the past 16 months to reduce overlap and duplication in the inspection and financial services for the agri-food sector. Those are just two examples among many others.

It is ironic that the proposals in Motion No. 314 to reduce overlap and duplication themselves duplicate to a certain extent the work this government has already initiated since it took office. If the hon. member's proposals were to be implemented, federal spending would be increasingly directed to price support and income stabilization.

While the government recognizes that stabilization is very important to Canadian producers, spending on research and market development have been shown to generate significantly higher returns on investment. We have clearly demonstrated in the last few months and with the 1995 budget that this is the road we have taken and intend to follow for the benefit of Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector.

Stabilization measures are important to agriculture, but we are finding that stabilization is most effectively done in a cost sharing partnership with the provinces, not by one level of government alone. It has not resulted in overlap and duplication but instead has led to a co-operative approach which better meets the needs of producers.

Thus, I strongly believe that Motion No. 314 is irrelevant at this time. I must urge the members of this House to reject it. It would only duplicate what this government, the provincial authorities and the industry are already doing together.

Public Service March 22nd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board and concerns pay equity.

Now that he has reached an agreement with the Professional Institute of the Public Service, is the minister prepared to try to reach an agreement with the Public Service Alliance of Canada which represents most of the lower paid public servants, many of whom are women?

Members Of Parliament Pensions February 22nd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board.

The minister said he would let us know on or before budget day what he was doing about reforming the MPs' pension plan. The budget is next Monday. Can the minister tell the House if he has made any progress toward honouring his commitment to reform MPs' pensions?

Petitions February 17th, 1995

My last petition, Mr. Speaker, is from constituents who are very concerned about the increase in youth crime in our country.

The petitioners request that the government review and revise our laws concerning young offenders by empowering the courts to prosecute and punish young lawbreakers who are terrorizing our society by releasing their names and lowering the age limit to allow prosecution to meet the severity of the crime.

Petitions February 17th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present to the House today. The first petition, pursuant to Standing Order 36, is on behalf of 150 constituents who pray and request that Parliament not amend the human rights code, the Canadian Human Rights Act or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in any way which would tend to indicate societal approval of same sex relationships or homosexuality, including amending the human rights code to include in the prohibited grounds of discrimination the undefined phrase sexual orientation.

The second petition is on the same subject matter. Almost 100 constituents are calling on Parliament to oppose any amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which provide for the inclusion of the phrase sexual orientation.

Order In Council Appointments February 16th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for Public Service Renewal.

The minister announced today that hundreds of governor in council and ministerial appointments will be eliminated as a result of the agency review. I agree that this overhaul of boards and commissions is long overdue, but is it all just window dressing or will this initiative bring real savings for Canadian taxpayers and help put an end to political patronage?

Charitable And Non-Profit Organization Director Remuneration Disclosure Act February 10th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by congratulating my hon. colleague from Hamilton-Wentworth on the effort he has put into studying the subject of the accountability of non-profit organizations. This debate is about accountability. It should in no way be perceived as an attack on the numerous organizations that are making a real contribution to public policy.

At the same time it is appropriate to reconsider the necessity of government support for many not for profit organizations. I do not buy the argument that government funding is required to give a voice to people who would otherwise not be heard. Instead I believe the process has usurped the role of members of Parliament who are elected to speak for their constituents.

A look at the appointment diaries of MPs will demonstrate very quickly that it is not the rich and powerful who come to see us with their problems and concerns. Rather it is those who have come up against the giant bureaucracy that is modern government and have been stymied or frustrated by the experience. It is people who want a solution to their individual problems and would be unlikely to turn to another bureaucracy in the form of a not for profit organization to take up their case. That is a primary role of a member of Parliament: to act as an advocate for those who feel they do not have a voice.

On the broader question of consultation it is difficult to argue that governments do not consult. More often than not we are accused of consulting ad nauseam, to the detriment of action. Politicians are extremely conscious of the need to involve all stakeholders in any discussion of public policy. A look at the makeup of any advisory body on questions of wide interest will confirm this point. Membership is carefully structured to reflect linguistic, cultural, gender and consumer interests.

From time to time an issue will generate considerable public interest. Citizens will want to be involved in the policy process and will join with like-minded Canadians to galvanize public opinion and encourage governments to act. That kind of activity is perfectly legitimate and helpful.

The history of such grassroots activism suggests that politicians do respond. Sometimes whole new government departments are created, examples being environment and consumer affairs. However too often those departments begin to see their constituencies not as the people of Canada but as the interest groups that establish permanent organizations. Long after the public has decided that the original reasons their activism have been responded to, the not for profit organizations continue to exist as a mirror bureaucracy often supported by taxpayers. An

almost symbiotic relationship develops between the organization and the governmental body, and the natural inertia that exists in government organizations discourages change in that type of relationship.

It is only when fiscal pressures force a review of program spending that a reassessment takes place. We have reached or surpassed that point today. Government can no longer justify funding special interest groups that cannot demonstrate their legitimacy through self-sustaining financing. This is not only my view but also the view of many of my constituents who have spoken to me about what they expect to see in the budget.

For the first time in many years governments are being forced to make politically tough decisions about expenditures that have a real impact on people's lives. In the last budget we announced the closure of military bases that had contributed substantially to the welfare of whole communities. That was a tough decision but one that should have been made years ago. We are now about to ask Canadians to sacrifice even more, as we recognize that the deficit is the single overwhelming problem we face. As part of that exercise a number of government programs will be cut, resulting in significant job loss in the federal public service.

I mentioned earlier that many causes promoted by special interest groups have their own champions within government. I do not believe we should be cutting public service jobs if we are not prepared to reduce or eliminate funding to those extra governmental groups that mirror government programs and initiatives.

Another problem associated with special interest funding relates to the lack of control elected officials have over the process. Although politicians bear the brunt of public criticism and are justifiably held accountable for the expenditure of public funds, the real control of patronage rests within the bureaucracy.

Ministers cannot possibly pay close attention to every grant and contribution dispensed by their departments. Once budgets and guidelines are set, it is also seen as inappropriate for politicians to become involved in the disbursement of public money.

Public servants are sensitive to political considerations and this can lead to funding only for those organizations that are deemed politically correct. It becomes impossible to criticize such expenditures without being labelled as inappropriately biased.

The problem for members of Parliament is that it is usually not worth risking the disapprobation of powerful voices among the media and special interest groups. Taxpayers' dollars continue to be directed to organizations that may enjoy the support of only a small minority of the public.

The amount of money involved is staggering. Approximately $4 billion is directed to not for profit organizations in the form of unconditional grants. Another $3 billion takes the form of contributions for which accountability is demanded.

It should offend taxpayers that organizations which depend in any measure on public financing, no matter how noble the cause, can escape the normal accountability expected of any other private or public enterprise. This situation only invites abuse.

It should also concern Canadians that their members of Parliament have no right or ability to review how that public money is spent. Canadians are very tolerant. We are proud that so many of our fellow citizens involve themselves freely in organizations that exist to better the lives of others.

However we also believe any organization that claims to have the support of a large percentage of the population should be able to demonstrate the support with corresponding levels of membership and financial support. That is how one demonstrates legitimacy.

Unfortunately the availability of public funding for special interest groups has spawned many institutions that cannot meet that test and could not continue to exist if they were forced to depend on their membership and public appeals for support.

Again the motivation and objectives behind these groups may sound compelling, but we are living in an era of hard choices that will continue for many years to come.

My colleague from Hamilton-Wentworth has brought to our attention a number of examples of how federal grants are allocated which would, I am sure, surprise and upset many of my constituents. I would like to single out one in particular because it raises a number of questions. My colleague from Mississauga has already referred to it. Over the past 10 years the Canadian Labour Congress has received $41,370,247 from the federal government. This funding results from a 1977 labour education agreement with the government.

The CLC educational services program includes three courses on occupational safety. The subjects taught in the other 32 courses include techniques of organized labour activism, collective bargaining, grievance procedure, shop steward responsibilities, something called facing management and labour law.

I am not arguing that those are inappropriate subjects for union education. I do contend the Canadian taxpayer should not be funding the program with an average of $83,672 per person in pay and benefits for the office and teaching staff involved when we are facing cuts in other programs that will mean real hardship for many individuals.

A more troubling aspect of public funding for the CLC relates to its involvement in federal election financing. In the 1993 federal election the CLC donated $1,509,810 to the New Democratic Party. That was by far the largest contribution from any single source to a political party.

The taxpayer paid again when Elections Canada matched that contribution as provided by law dollar for dollar. Whether or not the CLC can argue it administers separate funds for education and political action, it is inappropriate for any organization that receives direct government funding to make political contributions. I would apply that rule to private industry as well.

This debate is important for a number of reasons. First, it is unlikely that many Canadians are aware of how much public money is channelled to special interest groups. Second, they should be made aware of the need for accountability by those organizations. Finally at a time of real fiscal restraint, it is important that all non-essential spending be put under the spotlight and justified.

I am pleased to support Bill C-224 and I am confident that it will have the support of a great majority of Canadians.

Unemployment Insurance Act November 2nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Saint-Hubert has presented the House with a matter which I am sure concerns us all and that is the fairness of our rules and regulations. This government most certainly does not wish to discriminate against anyone.

The question in the circumstances raised by the hon. member is whether or not discrimination is occurring. Her bill argues that because the majority of people affected by section 3(2)(c) of the Unemployment Insurance Act are women the section discriminates against women.

I admire the hon. member's concern but this section does not discriminate against women nor does it discriminate against any relative involved in an employer-employee relationship. The intent of the section is to ensure that genuine legal employer-employee relationships exist in businesses that involve relatives. That is hardly an unreasonable requirement.

The House has heard some interesting arguments on this matter but if my hon. colleagues consider what could happen if the act did not have safeguards I think they would agree we would be in a real quandary.

Section 3(2)(c) of the act requires only that those affected by it satisfy the Unemployment Insurance Commission that they qualify for UI coverage just as any other employee. It is merely one of the regulations set out to protect the program's integrity. I do not hear hon. members arguing that employees not related to their boss should be exempt from proving a legal employer-employee relationship, so why should employees who are related be exempt? That would be the effect of passing Bill C-218.

Family employees should certainly have the same rights as any other employee. However I trust the hon. member will agree that family employees should also have to meet the same requirements to be eligible for UI benefits. That is all section 3(2)(c) requires. To have it otherwise would then discriminate against employees not related to their employer. The regulation treats everyone in the same manner, which is the way it should be.

One word we have heard frequently in the remarks of my colleagues is fairness. I would like to expound briefly on how the government has used fairness, not as a political slogan but as a philosophy. Fairness or equality or whatever synonym you wish to use is a cornerstone on which this country's social security system was built. Indeed it may be argued that it is the cornerstone on which the entire country was founded.

I do not for a moment claim that every program is perfect or that these programs do not have loopholes that unjustly deny people their due. I will state however that fairness has been and will continue to be the watchword for this government. We will strive to close loopholes wherever and whenever we find them.

A case in point is a recent series of changes to the UI program which took effect in July. We realize that reducing the benefit rate to 55 per cent would represent an undue hardship to people with lower incomes who have dependants. That is why we

introduced the dependency benefit rate which gives a 60 per cent benefit rate to people in these circumstances.

A decision to reduce the benefit rate was indeed a tough one. However we tried to be as fair as we could by minimizing the impact of this change on those who could least afford it. It is this spirit of fairness that embodies the provision which so concerns the hon. member.

As my colleague has pointed out this provision allows family members to collect UI. In the past they simply were not eligible. Yes it is true there is a little bit more paperwork involved in these cases. I hasten to point out that among the tens of thousands of UI claims filed by family businesses in the 1992-93 fiscal year only 15,000 were reviewed by Revenue Canada. The great majority of individuals employed by a relative simply filled out the forms necessary to qualify for UI and they received their benefits.

Therefore I can say with great sincerity and with all due respect to the hon. member that her concerns are exaggerated. No one is questioning the intentions of the hon. member for Saint-Hubert regarding this matter. She is undoubtedly addressing what she perceives to be an injustice but I would say to her and to all hon. members that during the review of our social security system there will be plenty of opportunity to present constructive recommendations for reform of the UI program.

In our discussion paper the government has proposed a number of possible approaches to adjust and strengthen unemployment insurance so that it serves all Canadians. That is the context in which we should be looking at the UI Act. Everyone most certainly recognizes that UI is very much a key element of social security.

I am sure that when hon. members hear from their constituents they are finding more and more people are working in what we refer to as non-standard employment. There is a considerable increase in the number of part time, self-employed and multiple job holders. And yes, there is also a significant increase in family run businesses.

We need to look at the whole picture. We need to consider whether we should develop an entirely new unemployment insurance program that will address the needs of workers in the changing economic structure, or whether we can adequately adjust our present UI program to serve the needs of a rapidly diversifying workforce. Whichever approach, the government has stressed that social security reform is a partnership. We want input from anyone who has constructive ideas.

The hon. member for Saint-Hubert will have an opportunity to present her ideas and the government will be pleased to give her submissions every consideration.

At this time, while I appreciate the intent of her bill, I regret that I cannot support it.

Confectionery Manufacturers Association October 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak today on this, the first anniversary of the Liberal Party's great election victory of 1993.

On a different note, as Hallowe'en approaches it is fitting that we pay tribute to the members of Canada's Confectionery Manufacturers Association. This industry has annual sales in excess of $1.4 billion, exports of more than $235 million and employs over 70,000 Canadians.

The confectionery caucus consists of MPs who have confectionery manufacturers in their ridings. We in Lanark-Carleton are very fortunate to have a Hershey Canada facility in Smiths Falls which employs over 600 people.

I encourage all my hon. colleagues, their staffs and families, to come trick or treating at our first annual "Hillowe'en" party tomorrow evening at the National Press Club.

On behalf of all attendees at this event the Confectionery Manufacturers Association of Canada will be making a donation to the Children's Wish Foundation.