House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was budget.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Niagara Falls (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Agriculture April 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the plum pox virus is a serious plant disease that threatens the tender fruit growing, processing and nursery industry in parts of Canada.

Could the Minister of Agriculture tell us what efforts the government is taking to eliminate the virus from Canada?

Young Architects Competition June 6th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, for the first time in its long history, the influential Architectural League of New York has named two Canadian design firms among the winners of its young architects competition.

My constituent, a Niagara district secondary graduate, Stephanie Forsythe, and Todd MacAllen of Forsythe and MacAllen Design Associates based in Vancouver join an impressive roll that includes many of America's most respected architects.

Stephanie and Todd are the principals of their firm founded in 1996. Both of them received their Master of Architecture degree at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia in 2002. The two young Canadian architects are natural heirs to the Canadian school of new modernism.

I congratulate Stephanie and her partner for receiving this prestigious award. I would like to point out that this is a stellar example of the talent shown today by Canadian youth. Both deserve our congratulations.

Prime Minister's Award May 28th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, on May 15 Ms. Pamela Blanchfield, from the Boys and Girls Club of Niagara, was awarded a 2002-03 Prime Minister's award for excellence in early childhood education.

The award honours outstanding early childhood educators who excel at fostering, the early development and socialization of the children in their care, and help build the foundation that children need to meet every day's life challenges.

In the words of praise by the parents whose children are in Ms. Blanchfield's care, “Pam never inhibits the children from being the individuals that they are, but at the same time encourages and teaches them to be part of the team”.

Canada's communities and their children are the beneficiaries of the experience and excellent work carried out by committed educators such as Ms. Blanchfield.

I am sure that all hon. colleagues will join me in congratulating her on this great achievement.

Canadian Environmental Assessment Act April 29th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting yes.

Al MacBain April 7th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, it is with sadness that I rise to remember a former Liberal member and dear friend, Al MacBain, who passed away on April 3 in Niagara Falls.

Al, who was born in Nova Scotia in 1925, joined the Canadian armed forces at the age of 17 and served his country in Europe. When he returned he completed his studies and graduated in law from Dalhousie University. He then moved to Niagara Falls where he began to practise law.

His sense of duty to his country and fellow human beings is reflected in the many years he served as an alderman for the city of Niagara Falls and as a member of Parliament from 1980 to 1984.

He will be greatly missed by his children and grandchildren, to whom he leaves I am sure many wonderful memories, memories that are shared by all those who, like me, had the good fortune to have him as a friend.

Petitions December 2nd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, in the third petition, many constituents of mine call on Parliament to focus its legislative support on stem cell research for cures and therapies.

Petitions December 2nd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I rise today pursuant to Standing Order 36 to present three petitions signed by hundreds of constituents of Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The first two petitions urge the House to adopt laws against glorified pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children.

Arts and Culture October 28th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, recently in Niagara-on-the-Lake, in the riding that I have the honour of representing federally, ceremonies were held marking the 190th anniversary of the death of the hero of Upper Canada, General Sir Isaac Brock.

It was General Brock who led local Niagara troops against American soldiers in the battle of Queenston Heights on October 13, 1812. The general led his troops into heavy enemy fire and pushed back the American invaders. He was shot in the chest and died during the pitched battle along the Niagara frontier. However, his leadership and victory showed Canadians that they could successfully defend their land. This was an important first step toward the birth of Canada.

I want to congratulate Colonel Bernard Nehring for his work in organizing this special event commemorating the memory of General Brock, the hero who helped guide our once-British colony into nationhood.

Millennium Scholarships June 12th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I wish to bring to the attention of the House five brilliant young constituents who recently received the Canadian millennium scholarship excellence award. The scholarships are based on academic merit, community involvement, leadership and innovation.

Aaida Mamuji of Westlane Secondary School and Mai Nguyen of Stamford Collegiate received the top national award. Ashley Bredin of Stamford Collegiate and Matthew Law, a resident of Niagara-on-the-Lake attending Ridley College, received the provincial award. Melissa Agnew of Stamford Collegiate and Anita Kappukatt of St. Michael received the local award.

All these young people, in addition to their excellent academic achievements, also gave proof of care for the community in which they live. I trust my colleagues will join me in saluting their achievements, their dedication to community service and excellence in education.

Supply June 6th, 2002

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member from Bras d'Or.

I am pleased to debate the votable motion tabled by the member from Peace River. The motion deals with the identification of a problem in tax accounting by Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, a problem that as soon as it was identified last January, was dealt with by the government in a speedy and responsible way.

The problem was detected by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency in the course of modernization of its computer system. As soon as the problem was detected, it was brought to the attention of the auditor general. The government took immediate steps to ensure that overpayments would stop immediately.

I assure everyone that the problem did not in any way affect taxes paid by individuals or businesses. The problem resulted mainly in a significant overpayment to four provinces; Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario.

Under the tax collection agreement the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency collects personal income taxes on behalf of all Canadians and provinces, except the province of Quebec. Then the finance department pays the appropriate share of the taxes collected to the provinces. All this is based on accounts provided by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.

The problem arose with respect to the capital gains realized by the mutual fund trusts. We all know that mutual funds are a type of collective investment vehicle allowing Canadians a simple way to invest indirectly in a broad range of stocks and bonds in a number of different markets. The funds are essentially a pooled investment.

Mutual fund trusts pay federal and provincial income taxes on capital gains. Then, according to income tax law, mutual trust funds receive a refund on both portions of the tax paid once the funds are cashed in.

In normal circumstances the provincial portion of the capital gains from the mutual fund trusts should be deducted from the provincial revenue and the federal portion should be deducted from the federal revenue. Due to a problem in the CCRA accounting process, and we all know that errare humanum est or to err is human, the provincial portion was deducted from the federal revenues instead of the provincial revenues. In short, the provinces ended up getting more tax revenues on the capital gains of the mutual fund trusts than they should have and the Government of Canada ended up getting less than its share.

As soon as the mistake was detected, the matter was promptly handed to the auditor general to do a rigorous analysis of the accounting error and report to the government. We know that on June 3, 2002, the auditor general released her report on the years in which the overpayment occurred.

At the moment the Department of Finance is studying the report before making any further decision. Prudence demands consideration before making decisions and that is exactly what the government is doing. Our record is clear. It shows five consecutive balanced budgets.

That is the Liberal government's record up to and including last year's federal budget. This is a first in 50 years and a $36 billion payment toward our national debt. It is something to be proud of. Today our nation's finances are among the healthiest in the G-7. Our economy is among the fastest growing and our triple A rating has been restored.

Canadians expect the Liberal government to make the right decision on these overpayments because we have a record of making good decisions that make this federation work. We do not roll the dice. We never did. The Liberal government has managed the federation with success. We have shown it over and over again.

For example, our co-operative approach is reflected in the reform of Canada's social union. The government reached an agreement on environmental harmonization with nine provinces and the two territories of the day. Our government has initiated changes to the federation in co-operation with the provinces and territories in areas as diverse as infrastructure and the Canada pension plan.

No one forgets that the reasons the provinces were crunched by lower transfer payments in the mid-nineties was because of a whopping $42 billion deficit left by the previous government and how that put the whole country in a financial straightjacket.

Yes, an error occurred. Yes, overpayments were made to the provinces but through openness and transparency every step possible was taken to resolve the issue. The Liberal government will consult with the provinces and make a decision on how to best deal with these overpayments. I am sure that when the decision is made it will serve the best interests of all Canadians.