House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was colleagues.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Ottawa Centre (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act November 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, precisely what I said is that the NDP government in Ontario-

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act November 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my colleagues in the NDP sound like a broken record attacking the Americans and requesting that we do the same things the Americans are doing. It reminds me of somebody who cannot go to bed at night for worrying that someone else might be having a good time.

The bill before us deals specifically with an agreement that was reached by 123 countries around the globe, nothing more, nothing less. The provinces have been consulted on the matter throughout the debate on the agreement, for the past six and a half years.

I do not understand the NDP members. The premier of the NDP government in Ontario just came back from a trip to China. He supports the notion of the World Trade Organization and the GATT implementing legislation. The NDP premier from B.C. was on the same trip. He came back very happy and very excited about the notion of opening new markets around the globe.

I do not know what the problem is with my colleagues in the NDP. Every time we use the word free, they jump.

For Canada, which has the largest and longest border of almost any country on the globe, trade is very important. Trade means jobs. For every $1 billion in trade at least 9,000 to 10,000 jobs are created. The NDP should be grateful that we have a government that cares, that we have a Prime Minister who cares. He led one of the largest business delegations in the history of Canada and came back with some good results.

I suggest that my colleagues from the NDP stand up and congratulate the Prime Minister and the government for a job well done. For the first time ever in the history of the country we had a united team that went on a mission in order to promote Canada's interest.

We would recommend the rejection of Motion No. 4 as proposed by my colleague from the New Democratic Party for the following reasons. The agreement does not require such a study as is proposed. The government already has such authority in any event. Therefore the amendment is unnecessary and redundant.

Furthermore a report entitled "Impact of the GATT Agreement on Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food" was released on June 22, 1994. This report prepared jointly by provincial and federal agriculture officials examined the effect of the Uruguay round on all agriculture sectors, including the Canadian milk marketing system. The report concluded that the effect of the Uruguay round on the dairy industry will be minimal. There will be no domestic price impact over the transition period on industrial milk. Production may decline 0 to 2 per cent by the year 2000 as a result of new minimum access commitment for butter.

For the same reasons we are recommending rejection of Motion No. 5. This amendment mandates a very specific and onerous reporting requirement that would have important resource implications.

The information on the activities of the World Trade Organization mandated in paragraph 12.1(a) to (d) is contained in the GATT annual report. The minister could undertake to table the World Trade Organization annual report in the House if it is necessary.

For the reasons I listed we are recommending that Motions Nos. 4 and 5 be rejected.

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act November 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I do not understand why my colleagues are so anti-American in their approach to the legislation. We are talking about the World Trade Organization implementing legislation in terms of Canada and Canada's obligation to the international community. Since they mentioned section 102(a)(1) of the American implementing legislation I should like to suggest to my colleague that this action only reflects a congressional view that necessary changes in federal statutes should be specifically enacted rather than provided for in blanket pre-emption of the federal statute by the agreement.

Canada's legal regime is similar in that respect. Actually under our Canadian domestic law Canadian legislators have precedence over our international obligation in case of conflict unless specifically provided otherwise in the legislation. This is as a result of basic Canadian constitutional law.

The section which was quoted, section 102(a)(1), does not reflect U.S. intentions to apply domestic law in contravention to its World Trade Organization obligations or have recourse to its domestic legislation to unilaterally enforce World Trade Organization obligations against other countries.

Irrespective of this section the U.S. will be bound by its World Trade Organization obligations under international law. Those obligations could be enforced under the dispute settlement mechanism if need be. This provision of the U.S. implementing legislation does not represent any threat to Canada.

We are recommending rejection of the motion as proposed. Subparagraph 8.2, depending upon its interpretation, could have important constitutional implications. The bill does not intend in any way to introduce legislation which would impact on provincial legislation. The paragraph could be seen as an intrusion by Parliament into provincial jurisdiction. In subparagraphs 8.3 and 8.6 there is no need for these proposals.

Under Canadian constitutional law our international obligations become part of Canadian law only to the extent of their implementation by Parliament. No international agreement can prevail over Canadian law unless Parliament specifically legislates to that effect. There is nothing in the bill that gives precedence to the agreement. Therefore our basic constitutional law will continue to apply.

Subparagraph 8.4 is contrary to our international obligations. The sole purpose of the bill is to approve the World Trade Organization agreement and to implement obligations under the agreement. It is necessary to amend and modify existing Canadian statutes to implement those obligations and to allow Canada to become a full member of the World Trade Organization.

Subparagraph 8.5 proposes to introduce a federal-provincial consultative mechanism for the purpose of implementing the agreement. This mechanism is already in place and is very efficient. Therefore we see no need to legislate on the matter.

World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act November 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I will speak to Motions Nos. 1, 2, 6 and 7, starting with motion No. 1.

We believe the amendment suggested entails many problems and should be rejected. The first problem with subclause 3.1 is that we already have an efficient process for consultation between the federal and provincial governments regarding external trade when the provinces' interests are concerned. The provinces were very well served by these instruments in the implementation of international agreements or the resolution of disputes ensuing from this agreement.

As for subclause 3.2, by requiring the Governor in Council to ask the provinces' consent before doing any of the things mentioned, it would change the current rules under the Constitution. It will give the provinces a veto in international matters.

As for subclause 3.3, Canada cannot subject the implementation of its international commitments to the behaviour of its trading partners. If it considers that they are not respecting their obligations, Canada can then resort to the dispute resolution mechanism, which is usually successful. Canada cannot simply decide not to respect its obligations. It is still in Canada's interest to obey the rule of law, not to go against it.

Paragraph 3.4, the proposal would be contrary to what was negotiated in the agreement, specifically paragraph 4.2 of the agriculture agreement. A central part of the agriculture agreement is the elimination of measures such as variable levies. The effect of this amendment would be to introduce such measures. The government appreciates the interest on the issue of supplementary import of an agriculture product in cases of shortage in the domestic market. However, these matters are currently the subject of consultation with all domestic stakeholders.

We also recommend rejection of Motion No. 2. Committees of the House are always free to request reports from ministers, imposing the statutory obligation. At this point to produce a report would I presume tie Parliament's hands in the future. I suggest it would be a lot more prudent to request such a report as the need arises. Preparation of such a report, I have no doubt in my mind and in the minds of my colleagues, will cost a significant amount of resources both financially and otherwise.

Concerning paragraph (b), this refers to all trade obligations and commitments of Canada's principal trading partners and therefore goes beyond the scope of the bill before the House. Concerning paragraph (c), the impact of the agreement on Canadian workers and companies as a matter of economic analysis, there are methodological problems with isolating the effect of the agreement from other elements affecting Canadian companies and workers.

Concerning Motion No. 6, we recommend the rejection of this motion for the following reasons.

The consultation requirement contained in paragraph 2.1 would be very onerous and unworkable. The World Trade General Council will meet frequently and take numerous decisions that directly or indirectly affect Canadian interests, rights and obligations. The requirement for the minister to consult

with the committee prior to each such decision would require frequent meetings with the committee on a plethora of details and highly technical issues. Moreover, the agenda of the council is often fixed very shortly before its meeting and a prior consultation requirement would hamstring Canada's ability to respond quickly and flexibly to new developments in a manner that takes account of the position of other World Trade Organization members and that effectively advances Canadian interests.

The reporting requirement in paragraphs 2.2 to 2.4 is also unworkable and would have significant resource implications. Some of the information requested is contained in the GATT reports. Other information is restricted under GATT practice and therefore its public release is not permitted. Canada is currently working in the World Trade Organization preparatory committee to have such documents derestricted on a more expedited timetable. These World Trade Organization reports and documents could be made available to a committee of the House.

Finally, we also recommend the rejection of Motion No. 7 because the reporting requirement is onerous and would entail significant resource implications. The minister could in any case report on ongoing negotiations from time to time as appropriate or as requested by a committee.

My colleagues from the New Democratic Party suggest that we introduce an amendment that would deal with the social clause. This suggestion is too late to even be considered. Our answer to that would be that the best social clause this or any other government could offer would be a job.

To that extent, I would suggest that Motions Nos. 1, 2, 6 and 7 all be rejected.

Social Security Program November 21st, 1994

Madam Speaker, I would like us to reread the "blues". I never said that all this government wanted to do is to reduce the deficit on the backs of the poor. On the contrary, I will again repeat what I said, in case the hon. member did not hear me. We will continue to set up and launch the necessary programs to help Canadians. Let me quote what the minister said in English:

"A hallmark of our Canadian society is our commitment as a government to people who cannot work because of illness or injury, low income families struggling to make ends meet, people with disabilities or chronic illness and children living in poverty. Our social programs are the way in which we offer protection and hope to Canadians". He goes on to list some of the social programs that we have in place.

Madam Speaker, the minister is dealing with the needs of people who ask for help.

I especially want to point out to the hon. member that I never said in my speech that we would reduce the deficit on the backs of the poor. I am sure he agrees with me that we must control the deficit. To control the deficit, we must act more intelligently. If the hon. member tells me that $50 billion a year is not enough spent on education, well, I do not know, but we spend more than any other country in the world.

Probably what we need in the end is to harmonize the systems, eliminate duplication and deliver services better, and I am sure that we will end up saving money, but never on the backs of the poor and those who need assistance.

Social Security Program November 21st, 1994

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague. It was because of his effort and his former experience as a mayor on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities that I was inspired along with my colleague from Nepean to co-chair the Liberal infrastructure task force which went across the country. It visited his home province. The task force came back with a report that was adopted by our caucus. I thank him again for his interest in the well-being of his constituents.

The hon. member asked me to mention the kinds of things we could do to prepare our workers and industries. We have to focus on training. Training and retraining is the key. People might ask: Training for what? That question deserves an answer.

The global economy as they call it and you can call it whatever you want, but every country in the world economy is using high technology tools such as computers, robotics, machinery with advanced technology. Canadian industries have not adapted to that. About 50 per cent of Canadian companies do not use advanced technology instruments to help productivity.

After Belgium, Austria and Australia, Canada's expenditures per capita on research and development are the third largest in the world but the private sector is nowhere to be seen. Canada's private sector, industry in Canada is not spending enough money on research and development. Because the job market is going to require at least a grade 13 education and the required information base, understanding and knowledge, we have to invest in the areas of research and development, education and training.

The member asked what we could do to improve employment services. The minister is already looking at ways and tools to improve these services such as individual job counselling, helping people develop their own employment plan, providing information about the job market, pointing people in the right direction, giving them access to basic skills training, and helping them with reading, writing and math. We must give them better training programs to acquire skills that match-a key buzzword-the local labour market. That is very important. Train them for what? That is the key. Many of my constituents ask what they are being trained for.

We must work in co-operation with the private sector. It takes two hands to clap. You cannot clap with one hand. Government cannot do it all by itself. We need the co-operation of the private sector. We have to work with it hand in hand.

With respect to trade this government has probably done more in that area in a short period of time than any other government in the history of Canada.

Social Security Program November 21st, 1994

That is basically what this government is doing. We are looking at the way we deliver our services and our programs. We are trying to put in place a mechanism that will help us move ahead to control the deficit, reduce the national debt, eventually eliminating it, and continue to provide quality social programs for people, including our seniors, and continue helping our youth so they can obtain the kind of education they need.

There are some challenges. I would like to share some of those. Now in Canada over 38 per cent of the Canadian population is considered to be functionally illiterate. In other words, these people may have difficulty to calculate properly, read or write properly, fill out an application form properly and/or properly read manuals that might relate to their daily work.

The cost to the business community alone on an annual basis is over $4 billion. It costs the government $10 billion a year in terms of lost productivity and other accessories that go along with it. Looking at the national deficit of $40 billion alone, it costs us about 25 per cent of that. If we lived in an ideal world with no illiteracy, we would not have a problem. I know we have to catch up in order to reach that particular state.

I spoke earlier about the fact that there is a shrinking in terms of the number of people who are entering the workforce. That is a result of two things. First, the productivity rate in Canada is decreasing, not increasing. Second, there is a major problem in our educational system. Out of every three students now there is one student not finishing high school. Did anyone know that?

About 33 per cent of our youth are not completing high school. Instead, they are getting low paying jobs at Dairy Queen or at McDonald's. As a result of that eventually, if they are unlucky, as are many of our youth, they will find themselves in the unfortunate situation of not finding the job they need. They go on welfare or UI. They find themselves outside of the safety

net this country has provided its citizens for the past hundred years or so.

We have to make sure the system is open, accessible and ready to provide opportunities for those who would like to take advantage of them. On the other hand I will look at the overall situation in terms of the opportunities that exist for us as a country.

Let us have a look at the other programs. I want to share some figures. We spent about $33.7 billion annually on UI in 1993. In 1972 we spent something like $3 billion. One would think if we had spent more in 1993 that the figures in terms of unemployment would improve. In other words we should have less people on unemployment.

Unfortunately, the numbers of unemployed since the fifties until now have not been improving. They have been going backward. In the 1950s, the number of unemployed people in Canada was in the range of 4 per cent to 5 per cent. In the 1990s unfortunately that figure exceeds 10 per cent of the population. That does not include the people who are on welfare.

We have to work harder and we have to work smarter. I have said that 33 per cent of our youth are not completing high school and 38 per cent of the population is functionally illiterate. Our world is changing. My colleague from the Atlantic provinces would know that in the past in order for us to support our social programs all we would do was get a back hoe, dig some gold or metals and raw material and sell it. That was easy. We would take a few chain saws, cut a few trees and sell wood. That was easy. Or fish.

However the fish are being depleted, the number of trees is declining as are our raw materials. If we sold all the raw materials we could it would not be sufficient to support the expenditures our government and past governments have made. To that extent we have to do things a little differently.

According to a study published by employment and immigration in the past three years, by the year 2000 approximately 67 per cent of all jobs in Canada will require at least a grade 13 education. Looking at the present situation we will not be able to catch up. We will have to take the kind of bold approach the Minister of Human Resources Development is taking. We will have to take the kind of bold approach the Minister of Finance will be taking when he delivers his budget next February. We will have to take the same kind of bold approach the Minister of Industry will be taking. We will also have to take the kind of bold approach the Minister for International Trade or the Minister of Health will be taking.

We have to look at the way we do things. The Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs has been embarking on a major undertaking to look at the programs the government is delivering and to see if those programs can be better delivered by another agency or another level of government. We will see what we as a federal government can do and what the provincial and municipal governments, agencies or crown corporations can do. That review will definitely lead to a more efficient and dynamic, a more progressive and upbeat government that can move forward with flexibility.

We will never abandon our social programs. The Liberal government will never abandon its commitment to those who need assistance and support. However, we have to look at things and see if they still meet today's needs. I will give some examples.

Despite the fact that we spend some $34 billion on UI and social programs I am amazed there are still 1.3 million children living below the poverty line. A large number of single mothers still cannot find work and cannot make ends meet without a social support network. They cannot get the education required to make a better life for themselves and their children.

There is no doubt in my mind that a review is needed as the Minister of Human Resources Development has stated, that will be effective, affordable and fair. I am very much interested in the aspects of the proposal the minister has put forward which deals specifically with child care and child poverty.

In Canada approximately 450,000 lone parents are on welfare. Ninety per cent of them are women who could work if they had the right support, such as child care. Instead of helping single mothers and their children to get out of the welfare trap the percentage of single mothers who work is actually declining rather than increasing. The problem is that good quality child care is expensive and not readily available.

Most parents are in paid employment. In 1993, 63 per cent of women with children under the age of six were actually in the workforce, up from 47 per cent in 1981 and up from 35.5 per cent in 1976. Despite this increase the supply of licensed child care spaces in Canada is limited. Only 28 per cent of children six years and under with working parents are in licensed day care. I am sure that many of my colleagues know of some people who experience those kinds of difficulties.

The shortage of affordable child care could keep parents, especially lone parents out of work. As well, the lack of flexible work arrangements such as job sharing and compressed work weeks make it difficult for working parents to balance work with

family needs. One would ask how we can help those families and those parents do better.

The minister came up with a number of options. He proposed that we can and should work with the provinces to increase the number of child care spaces. The government already has set aside new funding for up to 150,000 new child care spaces and we will work with the provinces to decide how the money will be spent. Also the government could work with employers to find ways to encourage flex time and a shorter work week.

Also we can invest to help meet the child care needs of parents in paid employment. That makes good economic sense. Some of the benefits would perhaps include more productive employees, jobs for child care workers and less pressure on welfare programs.

Those are some of the things we can do. I could go on but I see that my time is coming to an end. I conclude by congratulating this government on a job well done and I welcome the Prime Minister home after a wonderful trip. It is going to create many jobs for now and the future.

Social Security Program November 21st, 1994

Madam Speaker, let me begin by congratulating the government and the Minister for Human Resources Development on his initiative. Indeed, it is a bold approach that in my view will respond to the nineties and beyond.

This is one segment of an overall strategy and overall action plan which will be proposed by this government over the next year or so in order to respond to a commitment made by the Prime Minister on behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada as well as on behalf of the people who elected him. Those commitments were made in Creating Opportunities or the red book as people might call it.

There are three aspects of the proposal. One looks at the whole way in which we deliver our social programs in Canada, as well as human resources training and development. The second aspect will look at the overall industry in Canada and the way we deliver our goods and services here and abroad. The third aspect is to try and put our house in order in terms of looking at the overall finances of the government.

There is no doubt in my mind that if one is to look at Canada from the outside, which the United Nations has done on a number of occasions, one would come to the conclusion that we live in the greatest country on earth. I knew that 20 years ago when I came here. I knew I was going to heaven on earth. I am sure that my colleagues in this House and all Canadians would agree and would know that we live in the greatest land on earth.

To keep Canada in the forefront in terms of equality of social programs that we provide our citizens, the quality of education that we provide and access to the finest medicare in the world, we have to do a number of things.

Before I enter into a detailed explanation I want to share with you some statistical information in terms of the status quo, the situation that now exists in Canada.

Today approximately 10 per cent of the Canadian population are considered to be senior citizens. By the year 2031 that number will double to the point where more or less about one in every four Canadians will be a senior citizen. In parallel with that if we are to look at the number of people who are entering the workforce, we have a shrinkage. Today there are a lot less people in the workforce than there were 10 or 15 years ago.

The challenge is to use the output or the productivity of those people who are in the workforce to try and support all of the programs, social benefits and everything else in order to contin-

ue to provide the quality of life that we have been providing to Canadians for the past 100 or so years.

To that extent one would say that we not only have to work harder but we have to work smarter.

I would be misleading the House and Canadians if I were to say that at the turn of the switch things are going to be better. Canadians know that in order for things to get better we all have to make sacrifices. We all have to take a bold approach toward changing not only the appearance but the fundamental structure when it comes to the kinds of things we do and the programs we provide.

The reason I say this is because if we look at the programs that we have today, many have been in existence 25 to 50 years in some cases. Some of those programs have kept up to the demand and to the technological changes and have been updated. Other programs definitely require a closer look.

I am going to give a couple of examples. Let us look at the figures for 1972. In 1972 the Canadian government spent $3 billion on unemployment insurance and social assistance. Guess how much we spent in 1993? We spent $33.4 billion. Looking at how much we spent on education, it is interesting to note that Canada spent perhaps more than any other country in the world on education. All governments together spent in excess of $50 billion a year on education.

When it comes to the overall expenditure on all of the social programs, that would put Canada behind Sweden as the country that spent the most on social programs of any country in the world. That is why we have the finest support services anywhere on the globe. That is why we have to make sure we do everything we can to continue to provide the quality services that are required.

If we look at what we are spending in terms of resources, gross, financial and otherwise versus in terms of how much we need in order to continue to support those programs, the devil will show up. That devil is a tremendous amount of debt that totals in excess of $700 billion if we combine the federal as well as the provincial governments' debts.

To support that debt in terms of the deficit it is in excess of $37 billion to $40 billion on an annual basis. If we add this to the amount of funds we are putting in to support social programs and our educational system and if we continue to do the kinds of things we are doing today without some major overhaul, it will take us quite a while to catch up. I might suggest that we will never be able to catch up because, as my colleagues know, cutting services alone is not going to solve it.

If the government was to fire every public servant we would still have a deficit of approximately $20 billion a year. Cutting programs is not going to solve it. What will solve it is if, as the Minister for Human Resources Development has suggested, we look at the way we provide those programs and services to the community and try to fine tune those programs and services so they will meet the needs and the challenges of the 1990s.

Second, we have to improve our productivity and our standing on the international scene as well as here in Canada in order to create wealth. The NDP's theory of redistributing wealth failed. We have seen it in Ontario as well as in Saskatchewan and British Columbia when they were in power. It does not work.

The second theory of ultra independent capitalism without government being at least there in order to provide a fair and proper environment also does not work because the private sector alone will not solve it. As well, if we leave it up the public sector alone it will not work.

Historically, the best approach to solve our socioeconomic problems has always been the Liberal approach. Would the House not agree?

Trade November 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, there are two theories. The first theory states that for every $1 billion in trade, we create up to 9,000 jobs. Another theory states that for every $1 billion in trade, we create up to 15,000 jobs.

If we take the worst possible scenario, this trip will generate up to $10 billion in revenues to Canada's industries. If we multiply that by 9,000 that will give us 90,000 jobs at least. If we look at the best possible scenario, it will give us 150,000 jobs over the next few years.

While I am on my feet I want to say that the trade figures-

National Child Day November 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, this Sunday, November 20 is National Child Day.

On this historic day in 1991 Canada adopted and signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, an agreement that would commit our country to ensuring the survival, protection, development and participation of all children.

We must as a society safeguard the well-being of our children, especially those at risk of criminal victimization, exploitation and neglect. We must promote prevention as a means of helping children at risk. We must invest in our children's education. We must provide them with the chance to lead happy and productive lives. As a society we have a responsibility to our children because they are our future.

I had the honour of sponsoring Bill C-371 which was supported by children's organizations such as Our Kids, Results Canada, the Coalition for the Rights of the Child, as well as many other groups across Canada.

On behalf of all my colleagues in the House of Commons, along with Janice Machin of Our Kids and Results Canada, we invite all Canadians to join in celebrating National Child Day on November 20 and making it a very special day.

To those born on November 20, a very happy birthday.