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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was energy.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Timiskaming—Cochrane (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 62% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Budget Implementation Act, 1995 April 3rd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to be able to take part in the debate on my government's budget. I will start, perhaps, by giving an overview and talking about the budget's objectives and highlights.

This budget does what is necessary to bring the deficit under control. These are the strongest fiscal measures adopted by the federal government in 50 years. This budget guarantees that we will bring the deficit down to 3 per cent of the gross national product by 1996-1997. It enables us to meet our deficit reduction objective, without increasing personal income taxes. For the second year in a row, the government has refused to lower the deficit on the backs of taxpayers.

The program review introduced in this budget redefines the role of government, with the result that the departments will concentrate their efforts on the priorities of Canadians.

After the broadest prebudget consultation process in this country, both the financial markets and Canadians alike have told us that they want first and foremost for us to cut the deficit and to put our financial house in order.

As the finance minister said himself: "Come hell or high water, we will meet our 3 per cent of deficit reduction by 1996-97". However, there are ways to do that. We could have used the Gingrich-Manning approach, the slash and burn approach, and cut everything by 15 per cent to 20 per cent. However, this is the wrong way. We have to do it in a fair manner, taking care of the poor, the handicapped and the senior citizens in our society. I do not think it is appropriate to cut 20 per cent of something that is good and keep 100 per cent of something that is bad.

The new philosophy of this party is that if the government does not have to do it, we will not do it; we will give it to private enterprise.

Most Canadians approve of this budget. There are very few people who complain about this budget. Of course, there are those who want to destroy this country; they will not approve something as good as this budget.

Unfortunately, the premier of Ontario, Bob Rae, along with his strategists, had to go back to the drawing board. He was counting on us to bring in a bad budget. He was counting on this to start his provincial campaign. I have news for Mr. Rae. He can call an election and campaign against the federal budget. He will meet Brian Mulroney and his party, because in Ontario we can take a lesson. I think the Ontario NDP government can take a lesson from what we have done here at the federal level in terms of deficit control.

This budget is necessary medicine for difficult economic times. It is the strongest fiscal action by any federal government in 50 years. It will result in a total savings of $29 billion over three years; $25.3 billion will be saved by expenditure cuts. The Minister of Finance is sending a strong message to international markets that Canada is serious about deficit reduction. Cuts to government departments account for half of the fiscal saving in this budget. Departmental spending will be cut by $3.9 billion in 1995-96, $5.9 billion in 1996-97, and $7.2 billion in 1997-98. For every dollar in increased revenue there will be $7 in expenditure reductions. That is what Canadians told us they wanted and that is what we did.

I would also like to speak about the impact of the budget in my northern Ontario riding.

There can be no mistake that this budget was tough on northern Ontario, as there were no incentives for natural resources and about 80 per cent of the economy of northern Ontario depends on natural resources. We knew this was to be a

tough budget, but we in northern Ontario were prepared to accept that. We know that we have to share the burden of taxes and deficit reduction.

Let us look, for instance, at the natural resources department. It suffered one of the largest cuts of all departments, close to 50 per cent. The new role of the department will be to focus on the sustainable development of natural resources, the revitalization of the natural resources sector, national and international leadership, knowledge of the land mass and natural resources, and health, safety and resource related environmental concerns. It will maintain a presence in areas of federal responsibility such as international trade and science and technology.

Due to the current financial situation, the government did not renew both the mineral development agreements, the so-called MDAs, and the forestry development agreements, the FRDAs, which were cancelled by the last Tory budget in 1993. We said in the red book that we would review those programs and we did. We would have liked to have kept those programs for northern Ontario and other parts of rural Canada, but we had to cancel them because of the fiscal reality in the country.

However, the government responded in other ways. It responded by taking action in eliminating unnecessary regulatory barriers to mineral development. This was a key priority identified by the mining industry.

The finance minister also told northern Ontario Liberal MPs that after the budget was presented he would be willing to look at alternative measures and incentives for the mining industry.

There is a campaign called "Keep Mining in Canada". It is a broad based organization of industries from across the country. That organization gave the budget an A-plus on the deficit reduction side. However, it would have liked to have seen tax based incentives for the mining industry. I have been pushing for that for the last year. I am a little disappointed they were not in the budget; however, I understand that the main thrust of the budget was deficit reduction. I also understand that the finance minister could not on the one hand, cut one sector, like agriculture, and on the other hand, give more incentives to another sector.

On the agricultural side, there are quite a few dairy producers in my riding. Only a few years ago Canadian farmers were caught in an international trade war that drove down crop prices and farmers' incomes. With many disputes settled, agricultural producers now receive more than a third of their income from the market. Our government will introduce a national whole farm stabilization program, along with crop insurance, instead of basing programs on individual agricultural commodities.

In 1997-98 $600 million a year from the federal government, in addition to $400 million a year from the provinces, will go into this program. This is after a reduction of 30 per cent, with a total savings of $250 million.

The greatest impact on farmers in Timiskaming-French River is the reduction of the dairy subsidy, which is 30 per cent over a two-year period. It is believed that this reduction may be made up in part by the cost of producing a pricing formula that ensures a fair payment to producers.

The elimination of the western grain transportation subsidies will save the government about $5 million annually. This will open the western economy to diversification and innovation and meet GATT requirements.

Since I only have two minutes, Mr. Speaker, I will address the regional development programs. There was a reduction of over $560 million by Industry Canada to ACOA, FORD-Q and western diversification. That is a reduction of about 49 per cent across the board. Fortunately for northern Ontario we have a program called FEDNOR. We were getting approximately a 1 per cent share per capita compared to other programs in Canada. True, with strong lobbying by northern Ontario MPs this program was not reduced but increased by $18 million. For that I have to thank the finance minister, who finally recognized that northern Ontario was not getting its fair share of regional development moneys.

It demonstrates that the Minister of Industry has listened to the concerns of the northern Ontario caucus and has recognized that northern Ontario was not getting its fair share of regional development funding and has acted decisively to correct this inequity.

Increases to FEDNOR will total $63.7 million over the next three years. The breakdown in funding is as follows: in 1995-96, $6.2 million to $23.3 million; for 1996-97 it will be up to $20.4 million; and in 1997-98 it will be up to $20 million again.

In closing I approve of my government's initiative to make this regional development money available on a repayable loan basis. I can say that the business people who are going to profit from these programs in my riding are also in agreement.

Petitions March 27th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the next petition was signed by 112 people from my riding.

They pray and call upon Parliament not to amend the human rights code, the 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 homosexuality.

I concur with all the petitions.

Petitions March 27th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I have another petition signed by 40 people to present.

They pray and call upon Parliament to act immediately to extend protection to the unborn child by amending the Criminal Code to extend the same protection enjoyed by born human beings to unborn human beings.

Petitions March 27th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by 40 people from my riding to present.

They pray and call upon Parliament to ensure that the present version of the Criminal Code of Canada prohibiting assisted suicide be enforced vigorously and that Parliament make no change in the law that would sanction or allow the aiding or abetting of suicide or active or passive euthanasia.

I concur with the petition.

French-Speaking Countries March 20th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I understand the Minister of Foreign Affairs will attend the next Francophone Summit to be held in Benin, Africa.

Can the minister tell us what the government's priorities are with respect to the French-speaking countries of the world?

Michael Barnes March 1st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, today I rise in the House to congratulate Mr. Michael Barnes, a constituent from my riding of Timiskaming-French River.

Mr. Barnes is a teacher and historian who has chronicled the history of northern Ontario. This region is as rich in exciting history as any other in Canada but is often ignored by the majority of Canadians.

Mr. Barnes has researched our history from the early days of the gold camps and the construction of the railways. In all his works Mr. Barnes has celebrated the resilient and rugged people who came from across Canada and the world to settle and prosper in this bountiful region of our great nation.

Northern Ontario and indeed Canada should be proud of Michael Barnes. I call upon all members of Parliament to join me in congratulating him today as he rightly becomes a member of the Order of Canada.

Atlantic Canada February 22nd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to expand on my question today to the Minister of Justice on family violence.

When I talk about family violence I am not talking only about violence against women. I am talking about violence against the elderly, violence against the handicapped, violence against children, and yes, sometimes violence against men. I am not talking only about physical abuse or physical violence. I am talking about mental abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and sometimes financial abuse in terms of dependency.

I have held two forums on family violence in my riding. They were attended by about 80 presenters from all walks of life, such as from the mental health field, family law, crown attorneys, police chiefs, counsellors, educators, and victims of violence.

One thing that came through very loud and clear from the forums is that there is definitely a lack of awareness in our society on family violence. There was consensus that as a government we have to do something to make Canadians aware of the gravity and the prevalence of violence in our society.

A lot of questions were asked. For instance, when there is a family violence situation, why do we remove the victims and the children and put them in a shelter and the abuser or offender is free?

I believe, as was the consensus during the forums, that there is a real need to conduct some national forums on family violence. The purpose of those forums would be to create awareness. In my next householder I intend to give numbers to assist people in knowing where to find help. A lot of victims do not know where to turn, especially in the rural areas of Canada.

During the course of my forums the media: radio, television and newspapers talked about them. Many victims came out of the woodwork to seek help. If we can create awareness by the forums, we will have achieved at least part of our goal.

The second goal of having such forums would be to develop, in consultation with all parties involved, a set of recommendations. What changes can we make to the Criminal Code to prevent family violence? What changes can we make to the administration of justice? What support programs can we implement, not only for the victims of family violence but also for the offenders?

I can already hear members of the Reform Party saying that this is going to cost money. These forums can be organized in a very cost effective manner. All we actually need are two co-chairs, preferably a man and a woman, a support staff from the justice department and perhaps from the minister for the status of women. We could ask members in each riding to look after the logistics of organizing the forums, to advertise and to find a venue.

We would need only a very small travelling budget for three or four persons and maybe have 20 or 25 of those forums across the country. A small amount of money like that would be well spent in protecting our children, our elderly and the lives of women in this country.

Young Offenders Act February 22nd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I have to disagree almost completely with the comments made by the member of the Bloc Quebecois.

Bill C-37 contains provisions that emphasize rehabilitation. How can you rehabilitate a young offender who is still on the street with his group of friends and partners in crime? I still remember that, as a kid, it was not the school teacher's strap I was afraid of, it was the spanking waiting for me at home after my brothers told my father.

I remember when one of my brothers stole a 10-cent item from the store. When my father found out, he forced my brother to go back to the store to apologize and return the stolen item to the victim. This was followed by corporal punishment. I think it turned out well. My brother never had a problem with the law after that.

Throughout this debate, we have shown great concern for the criminals but very little concern for the victims. I know people who commit a crime in the fall so that they can spend the winter in prison because they eat better there than many street people.

I spoke about this with several police officers who must arrest these young offenders. Almost all of them say the same thing: Young criminals are laughing at us. We charge them with a crime and they say, "I do not care. It does not matter what you do because I will be back on the street tomorrow morning". They know they can go before a judge, who will slap them on the wrist and say, "Do not do that any more, little boy". That is why there are so many repeat offenders.

Again, I think our first concern should be to protect society. As they say, if you cannot do the time, do not do the crime. Young people must realize this.

The purpose of sentencing is not to punish young people but to act as a deterrent. If sentences are tough enough, they will have a deterrent effect and reduce crime.

Justice February 21st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice and is not on gun control.

Recently in my riding, I held two public forums on family violence. There was unanimous agreement on the need for such forums on a national scale in order to develop a comprehensive strategy to tackle this serious problem.

Is the minister prepared to endorse the principle of holding such national forums and to assign a member of his staff to help me organize them?

Petitions February 21st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by 236 Canadians across Ontario.

The petitioners recognize the importance of mining in Canada and the problems caused by depleting oil reserves. They endorse the 10 point program of action put out by the Keep Mining in Canada campaign. They pray that Parliament take all the necessary measures and steps to increase employment in this sector, promote exploration, rebuild Canada's mineral reserves, sustain mining communities and keep mining in Canada. I concur with the petitioners fully.