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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was forces.

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

Won his last election, in 2000, with 71% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Main Estimates, 1994-95 February 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I submit Part II of the estimates for laying on the table.

I would also like to table in support of the estimates Part I, the government expenditure plan. In addition I will table with the Clerk of the House on behalf of my colleagues Part III of the estimates consisting of 76 departmental expenditure plans.

These documents will be distributed to the members of the standing committees to assist in their consideration of the spending authorities sought in Part II of the estimates.

Public Service Of Canada February 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, employees go on training programs to learn and to be able to use that as a valuable resource of information when it comes to doing their job.

I would be happy to look into any of the specifics the hon. member happens to be concerned about. The government is concerned with the efficient spending of tax dollars. Certainly training is a very important part of efficient use of tax dollars.

Government Expenditures February 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, revenue information is provided in various levels of detail both in the public accounts which have now been filed with the House as well as in part III of the estimates.

We certainly want to be in a position to provide whatever information we can to be helpful to parliamentarians. We are reviewing the whole matter with respect to what improvements could be made in presentation and disclosure in that connection and to determine the appropriate information that would be helpful to members.

I will be writing to parliamentary committees to seek their advice on what types of information with respect to user fees they would find useful in their deliberations.

Supply February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more with my colleague.

The government is also concerned with debt and deficit and out of that comes the need for some further cutting. As we have said time and time again, there must be a balanced approach. There must be an endeavour to get Canadians back to work.

In the program we put forward during the election campaign we made it very clear we had to act in a responsible fashion. We showed where we were going to make additional investments to get Canadians back to work and where we would have to make additional cuts. We said were going to cut what we felt were lower priorities and the kinds of wasteful spending that is pointed out in the Auditor General's report. Therefore, we are taking action and have taken action as my hon. colleague and I have pointed out to implement those measures that are going to cut down on waste, on overlapping. That will show we are spending the taxpayers' dollars in an efficient and effective manner.

I welcome the public accounts committee to be part and parcel of that process. It should take a greater role in the process of ensuring that in future Auditor General's reports we will have far more successes to talk about than failures.

Supply February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I very much respect the opinions presented by the hon. member for Ottawa-Vanier who, as has been pointed out, has a long and distinguished career in this House and also a quite distinguished career in serving as chair of the public accounts committee.

Certainly I value his counsel and will be seeking it with respect to this and many other issues that are relevant to the committee and relevant to dealing with the Auditor General's report.

Supply February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry. I was attempting to make a complimentary remark. I will certainly bear that rule in mind.

The public accounts committee is the committee to deal with these issues. To suggest a motion such as is put forward which provides for a very tight timeframe for the committee to be able to do its work could be unproductive for what the members want to accomplish.

The public accounts committee can start dealing with each one of these issues contained in the motion or any other aspect of the Auditor General's report. I do not know whether it will accomplish all that by the first week of June. I can say the government has already dealt with some of these issues and will continue to deal with them. It is not going to wait until the first week of June to deal with them or even to report on what it is doing with respect to many of them.

The public accounts committee has every opportunity to bring ministers before it and to have a full hearing on each one of those matters. That is within its control. I hope it will be within the control of members of Parliament. After all we said we wanted

more involvement by members of Parliament in such processes as the Auditor General's report.

That is the approach to be taken. That is where the follow up can take place, in the public accounts committee. The government is going to follow up. Of course the Auditor General in his annual report has a section on follow up and deals with what the government has done in respect of his previous recommendations.

I am suggesting the hon. member's motion is already covered by process and procedure that is quite extensive in getting to the issues and dealing with and rectifying the problems. That is the appropriate route to go as opposed to this additional suggestion the member makes today.

It is important to reiterate that the Auditor General in his report has talked about the need for strengthening internal audit, program evaluation and strengthening controllership. Those are very important to the government.

The red book has talked about the need to understand the consequences or the outcomes of our programs and the need to understand what value we are getting for the taxpayers' dollar. That can be achieved better than it has been through strengthening the internal audit and through strengthening program evaluation functions.

I reported yesterday in my remarks that we had already moved in a number of areas to address the issues the Auditor General has raised. We have streamlined the cabinet making it smaller. We have cut cabinet expenses. The cutting of some of the expenses of Parliament has been dealt with. We should open up the budget process, open up debate on different issues before the government takes a position. We have stopped the deal of the previous government with respect to Pearson airport. The question of selling the airbus was one of the issues raised by the hon. member for St. Albert today concerning government aircraft. The rules have been tightened in the use of government aircraft. It is the last resort. The first resort is to take commercial aircraft. Where a government aircraft is to be used it must be fully justified to the satisfaction of the Minister of National Defence. It must be with complete cost accounting and complete reporting. These are tightening up of procedures that both the Minister of National Defence and the President of the Treasury Board have instituted to respond to the kind of concerns raised. This matter will be addressed further by another spokesman on behalf of the government.

The government is also strengthening controllership. The Auditor General expressed a concern that the previous government had put the office of the Comptroller General under Treasury Board so that the Secretary of the Treasury Board is now in effect carrying on those functions previously carried on by the comptroller. It is a function to which he is deeply committed, as am I.

We recently sponsored a government conference on the question of controllership with many participants from the financial and audit communities, as well as government employees, to focus on the kind of skills and energies that we wanted to direct into the area of better controllership, internal auditing and evaluation programs for the very reasons that he outlines. There is that firm commitment and will to strengthen the controllership function of government.

Improvements are being made in the regulatory process of government. It is something that we have to be most cognizant of because of the kind of impact that regulations can have on business and on the economy in general, as well as the quality of life of all Canadians. Indeed regulatory reform is a very important part of the government's endeavours.

Yesterday I reported on the business impact test which the Canadian Manufacturers Association and the Treasury Board helped to launch as a means of understanding the impact we have on businesses with the different regulations that we put in place. In this way we can minimize the detrimental impact, whenever it is, to their operations which in turn makes it detrimental to the growth in the economy of the country.

I mentioned the follow up chapter, a key part of the Auditor General's annual report, and one that I expect will show next year a substantial amount of progress on many of the issues that we have talked about today.

In closing, I would like to note that the government is committed to demonstrating improved management through the public accounts committee, through the Auditor General follow up, through our own follow up in Treasury Board and the various other government departments. We are committed to delivering quality, efficient and effective services to the people. In that respect, we have a lot in common with people on both sides of the House.

The procedures are in place to be able to deal with this. If further procedures are needed then let the public accounts committee come forward with suggestions that might be helpful for the House to deal with the business of the Auditor General's report.

Supply February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise for a second day to speak to the report of the Auditor General and the initiatives the government is taking to deal with many of the concerns he raises.

I must say there is a lot of community of thought on this, both in the remarks made yesterday by the hon. members of the Bloc Quebecois and in the remarks made today by the hon. member for St. Albert on behalf of the Reform Party. We all want to address these issues of how the taxpayers' money can be spent most efficiently and effectively and how we can cut down on the problems that the Auditor General raises so that in future years we will have a lot less of what are known as horror stories and a lot more success stories. There is a lot of common ground on what we want to try and achieve. There may be some differences, both yesterday and again today, on just how we go about achieving it.

Certainly I came to Ottawa with an understanding and appreciation of the role of an auditor. I spent 22 years in municipal government and worked with an auditor to ensure the frugality, efficiency and effectiveness, cutting overlap and duplication and all of these necessities.

One of the first things I wanted to do when I came here was to meet with the Auditor General. I have done that on a couple of occasions. I have discussed his report. I intend to meet with him regularly because his work is important to us. His many recommendations are ones I very substantially agree with and the government would like to have them implemented.

The hon. member for St. Albert raises many specific issues today in his motion and various speakers will follow me addressing each one of those points. I want to get back to what I said yesterday for a moment. I suggest the vehicle for dealing with the concerns raised yesterday and again today is the public accounts committee.

I understand the public accounts committee is up and operating. The hon. member for La Prairie who was here a few moments ago but unfortunately has departed has become the chairman.

Supply February 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows cutting government expenditure is under consideration by the Minister of Finance and will be addressed in the budget.

As to some of the past expenditures at various embassies which he is talking about, perhaps that has been referred to in this and previous reports of the Auditor General. I am sure he knows that all too well, since he was a member of the House and a member of the supporting party of the last government when many of these matters were carried out.

I must come back to the matter of a new committee. I use the words that hon. members opposite used when they talked about overlapping, when they talked about waste, and when they talked about duplication. That is what they are proposing when speaking of this committee.

It is not required. We have a committee where all these issues that have been talked about can be raised. It is a committee that they chair. Perhaps they are indicating they do not have confidence in one of their members to chair the committee. Maybe somebody else should chair it. It seems to me they have every opportunity without overlap, without duplication, without waste to raise these issues in the public accounts committee.

Supply February 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am amused by that because it was exactly the opposite of what my remarks were all about. My remarks were about the changes that are being made. I am certainly not going to stand here and defend what the previous government has done which is now being talked about in the Auditor General's report.

I find it amazing that they overlook the value of the existing public accounts committee as a means of dealing with a great many of these issues. Hon. members opposite get the opportunity to chair that committee. That gives them a much greater opportunity than perhaps many other committees. They talk today about cutting down and overlapping, yet they want to establish another committee that is clearly going to overlap what an existing committee is already empowered to do.

Let us stop wasting our time and the taxpayers' money by setting up alternative overlapping committees when one exists, one they have an opportunity to chair.

Supply February 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question. It does relate to something of considerable importance to me and the government. That is to understand what the

outcomes are of our programs and what we have gained for the taxpayers' dollar that has been spent and what the results are.

Internal audit and evaluation processes become a very key part of trying to determine that. A greater emphasis has to be placed on that than has been done in the past. That is certainly the case on the infrastructure program for which I have some immediate responsibility for implementing. That is one of the areas where I have made it quite clear we have to be able to get a handle on it so we will understand what those outcomes are. I think my colleagues share that.

Whether it is in native affairs, native economic development strategies or whatever other area, we will attempt to apply that general principle of getting an understanding of the outcomes and providing the appropriate internal audit and evaluation processes to do that.