Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was reform.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Saskatoon—Dundurn (Saskatchewan)

Lost his last election, in 2000, with 22% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Regional Development September 19th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the statement that was made and attributed to the hon. member is not government policy. I understand that she has apologized. That ends the whole matter.

Criminal Code September 17th, 1996

Madam Speaker, it has been very interesting listening to the comments of the Reform Party which talks about our being bleeding heart Liberals and being soft on crime. Yet when we introduced legislation on the Young Offenders Act to increase sentences for young offenders in the commission of offences such as murder, to allow young offenders who were 16 and 17 years old to be more readily tried in adult court, it was the Reform Party that voted against this legislation.

We are the ones who have been tightening up the criminal justice system. We have been getting tougher in areas in the criminal justice system. It is the Reform Party that speaks loudly on improving the criminal justice system and then weakens and votes against such legislation. That is the Reform Party. Reformers say one thing and they do another thing.

They did the same thing with the sentencing legislation. When we introduced sentencing legislation to make it tougher on criminals who voted against it? The Reformers, who else? They say one thing, they do something else. That is the Reform Party.

The Reform Party is now saying to get rid of section 745 so that a person cannot make an application for parole before 25 years. It must be remembered that it is an application to be made after 25 years. It does not mean the person is eligible for parole at that time. It is the same thing with 15 years. If a person were eligible after 15 years, it means eligible after 15. It does not mean the person will be paroled after 15.

I am surprised the Reform Party takes that approach. This is an approach which I think is reasonable. It is reasonable that there is discretion in the justice system to deal with people on a different basis when they have different backgrounds. I am extremely disappointed that the Reform Party does not see that in particular cases.

I will give an example of a case which is before the courts on a different matter, the Latimer case. It is surprising that the Reform Party would not suggest that maybe judges should have the discretion to impose a lower period of time before eligibility for parole. Then maybe the Reform Party should be suggesting that in cases like Bernardo there should be a provision that judges have the discretion that people like him should not be eligible for parole for 75 or 150 years, but the Reform Party is not suggesting this. This should be step two. This is what should be looked at.

I hear the issue of consecutive sentences being raised by the hon. member who just spoke. A life sentence is a life sentence. A life consecutive to life does not make sense. It is either life or it is not life. The question is on parole eligibility and that is where the judges should have the discretion at the time of sentencing to increase parole eligibility. However it is a matter that has to be looked at at some other time when discussing all the terms of eligibility on such offences.

It is a matter that can be looked at but unfortunately the Reform Party does not look that far ahead. Instead members of the Reform Party concentrate and say that first degree murder is premeditated murder. Yes it is in some circumstances but unfortunately they have

not read the Criminal Code because it can be first degree murder without premeditation.

Members of the Reform Party should read the Criminal Code because they are misrepresenting to the public when they say that first degree is only premeditated and they are wrong on that point. That is a misrepresentation Reform members have undertaken in this House day in and day out on this particular point. That is the problem with members of the Reform Party. All they have to do is open up the Criminal Code, read the definition of first degree murder, it is there, but they will not do that. The members of the Reform Party will not do that. It is beyond them. Perhaps we should supply them with a copy of the Criminal Code.

The Reform Party prefers to bluster along in this House on first degree murder without reading the code because some knowledge on this particular point may be dangerous to them. That is the problem we have.

In dealing with parole eligibility there have been different figures raised. One member from the Reform Party has said there is a 10 per cent rate of recidivism for parolees. Why not look at the opposite? I am not necessarily accepting these figures because I prefer to check them out. When Reformers give numbers, I do not take them as the gospel truth; I prefer to have them checked.

If we accept the Reform figures, that means there is a 90 per cent success rate of parolees. Why do we not look at that? A 90 per cent success rate is very good in many disciplines but no, that is not good enough. Reformers prefer not to look at that particular aspect. They do not want to look at that aspect at all.

Again I suggest the members of the Reform Party are misrepresenting the aspect of the 15 year eligibility. If a person is eligible for application after 15 years and gets it reduced to, let us say 17 or 19 years, it does not mean the person is going to be paroled at that time. The parole board still has to deal with the matter.

As the Reform member should very well know, since coming to power in 1993 the Liberals have tightened up on the appointees to parole boards. They are the most qualified people that can be appointed. The parole board is very good with these members. Reformers have to have some faith in the members on the parole board. They are good members who take their jobs seriously and who will deal with these matters seriously.

When an application is made after 15 years under section 745, the application is not to a judge. The application is not to a member of the legal profession. Thank God the application is not to a member of the Reform Party. The application is to the community where the offence was committed. It is members from that community who determine whether that person's parole eligibility period will be reduced. It is members of the community.

Here we have the Reform Party which claims it represents the community saying that they do not want members of the community to determine whether parole eligibility is reduced. They want to take this power away from members of the community. I am very surprised. A party that claims to be a grassroots party is saying: "Don't allow the grassroots of the community to make this decision". It is a very interesting position by the Reform Party. Again, they speak one thing and they do something else.

Job Creation September 16th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the province of Quebec generally in the area of research and development receives approximately 27 per cent of the funds from the federal government.

Apart from the national capital area, the city of Montreal receives more funds than most other areas in Canada for research and development. They are getting their fair share in Quebec. For a province that has a population of approximately 30 per cent, it receives approximately the same amount in research money.

Supply June 19th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the argument made by the hon. member is one on which he should be sitting on this side arguing in favour of pooling. It would have been beneficial to him. In effect he has destroyed his party's whole argument on its motion but that is not unusual. I am sure if Reformers read the blues for today they will determine that they have these contradictions in their own arguments.

It is interesting to hear the derogatory comments. As soon as Reformers are caught with something, they try to degrade an individual. Now they are referring to my legal background. Unfortunately they have not done their research to determine that I come from a farming background. I grew up on a farm and farmed with my father for a while before proceeding to law school. Maybe it would not hurt them either to get a post-secondary education.

Supply June 19th, 1996

There they go again. They refuse to allow anyone to speak because they believe the new way of being in Parliament is to be the loudest, to monopolize time and to call people down all the time.

The hon. member made comments that the reason this matter was raised now is that the report will be filed in the summer. They have had 16 opportunities since last year to have this matter brought up. They never did it until the eleventh hour. This is nothing but gamesmanship on the part of the third party and this will be remembered by the people in the west.

Supply June 19th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I find it rather disgusting in a debate such as this when there are comments being made and the hon. member for Calgary West utters comments to the minister of agriculture to shut up. That is completely unparliamentary. That is the new way that the Reform Party does business in the House.

Supply June 19th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, when we speak of fairness I simply ask the member to look at a few facts. One of them is just plain ordinary common sense.

If Reformers only looked at the Americans who want to destroy the Canadian Wheat Board, they are not doing it for the benefit of Canadians. Then there is the leader of the third party who in March 1995 talked to the Americans about this being an irritant to the Americans. He talked of getting rid of our Canadian Wheat Board. Their own leader talks against the Canadian farmer. Their own leader does not care about the western Canadian farmer. He is more concerned about removing an irritant for the Americans. He is running on the wrong side of the border. That is what they want to do.

That is the party that has thought everything out so well including this particular motion, as he is indicating. He wonders whether I read the motion. I read it in my speech. It is obvious he was not listening as closely as he indicated. He indicated that it was so well thought out. If it was so well thought out, why was it not in the brief presented by the member opposite who sponsored the motion? It was not in the brief. This was really well thought out.

Why is this motion brought at the eleventh hour just before the panel is to release its report? They would not wait until the panel report came down because they are not looking for fairness. They are simply looking for air time so they can present further arguments in trying to show how unfair the system is, a multibillion dollar system.

They talk of a dual marketing system and they have not presented any numbers or any evaluation of their proposal by any professionals to show that their system is beneficial to the farmers. They have done nothing of the sort in a multibillion dollar system. Perhaps they could get a few numbers from H&R Block. They should not be that busy, tax time is over. They have not even done that. They are simply acting on a whim.

Supply June 19th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, it is quite a lively crowd at nine o'clock. It sounds like the French party is having a French festival on the other side.

It is a pleasure for me to join the debate today on an issue which is of vital importance to tens of thousands of Canadian men and women, the Canadian grain marketing system. This is not a debate to be entered lightly or frivolously. This country's grain industry is a vital, prosperous and growing sector, a sector where farm receipts alone totalled more than $8.5 billion last year. It is the economic backbone of Canada's prairie region.

Though based in the prairies, the influence of the grain sector is felt across the country, from the flour mills of Montreal to the ports of Vancouver, to the fertilizer and farm equipment dealers in my native Saskatchewan.

I believe it would be fair to say literally hundreds of thousands of Canadian men and women depend on the grain sector, either indirectly or directly, for their livelihood and well-being.

Today's debate is not just about party politics or about an opposition party's attempting to score political points at the expense of the government. It is about institutions that helped to build the prairies. It is about the thousands of western Canadian grain producers and their families who have a very real and basic stake in what we are discussing today.

The motion we are debating in the House today calls on the government to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act to include a special two year opting out provision permitting those prairie producers who believe they are missing market opportunities the flexibility and choice to market their wheat and barley outside the jurisdiction of the board.

I find it quite interesting that members of the party opposite have waited so long to introduce a motion on an issue about which they claim to care so deeply. Anyone who has followed the ongoing debate on western Canadian grain marketing would know that within a matter of weeks there will be a report from the prairie-wide consultation process the minister initiated.

The nine members of the Western Grain Marketing Panel consulted with producers, industry, the provinces and other concerned stakeholders about the future of the western grain

marketing system. Their findings and conclusions will be on the minister's desk within a matter of weeks. Yet members opposite would have the federal government disregard this process, discount the hard work of the panel and the contributions made by thousands of individuals and companies, and unilaterally introduce a major change in the manner in which wheat and barley are exported in Canada. I find this reasoning quite dumbfounding.

What I find even more surprising is that not only did the Reform Party make a submission to the panel, a submission which if the government were to adopt this motion would simply be tossed aside, but the submission was made by the sponsor of this motion. As Alice noted in Through the Looking Glass , it is curiouser and curiouser.

I cannot and would not want to speak for the Reform Party but I am prepared and committed to wait and see what western Canadian grain producers have to say about contemplating any changes.

This motion speaks of giving farmers a choice. It promotes the so-called dual marketing system, a system which in theory gives farmers the option of marketing grain on their own or continuing to have the Canadian Wheat Board market their produce on their behalf. Dual market proponents say they want the alternative to use the current system or not to use it as their choice. Fundamental in their line of argument is that the wheat board should remain. That is the fundamental issue and one that bears largely on this motion. Can you have your cake and eat it too?

Can the Canadian Wheat Board continue to operate successfully side by side with a free and open market? I do not know the answer to that question. I am not inclined to jump to any conclusions but my instinct would be that it is pretty tough to have both systems equally successful. Let us reserve judgment until we see what the panel has to say on the issue.

The issue of grain marketing in western Canada is one that has stirred emotion and debate for quite some time. There are farmers on both sides of the issue, some of whom are very strongly supportive of the Canadian Wheat Board system and others who hold different points of view.

In order to bring some logic, focus and coherence to the debate rather than having people shout at each other through bull horns from the back of pickup trucks, last year the minister established the Western Grain Marketing Panel to investigate on behalf of all grain producers in western Canada the issue related to the broad subject of grain marketing, one of which is obviously the marketing system of the Canadian Wheat Board.

The panel has been hard at work for many months. It held 15 public town hall meetings across the prairies to provide information and to receive input and feedback from farmers and farm organizations. It conducted three sets of formal hearings in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Regina to provide a formal opportunity for all of those with differing views to come forward with their best arguments, their best evidence for one system or another, to be subject to examination and cross-examination, and to weigh the benefits and the consequences.

The panel is now in the final stages of preparing its report. The minister expects to have that document the first week of July and he will make it public soon after. Once we have the report we will be in a much better position to make whatever future decisions are necessary with respect to grain marketing.

The Western Grain Marketing Panel review has been a process of the utmost integrity and it is a process we are committed to seeing through until the end. We wanted input from grain producers. We will not dishonour that commitment by agreeing to such a monumental change before considering their views.

I know that some individuals within the sector, possibly some within this Chamber, have criticized the panel process as being too long and too time consuming. They applaud the efforts of a small fringe group which calls itself Farmers for Justice. I prefer the name which was bestowed on that group by a letter written by one of western Canada's larger farm newspapers, Farmers for Just Us.

This group has for many months staged protests in which convoys of Canadian wheat and barley cross the border into the United States without having the required Canadian Wheat Board export licenses. These individuals may see themselves as freedom fighters or some kind of latter day Robin Hoods, stealing from the big Canadian Wheat Board, but in reality the situation is far different.

By illegally exporting grain on their own, by circumventing the Canadian Wheat Board and its pooling system, these individuals are not pooling or sharing their profits from these sales with other producers from across the prairies. What is wrong with that, some might ask.

Through the use of pooling the board ensures all western Canadian producers, whether they farm in the Red Deer Valley of Manitoba or the Peace River region of British Columbia, share and share alike in the revenues generated by their sweat and toil. This is the co-operative spirit that helped to build the prairies and it is a tradition of which all prairie residents should be justifiably proud.

A recent ruling in Manitoba has created a certain degree of confusion within the industry and has given rise to false claims and charges by some, including those on the opposite benches, that the court ruled against the Canadian Wheat Board. If I may be

permitted to quote from the judge's formal written decision it will become quite clear that nothing could be further from the truth:

This is not a case about the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly over interprovincial and international trade in grain. This is not a case about the powers of the Canadian Wheat Board to control the export and sale of grain and to grant licences therefore. This is not a case about free enterprise in a democratic society nor is it about the benefits of marketing boards versus the benefits of free enterprise. This is not a case to resolve the apparent debate between farmer and farmer or between farmers and the government as to which is the best method to market grain. This is not a case about David versus Goliath. This is a case about a man who is alleged to have exported grain to the United States of America and, at the time he crossed the border with the grain, did not show a licence to export the grain to the appropriate customs official.

Some have criticized the government for the action it took to respond to this court ruling, action taken to restore certainty in the wake of the decision. The situation the federal government and the entire western grains industry found itself in following the judgment was intolerable and could not be left alone.

There were two apparently conflicting rulings from courts in Manitoba with respect to export procedures on wheat and barley. Producers, exporters and industry needed a degree of certainty. In order to restore that certainty, in order to make crystal clear the requirements to export wheat and barley, the federal government clarified the relevant Canadian Wheat Board regulations. Industry needed to know clearly what the rules were and that is what the federal government achieved by clarifying the regulations.

In responding to the calls from the opposite side of the House for drastic and immediate change to the wheat board, I simply ask them to urge caution. We do not change an entire grain marketing system on a whim. That is not what good government is all about. Good government is about listening to the people, listening to all sides of a debate, weighing the pros and cons, then taking action based on the best long term interests of the vast majority.

Given the current international trade agreements Canada has signed and the new rules under which we now operate, once we change the board we are stuck with the new version. We cannot change our minds if we decide after a couple of years that we do not like the new system and revert to the old way of doing things.

Any decision the government makes will be a profound and serious one requiring a thorough and serious approach and evaluation. This is a multi-billion dollar industry and its future is not to be taken lightly in the way the third party is doing. Farmers and their families who depend on the marketing of grain are depending on us.

None of what I have said should be taken to mean that the status quo is good enough. Everyone agrees there is need for some type of change and there may be change. First I simply appeal to everyone with an interest in western grain marketing to hold their arguments and their fire until the grain marketing panel is released. Unilateral action by one group or province at this stage could have far reaching consequences and a final magnitude which nobody could now possibly estimate.

Change may be coming. Make no mistake, it may be coming. But it will be considered and thoughtful change by a government that has consulted with the people who will be most affected by that change. It will not be the sort of change driven by editorial headlines and dictated by a small vocal fringe group concerned only with its own self-interest.

Petitions June 17th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I have one petition requesting that there be a full public inquiry into the relationship between lending institutions and the judiciary and to enact legislation restricting the appointment of judges with ties to credit granting institutions.

Regulations Act June 12th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, in response to the hon. member for Regina-Lumsden, I have some general comments.

First, this government has no authority to freeze or block commercial transactions, as he suggested. He should also take a look at the provincial government's jurisdiction. He should be talking to his counterparts, the NDP government in Saskatchewan, when dealing with matters that are within the jurisdiction of a provincial government and not the federal government.

Second, freedom of speech is guaranteed under the charter of rights and freedoms.

Third, there are fundamental changes under way in methods of communication. Radio, television and now the Internet provide excellent vehicles for the exchange of information and opinion.

The enforcement of the Competition Act is entrusted to the director of investigation and research who is an independent law enforcement official. The director has a longstanding enforcement history in the newspaper industry.

In 1974 monopoly charges were laid against K.C. Irving Ltd. In 1980 criminal charges were brought against Southam and Thomson for market sharing. In 1990 the director challenged the acquisition by Southam of community newspapers in the Vancouver area where Southam already owned the two daily newspapers. The director concluded that the acquisition of two community newspapers resulted in a substantial lessening of competition in the advertising markets served by these newspapers. This matter is currently before the supreme court.

The focus of the director's examination is on the economic effect a transaction will have on competition in advertising markets. The director is not mandated to look at social issues such as editorial diversity. Newspaper advertising markets are local in nature. A newspaper operating in Vancouver cannot be said to be in competition for advertisers with a newspaper in Calgary. When there is only one newspaper in a community its acquisition does not constitute a lessening of competition but only a change of ownership.

The director has closely followed developments in this industry since 1993 when he reviewed Hollinger's initial 19 per cent investment in Southam. Every subsequent acquisition of newspapers by Hollinger was reviewed to see whether there was any overlap between the newspaper being acquired and either a Hollinger or Southam publication.

With respect to the latest acquisition of Southam shares by Hollinger, Hollinger and Power Corporation approached the competition bureau and made representations. The director reviewed the proposed transaction and concluded that it would not lessen competition in any newspaper advertising market.

Finally, Hollinger's day to day conduct will continue to be governed by all the provisions of the Competition Act. Any further newspaper acquisitions by either Hollinger or Southam will be reviewed by the director.

Indeed, Mr. Black acknowledged publicly that he would likely be-