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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was liberal.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as Reform MP for Okanagan—Coquihalla (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 1997, with 53% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Budget March 2nd, 1999

Madam Speaker, to respond briefly to the member's comments, it has been announced that the orchardists will have to wait until after they get their income tax returns which could be considerably down the road.

I rise on behalf of the people of Okanagan—Coquihalla to take part in this debate on the Liberal government's pay more and get less budget. I say pay more and get less because Canadians are paying more in taxes but getting less in services like health care than they were before the Liberals took office in 1993. They are paying more and getting less and that has been a consistent theme by this Liberal government.

There have been a lot of excellent speeches today on health care and taxes from the official opposition and other members, but I have chosen to spend my time on a national institution, a very proud institution, the Canadian Armed Forces.

Recently while conducting some research in my office I came across a lead story from the Globe and Mail . The date of article was February 28, 1951. The article was entitled “Canadians jubilant over orders to go to Korea”. This article detailed the decision of the Canadian government to contribute significant troops to the conflict in Korea.

The articled stated that Canadian soldiers were excited because they were proud and indeed Canadians from coast to coast to coast were proud of the contribution the Canadian Armed Forces could make to the Korean conflict.

The other article I point out was also from the Globe and Mail , dated February 21, 1959. The article announced Diefenbaker's decision to scrap the Avro Arrow project due to budgetary considerations. In another article that day by the Globe and Mail there was an editorial deploring the decision to force the Canadian government to purchase high tech equipment from the United States.

These two articles reminded me that in the 1950s Canada had a significant military establishment for a middle power, a place that we should hold today on the international scene.

The decision to scrap the Avro Arrow cost Canadians 13,800 jobs mainly in the province of Ontario. The Globe and Mail pointed out that despite the cost of the Avro Arrow program, these 13,800 workers were Canadian taxpayers. The money spent on the project would remain here in Canada.

The editorial concluded by stating: “And now what? Now the brilliant array of engineering and technical talent which built up this great Canadian industry will be dissipated. Now these highly trained men and women, the one national asset, will probably go”. The editorial asks where. The answer was to the United States. They did go and they formed the backbone of NASA.

Their exit from Canada foreshadowed today's brain drain of skilled workers who are leaving Canada due to high taxes in this country.

I bring up these two historic issues of the Globe and Mail not to reopen the debates on the decision to send troops to Korea or to scrap the Avro Arrow but to point out that Canada in the 1950s was taken seriously as a middle power. We had a serious military establishment, one that we as Canadians were very proud of.

When the call came in 1951 we were ready to go, not to maintain the peace but to fight a war. Our armed forces totalled 120,000 personnel. We contributed a brigade group, ships and aircraft to the UN sanctioned war in Korea. By 1959 we had a serious aerospace industry providing Canada with its defence requirements. Defence was taken seriously enough that the defence spending budget accounted for 20% of federal spending.

During the 1950s and into the 1960s our armed forces contribution to peace and security helped earn Canada a premier place among the world's nations. By the 1970s this started to change with the election of another Liberal government, Pierre Elliot Trudeau's government. I remember those days well because I was a young leading seaman in the Canadian Armed Forces serving on a Canadian destroyer escort. I watched firsthand as Trudeau's cuts did devastation on the Canadian Armed Forces.

By the late 1970s our soldiers were the best paid in the world. However, I remember numerous incidents where our ships were docked in Halifax and Esquimalt due to a lack of fuel. To make matters worse, training was hampered due to a lack of ammunition.

Under today's current Liberal regime things are much worse. Since 1993 the defence budget has been slashed by an additional 28% while the demands placed on our troops in the Canadian Armed Forces have increased.

At just over $9 billion defence spending accounts for only 6% of the federal spending, down from 20% in the 1950s and a minuscule expenditure compared to the $42.5 billion spent each year paying interest on the national debt.

Canadian defence expenditures account for 1.1% of GDP while the average defence expenditure for our NATO allies is 2.4% of their GDP. Again, we are out of whack completely when we spend 1.1% on defence spending.

The result of this Liberal government's cuts to defence spending has been dramatic. We have seen our troops drop to 60,000 from 73,000 in 1993. We find it impossible to meet Canada's stated defence policy objectives. Hardest hit is our army, our land forces. Most army units are manned at only 65% of their authorized strength. Despite the Canadian population hovering somewhere around 30 million we can barely muster 800 troops to send to Kosovo. Even then they will be poorly armed.

In April 1998 the Auditor General of Canada reported to the House of Commons on the state of the Canadian Armed Forces equipment and expressed grave concern about the deterioration of equipment that was preventing our forces from fulfilling Canada's defence policies. In terms of the army the auditor general pointed out that operationally it had not kept pace with technology to modernize equipment, leaving it vulnerable to threats. Its infantry and armour could be detected, engaged and defeated long before our personnel even knew the enemy was present.

This cannot be taken lightly. The auditor general has unequivocally stated that the money for capital funding would decrease even further due to the high maintenance and operating costs of servicing aging equipment, as we see daily with stories about our Sea King and Labrador helicopters, the Aurora aircraft, but enough of the facts and figures.

Canadians know that this Liberal government has decimated the Canadian Armed Forces, leaving Canada at best a freeloader on the backs of our allies and at worst utterly incapable of fulfilling our defence policy objectives, including protecting our own sovereignty. This is a national embarrassment, a disgrace not only to our troops but a disgrace for this government.

Providing for the defence of its citizens is one of the prime responsibilities of any federal government. Here as in other areas the Liberals have failed.

For decades now the Canadian forces have done more for Canada than meet the call to arms. They have been a national institution that cannot be ignored, a national institution that should be used by this federal government to build unity from coast to coast with our militia units, with our reserve force and with the pride that our service people serve with around the world.

We do feel that pride: Canada's World War I victory at Vimy Ridge, our role defeating Nazi Germany, Italy and in France in World War II, our record as premier peacekeepers around the world. Notice I said “our”, our victory, our role, our record. They are our armed forces, our Canadian Armed Forces. Despite the best efforts of the Liberals Canadians are proud of the men and women who serve in our forces.

I urge the Liberal government not to ignore the Canadian Armed Forces. The minor and minuscule increases are not enough to keep our combat capable forces in place today.

The Budget March 2nd, 1999

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to the member's comments. He mentioned the disaster relief program for farmers across the country. I am from Okanagan—Coquihalla and we have an orchard industry that brings to the Okanagan Valley some $700 million a year which we are very proud of. I think now and then all Canadians enjoy B.C. apples. That has been a tradition across the country. We are well known for our high quality products.

In the last two years our orchardists have been ravished with disastrous weather, crop failures and a number of situations. The member with a lot of pride defended the program in this budget that has been set up for the agricultural industry.

I would like to ask the member if all people in the agricultural industry are so happy about the process that has been set up why then did tree fruit growers in the Okanagan Valley announce yesterday that they plan to cut down their apple trees in the Okanagan Valley, destroying a complete industry, on March 15? Could the member please give the orchardists in the Okanagan Valley some encouragement that this process and relief program will come sooner than sometime in July or August and that relief will be immediate for these people who are suffering a great deal.

Land Mines March 1st, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Okanagan—Coquihalla to congratulate Canadians for brokering a treaty banning anti-personnel land mines.

This law takes effect today. But there is still a lot of work ahead. Canada must take a continued leadership role and invite more nations to become signatories to the anti-personnel land mine agreement. Canada must encourage signatories to abide by the treaty provisions and assist in the removal of anti-personnel land mines from war torn countries like Cambodia and Angola.

I congratulate the official opposition member from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca who first raised the issue in the House. The good doctor spent many years treating land mine victims around the world. He has been a champion for banning anti-personnel land mines in order to save lives and limbs.

Canadians and this House have been well served by the tireless efforts of our official opposition colleague from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.

National Defence February 18th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general says that our army is vulnerable. Our infantry and our armour can be detected, engaged and defeated before our troops even know that the enemy is present. This budget did nothing to address that issue. Yet the government is committing our troops to a combat zone in Kosovo.

What will it take for the government to give our Canadian armed forces the resources they need, including the equipment, to do the job that you keep giving them?

The South Alberta Regiment February 10th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform the House that this afternoon I will be presenting to the Library of Parliament the history of the South Alberta Regiment. The book entitled The South Albertas: A Canadian Regiment at War , is the story of five infantry militia units that together formed the South Alberta Regiment and ended the war as Canada's finest regiment in the Canadian armoured corps.

As part of the 4th Armoured Division, the South Alberta Regiment played a major roll in a number of significant battles, including the Battle of Falaise Gap where Major David Currie of C Squadron won the Victoria Cross. Mrs. Currie is with us in the gallery today.

Removed from the order of battle in 1954, the South Alberta Regiment is a sterling example of Canada's militia and a proud part of our military heritage. With 316 casualties, their unofficial motto was “You've been through the mud and the blood and I hope that you reach the green fields beyond”. Their record indicates that the South Alberta Regiment deserves nothing less.

Points Of Order February 4th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, during question period, several times on questioning the Minister of National Defence the issue of documentation from the Food and Drug Administration arose.

I offer to supply the documentation that shows that the date was changed on Lot No. FAV-020. Also there is no documentation of reconciliation before or after.

National Defence February 4th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I think we should review the facts of the tainted virus scandal. First the Minister of National Defence said the vaccine was tested in Canada and was safe. Then yesterday he said no, it was tested by an independent U.S. firm. We already know that the manufacturer was shut down for quality control violations. We know because we have the documents. The Food and Drug Administration says that lot FAV020 was redated.

Health Canada must have known this as well and granted DND permission to use the vaccine anyway.

I would like to ask—

Finance February 2nd, 1999

Madam Speaker, I believe all Canadians across the board should receive a tax break on their income tax. I will focus in on it for a minute because it is very important.

People within the Canadian Armed Forces have unique careers. Eleven people died in Bosnia and helicopters have gone down. It seems like a couple of times a year we hear about deaths in the Canadian Armed Forces. That is very sad indeed. It is the only type of career I can think of where people actually sign a contract and say that they are willing to lay down their lives for their country.

A service exemption would recognize the fact that people are expected to lay down their lives if required. Although Canadians should all enjoy an exemption, special recognition should be given to the proud men and women serving our country.

Finance February 2nd, 1999

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his question. The defence budget is allocated for training personnel to make them effective. We had them in my area of the Okanagan fighting forest fires. We have seen them in action during the floods. Even the mayor of Toronto called on the Canadian Armed Forces for snow shovel activities this winter. Our Canadian Armed Forces should be in the public eye. They should be able to respond to disaster situations at home.

I encourage the member to continue to talk about that very important subject. We do not see enough of our Canadian Armed Forces personnel from coast to coast to coast because of base closures, militia reductions across the country and reservists who are no longer there. The latest numbers show that we probably have more young people in Canada's cadet activity with some 70,000 than we have regular force members serving the important needs of Canadians. That is a disaster and I would like to reverse that trend.

I strongly urge the government to look at increasing the budget and at creative solutions like the Canadian Armed Forces service exemption so Canadians can be proud of members of the air force, the navy and the army at home and abroad.

I urge all members of the House to urge the government, as I will be doing and have done over the past five years, to look at that issue very seriously. Once the military is gone we will not be able to replace it. It is something we have now that we can be proud of. It is an institution like the RCMP which encourages national unity. We are proud of the work our men and women do. I want to make sure we do not take a step back too far and lose what we once had as a proud tradition of the country.

Finance February 2nd, 1999

Madam Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Okanagan—Coquihalla to participate in this prebudget debate. Many of my colleagues have touched on the important issues of health care funding and taxation which face the Canadian public.

Of course we have spent a considerable amount of time on this side of the House explaining the Reform Party's proposals to the government which include comprehensive tax reform, making health care a priority for Canadians and for the government, by reinvesting the dollars it has taken away over the years, and debt reduction.

The area which I have chosen to speak on tonight is the fourth one the Reform Party has put forward, which is reinvesting dollars in the Department of National Defence. I would like to focus my comments on the Liberal government's reduction of the Canadian armed forces over the past five-plus years.

The Canadian armed forces have gone through decades of decline and are now at a crossroads. The Canadian government can choose one of two paths for our once proud forces. The first of course would be to continue the budget cuts and personnel reductions leaving Canada's armed forces with little more than a constabulary force. The second path would be to take a road that has yet been travelled by Canadian governments by giving the Canadian armed forces the resources and funding they require to meet the challenges of a modern armed forces in the 21st century.

Before we get too far on this I would like to cover some of the history since the 1993 election of the Liberal government when it comes to defence policy. In 1994 shortly after its election the government set up the Special Joint Committee on Canada's Defence Policy, the first comprehensive parliamentary review of Canada's defence policy.

The special joint committee, which I was a member of, was an all-party committee. Members from every party in this House took part as well as the Senate. We were tasked with answering the following question: What principles, purposes and objectives should guide our government in setting Canada's defence policy in a rapidly changing world?

At that time defence spending was at $11.6 billion and it supported 73,200 regular force personnel. The government was facing a further $7 billion in spending reductions in the 1994 budget. In light of that the special joint committee made a number of important recommendations to the government.

First, the special joint committee recommended that the Canadian armed forces should not be reduced below 66,700 personnel and that they must maintain a core budget of at least $10.5 billion in 1994-95 dollars. That was inclusive to fiscal year 1998-99.

Second, the committee stated unequivocally that any cuts below the recommended minimum would mean less equipment or less capable equipment, delays in purchasing of necessary equipment, and this one is very important, the inability to fulfil policy objectives of the federal government including the defence of Canada, less training for personnel and too few personnel.

The Liberal government's response to the special joint committee was the Minister of National Defence's 1994 white paper on defence. Within the white paper the government admitted that Canada's defence policy commitments and national interests could only be fulfilled through the maintenance of multipurpose combat capable forces that are able to fight alongside the best and against the best. While making this admission, the government failed and continues to fail to give the Canadian armed forces the necessary number of personnel and material resources to fulfil the white paper commitments.

The government reduced the size of the regular force to 60,000 personnel. That is 6,700 less than the 66,700 recommended as a bare minimum by the special joint committee. The defence budget was also reduced from $10.5 billion to $9 billion, a serious reduction in purchasing power for badly needed new equipment. One might ask what is the result.

This year chief of defence staff General Baril said: “We possess a limited capability for deploying our forces often on short notice to meet international crises. The limitations are in the areas of troop movement and lift capability, intelligence gathering and the ability to effectively lead or co-ordinate multinational operations”.

I would like to stress that. Canadians really have to hear that and let it sink in because the chief of defence staff, the top general in the Canadian armed forces is saying that our armed forces have limitations in troop movement, getting them to an area where they are needed and also getting them back from an area where they were needed. Our armed forces have limitations when it comes to intelligence gathering which is a very important aspect for military operations. The chief also says that we have limitations in the ability to effectively lead or co-ordinate multinational operations.

That is very serious stuff facing the Canadian armed forces. And it is not because our troops are not well qualified. They are. It is because the resources of the Government of Canada have not been put into this very important area. All of this is at a time when our Prime Minister boldly committed what little armed forces we have left to military combat in Kosovo just the other day.

As obsolete equipment is not replaced, the problem of rust out of equipment occurs. In April 1998 the Auditor General of Canada reported to the House on the state of the Canadian armed forces equipment. He expressed grave concern that the deterioration of equipment was preventing the Canadian armed forces from fulfilling Canada's defence policy, the same defence policy that was written just a few years ago in 1994 by the Liberal government.

In terms of the army the auditor general pointed out that operationally it had not kept pace with technology to modernize its equipment, leaving it vulnerable to threats of low level and mid level operations. Its infantry and armour could be detected, engaged and defeated long before it was known that the enemy was even present. The auditor general unequivocally stated that the money for capital funding would decrease even further due to the high maintenance and operating costs of servicing aging equipment.

Here is the question. What should the Liberal government do to reverse the decline in the Canadian Armed Forces? I have some suggestions and some advice for the government this evening. First and foremost it must tackle the serious quality of life issues plaguing the forces and its personnel.

Since the Department of National Defence is facing a $750 million shortfall this year, the defence minister's much publicized attempts to acquire $700 million in funding is a moot point. What we need are creative solutions.

I propose that the Government of Canada create a Canadian Armed Forces service exemption of $5,000. The service exemption would be a graduated income tax exemption with the greatest benefit in favour of the lower ranks, the lowest paid members of the Canadian Armed Forces. The service exemption would increase spendable income for our troops. It would give them more money in their pockets without cutting into the defence budget and would protect capital projects and personnel levels in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Then the Liberal government must inject at least another $1 billion into defence spending so it approaches the $10.5 billion recommended by the special joint committee. This additional funding should be used to purchase badly needed equipment including ship borne helicopters. In the long term DND should be provided with stable funding so that defence planners can plan an attainable force structure.

Our forces play a meaningful role in world affairs. They must have air and sea lift capabilities and be prepared to acquire integrated battlefield technologies demanded by the high tech revolution in military affairs. If the government continues to cut defence spending or refuses to allocate more resources to defence in the future, it must revise its defence policy so it is consistent with the reduced capabilities of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Committing our forces to sovereignty protection, collective defence within NATO and international peacekeeping-peace enforcing without adequate resources is not only bad policy but is unfair to the proud men and women serving our country in Her Majesty's Canadian Armed Forces.