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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

International Organizations April 6th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Okanagan—Coquihalla to speak to Motion No. 130.

The 20th century was host to two of the most costly wars mankind has ever known in terms of lives lost and material resources consumed. In the aftermath of the second world war, the international community banded together to form the United Nations. One of the prime roles of the UN was to engage in the new concept of conflict prevention. By providing the international community with a forum for debate, international players could air and resolve their differences without resorting to conflict.

During the last 50 years the United Nations has largely failed as an institution which could engage in successful conflict prevention. With the start of the cold war and the nuclear arms race the international community was divided between the east and west, both supporting a number of client states which engaged in a number of small and medium size conflicts.

With the collapse of this bipolar world over a decade ago, the number of international conflicts has actually grown with the gulf war and the recent conflict in the Balkans as two conflicts in which Canada has been actively and heavily engaged.

The international community's reaction to these conflicts has been slow and focused on conflict management, post-conflict resolution and reconstruction. This has not only proved costly in material terms but has created a major burden for the armed forces of mid-size powers like Canada.

The Liberal government has spent the last seven years slashing defence spending and cutting personnel and hardware from the Canadian armed forces. Despite cutting defence spending by 23% and over 13,000 personnel since 1993, Canada has more troops abroad than at any time since the Korean war 50 years ago. Despite having a mandate to monitor and defend Canadian territory and the territories of our allies, more and more of the resources of the Canadian armed forces are being dedicated to peacekeeping.

Figures from the Department of National Defence claim that direct peacekeeping duties cost the department $1.45 billion during the 1999-2000 fiscal year. Almost $1 billion is forecast to be spent next year on peacekeeping. That is over 10% of the armed forces budget which has shrunk so small that urgent acquisitions of equipment such as the replacement for the Sea King helicopter has been postponed a decade and counting.

The cost of peacekeeping has more than doubled from the $465 million spent by DND during the 1997-98 fiscal year. The status quo has become unsustainable. With the number of conflicts around the world escalating and Canada's defence budget dwindling, the international community must finally act and move from a focus on conflict management and post-war reconstruction to one of conflict prevention. International financial institutions must play a role if we are to succeed, with the World Bank and the international monetary fund being two key examples.

On the other hand, however, soft power initiatives must be accompanied by hard power military assets because without hard power there will be little incentive for some nations to respond to purely economic levers.

This is where Canada is letting down the international community. The problem is that the idea of influencing other nations using soft power initiatives does not always work. Look how influential our Minister of Foreign Affairs was with the military junta which took over Pakistan recently.

Does the Minister of Foreign Affairs really think that Saddam Hussein or Slobodan Milosevic will really mend their ways? Both have already experienced punitive economic blockades with little effect on their inherent aggressiveness. Ironically, even the creator of the soft power concept, Joseph Nye, understood that soft power meant absolutely nothing without hard power to back it up.

As mentioned, the Liberal government has slashed defence spending by a whopping 23% from $11.28 billion to a low of just $9 billion last year.

The modest defence spending increase in this year's budget barely maintains the status quo with only $60 million in additional funding to purchase badly needed equipment. This has literally gutted the Canadian armed forces.

I believe many of my Liberal colleagues on the defence committee would agree with what I am saying here today. Both the Liberal members and the Canadian Alliance members supported the defence committee's first report to the House of Commons calling for significant increases in defence spending as a percentage of GDP over the next five years.

The finance committee has also realized the urgency of this situation and recommended a five year budget increase for national defence. The result of the massive cuts to defence spending was predictable. Personnel levels had to be cut to 60,000, far below that recommended by the special joint committee of 1994 and a dramatic drop from the 87,000 troops we had in 1987.

According to the Conference of Defence Associations which appeared before the defence committee last December, the number has even fallen below the 60,000 level to 57,000 because national defence cannot afford to replace those who have left the Canadian forces.

As we know, manpower is an essential aspect of combat capability. The army is particularly hard hit with personnel at only 65% of what is needed. The Conference of Defence Associations told the defence committee that the Canadian armed forces would be hard pressed to fulfil the Liberal government's 1994 white paper commitment to build a combat capable brigade size force. This is important because the 1994 defence white paper is the government's policy on national defence and the government cannot ensure that the commitment it made to Canadians can be enforced.

The Conference of Defence Association argued the Canadian army was really only combat capable at the company level, which is a group of about 150 troops. Here is Canada, a nation of 30 million people, only capable of fielding company size combat capable forces. We have seen how stretched our two battalions are in Kosovo and Bosnia. We have to bring home our battalion of 1,300 troops from Kosovo because we cannot effectively sustain two battalions in the region.

The army is getting so desperate that recently Colonel Howie Marsh advised the government, contrary to the government's own defence policy, to cut the army to 10,000 from the current 20,000 and make up the difference using high technology. What a ludicrous argument. The idea is unworkable.

The Conference of Defence Association stated to the defence committee that our army at 20,000 was far too small. High technology, as crucial as it is, will not make up for the role played by highly trained individuals. Soldiers on the ground are what the army needs. It is just as important as the massive deterioration and rust out of our Canadian forces equipment.

Last year the auditor general determined that equipment requirements of the Canadian forces exceeded the planned budget by $4.5 billion. With a capital budget increase of only $60 million, Canadians are wondering how DND will replace the aging Sea King helicopters and enter the revolution of military affairs, and how our armed forces with the latest technology will be able to put up any combat capability whatsoever.

In conclusion, preventing conflict before it begins must become an international priority. I congratulate my colleague from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca for bringing to the House such an innovative and worthwhile international plan of action. He has my support, and I suspect he should have the support of all members of the House on this initiative.

Export Development Corporation March 24th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, the public accounts report that one category of EDC loans is worth $140 million and indicate that payment was due in November 1997. This is taxpayers' money. The people of Canada are the only shareholders of the crown corporation known as EDC.

I ask the minister responsible to explain to the shareholders of EDC why $140 million of taxpayers' money has not been repaid.

Citizenship Of Canada Act March 23rd, 2000

Mr. Speaker, Canadians in general as I said earlier, do believe that Canada's most valuable asset is its people. It is a legitimate requirement that Canada in its desire to grow and become the most competitive nation in the world seek out the brightest and best qualified people to come to Canada.

Having said that, there is a legitimate need to recognize that some people do come to Canada as legitimate refugees. The UN has a declaration on refugee status and it is very explicit. This bill has gone one step further in stating that Canada would also take in people who, I guess by some declaration, say that they are people in need.

As I have been able to travel around the world, there are many people in other countries who would love to live in Canada and have the opportunities that we have here. The fact is that those people are citizens of other countries and they cannot simply come to Canada just to improve their own economic status. There is a responsibility that goes along with being a Canadian citizen and Canadians understand that. The legislation should focus on dealing with the responsibility of being a Canadian, what it means and include in it the aspirations that people want to have down the road.

The first thing that should be done is we should deal with the immigration system itself. We should address the problems that we saw last year in British Columbia. We should deal with the boatloads of people who are not legitimate refugees. They just said, “Canada sounds like a nice place to go to, let us go to Canada”. They paid an exorbitant amount of money to come here. It was through illegal means that they arrived in Canada. Those people are still being held up by the process that this country has developed.

We have to deal with that. We have to deal with people smuggling. We have to deal with the real problems that Canadians are concerned about. We have to improve the immigration system.

Every single member in the House, no matter what political viewpoint, are all proud Canadians. We have a responsibility to the people of Canada to deal with the problems facing Canadians. Immigration is a disaster and everyone in the House knows it. That is what we should be focusing on.

Citizenship Of Canada Act March 23rd, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Calgary Northeast.

I am here to tell the House today that I am a proud Canadian, just like many other members of the House of Commons. I am a proud Canadian because I have had the experience of being able to travel throughout the world as early as when I was 17 years old and joined the Canadian Armed Forces. I was able to travel around the world and the Canadian flag was held with deep respect everywhere I travelled.

Just a few years ago I was fortunate enough to travel on the 50th anniversary of the end of the second world war to Holland. That was the most exciting time of my life, seeing the Canadian flags up and down the streets of Holland in commemoration of Canada's liberation of Holland in the second world war. It was very moving. It was an experience that I do not think I will ever forget. As I said, I am a very proud Canadian.

It is important in this debate today to realize that Canada's most valuable asset is not our natural resources or many of the other things people would think. It is actually the people of Canada. It is the people who make this country what it is. It is a democracy and we should be very proud of that fact.

I rise on behalf of the people of Okanagan—Coquihalla to speak on Bill C-16, an act respecting Canadian citizenship. The purpose of Bill C-16 is to repeal and replace the current Citizenship Act which many Canadians know is severely flawed. While this is an important goal, I have two serious reservations with this proposed legislation. First, specific clauses in the bill need to be amended before Bill C-16 will function as intended. Second, the timing of this bill is all wrong. Changes to the Immigration Act need to be dealt with before this bill is passed and no bill dealing with immigration has been tabled in the House.

The Liberal government claims that Bill C-16 is the first major reform with respect to citizenship in 20 years. The intent of this bill is to provide more clearly defined guidelines, replace current procedures with a new administrative structure and increase the minister's power to deny citizenship. Unfortunately what the Liberals intend and what the Liberals actually do are two separate things. Bill C-16 is no exception. While the Liberals claim that Bill C-16 is a major modern reform of the Citizenship Act, those of us who look closely at the bill see a number of areas that have been totally neglected and others that have been actually impacted in a negative manner.

In 1994 the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration made a number of important recommendations with respect to citizenship which the government has totally ignored. Given that the government has had five years to develop this bill, it is inexcusable that it is full of serious omissions.

Like most Canadians, I attach a great deal of importance to my citizenship as a Canadian. Therefore, I would like to focus my comments on the conditions for granting citizenship.

The current legislation governing citizenship is lax in this regard. Currently individuals who are deemed to be permanent residents of Canada have been found to have nothing more than a bank account or property in Canada. It seems as though having a physical presence is not important. Canadians believe it is. Bill C-16 takes a half measure to deal with this issue. It correctly defines a permanent resident as an individual who must have a physical presence here in Canada for at least 1,095 days during a six year period preceding their application for citizenship.

While this makes good sense, Bill C-16 does not provide any mechanism for determining when applicants arrive in Canada or when they leave, nor does the Liberal government intend to develop one. This was a serious concern for the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration and the committee members recommended that measures be introduced to monitor periods of time permanent residents are out of the country. Without a viable means of determining time spent in Canada, requiring that a permanent resident spend 1,095 days in Canada is as meaningless as a judge sentencing a convicted murderer to life in prison. We all know the time will not be served.

There are a number of other problems with this bill. The bill specifies that an applicant must have an adequate knowledge of one of the official languages in Canada but no specific provisions are made for how this is to be judged or by whom.

Another serious problem is that the number one recommendation of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration was that the declaration of Canadian citizenship express the vision Canadians share for their future and the importance they attach to their citizenship. This should have been an opportunity for all Canadians to express what they wanted to see in the Canadian citizenship oath. It would have been a great opportunity for a nation-wide patriotic debate. Instead, the minister hobbled together an oath on her own. We can almost picture the minister huddled together with her staff just before a question period briefing and trying to put together a citizenship oath.

Of course with all things Liberal, there is an issue of patronage. Despite the importance Canadians place on their citizenship the Liberals have maintained the tradition, Mr. Speaker, of patronage appointees. I know the Speaker is shocked by that.

Citizenship judges have been renamed citizenship commissioners in the proposed legislation but most of their duties will be taken over by departmental officials. It is just one more plum post for friends of the Prime Minister.

This legislation also discriminates against refugees. Current refugees get to count each full day of residency in Canada from the date of application as a half day toward the total needed for their citizenship application, but Bill C-16 removes this provision, penalizing applicants for all the bureaucratic delays that are already in the system. This is blatantly unfair for true refugees.

The real problem with Bill C-16 though is that the Liberals have their priorities all wrong. Last year the people of British Columbia watched as boatload after boatload of illegal immigrants entered this country with no action from the government at all. Our immigration system is in a desperate situation, pandering to people traffickers and others who abuse our immigration system and our compassion.

Canadians want to know why the Liberals have made citizenship a priority when the immigration system is in such dire straits. It is like putting new windows on a house when the roof is collapsing. It appears as though the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has no intention of fixing the multitude of problems facing Canada's immigration system.

In an advanced copy of her new immigration and refugee protection act, not yet tabled in the House, it is apparent that the Liberals will not close the door to bogus asylum seekers and people traffickers. Instead the Liberals are throwing the door wide open.

The definition of refugee is slated to be expanded and entrenched in the law with an entirely new category called “people in need of protection”. This definition goes well beyond that required by the United Nations' definition. The new immigration and refugee protection act does outline increased fines and penalties for the crime of people smuggling but these mean nothing without credible sentencing. Sentencing in Canada is anything but credible.

Recent statistics from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics indicate that between 1995 and 1998 only 14 charges have ever been made under section 94.1 of the Immigration Act. Section 94.1 states:

—every person who knowingly organizes, includes, aids or abets...the coming into Canada of a person without valid documents required by the law is guilty of an offence and liable:

on conviction to a fine not over $100,000 or to imprisonment for not more than five years, or both

and

on summary conviction, to a fine not over $10,000 or to imprisonment of not more than one year.

During the last five years nobody charged under section 94.1 of the Immigration Act for people smuggling has served one day in jail. According to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, the toughest penalty handed down for an individual convicted was a $4,000 fine and one year probation. No wonder our immigration system is the laughing stock of the world.

Canada needs to be recruiting the world's best and brightest while allowing legitimate refugees to enter Canada and acquire citizenship in a timely and fair manner. While the citizenship act is in need of review, our immigration system is in dire straits and needs immediate attention. The government must focus its attention on priority areas like immigration. Let us get our immigration system up and running effectively. Then we can deal with citizenship.

Airline Industry March 1st, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Okanagan—Coquihalla who are concerned that the federal Liberal government is not protecting consumers in light of the impending changes to the airline industry.

The merger of Air Canada and Canadian has resulted in significant reductions in service to the Penticton Regional Airport. Today Canadian Regional has given notice that it intends to eliminate Dash 8 service. That means more than 100 seats a day will no longer be available.

The Penticton Regional Airport is vital to the economy of the whole South Okanagan. It provides a direct link to our busy convention centre, agri-tourism industry and expanding high technology sector. When Dash 8 service is eliminated there will not even be enough seats servicing the region to meet current demand.

Air Canada made a commitment to the federal government that it would maintain air service to small communities for a minimum of three years. The people of the South Okanagan expect the Minister of Transport to enforce this commitment. The economy of the South Okanagan depends on it.

Human Resources Development February 23rd, 2000

Mr. Speaker, once again it is sad to see a minister of the crown who does not understand that $1 billion that is mismanaged in any riding is still mismanaged. The government should be accountable for that mismanagement.

I will ask the minister again, $3.2 billion of hard earned taxpayers' money went to the minister's department for grants and contributions. We now know it has been mismanaged. How much more has the minister asked the Minister of Finance to contribute to boondoggle grants and contributions? How much?

Human Resources Development February 23rd, 2000

Mr. Speaker, since 1993 the finance minister has increased taxes on the average Canadian family by approximately $5,000. Those hard earned, soaked in sweat tax dollars were used to fund wasteful grants and contributions at HRDC.

My question for the Minister of Human Resources Development is simple. How much more money will you take from the pockets of Canadian families in order to fund wasteful contributions and grants?

Human Resources Development February 23rd, 2000

Mr. Speaker, since 1993 the finance minister has raised taxes on the average Canadian family by $5,000. Those tax dollars, hard earned, soaked in sweat tax dollars, were used to fund wasteful grants and contributions—

Modernization Of Benefits And Obligations Act February 21st, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I know the member from British Columbia is loud and proud. He is interrupting my speech, but I believe a homosexual couple would be far more interested in seeing broad based tax cuts delivered by the government than the benefits that we are talking about today in Bill C-23.

I will wrap up my speech this afternoon by saying again that I speak today on behalf of a minority group, that minority group being Christians who feel that the legislature of the country has a responsibility to set aside and make laws based on the uniqueness of the marriage between a man and woman and extending benefits to make sure that family unit is protected and looked after by the federal government.

Modernization Of Benefits And Obligations Act February 21st, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the member. I too would like to enter the debate on Bill C-23 to speak out on behalf of a minority group in the country, that group being Christians.

All of us must remember that every morning we start with a prayer in this place. The laws we have developed in this place are also developed because of our Christian heritage. I speak out on behalf of the traditions, society and foundations we have in Canada.

Bill C-23 was introduced in the House about 10 days ago. A number of people have phoned my office or written in by e-mail, by letter or have faxed me. I have letters from two well-known organizations, Focus on the Family and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada which has several thousand members in Canada. They deserve to be heard in this debate because they believe, as I do, that the union of a man and a woman is something sacred in this country.

That is why the Parliament of Canada extended benefits in the first place. If we look back at the family allowance program, an old program which is no longer with us, the Government of Canada and Parliament of Canada developed that program because the union of a man and a woman is very special. They procreate; they have children. The Government of Canada and the Parliament of Canada extended benefits to the family because there is a special status for that family and it is appropriate.

The recent booklet by Human Resources Development Canada, “Social Security in Canada: Background Facts”, answers some questions. It states that our social safety net was intended to meet the needs of the traditional married family. The booklet states: “Much of our social security structure and our work arrangements were developed to meet the needs of the average Canadian household as it existed”. It goes on to state that households consisted of two parents with two children. This was back in the fifties and sixties.

The intent of parliament when designing social benefits like the former family allowance program and current child tax benefit was to encourage and to protect the union of a man and a woman, and their children. Marriage was the key to that union.

Families are facing difficult times. Crippling taxation has been foisted on them by the last six or seven years of federal Liberal government mismanagement. Both parents are being forced to go out to work. Day care and child care expenses are escalating. There is a tremendous amount of pressure on the traditional family.

What has not changed is that marriage, the union of a heterosexual couple, is the backbone of Canadian society and the cornerstone of public policy because it is the only union that can procreate with the intent of caring for and raising children over the long term. It is not an institution that should be unilaterally changed by the courts, bureaucrats or the federal Liberal government.

As many of us know, effectively raising children requires a sustained expenditure of resources. It is to the benefit of all society that the next generation of children grows into healthy adults. Given the fact of married couples who are dedicated to raising children, the next generation requires continued support by parliament, by the 301 members of parliament to meet those children's needs.

Last June parliament directed the Liberal government to affirm the definition of marriage in legislation with wide support of the Reform Party motion. By introducing Bill C-23, however, the Liberals once again are ignoring the will of the Canadian people. Bill C-23 strips the institution of marriage of its unique public policy recognition. Not only does Bill C-23 fail to affirm the definition of marriage. It actually repeals the definition of marriage while it redefines terms such as related person and family. In many instances the term spouse is being replaced by the word survivor.

Bill C-23 introduces a new concept of common law partner which is defined as a person cohabiting with another person in a conjugal relationship for a year. The legislation fails to precisely define conjugal but alludes to the fact that it is referring to sexual activity.

Our social benefits were created to support and sustain the unique institution of marriage and the rearing of children. Extending the benefits of a traditional married family to two people who happen to live together in a conjugal relationship for one year is unfair and creates inequality. Why? It is unfair because the Liberals have chosen to extend benefits based solely on the presence of sexual activity while completely ignoring the unique role of marriage and child rearing.

Bill C-23 creates inequality because it blatantly discriminates against other important relationships of dependency where no sexual activity occurs whatsoever. It is not uncommon for elderly siblings, for instance, to live together or a parent with adult children. In fact poll respondents who indicate acceptance of benefits going to same sex couples show a stronger degree of support for benefits going to any relationship of economic dependence.

The Liberal government has missed the mark on Bill C-23. Many Canadians are clearly telling the government that economic dependence, not sexual activity, should determine the benefits and entitlements. The Liberal government should be required to demonstrate a clear and compelling public interest for extending benefits based on one's sexual activity and not economic dependency. The Liberals cannot because there are no compelling reasons.

Bill C-23 is legislation that is being driven by the courts and not by the economic needs of individual Canadians. In fact I would argue that the Liberals do not care about the economic needs of Canadians one bit. Since 1993 the Liberals have increased taxes every year through bracket creep. They have cut transfer payments to the provinces. They have cut employment insurance. They have increased payroll taxes. They have refused to index income tax rates with inflation.

Because sexual activity is the sole criterion for determining who receives benefits and who does not, Canadian taxpayers are wondering how the government will know whether a couple is truly having a conjugal relationship. For the past month Canadians have witnessed how the Liberals have bungled the whole scheme of grants. Granting benefits based on something difficult to prove will create more havoc and abuse than Human Resources Development Canada or any other department.