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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

Standing Committee On Finance December 16th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. The Minister of National Defence continually leads the Canadian public to believe that we do not have a serious problem with our defence forces and that every time a mission comes up it seems Canada is able to respond very quickly. The problem is that places tremendous stress on our troops. At this time, some 4,500 army troops are serving outside the country. That means three times that amount are needed to maintain that 4,500 figure. The reason is that 4,500 people are training to go on that mission, there are the 4,500 who are deployed on that mission already, and then recuperation time is needed, so there are another 4,500 people who have just returned from the mission and are taking time with their families and undergoing debriefing and training opportunities.

The whole concept of Canada's always being there and deploying more people with the budget constantly declining and the government foisting more missions on the armed forces is a very desperate situation that has come to a crossroads. We like to point these things out constantly to the Canadian public, but we always hear quite the opposite from the defence minister and the foreign affairs minister that everything seems to be fine. The Canadian public should realize this is a desperate situation.

The Canadian public has given its support to the Canadian armed forces in the missions we operate in around the world. It is time for the government to give the people in the Canadian armed forces the tools they need to do their job, whether it be peacekeeping or whether it be a combat role in hot spots around the world.

Standing Committee On Finance December 16th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise on behalf of the people of Okanagan—Coquihalla to speak to the prebudget debate.

It is appropriate to mention that as we close the House that we have some 4,500 Canadians serving abroad in the Canadian armed forces on missions who will not be sharing this holiday season with their families. I think the House would join me in congratulating those members of the Canadian armed forces for their hard work in the year 1999 and to wish them the very best this holiday season.

My subject today on the prebudget debate will be defence. In 1994 the federal government formed the special joint committee to review Canada's defence policy to answer the question of what principles, purposes and objectives should guide our government in setting defence policy in a rapidly changing world.

The special joint committee of which I was a member studied the issue for eight months and literally interviewed hundreds of witnesses from coast to coast and internationally. The special joint committee concluded that there was a limit to which defence spending cuts and personnel reductions could go without compromising the combat capability of the Canadian armed forces.

We recommended to the Liberal government at that time in 1994 that the Department of National Defence should maintain a core budget of at least $10.5 billion and personnel levels of the regular force were not to fall below 66,700. I stress that at that time these figures were absolute minimums. Any cuts below these figures would require a corresponding decrease in the commitments of our troops and any increase in commitments would require additional funding to the department.

In response the Liberal government issued its 1994 white paper which laid out the groundwork for its declared official defence policy. In the document the government went to great lengths to state officially that it was the policy of the Liberal government to maintain combat capable forces. I quote from that 1994 white paper which states:

The Government has concluded that the maintenance of multipurpose, combat-capable forces is in the national interest. It is only through the maintenance of such forces that Canada will be able to retain the necessary degree of flexibility and freedom of action when it comes to the defence of its interests and the projection of its values abroad.

The white paper further states:

Canada needs armed forces that are able to operate with the modern forces maintained by our allies and like-minded nations against a capable opponent—that is, able to fight alongside the best, against the best.

Since making these lofty proclamations the Liberal government has broken its stated defence policy by consciously pursuing a defence policy that has literally stripped the Canadian armed forces of combat capability.

The Liberals have accomplished this in several ways. First, they have begun to pursue a foreign policy based on the fluffy and cuddly concept of soft power and human security. I will quote the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the defence minister's senior, who sees little value in the concept of a combat capable force. In the 1997 issue of the International Journal he stated:

A country's image is key to the use of soft power. An attractive set of values and an image as a trustworthy partner encourages other countries to consider and weigh our views.

He referred to soft power by saying that it:

—blurs, even counters, the perception of traditional power assets, such as military force.

The problem is that this idea of influencing other nations by using Canada's image as a country full of nice folks with nice values just does not work.

Let us look at how influential the foreign affairs minister was with the military junta that took over Pakistan recently. Does the Minister of Foreign Affairs really think Saddam Hussein or Slobadan Milosevic will really mend their ways after hearing about Canada's great values? It just will not happen.

Ironically even the creator of the soft power concept, Joseph Nye, understood that soft power meant nothing without hard power or military assets to back up that concept. Also the Liberal government slashed defence spending a whopping 24% to just over $9 billion, far below what was recommended in the 1994 special joint committee report. This has literally gutted the Canadian armed forces.

I believe many of my Liberal colleagues across the way, in particular those who sit on the defence committee, would agree with this point. The Liberal members, the Reform members and the Conservative member supported the defence committee's first report to the House calling for significant increases in defence spending as a percentage of GDP over the next five years. The finance committee has recognized the urgency of the situation and has recommended a five year increase for national defence.

The results of these massive cuts to defence spending were very predictable. Personnel had to be cut to 60,000, far below that which we recommended in the special joint committee and a dramatic drop from the 87,000 personnel we had in 1987.

According to the Conference of Defence Associations that appeared before the defence committee today, this number has fallen to about 56,000 or 57,000 because national defence cannot afford to replace the people it is losing through attrition.

As we all know manpower is essential to our combat capability. The army is particularly hard hit with personnel at only 65% of what is needed to achieve combat capability. The Conference of Defence Associations told the defence committee today that Canada's forces would be hard pressed to fulfil the Liberal government's 1994 white paper commitment to field a combat capable brigade size force. It argued that the Canadian army is really only combat capable at the company level, which is about 150 troops.

In Canada, with a population of some 30 million people, we are only capable of fielding a company of 150 personnel that are combat capable. 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 two weeks ago, members might have read in the press, Colonel Howard Marsh advised the government contrary to the government's own white paper on defence that it should cut the army to 10,000 personnel from the current 20,000 and make up the difference by using high tech gadgets. This idea is absolutely ludicrous.

The Conference of Defence Associations stated today that even with the army at its current size of 20,000 it is far too small. High tech gadgets will not make up the difference for the crucial role played by highly trained individuals in the army.

Just last month the Conference of Defence Associations stated during hearings before the finance committee that the Canadian forces were on the verge of a major breakdown in combat capability, unless the defence budget was increased by at least $500 million, climbing to $1.5 billion over the next few years.

It is important for me to mention again the mismanagement of the Sea King helicopters by the Liberal government. We have been waiting for six years for a replacement for the Sea King helicopter. Canadians still wait and this is unacceptable. We probably will not have replacement helicopters until the year 2008. They are literally falling apart. Pieces are flying through the air from Sea King helicopters. They need to be replaced and they need to be replaced now.

The Liberal government has broken its stated defence policy which claims Canada must have combat capable forces. Instead the Liberal government has consciously pursued a defence policy that has stripped our Canadian forces of much of its combat capability.

Before we get to the point of no return the official opposition calls on the Liberal government to increase defence spending by at least $2 billion over the next two years to reverse this decline in the combat capability of the Canadian armed forces.

Employment Insurance December 15th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, at this time of the year it is very important that we take the opportunity, when it is given, to express our gratitude to the men and women of the Canadian forces who are serving abroad and will not be home with their families.

It was in this context that on December 1 I asked the Minister of National Defence a question pertaining to the replacement of the Canadian forces' Sea King maritime helicopter. I pointed out that the Liberal government's own 1994 defence white paper, which is the official government policy, promised that the Sea King would be replaced prior to the year 2000. The Liberal government's 1994 white paper states:

Canada's maritime forces will be adequately equipped to carry out their new array of tasks. There is an urgent need for robust and capable new shipborne helicopters—. Work will, therefore, begin immediately to identify options and plans to put into service new affordable replacement helicopters by the end of the decade.

That is found at page 46 of the defence white paper.

Note that the 1994 white paper promised to have new maritime helicopters put into service by the end of the decade, not tendered as a contract, but—and again I stress—put into service. That means that our maritime helicopter air crews should be taking delivery of the last few helicopters during the next couple of weeks.

Obviously, given the late date, the Liberal government has broken its promise to Canadians and its commitment to its very own defence white paper of 1994.

In November, during a meeting of the standing committee on national defence, the Minister of National Defence proclaimed that no new maritime helicopter would be in service until the year 2005 at the very earliest.

The Minister of National Defence has broken his own government's stated policy. This broken promise by the Liberal government has very serious consequences for the Canadian forces, and in particular the personnel. Continuing to use the Sea Kings has reduced the operational capabilities of our forces, and it has also placed those air crews at risk.

The Sea Kings are now 35 years old, older than most of the people serving as crew on those crafts. The equipment is technically out of date and requires over 30 hours of maintenance for every one hour of flight. Often, when needed on missions or during military manoeuvres, the Sea Kings are unavailable due to technical difficulties.

In my question on December 1 I said that Canadians continually read about how forces operations have been hampered by the failures of the Sea Kings. It took only one day to find an example. On December 2 the news headlines read that a Sea King helicopter experienced engine failure and was forced to make an emergency landing on the water at Dili Harbour in East Timor. This was an operational disaster that put Canadian air service personnel at risk.

Today the Canadian Press carried a story that the Sea Kings are literally disintegrating in the skies, with at least seven significant pieces falling off in mid-flight since July. For example, on July 7 a window popped off a cargo door, landing near a house in York Harbour, Newfoundland. Worse still, on October 12 a bolt popped off a Sea King, forcing an emergency landing at Shearwater.

This is unacceptable. The Liberal policy has been broken. I believe that the government has lost its commitment to the Canadian forces. It has lost capability for the forces and, most tragically, lost lives.

I ask the government, where is the replacement for the Sea King helicopter?

Nisga'A Final Agreement Act December 6th, 1999

moved:

Motion No. 187

That Bill C-9 be amended by adding after line 29 on page 7 the following new clause:

“20.1 (1) On the expiration of one year after the coming into force of this Act, the provisions contained herein shall be referred to such committee of the House of Commons, as may be designated or established for that purpose.

(2) The committee designated or established for the purpose of subsection (1) shall, as soon as practicable, undertake a comprehensive review of the provisions and operation of this Act and, shall within one year after the review is undertaken, submit a report to the House of Commons.”

Nisga'A Final Agreement Act December 2nd, 1999

Mr. Speaker, it is quite an interesting debate today. I did want to respond to a couple of the comments that I have heard from the Liberal Party in particular regarding the Nisga'a final agreement.

The first thing that comes to mind is that one of the members said that it was just the Reform Party that opposes the Nisga'a deal. That is not true at all. If we look at the vote that the Nisga'a people had, there was not an absolute consensus on the Nisga'a final agreement even with the them. Neither was there a consensus or even a majority of people in the province of B.C. who thought that the Nisga'a final agreement would bring certainty. The official opposition in the province of B.C., the B.C. Liberal Party, also strenuously objects to the Nisga'a final agreement.

To enhance that argument, I point out that I have presented literally thousands of names of people in my riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla who are opposed to the Nisga'a final agreement. Through the office of petitions in the House of Commons, some of those are still being processed. There are many more people who are still rising up and saying that there are major problems with the Nisga'a final agreement and they want to be heard. That is why the Reform Party of Canada is bringing forward a number of amendments to this very important piece of legislation that is being put through the House of Commons.

It should also be very instructive to the government that the majority of B.C. representatives in the Reform Party of Canada are opposing this. We would not be opposing it if we were not hearing from our constituents in our ridings that they have problems with this agreement. For the government, of which most of its members are from Ontario or other provinces, to argue that the Nisga'a final agreement is being accepted by the people of B.C., is just a ridiculous statement if we look at the democratic process that we live under. We are here to represent the province of B.C.

I have an interesting story to tell the House. Some seven years ago, my first trip to Ottawa before I was elected, I got on the phone to make the flight arrangements. I remember distinctly talking to the customer service representative of the airlines. She asked me where I was calling from and I told her that I was in the Okanagan Valley. She asked me where I wanted to go and I said that I was going to Ottawa. After looking on her computer screen she said that I could not get there from where I was. Although she made that comment tongue-in-cheek, and it was kind of humourous at the time and still is, that is the way a lot of British Columbians feel. Ottawa is so far away and so disjointed from the way we feel in the province of British Columbia that we simply cannot get through to the people here, in particular the Liberal federal government.

I have another example of how the Liberals deal with these types of situations. We have had a considerable amount of unfortunate incidents in my riding between non-native and native groups. It has affected our economy.

One of the most recent ones was when the Minister of Transport sent a Liberal senator to make a big announcement at the Penticton airport. The announcement was that the federal government would put $650,000 into repaving the runway at that airport. That in itself is not bad and the work needs to be done, but the fact is that for years now I have been telling the government that there is a serious problem which has caused division in the riding between the native and non-native groups, that is a specific land claim against the Penticton airport.

I almost felt sorry for that Liberal senator. He should have known, after years and years of attempting to get this message through to the Government of Canada, that they have to deal first with the root problem we are facing in Penticton, which is the land claim settlement and the issues with the native band regarding ownership of the land. They blew into town, dropped $650,000, blew out of town as quickly as possible, and left the problem with the local people who have no authority to deal with the issue.

What has that caused? It has caused a number of things. It caused more disruption at the Penticton airport. The band and the locatee families have stopped the paving company from fulfilling its work. It has caused all kinds of problems but this is typical of the Liberal government.

When we look at the Nisga'a agreement it is the same. They came to the province of British Columbia and said that this would solve all their problems and left town. They will push it through the House of Commons very quickly, and who will be left with the economic problems at the end of the day? First it will be the Nisga'a people and then the people of British Columbia. That is unsatisfactory.

I have heard from members in the House today that the agreement will not affect anyone else. In the research I have done I discovered a briefing note from the NDP ministry of agriculture to the minister of agriculture which confirmed that the former premiers of British Columbia continually see the Nisga'a final agreement as a template for treaty negotiations in B.C. I say former because they keep changing premiers as the NDP has trouble keeping someone in place there. Then it went on to state:

Impacts on current agricultural uses of crown resources will result if the Nisga'a land selection and settlement model is repeated.

The briefing note then detailed what the impacts would be by stating that we could expect to see significant localized disruptions to individual ranchers within close proximity to first nations land. As an example it pointed out that 1,000 farms in the south Okanagan held crown tenures within 10 kilometres of existing Indian reserves. The same land holds 69% of the British Columbia agricultural land reserve. All this land will become the subject of land claims if the Nisga'a agreement is used as a template, which even the former premiers of British Columbia admit. The briefing note went on to state:

—that the total land quotum to be transferred to First Nations would be in the range of 5% of the total land base, an area larger than the total Agricultural Land Reserve. This amount of land would likely consume the majority of Crown Agricultural Land Reserve, approximately 2.5 million hectares.

Given the dramatic impact of the Nisga'a final agreement in a riding that is so far away from the Nass Valley, the House must consider those problems. We must be very cautious. We must be very sure that we have processes in place to make sure that other economic industries, whether it is ranching, orcharding or natural resources such as mining and forestry, are not disrupted by this type of land settlement. Those areas are of great interest to the province of B.C. To say that this agreement brings certainty is far from the truth. The briefing note I have presented today is just one of the examples we have.

There has been a lot of talk in the House about private property. I stress that the Nisga'a agreement gives collective rights. The Reform Party would like to see it be individual rights.

We think there will be some problems down the road. What do we do when collective rights come in conflict with individual rights? That is the big question. As the Liberal government does time and time again with legislation, it will not spell it out clearly. It will leave it to the courts, which means more more economic uncertainty in the province of British Columbia.

My colleagues and I want to see certainty. We want to see finality to the whole issue of native land claims. Unless we have that we will have years and years and probably decades of more uncertainty in the province of British Columbia.

On behalf of the riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla and the people of B.C., I urge the government to look at our amendments very carefully and accept the express desires of the people of B.C.

Nisga'A Final Agreement Act December 2nd, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I request a quorum count.

Nisga'A Final Agreement Act December 2nd, 1999

What do the B.C. Liberals say?

Nisga'A Final Agreement Act December 2nd, 1999

moved:

Motion No. 27

That Bill C-9, in the preamble, be amended by deleting lines 28 to 30 on page 1.

National Defence December 1st, 1999

Mr. Speaker, the government is putting Canadians at risk. The white paper clearly promised to put into service a replacement for the Sea King helicopter by the end of the decade, not to tender a contract but to find a replacement for the Sea King by the end of the decade.

The government has reneged on its promise, which has caused reduction in our armed forces capability and has put air crew at risk. Why has the government broken this promise?

National Defence December 1st, 1999

Mr. Speaker, Canadians continually read about how armed forces operations have been hampered by the failures of the antiquated Sea King helicopter. It is really no wonder. The 1994 defence white paper stated that the Sea King helicopter was at the end of its operational life.

The government promised to put into service a replacement by the end of the decade. We have four weeks left. My question is for the government and for the Prime Minister. Where is the replacement for the Sea King helicopter?