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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

Supply October 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments by the hon. member. Whenever we come up with value added ideas such as I have mentioned here today we should explore them at every possibility.

There is a misconception on that side of the House of what the Reform Party is saying should be done. We have said this very clearly but it has fallen on deaf ears at times that the items Canadians feel are the most important should be prioritized. It should look like a balance sheet. I know the hon. member has spent many years in business. It is very similar to what someone would do in their own business when they found that their outflow of money was larger than what they were bringing in.

Supply October 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to participate in debate on the motion brought forward by the Reform Party requesting that the government bring down a plan of action.

I was going through my files today on this very subject and found a headline that caught my eye: "Slashing the Deficit in Just Two Hours". This was the heading of a column in the June 13, 1994 edition of Maclean's magazine by Diane Francis. She has a plan. I might not agree with all the things in her plan, but at least there is a plan and there are topics that can be discussed.

We are here today to find out some ideas and put some thoughts on the table about how we can reduce the deficit and the debt. As we all know politics is the art of possible. Let us try to make things possible by reducing the deficit and the debt. For far too many years the country has been living off its credit. Like other spendthrift debtors there comes a time when they finally have to pay the piper. They either quit spending more than they earn and begin to repay their debts, or the banks foreclose on their homes, seize their cars and they are bankrupt.

The bank is getting ready to foreclose on our mortgage, to repossess our car and to cut up this nation's credit cards. Finally the country and its government have to wake up and face this reality. No longer can it be ignored. The finance minister has finally heard this message and I congratulate him for having the courage to admit it in his statement.

The Reform Party was catapulted here one year ago by common sense Canadians. We have been trying to get this message across to the government from the first day of this Parliament. Decades of spendthrift management and extremely poor decisions have entrenched programs and attitudes that have led the nation to spend its birthright and mortgage its future. We must for our children's sake get this mess under control.

The finance minister has said that each one of us must decide which government services we personally can do without. No longer can Canadians take refuge in the attitude that someone else can pay, that someone else's services can be cut. We must let Canadians prioritize our spending, prioritize our programs, something again that the Reform Party and its members on this side of the House campaigned for rigorously during the last election.

Governments have often sought to supply services through crown corporations because it was felt these were necessary, that these services could not be provided by the private sector. Perhaps at one time this was true. Perhaps there was justification for pouring funds from the public purse into these uneconomic businesses, but it is an expensive proposition and one that has stifled competition.

This philosophy has also cost this country greatly in dollars and lost opportunities. Over the years crown corporations have contributed mightily to our monstrous national debt and high taxes which have stunted growth and discouraged innovation in this country. There comes a point when these crown corporations no longer fill any real need, when inertia is their prime reason for being. We can no longer afford this.

Today we are a nation of some 28 million people. Times have changed. Our needs have changed. Yet still we ladle public money into ventures best left to the private sector and in the process we smother competition and eviscerate the entrepreneurial spirit. The people of this country have been led down a perilous path.

The plain and simple fact is that goods and services are provided more efficiently, more effectively and with better quality by the private sector in a competitive environment. Why then do we still maintain crown corporations and agencies that meddle in the free marketplace on the strength of huge dollops of money from the public purse?

Even at a time when there was justification for government owned broadcasters which gobble up close to $1.2 billion a year, how can it be justified today? For instance the CBC was created so that Canadian culture was sure not to be lost, but things have changed. Technology has changed. An example of that is the private cable companies.

Private cable companies across this nation supply community access channels. In my own riding of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt, Shaw Cable provides access to a community channel for cultural programming, for interest groups to make programs. This is something we should look at. How can $1.2 billion a year to the CBC be justified? Would this money not be better spent on educating and training our youth so that they can have productive futures, so that they will have no need for expensive UI programs or welfare?

We must set realistic priorities. We no longer have the luxury of wasting precious tax dollars on foolish spending. Of course the other side will criticize me by saying: "The hon. member is saying he is just going to cut everything". I want to make it very clear that is not what I am saying. I am saying that every single government department, agency, crown corporation and marketing board should be evaluated for its relevance in today's economic climate. If the same function is or could be provided

by the private sector, that government body should be disbanded immediately.

Organizations such as the Canada Council defy common sense. When we are talking about shrinking funds for education and health care, how can we as responsible members of this place support any endeavour which is not necessary for the well-being of the people we represent, all Canadians?

Last summer the Minister of Transport announced a move to place more of our transportation system in the hands of the private sector. This is a positive change which will benefit all Canadians. The minister has recognized the fact that these services can best be provided by the private sector. The people of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt have supported this concept in town hall meetings across my riding. As well the same thoughts were heard at every one of the government's prebudget consultations earlier this year.

In the prairies farmers are demanding that the Canadian Wheat Board be reformed and that producers be given the opportunity to sell their grain to whomever they choose. One producer who operates a small milling operation with its head office in Penticton has detailed years of interference with his business by the wheat board. This interference has severely limited his opportunity.

Let us explore this for a minute. The Canadian Wheat Board is an interesting topic. It is widely known that western Canada produces the world's best durum wheat. It is ideal for pasta products. I am not a farmer. I am a common type of person, but I must scratch my head in wonder. It would seem there is a tremendous opportunity in western Canada for someone to go into the pasta production business. It is also interesting to note that there is not one pasta producer in western Canada. Why is that? Let us look at some examples.

North Dakota, which grows about as much durum wheat as the province of Saskatchewan in a good year, has four prosperous pasta operations. This House should know about a real success story for the North Dakota growers in the village of Carleton. They built a plant without any state or federal government assistance. They have the most modern equipment. It runs 24 hours a day and has 240 employees. It processes 250 tonnes of wheat daily into highly valued privately packaged pasta products that are shipped all over the United States. There is more good news: expansion plans are under way.

Why then does western Canada not have a pasta producer? In western Canada, durum growers owning their own mill would be in the same position as if they were trying to sell their wheat product independently. They would be forced to sell it to the Canadian Wheat Board at the board's prevailing initial price. Then their company would be forced to buy that wheat product back at the board's selling price.

Durum wheat growers could not legally sell directly to their own company in this country, nor could their company buy their own wheat. It is just ridiculous. In other words, any benefit durum growers who are also the investors in the private company would have in the pasta plant would have to be shared among all the wheat producers in Canada.

I am not saying that the Canadian Wheat Board is stifling competition in this country. Just a minute, maybe I am, but then again maybe I am not. What I am saying however is that we should put it on the table, discuss it and evaluate it. It appears this country is missing yet another golden opportunity.

My time is running out so I will close by saying it seems that the national economics elude the test of common sense every family must face when handling their finances. Canada's deficits are not insurmountable. Canada's deficit and debt are merely symptoms of an inept and cowardly leadership.

Petitions October 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition from residents in Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt who continue to be concerned about the suggestion of increased legislation for firearms owners.

The petitioners point out that current legislation regulates the acquisition and possession of firearms through a complex, expensive and rigorous regulatory scheme and the petitioners are opposed to further legislation for firearms acquisition and possession. They call on government to provide strict guidelines and mandatory sentencing for the use or possession of a firearm in the commission of a violent crime.

I concur with my petitioners.

Blue Ribbon Campaign October 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, today we have the opportunity to honour the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces who perform peacekeeping roles professionally and courageously so far away from home.

It is fitting that our soldiers have earned eight Nobel peace prizes through their participation in 26 United Nations missions. Every day Canadian peacekeepers earn the respect of the world, but still the awareness of Canadians at home is low.

With this in mind, Mrs. Jocelyn Fleurant of British Columbia, a courageous mother of one of our peacekeepers, launched the blue ribbon campaign.

Mrs. Fleurant has distributed 44,000 blue ribbons for this special day. In a letter she writes: "We should all stand up and be proud and unite our voices to give Canadian peacekeepers the recognition they deserve".

I call on every member of this House to honour these Canadians who serve us so well. Wear your blue ribbon today, show them we care and wear it with pride.

Old Age Security Act October 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am so happy to hear from the other side of the House and this member that the Canada pension plan is such a sacred and important program that all Canadians can rejoice in knowing that they do not have to fear down the road that there will not be such a program.

With a program such as this, I am sure that the Liberal government, when this program was developed, looked into the future a little bit and had a vision. If it did, surely this program would have a reserve fund. However, I am afraid that the Canada pension plan does not have a reserve fund to ensure that Canadians down the road, 23 or 25 years from now, will be assured that when they pay into a program they will actually receive benefits. No, there is no reserve fund. The way the Canada pension plan system works-I would like the member to comment on this-is that the people who are working today pay into the Canada pension plan. The money they pay into the program does not go into a reserve fund and it is not held in a sacred trust for their retirement. That money is used to pay the benefits of the people who are collecting today.

We are headed down a road and there is a wall. At some point in time we are going to hit that wall.

I would like the member to please comment on this. If this program is so valuable to the government why is it not actuarially sound?

Old Age Security Act October 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the speech of the member and I appreciate her comments. As we have said before, we agree with many things that are in the bill.

With regard to the Canada pension plan I was wondering if the member might be able to answer a few questions for me. First, the facts of the situation are that our population is aging. In 1986, 9 per cent of all Canadians were eligible for the Canada pension plan. It is estimated now that by the year 2031 the ratio will have doubled.

I truly hope the program continues. I have contributed to the program and when I am 65 years of age I hope that it will be there. People like myself have 23 years to go before we can collect it. Quite honestly for my age group, and I am sure many members would agree, it just does not appear feasible that the program will be around.

Has the member recognized the problem of the aging population and the fact that between now and the next few years the portion we contribute to that program will have to triple for it to remain solvent? The program is going to be a problem in the future. Can the member comment on that?

Old Age Security Act October 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I do not like the tone the member adopts in even suggesting that I was wiping out benefits to people in need in this country. That is not at all what I said. That is a total misrepresentation of what I am saying here.

Very quickly, all I am asking for are some substantive ideas. This country has waited. We saw a social program action plan that was supposed to be presented in April and now we are still in the discussion stage.

I feel very strongly that what has happened here is that the government spent all its time when it was were on this side of the House discussing and criticizing but not coming up with a substantive plan. Right now it finds itself in a quagmire and does not know what to do. It is too busy looking at itself, as the member says.

Let us give the Canadian people some credit. They have watched this progress over months and months now and all that is coming out are bills that skirt around the edges of the real problem.

I would like to know substantively once again if this member can give us a substantive and direct figure and an idea that will help us save money in social programs today.

Old Age Security Act October 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments on the question. I do not mean to stand here and offer grandiose ideas to the people of Canada. We are trying to come up with solutions to very complex problems. As we move very rapidly on the train tracks, there is a brick wall straight ahead.

It does not matter how effective, how efficient and how far we have advanced technologically with our systems if we do not tackle this massive problem of deficit and debt. We are spending some $44 billion dollars a year on interest alone on the money we have borrowed. This cannot go on forever. We are going to end up in a situation with very effective delivery services, but no money to deliver to the people in need anyway.

I would like to ask the member again if he could give me one substantive idea that we, as the House of Commons, could sink our teeth into regarding social programs, in particular the UIC program, that could save a substantial amount of money for the people of Canada.

Old Age Security Act October 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments of the member for Winnipeg South. He is correct in pointing out that this is an omnibus bill that covers a lot of territory as far as our social programs are concerned. I agree with him on the idea that we are in the 20th century.

I especially appreciate his comments regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs. We must not put veterans in distress when they have gone to war for this country and especially when next year is the 50th anniversary of the end of the second world war. That is very substantive in this bill.

I would like to try to flesh it out some more. We are all in this place to try to come up with ideas to make the programs and bills that are put before us better and more effective, more efficient. We are all here with that common goal.

He talked about efficiency and how the programs will be more effective, that this technology is a movement that is taking place. I do not think anyone in the House would disagree that it should be done.

The access to information is also something that I can feel very comfortable in supporting with some assurances that it does not go too far. He mentioned several areas. One he briefly mentioned but did not go into too much detail with was the UIC program. If we are to come up with ideas, we should talk about some substantive ideas the member would bring forward that would save the country some money in regard to UIC.

The Reform Party of Canada has stated that this program should be actuarially sound, that it should be a true insurance program that would save the government some $5 billion in delivering the program to its clientele. Whether the member agrees or disagrees with that concept, I would like to hear from him what his specific ideas are that could save the program and save Canadians dollars.

Old Age Security Act October 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I remind the member that not only are there Reform Party of Canada members in western Canada. They are from coast to coast and we do have townhall meetings right across the country.

Can the member just give me one area? I think all of Canada should be able to come to any member of Parliament and ask for one area where money can be saved in a specific program.

For the third time I would like to ask the same question. Will the member identify one area in old age security where we can have substantive savings, and will he tell us the figure we would save?