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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

Aboriginal Affairs November 2nd, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Okanagan—Coquihalla to bring to the attention of the House a briefing note from the B.C. ministry of agriculture. This document states that Nisga'a used as a template for future land claims will cause significant disruptions to individual ranchers, orchardists and farmers in the Okanagan.

Over 1,000 farms in the Okanagan have crown tenures on land that will become the subject of Indian land claims. Not only does this threaten the commercial interests of those ranchers, orchardists and farmers, but it threatens the whole B.C. agricultural land reserve.

The NDP briefing note states that the majority of the crown agricultural land reserve would likely be consumed by land claims for a total of approximately 2.5 million hectares. Using Nisga'a as a template will not create economic certainty in B.C. The Liberals, NDP and Tories know this but insist that their extreme measures are best for all British Columbians.

Nisga'A Final Agreement Act October 27th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. This is such an important issue. It is very disappointing that there do not appear to be enough members in the House. Could I call for a quorum count, please.

Nisga'A Final Agreement Act October 27th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the member for Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys. I presume the member owns a piece of property. I presume he lives in a community, on a street with other residential properties.

I am wondering if the member could explain to me why he would not want to see the Nisga'a people have the same rights to individual property as he enjoys and the people in his neighbourhood enjoy. Maybe then he could explain to me and to the House how he would feel if one day he was told that he did not have those individual property rights any more, but in fact there were communal rights to the property that he now enjoys. Why would the member not want the Nisga'a people to have individual property rights just as other Canadians enjoy?

Petitions October 27th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 and on behalf of the people of Okanagan—Coquihalla, I wish to present a petition that is now signed by over 3,000 people in Canada concerned with the Nisga'a agreement.

They pray and request that parliament reject the treaty as it may divide Canadians forever.

Nisga'A Final Agreement Act October 26th, 1999

Madam Speaker, because I come from an area that has a ranching industry and an orchard industry natural resources are very important to our area. Because the agreement is set up the way it is, it has a direct impact on ranchers, orchardists and the natural resource sector.

Nisga'A Final Agreement Act October 26th, 1999

Madam Speaker, the agreement does not confer individual property rights on the Nisga'a people.

Nisga'A Final Agreement Act October 26th, 1999

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the question. Unfortunately the member is not from the province of British Columbia which really makes his argument moot.

The people of British Columbia want to see an agreement that makes sense, an agreement that does not protect the property rights of Nisga'a people. We are talking about the Nisga'a people and their property rights. They do not have property rights in this agreement. This is what needs to be protected. They need to be protected in this agreement.

If we do not have the tools, which the agreement does not have, to give Nisga'a people those property rights in the 21st century, what are we giving them? We are giving them more of what they are used to now, more of what they have had for the last 200 years, and that is abject poverty. They will not be able to participate actively in the economy of the country and in the economy of British Columbia.

As I have said in my comments, they do not have the right to own that property. They do not have the right to hand it down to their heirs. They do not have the right to participate through a business.

The hon. member says he would like government members to stand and defend the Nisga'a agreement. Probably the reason they are not is it is indefensible.

The agreement is a bad agreement. It does not make sense for the Nisga'a people. I just hope at the end of the day when the deal is signed, because undoubtedly it will be, that the hon. member will be willing to go to British Columbia and explain it five years from now when the impact of the agreement on the Nisga'a people is truly felt. I hope the member is still around to explain that he stood in support of the agreement.

Nisga'A Final Agreement Act October 26th, 1999

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan.

I stand today on behalf of the people of Okanagan—Coquihalla to speak to Bill C-9, an act to put into effect the Nisga'a final agreement. This is a very significant issue today and it is very important that members of parliament be able to represent their constituents.

What we are seeing today and what we will see throughout the debate is an attempt by the federal Liberal government to not allow the debate to go forward. It will use every means possible at its disposal, including closure on debate, and every tactic it can to not have a full hearing on the Nisga'a final agreement. The people of British Columbia have not been able to express their views on the Nisga'a final agreement.

It is very important, particularly for the members of our party, but certainly all members from British Columbia, to speak on the issue and to reflect what their constituents have been telling them because the deal is very significant. It is probably one of the most significant agreements for the aboriginal people in Canada for quite some time.

The deal will hand over to 5,500 Nisga'a ownership over an area of land that is one-half the size of the area that I come from, the Okanagan Valley. The Okanagan Valley is home to over 200,000 people as compared to 5,500. Along with ownership of the land, these 5,500 individuals will get the rights to resources such as timber, water and minerals, and a major say over the wildlife resource management.

The Nisga'a will also get cash payments. According to an independent analysis done by R.M. Richardson and Associates, the total cost of the deal will be a minimum of $1.3 billion or $260,000 per Nisga'a. The agreement is dramatic because the federal government intends to make Nisga'a the blueprint for over 50 other agreements that will come down the road.

It is no wonder that the people of British Columbia are concerned. Let me point out that to date I alone, as the member of parliament for Okanagan—Coquihalla, have received literally thousands of names on petitions from people who are concerned about the agreement. They want questions answered. That is why it is important to have a full hearing of this debate, even though the Liberal government is going to throw up every roadblock it can to prevent that from happening.

In the grassroots plebiscites in the province of B.C., over 90% of British Columbians opposed the deal. It is also worthwhile pointing out that only 60% of the Nisga'a people agree with the Nisga'a final agreement.

The whole idea of agreements like this is to help solve the lingering social and economic problems facing aboriginal people in the country. If the agreement was going to solve those lingering social problems that have been faced by aboriginal people in the country, I and my colleagues would stand today in full agreement of the deal. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The agreement leaves more uncertainty than the Nisga'a had before.

When all is said and done, there is no doubt in my mind that this bill will pass. It will be a matter of history that the Reform Party of Canada stood alone, stood separate from all of the other political parties in the House of Commons, the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois, the NDP, and the red Tories at the end of the hall, and the other NDP at the end of the way here.

The fact is that at the end of the day, after the votes are counted and this deal has passed, the social and economic problems faced by the Nisga'a will not have changed one iota. In fact this agreement will guarantee that the Nisga'a people will see another hundred years of poverty in their communities.

This agreement does not give the Nisga'a people the tools they need for a modern economy in the 21st century. It does not do that. That is unfortunate. That is why the members from British Columbia and the members from the Reform Party of Canada are standing here today. Although we are standing alone as a political party, we are standing shoulder to shoulder with the Nisga'a people and every aboriginal group across the country.

We want to see settlements that are final, that give the people the tools so that they can democratically elect their governments in the 21st century. We want to make sure that they have the tools to participate in the economy. These are very real problems.

One really important issue is the lack of property rights on reserves. It has been one of the major stumbling blocks for aboriginal peoples. It plays a leading role in any economy. Without the right to private property it is almost impossible to raise capital to start or expand a business. Aboriginal people cannot benefit from the hard work of past generations because they are unable to inherit property. Under the Nisga'a final agreement all land will be collectively owned by the Nisga'a government. It will have the right to determine what land, if any, will be sold privately.

By concentrating power into the hands of the Nisga'a government, the Nisga'a people do not gain individual rights and equality with other Canadians. Since much of the spending power of the Nisga'a government will be handed to them by Ottawa, they fail to become fiscally accountable. The Nisga'a will not acquire the opportunity and responsibility to make their own future and to pass the fruits of their labour on to their children.

Before the House considers this agreement or any other agreement, we should have a full debate on the issue of property rights for aboriginal people. Property rights should be the cornerstone of any 21st century agreement with aboriginal people. Without them we are condemning the aboriginals in Canada to repeat the 19th century and all that entails.

Let us not forget which party has been in government for most of those 100 years. It has been the Liberal Party of Canada and the red Tories at the other end of the hall who have insisted on agreements such as this which have made the aboriginal people suffer in abject poverty.

As a solution I would like to suggest three points which at minimum the Nisga'a agreement should ensure. There should be adequate protection of Nisga'a land occupants with guaranteed tenure and ownership rights to compare with non-aboriginal Canadians. There should be special measures to ensure that people have the same rights regarding the division of marital assets whether or not they live on Nisga'a land. There should be the guaranteed right on individual property ownership on Nisga'a land.

Federal and provincial legislation should apply on Indian lands to protect people living on that land. We hear a lot from the people on the other side of the House that everybody who lives on that land will be covered by the same federal and provincial agreements or laws that are in place.

I would like to refer to a situation in my riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla. Members may recall that I introduced a private member's bill regarding the situation at the Driftwood Mobile Home Park. The 51 families who resided at Driftwood Mobile Home Park were evicted. They were told they had to leave their homes.

Why was that? It was because their septic system failed. After they had paid rental for years and years to have their mobile homes on that property their septic system failed. Why did it fail? We found out that because it was on reserve land proper inspections were not done. The landlord and tenant act did not apply to these people because they lived on reserve land. It was a huge injustice.

Did we see the Liberal government standing up to support those 51 low income families at that time? No, it did not. Nor did members of the NDP or the red Tories at the other end support those 51 low income families who lost their homes. Some of them only received 50 cents on the dollar for their investment. They are low income people. They are without homes. They are living in my riding. There are four other mobile home parks in jeopardy of the same fate. Why? It is because the Liberal government depends on agreements which are set up to fail.

This will not solve the problem. I wish the House would reconsider this whole area. At the end of the day I can guarantee that I will be standing shoulder to shoulder in support of the Nisga'a people for their future and their economic development when all these other people are long gone.

Privilege October 21st, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Okanagan—Coquihalla on a question of privilege with respect to interference of members of this House by Aldege Bellefeuille, who National Defence memos indicate was a special assistant to the Minister of National Defence and to the assistant deputy minister of finance and corporate services at National Defence, and Mr. David Robinson, former executive assistant to the Minister of National Defence.

Mr. Bellefeuille's role at National Defence was to intentionally delay the issuance of responses to access to information requests from members of parliament in order to prepare the minister for question period. Mr. Bellefeuille deliberately delayed this information for reasons that this information was intended for use in parliament by members of the opposition.

Mr. Robinson interfered with the release of access requests by knowingly issuing an instruction to senior officials at the Department of National Defence to not release access requests until communication needs of the minister had been dealt with.

Joseph Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada at page 70 defines a proceeding in parliament as follows:

Since two of Parliament's constituent elements, the House of Commons and the Senate, were established for the enactment of laws, those events necessarily incidental to the enactment of laws are part of the “proceedings in Parliament”.

However, parliament has also always been a forum to receive petitions and the crown's satisfying the grievances of members before granting supply eventually led to straightforward requests for information. Therefore, the events necessarily incidental to petitions, questions and notices of motions in parliament in the 17th century and today are all events which are part of “proceedings of parliament”.

Since Mr. Bellefeuille and Mr. Robinson intentionally delayed information with the full knowledge that this information would be used in preparation for question period, they are in contempt.

On February 5 I wrote a letter to the information commissioner charging that Mr. Bellefeuille's position was an unwarranted infringement on the rights of Canadians to obtain information through access to information in a timely manner. I made three specific allegations: that Mr. Bellefeuille's position caused delay in obtaining records, was political interference and resulted in improper disclosure of access to information in the applicant's name.

On September 30 I received the results of the information commissioner's inquiry. The investigation took over six months because my allegations contributed to, and I quote from the information commissioner's report, “improvements in access to information policies and processes at National Defence”.

With respect to delay, the information commissioner agreed that Mr. Bellefeuille caused a bottleneck in the access process as he reviewed 95% of all requests by the Canadian public. This process resulted in delays of several months for documents that were otherwise ready to be released.

Additional delays at the public affairs division of National Defence were the result when Mr. Bellefeuille identified the need for a media line.

When sent to the minister's office, delays of several months were noted while the minister was briefed about the upcoming access to information release and possible response lines for the minister in order for him to prepare for questions by the media and opposition members of the House of Commons.

With respect to political interference, in addition to the interference caused by the delays imposed by Mr. Bellefeuille, the information commissioner also concluded that the minister's former executive assistant, David Robinson, issued instructions to “departmental officials not to answer access requests, no matter how late they may be, until the minister's communication needs had been met”.

The information commissioner goes on to say: “In my view, this instruction constituted improper interference with the lawful processing of access requests at National Defence”.

With respect to disclosure of the identities of access requesters, the information commissioner confirmed that Mr. Bellefeuille had routinely informed the Minister of National Defence of the names of access to information requesters that were members of the House. The minister used this information to help prepare for questions. The information commissioner concluded that this was not “a consistent use of this information as defined by paragraph 8(2)(a) of the Privacy Act”.

The Privacy Act prohibits departments from using or disclosing personal information except for the purpose for which the information was collected. The information commissioner said that the minister should not have the name of an access to information requester to avoid the appearance of political influence or bias against the requester.

The information commissioner said that only the access to information office at the Department of National Defence needs to know the identity of the access requester. The minister's office should only be informed if it is necessary and only if it is necessary to process the request, and definitely not in preparation for question period.

Since I received this response from the information commissioner it is my understanding that the minister has replaced Aldege Bellefeuille with someone else who will perform a similar function as Mr. Bellefeuille.

In conclusion, my question of privilege deals with the deliberate delays in information for the purposes of proceedings in this parliament, in particular the scrutiny of a minister in the House of Commons.

I remind this House that contempt, as Erskine May describes it, is any act or omission which obstructs or impedes either house of parliament in the performance of its functions, or which obstructs or impedes any member or officer of such house in the discharge of his duty, or which has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such results that may be treated as contempt, even though there is no precedent for the offence.

I would argue that deliberately delaying information to a member of parliament obstructs the member and the House in the same manner as omitting information or offering misleading information. The intent is to obstruct and impede members of parliament.

Mr. Speaker, if you so find a prima facie case of contempt of parliament, I would also move an appropriate motion so it can be dealt with.

National Defence October 20th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, the information commissioner says he is still monitoring the minister's office.

In a letter to the deputy minister on April 6, and again yesterday in the House of Commons, the minister confirmed that the preparation of his talking points for his briefing book is more important than the privacy of all Canadians.

The information commissioner has said that singling out members of parliament and journalists gives the appearance of political influence and bias. Why does the minister put his own political bias above that of the right of privacy of every Canadian in the country? Why is he doing that?