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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

Prince Edward Island Fixed Link February 15th, 1994

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to rise today to speak on this constitutional amendment regarding the Prince Edward Island fixed link.

I would like to stress those words; we are talking about a constitutional amendment. We seem to be slipping by that little bit of information very quickly in some of the speeches we have heard today.

I would like to begin by quoting from Hansard of May 19, 1992 when the House was embroiled in the debate on constitutional concerns. ``We believe that the referendum should be a permanent part of the process for revising the Canadian Constitution; nor can it be restricted to one or just a few provinces. The referendum ought to be national so that all Canadians in all regions of this country have the opportunity to speak on the same issue.'' These are very democratic words and I concur with them. They are from the current minister of public works.

I have no problem with the construction of a fixed link. The merits and drawbacks of this bridge have been widely discussed and debated in Prince Edward Island, across the nation and in the House of Commons. The economic benefits and the costs have all been given consideration. The environmental considerations have all been weighed. Most important, the people of Prince Edward Island gave their assent in a plebiscite held in 1988.

The problem is that we are talking about a constitutional amendment, something that affects each and every person in this country.

I would like to paint a picture. Members in this room should think of a triangle. A triangle stands on a broad base and rises to a point. This is the way I believe and my party believes we should approach these matters, with broad consultation and moving toward a point where we can get a consensus. With this motion the government is turning the triangle so it is inverted and there is no broad base of representation from the people of Canada. This is something that the Reform Party of Canada believes in very strongly, as do many millions of Canadians.

We are all aware that Madam Justice Reed decided the Canadian Constitution has to be amended in order for the fixed link to proceed. However, the reasoning behind the motion in front of us is flawed for two reasons: First, the motion is too specific. It makes specific reference to a fixed link, entrenching it in the Constitution. Second, the motion should entrench the intent of the original terms of union, that is to ensure reliable and regular travel between Prince Edward Island and the mainland, without entrenching the link specifically in the Constitu-

tion. My colleague, the member for Fraser Valley East, dealt with this issue at great length.

I find it inconsistent that this government proposes to open the Constitution and make changes only when it suits its purposes.

I would like to read another quote. On February 3 in the House the Prime Minister of Canada stated that: "No one in Canada wants to discuss the Constitution". Here we are today discussing the Constitution.

We all saw the rejection of the Charlottetown accord and what the Canadian people thought of it. This is just another case of the government's agenda versus that of the Canadian people. The government has chosen to selectively change the Constitution. Canadians do not accept this method.

I would submit that any changes to the Constitution should involve all Canadians and should be approved in a referendum. The Constitution should be concerned with the broad definition of matters rather than ways and means of accomplishing the intent, such as a fixed link.

The Constitution should deal with Canada's commitment to maintain communications and transportation with Prince Edward Island no matter what the method chosen to accomplish this.

We are running into the danger of making constitutional commitments for Canada that may not be in the best interest for all of the country. Technology may change. Currently in this day and age we must realize the rate at which things change. We are going to have to commit to this fixed link throughout time if it is entrenched in the Constitution.

These are things that we have no control of and that may change. I can give members the example of the Florida sunshine skyway and the Chesapeake Bay bridge. They have been known to close for months at a time. Are the proper plans in place for this fixed link?

If we are going to have to change the Constitution, it must be for a good and sufficient reason. We have all heard the emotions of the minister of public works. I would respond that Canadians must feel that they are a part of this constitutional amendment.

In closing, I would like to say that this motion is not just a simple motion to build a bridge. This is a motion to change the fundamental document of how our country operates, the Constitution.

This is a bridge over the troubled waters of true Canadian democracy.

Criminal Code February 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to participate this afternoon because I have spent some time on the ocean off the west coast of Canada and have participated in the fisheries in the early 1970s. I would like to share some of these things, especially with members of the Bloc, this afternoon.

Serving in the Canadian navy we had a very important role in protecting the 200-mile limit. It is important we understand that fish are a natural resource of Canada. We must protect our natural resources. As a matter of fact it is our sovereign right to do so.

I get a bit upset when I hear people say: "You have to be careful; you don't want to disarm or disable a boat because you might hurt the crew". I have some problems with that. First, the person responsible for the crew is the captain of the ship. It is not the responsibility of the people trying to enforce the law of the country; it is the responsibility of the captain of the vessel to ensure the protection of the crew.

I will use the analogy of a drunk driver for a minute. A man may sit in a bar and drink too much alcohol so that he is over the .08 level. Then he gets in his car and obviously is in contravention of the laws of Canada. Because he does not know the law does not make him not guilty; he is guilty under the laws of Canada.

I would agree with the section of the amendment as far as disabling force is concerned. I have looked at all the things here. There is adequate warning. There are flags and flashing lights. All these things are very typical to communication on the high

seas. It is very much the responsibility of the captain of the vessel to ensure the crew remains safe. If they are breaking the laws of Canada then they must pay the consequences.

The last point I would like to state is that in our national anthem we sing: "we stand on guard for thee". It is our sovereign right to protect our resources and this must be done. This is a good example of things we should be undertaking.

supply February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member. I do not believe we are trying to mirror the image of the Bloc whatsoever. We are suggesting that there has to be more accountability, more improving upon the system that we already have in place, making it better.

I am not suggesting at all and I do not think any members of the Reform Party are at all suggesting that we should create another department. As a matter of fact, we would be totally opposed to such an argument. I do feel that the illustration that I presented in this House this afternoon is an example that, yes, while our committees can suggest special investigations and special audits and do this, the length of time is totally unsatisfactory to me, many other members of this House, and to the Canadian people.

If their money is being spent and if there is an indication that there could be something wrong, the Canadian taxpayer has the right to know, as does this House, as soon as possible. Four years is unacceptable.

supply February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her comments. Each and every day that I sit in this Parliament as something new in my career, I find it very enjoyable that we can find common ground among many of the players in this House. I would like to thank the member for her comment. The Canadian people do require accountability and I think it is incumbent upon us to supply it for them.

supply February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to participate in the debate on the motion put forward by my party. Hopefully it will bring the unresolved issues of the Auditor General's report to light.

I would like to start by quoting from the report: "Today it is clear to both public servants and parliamentarians that Canadians expect them to demonstrate sound and prudent management rather than finding new ways to spend borrowed money". I believe the Auditor General is saying that Canadian taxpayers are demanding greater accountability.

It seems odd that eight corporations are exempt from the Auditor General's scrutiny. Under section 85(1) of the Financial Administration Act, the Bank of Canada, the Canada Council, the Canadian Film Development Corporation, the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security, the Canadian Wheat Board, the International Development Research Centre and the National Arts Centre have been exempted from the sections of the Financial Administration Act that provide for good management and accountability. The CBC is also exempt although it has since incorporated provisions of the Financial Administration Act in its own legislation.

The Auditor General has raised this issue several times over the past five years and it still remains unresolved.

Let us examine why these corporations are exempt from the Financial Administration Act. Apparently they need to be at arm's length from government. Then we must pose the question, who is the government? The easy answer is, they are the members opposite in the House. If you go deeper than that, the answer is the people of this country. It is saying these eight crown corporations have to be an arm's length from the people of Canada, the people who pay the bills for these corporations.

What does it all mean? According to the Auditor General their exempt status means there are not explicit requirements for these corporations to table corporate plan summaries in Parliament to inform Parliament of their objectives. They are not required to fulfill certain management responsibilities. They are not required to give assurances that the assets of these crown corporations are safeguarded. They are not required to undertake an internal audit or even establish audit committees on their own board of directors. There are no explicit requirements for them to be subject to an explicit legislative requirement to undergo special examinations of value for money audits by the Auditor General, which are an important part of the annual audit and accountability provisions of the Financial Administration Act.

This is not to say these crown corporations are not fulfilling these requirements. Rather the problem is they are not required to submit to this process of accountability as all other crown corporations are required.

I commend some of these crown corporations which have undergone value for money audits. Even if they do undergo these audits they do not have to make them public. They are at arm's length. They do not have to be accountable to the people of Canada. The Auditor General, millions of Canadians and I are concerned that this lack of mandatory accountability leads to three specific problems.

First, Parliament may not not have sufficient information to fill its role in scrutinizing and authorizing the use of public funds.

Second, the crown corporation's management has the responsibility for economic, effective and efficient use of resources but this is not clearly defined.

Third, these corporations are not subject to an audit regime that is sufficiently broad to address all issues of concern to the members of the House.

What is most important about the Auditor General's comments is that we as parliamentarians are not able to gain enough information about how the taxpayers' money is being used by these exempt corporations. It affects our abilities to make good and responsible decisions. This is especially important since Parliament appropriates hundreds of millions of dollars each year for these corporations.

I would like to give this House one specific example that I think captures the need for these crown corporations to be more accountable.

Late last month the Auditor General undertook a special examination of the National Arts Centre Corporation and found that serious deficiencies exist in the way the National Arts Centre Corporation handles its finances. The NAC operates on a budget of $40 million a year and has a staff of about 300. Since the NAC is exempt from special examination by the Auditor General it was a very tedious and long process for Canadian taxpayers to discover how their money was being spent.

Let us look at the process. It dates back to 1990 when the standing committee of this House on communications and culture recommended that the Auditor General do an examination of the NAC. Its board members had to approve that request and they did. The Auditor General then started his investigation which covered the period between September 1991 and March 1992.

The report was not presented to the NAC board until May of 1993 partly because of a dispute between the Auditor General and the NAC over the public release of this information. Finally in January 1994, almost four years after the initial recommendation was made, the report was made public.

In its response to the Auditor General's report the NAC board recognized that improvements were needed in its financial management. Quoted in the Ottawa Citizen , the National Arts Centre Corporation also made what I consider to be a very revealing comment: ``Given the limited resources which the centre's management had at its disposal, tackling the institutional mentality rooted in two decades of lack of accountability has been a monumental task''.

This raises two questions. For how long have Canadian taxpayers' dollars been spent inefficiently while the National Arts Centre Corporation developed an institutional mentality rooted in the lack of accountability? Why did it take almost four years for the Auditor General's report to reveal this situation to the Canadian public?

As the Auditor General has stated and as the House committee on communications and culture stated in 1991, these exempt crown corporations must be moved into part X of the Financial Administration Act so that the Auditor General can undertake special investigations of these corporations. The Minister of Finance said this week that he does not agree with these recommendations. However, I think the NAC example shows the necessity for these changes.

Canadian taxpayers are now demanding that governments spend their tax dollars efficiently and effectively. I do not believe that we or the Canadian taxpayers have the luxury of exempting crown corporations from these special examinations. Everyone must be held to a standard of financial accountability.

The cynicism people have about government can be partly attributed to the waste and mismanagement that can be found in government. We should take every step possible to address this issue and promote the effective use of tax dollars.

I urge all members of this House to support this motion. I urge the government to introduce legislation to act upon these recommendations of the Auditor General and to make these crown corporations more accountable for their financial practices by moving them into part X of the Financial Administration Act.

Members of this House not only campaigned on accountability, but each and every day we all use those words. We must be accountable. If we are going to talk the talk, we must walk the walk. This is an opportunity to show the Canadian public that this government will be truly different from previous governments.

Status Of Women February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Secretary of State responsible for women's issues.

It has come to my attention that taxpayers are spending $25,000 on a management training course for the president of the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women just 11 months before her term expires and just two months after the council laid off other staff.

Does the minister feel that the expenditure is appropriate and have provisions been made for repayment to the taxpayers for this free education program?

Hockey February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it has been argued that the love of hockey is one of the uniting forces in this country.

As in most areas of Canada, this great sport is a major part of the history of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt. To commemorate this fact the British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame will be built in Penticton. Recently the first inductees into the hall of fame were announced.

The world champion 1955 Penticton Vees, along with three other world champion teams, the 1937 Kimberley Dynamiters and the 1939 and 1961 Trail Smoke Eaters will be the first occupants of the hall of fame.

I would like to offer my congratulations to these inductees who are an important part of British Columbia's sports heritage. I would also like to extend my congratulations to the organizers of the British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame. I commend them for their efforts to ensure that these great heroes are never forgotten in their future home of Penticton, British Columbia.

Petitions February 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise under Standing Order 36 of the House to present a petition on behalf of some concerned constituents of my riding of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt.

This petition requests that a referendum be held to accept or reject the official languages of Canada.

This petition is duly certified by the clerk of petitions. The petitioners feel that the current official languages policy of Canada is divisive and also very expensive under the current financial restraints.

It gives me great pleasure to present the petition this afternoon.

The Goodman Family February 9th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to a prominent family in the Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt riding. With today's rapid development and technological advances we rarely stop to think about those people who shaped our communities in their formative years.

Each year the South Okanagan Historical Society awards the pioneer award to a family that has made a great contribution to the development of the Okanagan. This year the Goodman family of Osoyoos, B.C., was recognized for service to the community that dates back to the early years of this century.

Decades ago Les and Dais Goodman were involved in farming, road building, education, development of parkland and other activities of leadership and involvement. Still today their children and grandchildren carry on this family tradition of dedication to the community.

I ask the House to join me in congratulating the Goodman family for its invaluable contribution to the development of the south Okanagan and this great nation.

Crown Corporations February 8th, 1994

A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker. Will the minister act on the Auditor General's recommendation to make these crown corporations responsible under part X of the act so they are properly accountable to this House and therefore to the people of Canada and subject to examination by the Auditor General?