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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

Crown Corporations February 8th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

The Auditor General has repeatedly expressed concern that eight crown corporations are exempt from the provisions of the Financial Administration Act which mandate good management

and accountability. The exempt crown corporations include the Canada Council, the National Film Board, the National Arts Centre Corporation among others.

At a time when Canadians are demanding that governments spend their tax dollars wisely, can the minister explain why these crown corporations are exempt from part X of the Financial Administration Act?

Fruit Growers February 2nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the Okanagan Valley ships apples, pears, peaches and fruit of all kinds around the world. Our producers have become world leaders in the industry and strides forward continue to be made.

From January 26 through January 28 the British Columbia Fruit Growers' Association held a major convention in Penticton. It was highly successful and brought many fruit growers together to discuss issues that are important to the industry, such as the impact of the NAFTA, the GATT and advances in new technologies.

Over the last 100 years, B.C. fruit growers have invested their capital, their ideas and their hard work to become a world leader in fruit growing. It is again proof that Canadians can compete and win against the best in the world.

Social Security System January 31st, 1994

Madam Speaker, I would like to reiterate to the hon. member that I come from a background in the arts community. My family spent many, many years striving for excellence in the arts. We did so by other means and with no subsidies from the government.

I point out that it is not my contention that we simply abandon all the cultural programs. The thrust of my message is that we must be accountable. Those corporations must be accountable to the Canadian taxpayer. Right now the way it stands there are eight crown corporations which are exempt from the scrutiny of the Auditor General. This is unacceptable to the Canadian people from coast to coast. It does not matter where you are, if you are involved in the arts or not, this is something that is wrong. It has to be changed and we have to address it immediately.

Social Security System January 31st, 1994

Madam Speaker, today I am going to direct my comments to the matter of Canada's cultural identity from the perspective of my constituents in Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt and all Canadians who are looking for fiscal responsibility.

The arts is an area in which my family has been involved. For many years my mother operated an academy of dance in Alberta. My sister is still involved in that industry. My brother has been an actor on stage and in film in Canada and is now a producer in the Toronto area. My own background in commercial radio and the cable television industry has given me the perspective I would like to share with hon. members of the House.

I congratulate the government for talking about our cultural heritage in the throne speech, although the two sentences were very vague and lacking any detail. It certainly left me feeling as though the government may feel it appropriate to spend more tax dollars in this area. This would not be something to which I or the average Canadian who realizes the fiscal dilemma we face would agree.

First we must ask: What exactly do we mean by Canadian culture? I submit that where we live in Canada, our ethnic background and even the size of our bank account would have an impact on the answer. As Canadians we embrace individuality and freedom, caring and concern for other people. We embrace healthy competition as shown in the love of our sports. We appreciate our country's abundant natural beauty and as a people we have generously supported the arts. Therefore I ask again: What is Canadian culture?

The answer is that culture is what Canadians consume, what we as a people in a free society choose on our own to read, watch and listen to. These things are consumed. Whether art, literature, music or theatre, they will not and should not survive if they do not appeal to the Canadian consumer. No matter how much money is given in the form of government subsidies, it will not encourage the consumer to enjoy the product any more.

Our culture is as varied as the immense geography of our land. It defies attempts to reduce it to a common denominator. The things that are important in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, are not necessarily the same things that are important to us in Summerland, British Columbia. Prairie communities have their own cultural values. The people of Quebec and the people of the First Nations have their own vibrant cultures and traditions, as do members of every ethnic community in our country.

Canada's culture is not about some standard imposed on us by the culture bureaucrats. Too often in recent times someone else's idea of what is Canadian culture has been shoved down the throats of Canadians.

It is in vogue in certain cultural circles to disdain producing art for public consumption. They call it commercialization. All art, however, is commercialized and destined for consumption. Giving government subsidies to artists without equal consideration to marketing and distribution of the product is giving money away to talented people to show their works to their closest friends. If Shakespeare were alive today his name would probably be Steven Spielberg.

Canadians can be proud of the great achievements of many members of our arts community. These achievements stand out in the global community, not just on some national stage. The achievements of Alex Colville, or for that matter of Bryan Adams, stand out in a global context.

These are achievements of individuals, not of national cultural institutions or organizations. These individuals would stand out in any culture, in any society. What made them great was the fact that what they produce is what many people want to see and hear, and will pay for.

The Canadian taxpayer has generously funded the arts community for many years now. We have created institutions and a cultural bureaucracy that have a seemingly insatiable appetite for funding. In today's climate of mounting debts and out of control spending, we can no longer continue this. Every expenditure must meet the test of necessity. We have to set priorities.

In this context we have the sacred cows of the cultural bureaucracy, and expensive cows they are too. We have the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In 1992 it gobbled up a subsidy of $1 billion and still turned a loss of $108 million. One of the mayors in my constituency after losing a battle for funding to clean up a lake pointed out that the CBC received more money than all the federal funding for environmental programs. This is just one crown corporation.

We must priorize our spending.

Then we have the Canada Council. This institution spent some $108 million last year. Over $23 million went to administration. The projects supported by the council have also been the focus of much discussion as to their actual worth. The National Citizens Coalition of Canada says: "Actors, writers and poets all receive huge amounts of tax dollars to produce works that in most cases few want to read or hear". Unfortunately hon. members in this place will never know the effectiveness of the council because it does not have to account to Parliament.

The Auditor General has asked to examine the accounts of the Canada Council but under the exemption from part X of the Financial Administration Act the council does not have to submit to his scrutiny. That means that hon. members have no opportunity to evaluate this organization or the seven other crown corporations that are also exempt. This not only includes the CBC and Canada Council, but among others the Canada Film Development Corporation and the National Arts Centre Corporation.

We also have the National Film Board with a budget of $82 million. Can we justify this kind of spending when we have a thriving film industry? How many films does the National Film Board produce that Canadians will pay to see?

We must ask ourselves in these times of huge deficits and burgeoning debt if this cultural bureaucracy can be tolerated. Can a country with a debt of half a trillion dollars afford to continue to pour money into the institutions that have little or no benefit for the average Canadian?

I would also suggest that we concentrate on encouraging excellence in the arts, encouraging those Canadians who actually want to be listened to or seen on the global stage. We should be encouraging and assisting our best talents to reach the world stage.

Although it received no mention in the throne speech, I applaud the Liberal government's commitment expressed in the Red Book to take measures to enable producers of Canadian cultural products to export their work to international markets.

Sixty years ago people in remote areas had little access to the outside world. First radio and then television changed all that. Technology expanded the role of culture in Canada. With cablevision came community access channels which allowed local groups to reach a much wider audience. Satellite and cable technologies have allowed Canadians to watch the deliberations in this chamber via the CPAC network and they have taken us to the very scenes of world events as they unfold. Few will forget the drama and intensity witnessed at Oka or during the gulf war.

In the near future as access to hundreds of channels approaches and as individuals are empowered to decide for themselves what they wish to watch through the power of interactive technology, we will see a global culture emerge. The opportunities for our best artists and our best writers will grow but only if we have encouraged excellence.

The best assistance government can render our cultural community is to ensure that all Canadians do not face a future of national bankruptcy.

In conclusion, I applaud the government's attention to culture although I doubt we will find much common ground when it comes to spending taxpayers' money. We must critically examine every aspect of spending in this country if we are to avoid

the future of bankruptcy. Social and cultural policies cannot be exempt from this.

While spending in this country is clearly out of control, it seems to me an obvious thing that representatives of the people must have the ability to examine for themselves whether our constituents' taxes have been used wisely.

I do believe we can agree on this much. At the very least the Auditor General should be allowed to examine those corporations exempt from part X of the Financial Administration Act as part of his review of government programs and that he be asked to provide an interim report to this House as soon as possible.

Small Business January 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, speaking on behalf of the small business owners in Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt these people are forced to spend long hours dealing with government paperwork and regulations.

Even before the imposition of the GST, over 60 per cent of small business owners in Canada spent up to 10 hours a week complying with government regulations and red tape. This time is better spent marketing their products and doing business. This situation has become much worse with the GST.

This government promised to review the impact of regulations and paperwork on small businesses and their ability to comply. Government and the public service must live up to their names. They must serve Canadians by removing unnecessary and duplicate regulations.

Let us make compliance with the needed regulations as convenient as possible. I believe this will help restore the public confidence in government and allow small businesses to do what they do best: create jobs.

Speech From The Throne January 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

First of all I would like to say that all good ideas should always cross party lines. It makes no difference where they come from but as I mentioned in my speech we have made Canadian history by electing 52 Reformers to this place. However, over the last few days I have sensed that there are more Reformers or more ideas to reform in this Chamber than just the 52 sitting here.

We feel deficit reduction is a very important part. Subsidy programs and initiative programs have a dismal rate of success in this country. It is evident from all statistics we have where the jobs are coming from. Eighty-five per cent of all jobs came from the small business sector. We need to stimulate this.

I have talked to the business people in Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt and around this country and they all point to one thing. People do not have confidence in a country that is as mired in debt as we are.

We have to address this problem soon so that Canadians will have a feeling of goodwill and the spirit to invest in their country and create the jobs through small business.

Speech From The Throne January 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

I feel it all relates back to the whole issue of deficit reduction. In order to stimulate the economy and give the entrepreneurs who would create this new employment for Canada we must first address our financial situation in this country which is an immediate reduction in spending by this government.

Speech From The Throne January 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

I believe that what this country is missing as we look and ponder what can be done for small business is the realization of the importance of business initiatives and the increase in jobs that will be stimulated by that.

I think one of the biggest business initiatives we could have is to elevate the feeling of the small businessman to that of a hockey player in this country. I think that they feel left out. We elevate and make national heroes of other people when really the heroes in this country are the people who create jobs and they are in small businesses.

Speech From The Throne January 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am humbly aware of the great privilege bestowed upon me by the people of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt in electing me to speak for them in this venerable Chamber. I congratulate the 66,000 voters of my riding for taking part in Canadian history with the arrival of 52 Reformers to this place.

On behalf of the people of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt I wish to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker. I would also like to congratulate members of the government and all hon. colleagues on their election to the House of Commons to represent the voices of their constituents.

Canadians have become cynical about their government. They have become suspicious of their representatives who have too often ignored the voices of their constituents. We in this 35th Parliament have a duty to restore their faith. On January 6, in a ceremony in my riding, I swore an additional oath to represent my constituents faithfully in the House. It is my earnest intention to do just that.

The people of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt look to us for prudence, wisdom and fairness in our decisions. They look to us to work together for the benefit of all Canadians. They look to this Parliament for the vision to create a future for them, not of bankruptcy or division but of promise and opportunity.

Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt is an area of honest, industrious and hardworking Canadians. The riding extends from the rolling ranch lands of the Nicola Valley, through the lush orchards and vineyards of the Okanagan, through the rich forests of the boundary country. It is an area of ranches, farms, orchards, mountains, lakes, peaceful towns and small quiet cities. Traditionally we have benefited from the bounty of our minerals, forests, agricultural lands, tourist attractions and of course the best climate in Canada, something which I have come to greatly appreciate this past week.

Today however the riding faces many challenges. It suffers from high unemployment, as much as 2 per cent higher than the provincial rate. We face changes in the structure of our economy as technology and global competition impact on our industries. We see our young people leaving in search of employment. The bright spot in this picture has been our small businesses and the jobs they have created.

Today I am choosing to comment on the government's legislative program from the perspective of Canadians who are looking for economic hope and recovery. These are issues of great importance to the people of my constituency. I commend this government for talking about job creation which Canadians so clearly need. I support this goal.

I do not however believe that government is the best vehicle for this job creation. For some time now small business has created the majority of new jobs in Canada. For example, in the decade up to 1990 while big business was busy downsizing and laying off employees, Canada's small businesses created 85 per cent of the net new jobs in the country. That represents 2.2 million jobs. In the future small business will be even more important as our economy restructures.

However it is often government that stifles this very job creation. Overregulation, onerous taxation, poorly conceived and administered programs all have drastic effects on small

business, sometimes fatal ones. We must ensure that government does not kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

An example of that is the recent hike in UI premiums. This is a tax on employment. It not only takes money away from small businesses but it penalizes them for expanding their staffs. Every cent taken away from small business hurts job creation.

As I mentioned earlier, job creation in the Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt riding depends very much on the entrepreneur and the small business person. These are the ones who take the risks, make the commitments and put everything they own on the line to make this happen. These are the people who create jobs.

To be successful small businesses do not need grants, subsidies and handouts. Instead government must create and sustain a climate that encourages their development and growth. Let us remove the road blocks and get out of the way of these entrepreneurs. Let us free small businesses to create prosperity for the nation.

Government subsidies and grant programs do not help entrepreneurs who have sound business plans. They do not need them. These programs are a part of our deficit problem. They lead to high taxes that siphon off the investment dollars that could be going to the creation and expansion of successful and viable enterprises.

Propping up dying industries with subsidies and tax concessions can no longer be justified in today's climate of global trade. Our businesses must be able to compete. We should be looking to the future and the emerging new industries in the areas of high technology, information and knowledge services.

Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt small businesses just want to get on with business. All they ask is that government not make their task any harder than necessary.

Tax burdens in this country are reaching unsustainable levels. Taxes have risen from 24 per cent of the gross domestic product in 1950 to almost 43 per cent in 1990. For the last 10 years we have been promised by our governments that they would get spending under control and that eventually taxes would be reduced. Instead the spending each year exceeds the previous and taxes rise again.

It is time for action. We must stop pointing the finger at previous governments and act on a plan to reduce spending.

Our tax system has spawned a burgeoning underground economy and has made criminals out of ordinary people. The resulting loss in tax revenue transfers more burden onto the shoulders of the remaining taxpayers, including small businesses.

Another concern of small business is overregulation, cost of compliance and the cost of dealing with the ever growing bureaucracies. In some cases the costly delays can jeopardize the viability of a business before it gets off the ground.

An example of this is an entrepreneur in my home town of Summerland who faced three years of bureaucratic delays in importing llamas and alpacas for which there was a demonstrated, ready market.

The government is to be commended for its intention to reduce the regulatory and paper burden on small businesses and to streamline the delivery of services. This is much needed. As well, it deserves to be commended for its progress in the matter of eliminating interprovincial trade barriers.

The major issue that businesses are concerned about is the deficit. The federal deficit is the biggest monkey on the back of all Canadians, not just small businesses.

Now the hon. members of this House have an opportunity to restore the faith of Canadians in our fiscal management. The defeat of our Reform Party's subamendment which proposed limiting spending to $153 billion sends a confusing signal to the Canadian people, especially to small business people.

On the one hand the government has spoken, albeit somewhat vaguely, about controlling the deficit. On the other hand, it refuses to commit itself to a specific reduction target only 6 per cent below last year's runaway levels.

What are Canadians to think of that when it comes to doing their own household budgets? We must all address the issue of reducing the deficit and make it a high priority. We must unshackle small business so that it can get on with getting Canadians back to work and making our economy grow.

The people of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt and all the people of Canada are looking to this 35th Parliament to chart a new course for Canada. The future of the nation depends on the wisdom and fairness of these hon. members in deliberating the issues before us. Most important, it depends on the diligence with which we listen to and present the views and concerns of our constituents in this House.