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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was constitutional.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as Liberal MP for Vancouver Quadra (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 1997, with 42% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Budget February 29th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford.

It is a pleasure to support this budget. It is a budget for the 21st century, the knowledge century, and that is the element of the budget that I will signal in my remarks.

You will remember, Mr. Speaker, the tragedy of the failure of the KAON project, launched by a man of genius, Erich Vogt, but allowed by a previous government to fail for lack of financing. Why did it fail? The previous government, one, did not understand the nature of pure research and its importance for a modern society and for a viable economy, but, two, had doubts about constitutional power, which on examination were unreasonable. “The constitution”, as Lord Sankey said, “is a living tree”. Where the social necessity exists the power will follow for rational men and women.

The KAON project failed and our first mandate when this government was elected in 1993 was to support the successor, the TRIUMF project. It was a period when we had inherited a $42.8 billion deficit budget from the predecessor government. We were asking for $167.5 million to support the TRIUMF project. It took 12 months of discussion in caucus and in the House to explain what pure research is. It is not an esoteric examination of subjects fit for angels but for no one else; it is an examination of the basic intellectual infrastructure of our society. It meant explaining what is particle physics, why is particle physics important to us, that when properly applied in its lessons it leads to highly skilled jobs, it leads to an export economy.

That was the demonstration made with the TRIUMF project. We were able to demonstrate $193 million in export contracts in a single year in spinoffs from TRIUMF. So the battle was won, pure research, the thing that saved Germany and Japan after their devastating defeats and the devastation of their industries in the second world war. Invest in pure research. The federal government has never really looked back from that.

Therefore, it is perhaps a matter of interest to note that we can believe newspapers sometimes. The Vancouver Sun has in some ways jumped the gun and suggested that TRIUMF may be refinanced. I believe the announcement will come next week, but let us face it, TRIUMF was when we turned the corner in the federal government and said that research in the areas of science, technology and medicine was crucial to our survival as a competitive country in the 21st century.

I look through this budget and I see the follow-on of this distinctive philosophy of the knowledge society being carried through. There is a project in which major intellectual contributions were made by Dr. Martha Piper, the president of the University of British Columbia, a distinguished research scientist in her own right, and Robert Lacroix, the rector of the Université de Montréal. It is the establishment of the millennial professorships with 2,000 new university research chairs across Canada and $900 million invested by the federal government.

Why do we spend this money? We want to keep these people in Canada. There are Nobel prize winners there already, but there are also the Nobel prize winners of tomorrow. These are the people who expand the frontiers of knowledge. So that is a very positive step.

I look back at the Foundation for Innovation established with a billion dollar grant by the federal government, with a further $900 million in this budget. This is to provide for innovative research, science, medicine, the equipment of laboratories and the basic infrastructure of research in universities. Dr. David Strangway, the former president of the University of British Columbia, has been extending this in his administrative talent. It is a very vital task.

We took the science minister on a visit to the University of British Columbia and told him that we wanted him to see an historic laboratory. We took him to the second floor of the science building and he asked what was historic about it because it looked like an ordinary rundown university science laboratory, with not enough equipment and out of date. We said that was where the last Nobel prize winner from Canada went as a graduate student and did his research. It is still in the same condition it was in when he attended 30 years ago. It needs rebuilding. The creative idea for the Foundation for Innovation comes from there.

There has been talk of federal-provincial co-operation. We devised this concept of co-operative federalism. I look at the Canada health and social transfer program, with $2.5 billion for that, of which $340 million will go to British Columbia. We wish to co-operate with the provinces, but it is a two-way process. We are tired of giving money—and I think even British Columbia may feel some guilt here—for education or research and finding that it ends up in highways with no end and no beginning, into the never never land. We extend the invitation to the new premier, sworn in several days ago in British Columbia, to come and join us, to spend this money, this transfer, on education, on post-secondary research and on work in the hospitals. We will work with him if we can.

I look at money for forestry research. It is British Columbia's basic industry but it is in some sickness today. We need research in new methods and new technologies. The $15 million is for the three forestry research institutes scattered over Canada.

There is $160 million for Genome Canada to advance the study of genetics. It is led by Dr. Michael Smith, the Nobel Laureate in chemistry. He knows both the possibilities and also the prudent restraints in the application of this new science to plants and to other forms of research. This is a most interesting aspect of the budget.

There is $100 million in the sustainable development technology fund. A good deal of this will go to companies like Ballard Power, the new fuel cell technology that can revolutionize transportation and at the same time reduce to minor proportions the problem of pollution that conventional batteries create with the power involved.

If one looks through the budget, there is $5 million for geoscience to improve new techniques for mining.

Our mining industry needs revitalization. Abstract research? Not on your life. The jobs of tomorrow are there. They are highly paid jobs and vital to our economy.

Over this whole spectrum of work we see an imaginative budget that looks forward, not backward. It uses our surplus at once to reduce taxes, to stimulate the economy in that sense but also to create the knowledge that is the basis of breakthroughs in science and technology which are in essence the foundation of our industry and of our competitive economy with the opportunities for brilliant young Canadians who might otherwise be lured by the temptations to go south and follow the brain drain.

We can keep these people in Canada. We need them. We invite the provinces to co-operate with us. It is a two way process but the basic foundations are there.

It is a pleasure to assist the adoption of this budget, the knowledge budget, a budget for a knowledge based economy. That has been the inspiration of our government, the science minister, the finance minister and the Prime Minister since the inception of this government.

It comes to fruition here with a budget with the first big surplus. All the hard work of saving, prudent pruning of overstaffed departments and the like comes to fruition here with the stimulus we have provided for the economy.

Canadian National Soccer Team February 28th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, with a two-nil victory yesterday over Colombia in the final of the Gold Cup International Soccer Tournament, Canada secured a place on the world soccer stage. Seated only 11th in the field of 12 teams from North, South and Central America, Canada surprised many with its plays throughout the two week tournament.

We note in particular the performances of Vancouver born goalkeeper, Craig Forrest, who was named the tournament's most valuable player and New Westminster's striker, Carlo Corazzin, who led all scorers in the tournament. We salute the team's performance and its brilliant promise for the future.

The Economy February 24th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, Statistics Canada's report on Canadian international trade for 1999 confirms that the federal government's economic policies and fiscal management have laid the groundwork for a booming trade economy.

Our annual trade balance with the rest of the world was just under $34 billion in 1999, its highest level since 1996. Our volume of exports grew at almost twice the pace of imports.

In 1999 we exported over $360.6 billion worth of goods; 11.9% more than in 1998. Much of this growth can be attributed to increased domestic capacity in the automotive industry and high demand for Canadian built models in the United States. Our television and telecommunications equipment industry also contributed significantly.

Overall, the resulting trade balance for 1999 was the third highest on record for Canada.

Modernization Of Benefits And Obligations Act February 21st, 2000

Mr. Speaker, we should perhaps examine what this bill is and what it is not. It is a response to a Supreme Court of Canada decision, M v H.

Parliament, under our system of modified separation of powers, is a co-ordinate institution with the court and must respond to and accept supreme court decisions in our area of constitutional competence. The only solution other than that is by way of constitutional amendment seeking to override a supreme court decision, and that is a very difficult hurdle; or it is by use of the notwithstanding clause, and by consensus of parliament all parties, since the adoption of the charter of rights, accept that that is not a remedy to be used at the federal level.

We have responded appropriately to the Supreme Court of Canada decision. It is on that basis that I support this bill, and my constituents, as good Canadians, understanding that we live under the rule of law, will do the same.

I say, though, that the nature of the bill, the limited objective that it has, explains what in terms of legal drafting might be called a somewhat inelegant, dull or pedestrian formulation. It is a compendium of 68 different federal laws which are changed as a result of this bill. It is not, however, a declaration of same sex rights or a code of new relationships. That is not its function. It simply establishes certain legal consequences of same sex relations applying to 68 different areas of federal responsibility. That is what the bill is about.

Larger issues were thoughtfully raised by the Minister of Justice and by my colleague, the member of parliament for Waterloo—Wellington, in his address on the larger issue of the legal consequences of relations of dependency. It is one of the interesting things in the multicultural society in which we live, and which is very much present to me as a member of parliament for the city of Vancouver, that the new cultural communities have reaffirmed what has always been part of their heritage but seems to have disappeared in general in the older Canadian society. That is the extended family relationship and the notion that there are categorical imperatives, if we can call them that, of a moral nature but which are observed even more fully than in a legal relationship, between parents and their children, in the relationship of children to support parents, in the relationship of siblings within a family relationship.

The Minister of Justice promised study of this issue and it is an idea that seems historically right for reaffirmation. I know of very many situations of aged parents supported by children. I know very many situations of unmarried sisters or unmarried siblings living in support to each other. It is correct, as the member for Waterloo—Wellington said, that these relationships will involve, if we are to give legal recognition to them, the same sort of intricate study of perhaps 68 or even 108 federal laws, and probably provincial laws, to get an answer, but it need not be a Kathleen Mavourneen situation, that it may be now or maybe never with the study. We can rely on enough pressures within the cabinet and the government to be very sure that when we speak of a study it will be a very timely study.

There have been problems that have been referred to and I will simply say that as a lawyer I do not see the same degree of problem solving difficulty as perhaps some of the people who have already spoken.

It is said that if one gets into a legal dependency relationship one may logically lose the benefit of separate income tax filing benefits that apply to persons operating singly. This is true as the law stands. It may be a case for changing the law. It may, however, also be a case for persons seriously considering whether they wish to offer themselves in a special category of a dependent relationship deserving recognition by the state, especially in our taxation laws.

It has been mentioned that people may change their mind. The son who supports his aged mother may decide enough is enough and run away. I am afraid if we establish legal dependency relation privileges and benefits it maybe one of the things we have to put up with; that we cannot renege unilaterally or casually on a relationship entered into. These are the sorts of things that an intelligent legal study by a parliamentary committee, that is now envisaged for this new type of legal relationship, will get into.

We may also have problems of establishing a bona fide relationship of dependency. I see this problem existing in relation to Bill C-23 as it now stands and any future bill on dependency relationships. It is not an insuperable problem. It is the sort of thing that a good revenue minister is very well aware of because revenue ministers aim to catch up with gaps in the tax system and evasion, fraudulent or otherwise.

What I am saying is that there are problems. They can be studied in depth but the difficulty of solving them are not impossible or beyond the capacities of parliamentary committee of the calibre of an all-party committee set up in this particular House.

I reaffirm that the relationship of dependency, which the minister promised to study, is perhaps the most interesting idea to come out of this particular debate. It is something on which the new Canadian communities have more to offer the older Canadian communities and to remind them of obligations that they have perhaps forgotten too easily, the older communities in the open society in which we live.

Bill C-23 goes a very important part of the way but it is only part of the way. We should, in this sense, accept in good faith the undertaking by the minister and vote for Bill C-23 because it respects our obligation to respect decisions of the supreme court and bring federal laws in line in a timely fashion.

I would have drafted it differently. It is a huge bill with 68 different laws but it is an indication of the complexity of the problem in terms of tidying up the legal details. That work has been done in this domain and the work in the other domain, the larger dependency relationship, will take at least as much time.

On that basis, I commend this idea to you, Mr. Speaker. One could note that in another capacity it seems to me that you, Mr. Speaker, have expressed ideas very similar to my own.

United Nations Security Council February 16th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, as one of the 10 non-permanent member states currently elected to the United Nations Security Council for a two-year term, Canada has taken concrete steps to increase the transparency and openness of the council sessions and procedures by providing regular updates to non-members of the security council—170-plus states at any time—posting regular information about the security council and its activities on our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade website, and advocating the opening up of council meetings to non-member countries.

Through these initiatives we are working actively to ensure that the concerns of all countries are heard at the United Nations before one of its key parliamentary institutions.

Supply February 8th, 2000

Madam Speaker, this debate is on a tripartite motion by the Leader of the Opposition. The first element goes to internal management of the Human Resources Development department. The second relates to ministerial responsibility as a constitutional principle. The third relates to the particular minister actually holding the office of minister. The last two questions are related a little.

It might be worth noting that the present minister was Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development until as late as August 1999. I had the opportunity of negotiating at great length with her on native land claims in British Columbia as late as August. Most of the matters under discussion occurred or had their origins and were completed well before she entered into office. The issue of ministerial responsibility in the particular case thus has a certain artificial quality to it.

On the general issue of ministerial responsibility, we might say with some disappointment that the debate in the House has not been very edifying or very useful. It is a principle that developed in the early 17th century constitutional struggles in Great Britain. At that time there was a clear constitutional dichotomy between prerogative power and legislative power, and most of the principles were developed in that context. They apply with difficulty to a situation of fused governmental power. The parliamentary executive was developed in the 19th century and continued to the present.

Again, what one might call the modern concept of ministerial responsibility relates to the period of constitutional laissez-faire and limited government and probably has little practical relationship to the sort of problems we face today in a period of big government with very large spending power on the part of the government and very large departments of which we have two or three within the present post-war Canadian governmental system. In a certain way it surpasses the capacities of ministers to administer without considerably more sophistication in the administrative processes and structures available to them. It is perhaps a little disappointing therefore that so little has been said in follow up to the principle of ministerial responsibility and what it means in terms of concrete changes and modernization of governmental structures and processes.

I noted with interest the present minister's immediate responses to the situations that have been discussed in the House in the last two days: the internal changes which are being made without constitutional amendment and intensified staff training on administration. They involved the introduction of the principle of accountability of managers for the results of their programs; disciplinary action if gross mismanagement or fraudulent activities are revealed; the creation of a new audit group; the review of all active files by April 30, 2000; and ensuring files are complete before the contract is signed and that all requests for payment are accompanied by a check list containing necessary financial information. These are good steps and we welcome their introduction.

I think we should ask members of the House, both government and opposition but I think with particular reference to opposition members, what exactly they did or saw as their function as members of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development. These are all-party committees. The agenda is subject to consensus formation. The opportunity to ask for files and to review them is there.

I find it interesting that there seems to have been an absence of information on the part of members when specific issues have been raised of grants made to their constituencies. They do not seem to have been aware of that fact, and one wonders why.

The responsibility of a member of parliament or a member of a committee is to keep oneself appraised of the details of administration. It is always within the power of a committee to demand production of files or to demand the appearance of officials. With certain of the committees of parliament this is a fact of life. Some of them have been quite robust committees and quite rambunctious in the process.

I note with particular interest the surprise of the member for Vancouver East, a very much respected individual, that a total of $37 million in grants went to Vancouver East. As a resident of Vancouver I cannot think of a better area of the city to receive $37 million. I might even wonder whether that is enough. But, again, are members of parliament not utilizing to the full their role as members of committees or their role of individual members? In other words it is a case, as Bentham said, of judge and company, in this case government and members of parliament. There is more than one party involved in this whole process.

Every file that comes to my office, infrastructure, millennium grants and the like, is scrutinized closely. I have a subcommittee within my parliamentary offices and we go through them in great detail. We rank the applications hierarchically and I think it has been one of the factors in enabling us to present cases to ministers and to others for grants. I think that is part of the responsibility of a member.

Years ago I gave evidence to the McRuer commission set up by the Government of Ontario. James McRuer was a great chief justice of Ontario and was concerned with complaints of administration of grants and other programs within the Government of Ontario.

Chief Justice McRuer asked me to appear as a witness and to present evidence on this issue. Is there a crisis in government? Does it affect individual rights? Could we have advice on structures and processes of government? I repeat these simply because I think they are germane to the problem of the growth of big government in Canada, the phenomenon of certainly the last 25 years, the big spending governments, when we have accepted social responsibility for the welfare of citizens in health care, education and related matters.

At the time the McRuer commission was set up there were a series of debates in universities and elsewhere. Professor Hayek of Road to Serfdom was predicting the end of democratic government because administration was becoming so complex. Professor George Keeton, who was a top English jurist at the time, wrote a book, the Passing of Parliament . Parliament was disappearing simply because of the strains on executive government.

The obvious conclusion was that the post-modern British derived system of the parliamentary executive was not responding as well to these problems as other systems that have the separation of powers like the United States and other countries have, and to a certain extent like Great Britain had in the early 17th century when the great constitutional struggles on ministerial responsibility emerged.

The United States set up a commission under ex-president Herbert Hoover, the Hoover Commission on Government. It recommended substantial reforms within the United States system, which I brought to the notice of the McRuer commission.

In a certain sense the pro-active concern of the Canadian parliament under all governments in the last 40 years with the Quebec issue at the expense of other and larger constitutional administrative law reform issues has hurt us in taking effective action in advance of problem situations, situations such as we face today.

One of the recommendations made to the McRuer commission was the establishment of a uniform administrative procedure code applying to all government departments. A second was for a specialized Conseil d'Etat administrative tribunal having jurisdiction over all governmental operations. A third was personal liability of civil servants and others for misconduct, including gross negligence in the administration of their operations, personal liability, civil law damages and the like if that is necessary.

The present minister proposes recovery of misspent funds. It is a step in that direction. I recommend to the House, if we can carry this debate constructively further and if all parties would agree, that a priority should be a general overall structural review of administrative processes in government.

An Act To Give Effect To The Requirement For Clarity As Set Out In The Opinion Of The Supreme Court Of Canada In The Quebec Secession Reference December 14th, 1999

Madam Speaker, I will return to a time when I was a trusted constitutional adviser to several successive Quebec premiers of different parties. I am very familiar with the actors in previous referenda debates.

I remember in 1980 that the actual question was preceded by a poll conducted by the minister in charge, Claude Morin, who was a very brilliant man. I think there were no less than seven questions put as likely to get the best majority. It is that sort of action that I would have great difficulty in selling to my electors in British Columbia.

On an issue like this we have to have a nationwide consensus to allow negotiations to take place. If the secession vote allowed it to be accepted, I could not sell what I would call clever action by a governmental minister in charge. What is the problem with Quebec presenting a clear question?

The law makes very clear that Quebec can vote on any question it likes, but if it is to be taken seriously in the rest of the country, and that is the necessary action to trigger a favourable response to be legally enacted, it has to be one that people are satisfied is a fair question.

An Act To Give Effect To The Requirement For Clarity As Set Out In The Opinion Of The Supreme Court Of Canada In The Quebec Secession Reference December 14th, 1999

Madam Speaker, as a freely elected member of parliament, I can speak only for myself. I have studied the bill. I am satisfied that it conforms to the basic principles of a free and democratic society and I will support it.

An Act To Give Effect To The Requirement For Clarity As Set Out In The Opinion Of The Supreme Court Of Canada In The Quebec Secession Reference December 14th, 1999

Madam Speaker, I mention this simply because Reform Party members in interventions in the House on October 17, 1994 and May 13, 1996, as reported in Hansard , repeated my constitutional positions as their own but without adding the political limitation that I had applied.

Let me state what is clear on reading the bill. It is a very modest law. It is facultative in legal terms, not coercive. It reflects the obvious political fact of life that any breakaway from an existing multinational or constitutionally plural state, unless it is to be determined by force majeure, by force of arms as in many cases it has been, must be consensual. This is a position reflected in the United Nations General Assembly declaration on friendly relations and co-operation among states of 1970. It is even reflected in terms in the famous UN General Assembly resolution of 1960 on independence for colonial peoples.

Therefore the emphasis is on consensus. This is what this law says. In the words of the popular tango, it takes two to tango. If you are going to break away you cannot do it unilaterally. You have to get consensus. The federal government says if you wish to have a referendum on secession and you wish it to be taken positively in its result by the federal government, if you want the federal government to negotiate in good faith in response to it, then you must be able to demonstrate that it is a proposal that has been arrived at in its result by what we may call constitutional due process, fair and open means which genuinely reflect Quebec public opinion. I think this law states that, no more and no less.

I find it difficult to see how any good constitutionalist could object to this prescription because it goes to the foundations of the open society upon which Canada is based.

I would cite what is I think the most remarkable feature of this law. It is not like the Stalin constitution of 1936, which said that any state may secede from the Soviet Union. Everybody knew that the cynical Mr. Vyshinsky had written it and he did not mean a word of it, and neither did Stalin. It stated for the first time in a democratic society that one part had the right to break away, provided it achieved an expression of opinion which conformed to the due process of law, with proper consultation on a representative basis.

The federal government in this bill does not stipulate a particular content, of whatever nature, for any future Quebec referendum question. It does not even try to impose a particular majority. These are questions which, following Kelsen and the pure theory of law, a good jurist would say are metalegal in character. In more popular terms, one might say it was like King Canute trying to legislate the impossible.

The European Union, in a cognate situation trying to establish ground rules for recognition of new states, wisely limits itself to what it calls the normal standards of international practice and the political realities of each case.

The rest of the present bill goes on to list elements that would be relevant in any post-referendum federal-provincial negotiations on a possible secession. These correspond to classical international law prescriptions for state sucession and would be determined at any such ensuing negotiations.

What we have here is a continuance of that opening to participatory democracy which began when Prime Minister Trudeau opted not to use his constitutional choices to bar a referendum but to enter into the political debate in the political arenas. This is the situation. If these conditions, conformably to what the supreme court has laid down and established in the federal law, are met then it would be possible to obtain that genuine nationwide consensus that is a necessary precondition to effectuation of any political secession.

The positive thing is that the Government of Canada has taken the forward step of saying “Yes, we would regret anybody going, but if they go let us be sure that there was a clear question, honestly expressed and honestly presented and accepted by a fair majority of the population concerned”. That is an opening to democracy. It is not coercion. It is facultative in its nature.

There are several conditions. If a result were to be obtained in which those conditions were met, I think I could persuade my colleagues in my part of the country to accept it in good faith.

It is an invitation to members of the opposition to meet the spirit of the law. It is not a coercive law; it is a facultative law. It opens the way to constitutional due process, to a measured approach in good faith to effectuation of popular will when that is determined.

An Act To Give Effect To The Requirement For Clarity As Set Out In The Opinion Of The Supreme Court Of Canada In The Quebec Secession Reference December 14th, 1999

Madam Speaker, this debate is a matter of concern for all Canada and not simply a dispute or discussion between Quebec and Ottawa. It is in this larger optic, because many people in western Canada are also following the debate, that I intervene.

The question itself involves a mixture, sometimes not clearly defined, of constitutional law, international law and politics. In the straight limited issue of the constitutional power I did give the opinion in 1980 as an a priori abstract legal question that the issue of holding a referendum on secession from a federal country, the issue of the nature of the referendum question, the content and the timing, was a question of plenary federal powers, not of provincial powers. In this context a federal government would have the right to disallow or bar constitutionally the holding of a referendum, or even to interpose its own referendum.

This was a statement of the law, but I also said at the time that it was a political decision whether and to what extent to use legal powers. The House remembers in the context in 1980 that the then prime minister decided not to exercise his constitutional options but to meet the challenge politically to enter the referendum debate and to win it.

With respect to the particular situation we are facing today, in 1994 I repeated the views that I had expressed in 1980. I repeated them one year before the second Quebec referendum in an article in the autumn 1994 edition of Canadian Parliamentary Review . I note simply that it was adopted by the Reform Party. The best and brightest of the Reform Party spokesmen on constitutional questions, the member for Calgary West, Stephen Harper, picked them up in interventions.