Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was important.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Portage—Interlake (Manitoba)

Lost his last election, in 1997, with 28% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Research And Development February 13th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, in this age of doing more with fewer resources, our government has already provided leadership in launching initiatives like the Canadian technology network, the Canadian medical discovery fund, the technology partnerships program, the environmental industries initiative, phase II of CANARIE and PRECARN. These initiatives use very limited government resources to lever very substantial efforts in science and research and technology; efforts which meet the needs of Canadians, which provide exciting careers for young Canadians.

I want to reassure the hon. member that even if our federal government resources are constricted in the short term, we shall not flag or fail in our efforts to be innovative, in our efforts to work with all Canadians to ensure a strong future.

Research Grants February 8th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I would like to reiterate. The Reform Party has singled out individual components of what has been an extraordinary effort over a long period of time for the culture of this country supporting efforts in the universities, supporting the development of knowledge which has made a major contribution to the economy and to the well-being of Canadians.

Research Grants February 8th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I believe the hon. member is referring to grants under the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, an independent arm's length body that has done a great service to university researchers and has provided a very important foundation for knowledge in the country.

Bankruptcy Act October 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to participate in the debate on this bill presented by the hon. member for Portneuf that would give employees and travelling salesmen higher priority than other creditors in the proceeds realized from the property of a bankrupt party.

The bill before us provides for payment up to a limit of $9,000 per person as the first priority in bankruptcy proceedings. The existing legislation does, in fact, cover workers. In it, workers benefit from a preferred claim to cover wages they earned during the six months immediately preceding the bankruptcy, for up to $2,000. The current legislation is not a perfect solution to the wage earner protection issue, but it is an immense improvement from the situation that existed before the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act was amended in 1992 as a result of Bill C-22.

Hon. members may recall that before then, workers had a preferred claim for only up to $500 in unpaid wages and commissions. That level was established in 1949, when $500 represented three months' wages. Since 1949, numerous attempts have been made to improve wage earner protection. In 1970, the report of the study committee on bankruptcy and insolvency legislation recommended doubling the preferred amount, from $500 to $1,000.

Bill C-60, tabled in 1975, contained a provision for the full super-priority of wage claims up to $2,000.

In 1980, the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce assessed three possible solutions. The first was to establish a super-priority for wage claims, ranking them before all secured creditors' claims. This is the solution proposed to us today by the hon. member for Portneuf.

The second proposal was to establish a modified priority for wage earners, ranking their claims before claims of creditors with security on current assets, such as cash, inventory or receivables.

The third possibility was the creation of a wage earner protection fund.

The committee maintained that administering super-priority and modified priority would be very difficult, the biggest problem being how to share the burden among the secured creditors, given the large number of possible guarantees. Super-priority was very likely to limit access to credit for labour-intensive industries. Payment would certainly not be guaranteed, much less the speed of payment.

The Senate committee recommended establishing a wage earner protection fund that would be financed by all employers, based on the number of their employees, and by employees themselves, who would contribute a modest amount.

So it went, that between the Senate committee report of 1980 and the new Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act of 1992, several more reports were to address the same perplexing issue of protecting the interests of wage earners.

In total, there have been seven bills and seven reports all trying to address this recurring issue. Super-priority has been proposed before. It has been examined and rejected, as has the proposal of a fund from government revenues or a tax.

In the coming months, the Minister of Industry will receive the recommendations of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Advisory Committee that has been struck to look into reform of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. In the meantime, Industry Canada has been collecting data to help us make more informed decisions. When we examine these issues, we need to know the full extent of the problem, and how much it would take to resolve it.

We must be able to answer a number of key questions before we can make intelligent choices on the options available to us.

In how many bankruptcies do employees lose their wages? How much have they lost so far? Do the trustees refund part of the wages owed to them? How soon are these refunds made? To date, how much money has been available from the bankrup parties' property to pay creditors?

I am sure that my colleagues on both sides of the House will want to reflect on these questions before they set about to reform the bankruptcy laws to provide some kind of wage earner protection. We do not have the answers now. We cannot assess the impact that Bill C-237 might have. I would suggest that this House let the government proceed with its fact-finding. I would also suggest that it give the government time to receive the recommendations of the advisory committee. On that basis, I

will vote against the legislation before us, and I recommend that my hon. colleagues do the same.

In total there have been seven bills and seven reports all trying to address this recurring issue. Super priority has been proposed before. It has been examined at some length and rejected as has the proposal of a fund from government revenues or a tax.

In the coming months the Minister of Industry will receive the recommendations of the bankruptcy and insolvency advisory committee that has been struck to look into reform of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

I believe we need to know and have this report before we can proceed in the best possible way.

Science And Technology May 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, our government is in the process of developing a strategy which will put science, research and technology at the forefront of a national system of innovation to help move along many of the items on our agenda.

We will shortly announce in the coming weeks the details of the promised Canadian technology network and the technology partnerships program. During the course of the summer I will be discussing with Canadians across the country in a series of meetings the options that we have in terms of science, research and technology in moving the agenda along.

This will be followed by five regional conferences in the fall. I invite my hon. colleagues to participate in this important dialogue together with business, industry, federal laboratories and universities.

Excise Tax Act April 20th, 1994

moved that the bill now be read the third time and passed.

Excise Tax Act April 20th, 1994

moved that the bill as amended be concurred in.

Excise Tax Act April 20th, 1994

moved that Bill C-13, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act and a related act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95 March 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member speaks of is very important. However, we have made significant strides in Canada. We have 90 per cent plus of the people on digital phones already, which is much higher than the United States. Although we have a long way to go we can apply our existing infrastructure program to the electronic highway as well as to routine infrastructure.

It is important for each community to look at how it can best position itself and use the infrastructure and other opportunities to bring it into the future and into the 21st century.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95 March 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is a big question and a complex one. In point of fact, the information is enabling in whatever domain, whether in farming, fishing or tourism. In tourism, for example, using the internet we can tell about the beauties, the opportunities of our areas, and reach 30 million people more easily than we might in any other way.

In real estate, we can take clients through a tour of a farm house, a factory, a residential house without having to be there. Thus, we may be able to better market the properties to people who are interested in moving and better show people areas without having to travel around quite the same way.

There are opportunities that people have already begun to take. In Newfoundland, for example, with the TETRA network there are individuals who have been able to move their fish culturing, their aquaculturing, much further ahead because they were able to talk on computer networks with people in British Columbia and learn about techniques which would move their business forward faster.

The information, the libraries, the possibilities of the future are endless. What we need to do is look at those opportunities, build on them and make sure that our communities are able to profit from them.