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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was forces.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Perth—Middlesex (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Stratford Festival May 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to invite all members of the House and all Canadians to attend the Stratford Festival, Canada's national English speaking repertory theatre.

Monday, May 30, marks the official opening of the 42nd season of the Stratford Festival, the jewel of southwestern Ontario. North America's most esteemed repertory company performs on three world class stages in a town renowned for its park systems, shops and restaurants. This is a cultural success story.

The theatre achieves the highest artistic standards while attracting thousands of visitors to the region every year and pumping millions of dollars into the local economy.

This season ends on November 13 and offers 10 marvellous productions. I hope to see you in attendance.

Canadian National Railways April 15th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity to address this House in French. After only six weeks of French classes, I know I still make mistakes. I agree with the member for Roberval.

CNR, CPR and VIA serve Canada.

It is easy for the member for Kootenay West to get up and reject outright the thesis of the member for Roberval when he is harboured by the Western Grain Transportation Act. They get underwriting which is a subsidy that is not able to be taken by the member for Roberval's CNR track. There is also the Crows Nest Pass and I can go on and on.

This whole thing is why I support the member for Roberval. CNR, CPR and VIA pick off whatever line they like each year until all they have left are very few Canadians who have access to public transportation which has been enormously supported since Confederation; billions and billions of dollars have gone into CPR and CNR, particularly in the west.

Please, enough of throwing mud at each other. Let us work together for a national rail strategy that will serve Canada in the 21st century and not leave one section out to the benefit of another.

Rail Transportation April 13th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to speak to the House.

As we have heard in the past few days there is great concern about the railroads in Canada, particularly CP, CN and VIA, again seeking to curb costs by making ad hoc restructuring to operations and thereby upsetting many Canadians.

I call upon this government through the Minister of Transport to undertake a long overdue review of the rail transportation system and bring to this House a new rail transportation strategy for Canada to meet the needs of Canada in the 21st century.

Via Rail April 12th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, this question is for the Minister of Transport or his designate, the secretary.

Recently the newspapers have been full of rumours about VIA Rail cuts to passenger rail service for Canadians, more specifically, the route from Sarnia, London, Stratford, Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, Brampton to Toronto. This route is presently one of the most patronized routes in all of Canada.

Could the minister or his designate provide the assurance that this rail route will not be abandoned?

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act March 24th, 1994

I am sorry. I did not mean to reflect on any other member in the House.

However, if some day in the future we approach the population of our neighbours to the south, we will need 3,000 seats in the House of Commons. We are going to have to look at the size of ridings in the country so we can keep a reasonable number in Parliament.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act March 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me to join in this debate. We have heard many strong negatives both from the government side and the opposition side about the way the revision of the federal electoral boundaries took place.

The province of Ontario is about to gain four seats. I would like to talk a bit about why I am against it. It is not to stifle free speech. The body politic of Canada should have some input into saying where the boundary changes should be made. As a consequence everyone is looking at the House as the sole

ownership of this. Let us give the public some say in its operation.

Most Canadians and particularly residents of Ontario did not hear about the revision. It came as a shock to them and they had to respond in some cases as early as the next two weeks. So to mobilize, to liaise one with another, to communicate with those groups who have been disturbed, to question why such changes have taken place, the time was not there. We are talking a lot of people and we are talking the affect. I am talking of mobilizing and reacting to the changes in my own province of Ontario.

Ontario presently has 99 seats. One of the rules under which this commission was to undertake change was that there would be a minimum of disturbance of existing boundaries.

They talk about the ripple effect. I want to tell you that if there was ever a ripple it was a big ripple in Ontario to get four seats. Ninety-three of the ridings were changed rather significantly.

The principle was that there be some approximation in size in the constituencies in Ontario. The commission's mandate gave a rather generous leeway. Twenty-five per cent is a rather large deviation from the norm.

As a consequence, in Ontario the demographic computer crunched them out closely with its cookie cruncher to the 97,000 to 100,000 range. Many ridings that were sitting well within that range and smack on 100,000 had radical change and it has upset the communities in which that change took place.

In my riding the county council will be taking a bus to the hearing. The city councils and the township councils will be taking a bus to the hearing because traditionally a constituency has a community of interest. That community of interest is focused on its local governments whether they be township, town, city or county.

Many of these fundamental community of interests were hacked in half and for no reason attached to another half of another county that was hacked in half. The rationale of community of interest seemed to go by the board. That is why we are upset. I can tell members that my constituents are upset. This is the second major change in southwestern Ontario and only one riding escaped without any change whatsoever.

As a consequence, I would like to make a point that the ripple effect in 93 of the 99 ridings was not acceptable to the residents of Ontario. These residents are not all Liberals although I would like to think they would be.

I have received protests from people from all walks of life and it does not have anything to do with my being a Liberal member. They do not want to be associated with someone who has been connected with another township. There is a narrow gap and we go back into another base.

It does not even have any sort of congruency or shape. It is stretched out to almost Lake Huron and on the other side, Waterloo county. It was a compact riding of 101,000 people meeting specific criteria where community of interest and size were dead on. The people in my riding want to know what the rationale was for the major surgery in the riding of Perth-Wellington-Waterloo.

I would like to read from the direction and general notes given to the commissioners on their mandate. The act directs the commission to divide Ontario into 103 districts. On the basis of the population of each electoral district in the province, it shall be as close as reasonably possible to correspond to the electoral quota of that province.

We all know that some of the ridings in northern Ontario, by their nature, by the ability to service the constituency, must necessarily be smaller than some of the ridings in the urban areas where one can contact and relate to their constituents in a speedier manner.

For those of us who were in urban-rural ridings, the norm would be about 100,000. The commission may depart from this quota where necessary or desirable. The commission's judgment lay in directives and it has given the two commissioners for Ontario tremendous scope.

First, the commission is to respect the community of interest or community of identity in the historical pattern of an electoral district in the province. That one has been shot out of the water in a big way.

Second, it is to maintain a manageable geographic size for districts in sparsely populated, rural or northern regions of the province. I concur with that.

In considering these factors, the commission must make every effort to ensure that except in extraordinary circumstances the population of each electoral district remains within 25 per cent, a reasonably grand margin of error I would say by any statement. The upper limit of the quota plus 25 per cent from the norm which is 122,000 to the lower limit of 25 per cent which is 73,000 is very rarely reached. The first principle was totally compromised so that the second principle could crunch out ridings with populations of 97,000 to 103,000. The community of interest and the community of economic interest, which is just as important in most of those ridings, was shot out of the water, to use a colloquial term.

I dare say that with Ontario gaining four seats, I am not prepared to compromise that nor would I like to see my friends from British Columbia suffer any loss of seats. I would like to add a little comparison. Take a look at the House today. These seats have been moved so close together that if even I put on a little weight, which has not happened for a long time, it would be difficult to get between the seats.

The Economy March 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to be the purveyor of good news for all Canadians.

According to Statistics Canada the composite leading indicators continue to show a healthy pace for the second consecutive month in February. Nine of the ten indicators rose and the other stayed on a flat line.

That augurs well for the continued growth pattern in our economy. Certain things do turn up and are very important in the broad based growth. A surge of 60,000 new jobs in February gave an added impetus and we are looking more to that impetus going on through March. New manufacturing orders for durable goods showed a 2.7 per cent increase, the highest since 1988, despite the widespread retooling of the auto plants. Several industries reported growth rates in excess of 10 per cent.

Petitions March 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to present a petition on behalf of residents of my riding of Perth-Wellington-Waterloo.

The nature of the petition is to enact legislation to ban the selling of serial killer cards in Canada and I support this petition.

Committees Of The House March 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the first report of the Special Joint Committee on Canada's Defence Policy. This report requests additional powers for the committee concerning televising of its proceedings and the power to create subcommittees.

The Senate adopted this report at its sitting of February 24. If the House gives its consent I intend to move concurrence in the report later this day.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95 February 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague with whom I work on the committee. He has placed on the table many very fruitful ideas for our discussions. I welcome further discussion on those items.

Anyone in a professional business knows we like to talk in exact terms. Everyone knows that a budget is just an estimate of income and an estimate of revenues. Other areas impact on that.

In the political realm we are dealing with moving a large institution, dans ce pays le Canada. Our country is so large it has this inertia to overcome because we have had so many years of bad employment and slow growth.

The budget created a sense of stability for the people and gave small nudges to the economy. We were hoping that once the inertia could be moved-it is a big boulder, a big thing to move-we can break it and find ways to make it move slowly.

I believe that we are in a stage, as the hon. member mentioned, where many dollars invested do not create the same kind of man hours that they did in the past. We would be foolhardy to think that would be the case.

Simply with enough effort we will probably work at getting job creation going. That is the idea behind this. There was stimulus. We were stimulating the patient, hoping to see some revival, some reactivation within the body of our country that would get the country moving again; that the growth rates would reach the targets and exceed them.