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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

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

Mr. Speaker, I commend the previous speaker from London West for her fine maiden speech. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Today I ask my fellow Canadians, one and all, to think calmly and clearly upon the budget that has been placed before this House. We are indeed fortunate to have such a well thought-out

and balanced financial plan presented to us as the basis of our operations the next fiscal year.

This balanced approach will lead to a fundamental reform of our system, create jobs, continue to care for those in need, and begin the process of reducing the debt to the target of 3 per cent of gross domestic product.

As the finance minister said in his speech, now is not the time to move away from our values but is the time to return to them. I see it. We have kept our commitment to the Canadian people as outlined in our campaign platform entitled Creating Opportunities , now simply known as the red book.

This budget is about jobs. It takes action to support the job creation now, while at the same time it builds the foundation for solid growth and quality, lasting jobs for the future.

This will be achieved through working toward three major goals.

First, building a framework for economic renewal to help Canadian business succeed and to turn innovation into a more effective engine for economic growth.

Second, ensuring a responsible social security system that is fair, compassionate and affordable, a reform that will create jobs and opportunities for all Canadians.

Third, restoring fiscal balance to government so that it can devote its full energy to helping Canadians adapt to a world of challenge and change.

This government is dedicated to restoring fiscal responsibility. This budget exemplifies that commitment by planning deficit reduction from $47.7 billion in 1993-94 to $39.7 billion in 1994-95 and down to $32.7 billion in the 1995-96 fiscal year.

Over the three-year period outlined in the budget the government will implement $5 of spending cuts for every $1 in revenue increase. This is the only path to successful deficit reduction. Canadians can no longer afford to shoulder an ever-increasing tax burden. This budget acknowledges that fact that while also recognizing the increase in spending today is simply increased taxes for tomorrow.

In terms of these spending cuts, this is the most significant budget in years. Measures in the budget result in gross savings of $3.7 billion in 1994-95, rising quickly to $13.6 billion in the 1996-97 fiscal year. During the entire three-year period gross savings total $28.6 billion.

These cuts are not illusions. For instance, defence spending will be 7 per cent lower in the 1995-96 year compared to this year. Business subsidies will be almost 9 per cent lower in the 1995-96 fiscal year. The cost to government will decline. The cost of the unemployment insurance program will be reduced by more than 10 per cent. In the end, total program spending will be virtually frozen over the next two years and will decline as a percentage of our economy.

As I mentioned earlier, by applying prudence in making economic assumptions the actions set in this budget set the deficit on target of achieving our stated goal of a 3 per cent GDP of deficit by the year 1996-97. The response I have received from constituents regarding this budget has been most positive. Business persons were pleased with the rollback of the unemployment insurance premium rates to the $3 level. This initiative will save business nearly $300 million a year. This money can be reinvested in business to stimulate employment and create much needed consumer demand.

They also like the support for small business that came from the formation of the Canada investment fund to provide venture capital for small business and the Canadian technology network which will provide access to new technologies.

I have talked to small business. These operators were pleased to hear that a task force would be established to work with the banks for which at this moment they have great mistrust. We hope that the banks by working with our task force will allow small business people to regain faith in the national banking system, because they seem to be shut out by the great banks of this country, and to develop a code of conduct for lending to small businesses.

Farmers and small business people alike were happy that the $500,000 capital gains exemption was retained, and for good reason. Over the past month I had the good fortune to meet with many farmers in my riding about this issue. I agreed with their thoughts on this matter and I am pleased that when they decide to retire, they will be provided with the security for which they have worked so hard.

Many patients and dentists were pleased that the speculated tax on the employer health paid insurance program was not on the budget. Constituents entering the housing market for the first time and the realtors who assist them were overjoyed with the news that the home owners plan would be made permanent.

As well, local charities in my constituency were delighted with the opportunity to raise more funds through the lowering of the threshold of the 29 per cent tax credit from $250 to $200.

What about the many constituents without vested interests in any particular area? Were they covered in this budget? Simply put, they were in full agreement with the manner in which the deficit was reduced and handled. Canadians concerned about the deficit told me, and these are the facts, that the finance minister and his pre-budget consultations were the most important thing that has happened as far as they were concerned. That the government was ready to act to swiftly cut the deficit was another big point that my constituents reported to me by phone.

However, they specified they were glad it was done through cuts and not taxes. Simply put, that is the kind of budget they got.

As I outlined earlier, the 1994 budget works to cut the federal deficit while holding the line on taxes. It also works to increase job opportunities and provides capital for business. At the same time it is a budget that is becoming widely accepted by Canadians as a fair and honest approach to dealing with the challenges facing this country.

How did the government manage to do this? Actually, it was quite easy. It listened to Canadians and for the first time in Canadian history the federal budget was developed through public consultations. From the feedback I have received the end result of these consultations was quite clear. The 1994 federal budget is good for the people of Perth-Wellington-Waterloo and I strongly believe it is good for Canada.

Committees Of The House February 25th, 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 the additional powers for the committee concerning the televising of its proceedings and the power to create subcommittees.

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

The Budget February 24th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest to the hon. member for Saanich-Gulf Islands. He made some very good points in his speech.

I know from his experience the infrastructure was like an albatross around the neck of the forces in terms of budgets for the past 10 to 12 years. The move was seen by all professional officers as an excellent one, as a way to free up money for the needed things he mentioned in his speech. The government should be applauded for taking the stand to depoliticize the nature of bases. I certainly go along with that.

I agree with him that we should not be tailoring the future of the forces based on the budget. A lot of thought has to go into that matter. I hope the committee that is put together will come up with a forward thinking program and task the armed forces appropriately. I look forward to working with him on that future project.

There are other points I would like to make. The British announced today a very serious cut in defence expenditures. As the member just noted, they have gone to a ratio of total force. They call it a one army concept, a one navy and one air force concept. Here we call it total force. They are putting more resources into upgrading the quality of the reserves as a method of rapid expansion in case of need.

As the member appropriately indicated, we may probably have to look at it in the future as a way to bring the people of Canada into the armed forces by having the reserve component enlarged and increased in competence to take on the roles they do in the German air force, the American air force and the reserve programs, as well as in the army and navy components.

Overall he made some very good points. I want to make clear that the cut in infrastructure was applauded throughout the forces because it was a drain on both financial and human resources. It will release that hopefully for the future growth of the forces.

Defence Policy February 23rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I came in after the whip sat down and therefore I was not entitled to vote, but I would like to give notice that I would have voted with my party in any event.

Excise Act February 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few comments. One is to thank the hon. minister for the action taken and to review what happened that led to this.

This was a genuine needs driven exercise. Society had been getting out of hand. We had models set up on street corners. We had big money being made. There were ostentatious homes being built, not just in specific areas. Money was being made illegally and it became a way of life. It had to be snuffed out if society was to preserve itself and its integrity.

I was personally pleased to see such action taken, particularly the diagnosis by the government, patiently building its case involving all aspects of our society before it took action. Based on that diagnosis the prescription was laid before us in a four point plan which covered very thoroughly and very comprehensively all aspects that undertake to eradicate this disease in our society.

Finally, we saw the true action in concrete form here. I hope that at some stage we will follow it up with a real evaluation and seeing that society is back on track with law and order.

Defence Policy February 17th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the hon. member for Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt on his positive attitude in seeking a resolution to the very serious problem presented to Parliament, the very serious debt crisis we face. The turn of events in the world requires us to assess our alliances and commitments to alliances and to look at how we have allowed our armed forces to be stretched from sea to sea in bases that no longer have relevance to their initial establishment. We will have to do some evaluation on a merit basis of whether they need to be done because this is a political decision.

The people in the armed forces can tell us about their needs, their training, their numbers, et cetera. Every time when it comes to making decisions the presentation from the Canadian Armed Forces has been that this is where we can cut without affecting our effectiveness.

These are some of the decisions we will have to make on behalf of the people of Canada so that we can keep our armed forces in a strong position to undertake the tasks the government always places upon them. They are spread thin because this is dictated to by the nature of the base policy the political decisions have made on.

Like the hon. member for Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt I hope we will look at these situations. Some of the bases will stay and probably be enlarged. We do not know that. Certainly if we are to make decisions we need all the relevant information. As the hon. member said, in some cases we may have to go and look at them and when we speak we can speak with some sense of reality on behalf of the armed forces.

Again I would like to thank the member. We must keep in mind that if the armed forces were in need of overhauling, the decisions were delayed, delayed and delayed in this place. It was not the fault of Department of National Defence, because that was offered as a cut year after year after year.

Milk February 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Health.

The image of milk as a clean, pure food has great credibility among Canadian consumers. However, the recent approval by the American government to allow the injection of BST, bovine somatltropin, to stimulate milk production in dairy cows has caused great concern among consumers in Canada.

Consumers are concerned they will be denied the right to clean, pure milk. As well, they will not be able to tell if BST has been used in blended products such as cheese, butter, yogurt and ice cream.

Will the minister assure all Canadians that the government will not approve the use of BST until the experiment in the United States proves conclusively that milk and milk blended products are safe?

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his close attention to my speech. It helped to refresh in my mind what I had said.

I would like to pick up on one or two things about hope. Every one of us is in great need for a dose of hope whether we are from the party of the hon. member or from my own party. Every farmer every spring has some hope.

In the throne speech there were all kinds of seeds and those seeds were in the speech in the form of the things that I have mentioned and the things that you have reiterated. There was not anything tangible there but those seeds have to be scattered on the land. Given the right situation in the right environment they will sprout, grow and bear fruit.

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in this my maiden speech I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Speaker on his election to such a prestigious position and my personal congratulations to you for your appointment to an equally prestigious position.

I wish to thank the mover and seconder of the speech from the throne. I also wish to thank the people of Perth-Wellington-Waterloo for electing me to represent them in the House of Commons. I want to assure them that I will represent them and serve them to the best of my ability.

I would be remiss if I did not also thank my wife and family for their wholehearted support during my campaign.

The riding of Perth-Wellington-Waterloo is located in the fertile lands of southwestern Ontario. It looks like and produces as though it were the garden of Eden. It is the number one dairy and pork producing riding in Canada, and second in white bean and mixed farm acreage. The fact that this area is so productive is because of the dedication and efficiency of its farmers, and I congratulate them for their contribution to the wealth of our country.

I have received several hundred calls from dairy, poultry and egg farmers in my riding since the conclusion of the GATT negotiations. They feared for their survival because article XI has been removed from the treaty. I want to assure Canadian farmers in these supply management sectors that the Liberal government in Ottawa is committed to preserving the family farm, the Canadian agriculture sector and the supply management system.

Perth-Wellington-Waterloo's number one employer is the automotive related sector, with factories in Stratford, St. Mary's, Mitchell, Listowel and New Hamburg. The success of this sector depends upon a well-trained and hard-working labour force. This level of competence has been maintained through a commitment by both management and workers to improving their education and skill level in order to produce the highest quality product for consumers.

Finally, I must recognize the most famous institution in my riding, the Stratford Shakespearian Festival, North America's most esteemed repertory theatre which performs on three world class stages in town, a town that is renowned for its park systems, shops and restaurants. I am proud to live in Stratford, the home of Canada's national English speaking theatre, the jewel of southwestern Ontario. 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. On behalf of the theatre, I invite every member of Parliament to visit Stratford and attend one of its several performances as my guest and theirs.

The Liberals won the federal election of October 1993 because we provided Canadians with a vision of hope, hope for improved job prospects, with initiatives such as improving the economic climate for small and medium sized businesses. I can assure everyone that my constituents support the proposals contained in the throne speech, proposals such as encouraging financial institutions to improve access to capital for owners of small and medium sized businesses. Consultations with bank executives by members of the government have already started to bear fruit.

The establishment of the Canada investment fund will help leading edge technology firms to obtain the long-term capital they need.

We Liberals will create a Canadian technology network to assist with the spreading of information about technological innovations, providing further assistance to these firms. The government will encourage partnerships between Canadian universities, research institutions and the private sector to strengthen the research and development required by entrepreneurs in order to establish their own businesses. This partnership will help to keep small business managers abreast of new technologies and strategic information vital to their long term success.

We Liberals recognize that the government often acts as a catalyst in the areas of economic growth and job creation, relying on the private sector to be the engine. We hope that the residential rehabilitation assistance program will encourage home owners to renovate their homes and thus stimulate what has been a sluggish building industry.

We also believe there are important programs a government can put in place to give hope and jobs to some of our youth, such as the youth service corps. It will put thousands of Canada's enthusiastic youth into the workplace on worthy community and environmental projects.

Governments in every corner of the globe recognize that the critical component of economic competitiveness in the global marketplace is a well trained workforce.

We Liberals propose measures to improve job training and the transition from school to the workplace. In these days of high unemployment thousands of jobs go unfilled in rapidly expanding industries such as telecommunications, computer services and environmental sciences because skilled labour cannot be found. While thousands of our youth are unemployed we cannot tolerate the squandering of their energy, talent and education.

We will in partnerships with the provinces and the private sector establish a national apprenticeship program. This program will establish national standards for apprenticeship programs and establish new programs for fast growing sectors in the economy. All of these programs are necessary. To simply stay with the status quo would be intolerable.

Just as the goal of Liberal economic policy is to ensure economic growth in the nation, the goal of our social policy is to ensure the social well-being of its citizens. Change is a relentless and often disruptive force in our modern society and has rendered some elements of our social safety net cumbersome and redundant. The role of the government is to design legislation that is current and relevant to meet the needs of the citizen.

Social planners who employ foresight in the designing of legislation will ensure that the revision and amendment of such legislation will require it to be amended in the future. We Liberals are committed to the carrying out of a major study in the social security system.

We will also study our highly prized health care system in co-operation with the provincial governments and in consultation with Canadians. The national forum on health will be chaired by the Prime Minister, the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien. We Liberals assure the people that our government remains deeply committed to the principles of the Canadian Health Act including the rejection of user fees in any form.

As I worked my way across the riding of Perth-Wellington-Waterloo last year, at the farm gates and the factory gates the most disheartening refrain I heard was from the people who had given up on government. Many others were just plain angry at politicians who they felt were dishonest or indifferent to their needs.

There must be some good reason why Canadians are so eager for honesty and integrity in government and why they universally demand fairness and justice. I believe that for too many Canadians the Canadian dream had become the Canadian nightmare. They feared the loss of their jobs, their social safety nets, their cultural identity and the integrity of their natural environment. We Liberals have promised and we must deliver on our promise to return honesty and integrity to Canada's federal government.

In conclusion we Liberals believe that the very essence of a civilized society is mutual interest, mutual forbearance and mutual co-operation. We believe that today Canadians are prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder to work together and make sacrifices to the benefit of each other and to Canada.

We Liberals believe that the government's policy as outlined in the speech from the throne will provide the road map for both legislators and the citizens to follow in their common mission. It provides hope through its many initiatives for job creation and economic stimulation. It provides leadership through reforms that will make the operation of government more transparent and accountable and it provides vision through the establishment of structures to examine and upgrade our social security system. It is what Canadians and Canada need today.

Foreign Affairs January 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, may I take this opportunity to congratulate you in your appointment to such a prestigious position. At your convenience would you please pass on my congratulations to the Speaker on his election to his position.

It is a pleasure for me to speak to the debate on our participation in the Bosnia-Croatia situation and pay tribute to our fine soldiers who are serving in the UN and the role they play.

Since 1949 our Canadian soldiers have acquitted themselves well at each and every opportunity where they have been asked to serve their country through the United Nations. It is my pleasure to hear so many members speak so highly of the quality of the Canadian soldiers who serve with valour and honour.

Tonight we discuss and give legitimacy to our soldiers being in Bosnia-Hercegovina as part of the UN operations. Canadians did not have the opportunity to debate their soldiers being sent abroad potentially into harms way. For that I am pleased tonight to see that some legitimacy is now being given to them through the Government of Canada in this open debate.

Two or three things have been brought forward in the debate. Most Canadians have taken great pride vicariously in the activities of our UN operations since their inception. The Canadians have been received warmly and fairly because of their even-handed approach to their duties in the UN.

I have some concerns about Canadians serving in the UN and each operation and each after action report highlights the shortcomings of the United Nations.

The Security Council is quick to identify the need and requests volunteers. The operator is the Secretary-General for all operations of this type. When on UN operations or when decisions have to be made backtracking through the network to get to the Secretary-General is often necessary. It is often arduous and tedious to get a decision on what should take place, whether it is in the Golan Heights, the Sinai, in Katanga or whether it is now in Yugoslavia. We have seen two generals resign over the very same thing: the command and control of the operation.

I would like to take a moment this evening to recommend that our government look to this as a future opportunity for our defence forces, whether they are sailors, soldiers or airmen that they will know they are going in on an operation that has a task force established at UN headquarters to plan the operation and the logistics on a permanent basis. That type of planning would put our soldiers at risk but would ensure that there is a chain of command, a logistic channel and that it is in place before the operation takes place. The present system of an ad hoc chain of command and logistic organization is not good enough.

We have heard time and time again in the debate today whether we should be involved in the UN operations. We can participate fairly if the United Nations at the insistence of Canada establishes a permanent planning or task force headquarters as part of the Secretary-General's office.

Presently we have Major General Maurice Baril as an advisor. That is certainly not enough liaison. Other countries have advisors. However, if we are going to be there, there must be a method of setting up standard operating procedures, methods of logistic support and command and control. I think our soldiers would feel much more comfortable. Canadians would feel much more comfortable that we were sending our troops into an organization that is established to handle them in an operational theatre and could give direct and quick response to a situation in that theatre.

We know the UN lacks the human and technical resources at the moment. I hope our government will see fit in its future planning to recommend the establishment of such a task force and an operational headquarters to oversee such tasks as we have undertaken in Bosnia, certainly the humanitarian effort and the peacekeeping operation in Croatia.

This task force would have a permanent operational staff to establish some form of standing operational procedures, both in the area of communications and operating techniques or tactics.

Such an international agency designed by the UN and under the control of the UN would go far to improve the facilitation and execution of the task of our soldiers and our country in undertaking the assignment by the UN.

I will sum up by stating how proud I am of our Canadian troops. I am pleased to see how well they participated in the Gulf War, our sailors, soldiers and airmen.

In the future I can see that as a major task for the Canadian forces as we extricate ourselves from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and possibly NORAD and focus our resources on UN operations.