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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

Committees Of The House November 15th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts relating to chapter 6 of the April 1999 Report of the Auditor General of Canada, Human Resources Development Canada—An Accountability for Shared Social Programs; and, the second report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts relating to chapter 10 of the April 1999 Report of the Auditor General of Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada—Funding Arrangements for First Nations: Follow-up.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons, the committee requests the government to table the comprehensive responses to these two reports.

Supply November 4th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, certainly it is very evident the growth in employment in Canada directly resulted because of our export industry seeking new fields and buyers and producing quality products. We are at the highest level of employment in the history of Canada for the moment. That is a celebration. That is something that members of the New Democratic Party should salute once in a while instead of looking at the bare bottom.

Another thing that is so important in this kind of relationship is that we are doing it in a rules based operation with opportunities to grieve issues as they arise that do not comply with the rules based trading rules of the WTO. There is a point where we may think we are being wronged. We try to make use of that like any other member of the WTO. It is rules based. Everyone who breaks the rules is called on to justify the rationale or accept the punishments.

It is a good news story. Implementing new programs is shied away from by people who are shy about getting in on the activity, but that is what is happening in the world. We are in the game and we are in the game in a big way.

Supply November 4th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, Canada has a unified position that reflects the trade interests of the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector as a whole across all commodities and across all regions, which is hardly a very undemocratic system. It is very democratic. This position will allow Canada to play a strong and active role in influencing the direction and eventual outcome of the important upcoming negotiations.

In the upcoming negotiations Canada and other countries will be looking to build on the WTO agreement in agriculture signed in 1994. We made real progress in the Uruguay round, bringing the world agriculture trade under a multilateral rules based system for the first time. Canada has reaped the benefits. The Uruguay round was a good start at decreasing distortions which characterized trade back in the 1980s, but much remains to be done.

Currently our farmers are faced with some of the lowest commodity prices seen for a long time. A worldwide problem of oversupply in some commodities has been aggravated by limited market access and prolonged by the persistent use of some export subsidies and trade distorting domestic support of some of our major trading partners, particularly the European Union.

The United States has also responded to low world prices with increasingly large payments to its farmers, further widening the disparity between the amount of assistance provided by the U.S. and EU and the assistance provided by other countries. It is not clear that these additional subsidies are helping U.S. farmers since there appears to be just as many concerns expressed by American farmers as there are with our farmers about low prices and low incomes.

This makes our efforts at the international negotiating table all the more critical. Taking a strong position at the WTO to lower subsidies and enforce the rules that are agreed to is one leg of our strategy to deal with the farm income situation.

Canada's initial negotiating position gives Canada an authoritative agenda, endorsed by industry and provinces, to work to level the playing field internationally for Canadian producers and exports.

A key component of this work is to have all agriculture export subsidies completely eliminated as quickly as possible. We will also be calling for substantial reductions in domestic support programs that distort production and trade, and for an overall limit on domestic support of all kinds.

We will be looking for improvements in market access, particularly for food products. Food products are leading the surge in growth in world agriculture trade. The Canadian industry has increased its emphasis on these new demands to capture new markets while preserving and enhancing existing markets in our traditional bulk exports.

Canada will work to preserve our right to choose how to market our agricultural products. This includes preserving our orderly marketing systems such as the Canadian Wheat Board and supply management for dairy and poultry products. With this position Canada will play a strong and active role in influencing the direction and eventual outcome of these important World Trade Organization negotiations.

Canada is not alone in its position either. There is much support internationally for the elimination of export subsidies. There has been much progress in bilateral negotiations with the United States for a more unified position. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has been diligent in pushing the U.S. secretary of agriculture to pursue a course which will allow us to build on our common goals and best interests.

The 21 APEC countries as well as members of the Cairns group, which comprises 15 like minded agricultural exporting countries such as Australia, South Africa, Brazil and Argentina, have all agreed that we should seek the elimination of export subsidies which are so detrimental to trade.

Canada is a leading player in Cairns and is working closely with other member countries to ensure that the WTO negotiations are launched quickly and cleanly so our common objectives can be met sooner rather than later.

The minister of agriculture recently hosted a meeting of Quint, an informal group of ministers that includes Australia, Japan, the EU and the United States. At that meeting earlier this fall all ministers agreed on the urgency of the WTO negotiations. Our work with Cairns and Quint also allows us to pursue our goal of reducing and eliminating trade distorting subsidies on a variety of fronts and provides Canada with a greater influence.

The Government of Canada has confidence in the ability of our producers to compete in a world marketplace. As producers they have confidence in themselves. We are laying the groundwork to ensure our trading partners enter the WTO negotiations with a commitment to a smooth launch, steadfast negotiations and meaningful results.

As the WTO negotiations proceed, the federal government will continue with the partnership approach that led to the development of a unified national negotiating position by ensuring that the industry and provinces are consulted closely throughout the process.

This is a team effort by the federal government, the provincial governments and industry as we seek greater access to more markets and a level playing field. Increased access to world markets means new opportunities for Canadian producers and processors, Canadian skills, Canadian research, and Canadian innovation and technology.

Supply November 4th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to make a contribution to today's debate. It is a significant event for us to talk about the success stories of the past, beginning with the team Canada visit to Japan, the benefits of the Chile-Canada free trade agreement and the objectives of Canada and other world trade members.

According to the motion, it is apparent that hon. members opposite are prepared to turn back the clock in a world that has evidently left them far behind. However, I must say that is not true for all members opposite.

It is true that the Government of Canada has pursued greater trade liberalization. Unlike that which the hon. members would have us believe, the government has been responsible and democratic in its pursuit of greater trade liberalization for the benefit of the overall Canadian economy and the agriculture and agri-food sector.

First, Canada is a trading nation that relies on international trade to the extent of 40% of its gross domestic product. Could we imagine what it would be like without that, or with half of that? Canada is no longer a country comprised of hewers of wood and drawers of water. The world has become smaller and we live in a global economy. I say to hon. members, welcome to the future because the future is now.

Overall in the agriculture and agri-food sector farmers have adjusted to a constantly changing international market. Their success is obvious when looking at our export numbers. Agriculture exports have risen from $13 billion to $22 billion over the past five years. Even with the economic challenges of the past year, they were up slightly from 1997, which was a record year.

Trade is important to the growth of the sector. About half of the average Canadian farm gate income is the result of trade. That is why this government is committed to working on the international front to bring order and stability to the world marketplace and provide better access to world markets.

Despite the commodity market challenges, the outlook of Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector is positive. The Canadian agriculture and agri-food industry has also met the evolving demand for specialized food products. Our exports of value added goods and processed products are surging. In fact they grew by almost 9% last year. Processed goods mean processing plant investment and jobs, jobs which add to the sustainability of our rural communities.

Members should not just take my word for it. The industry itself has a lot of confidence in its own capabilities on the world market. Already Canada has about 3.3% of the world's agri-food trade, and the Canadian Agri-Food Marketing Council, or CAMC, which is made up of agriculture and agri-food industry representatives, has set a goal to increase that to 4% by the year 2005. It has also set a target for increasing processed agricultural exports over and above bulk commodity exports. By all current indications there is no reason to think this goal will not be met.

There is a lot of opportunity out there. The European Union, for instance, is the world's largest market for agri-food products. Ten of the world's top 12 food retailers are based there. I believe it is obvious why we have to be there.

Yes, there are trade distortions that exist among our trading partners, especial in the EU. Achieving substantial reductions in these disparities is a key objective for Canadian producers and exporters. That is why the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food will be aggressively seeking greater world markets abroad for our products at the World Trade Organization talks, which will be launched at a ministerial meeting in Seattle at the end of this month. He will be pressing hard for reductions in domestic subsidies and the elimination of exports.

War Veterans November 3rd, 1999

Mr. Speaker, as we are about to enter a new century, we can well imagine the excitement felt by all Canadians at the turn of the last one. We were a small nation in almost everything but size and promise.

Yet shortly after the century began the first world war would take 60,000 of our citizens. They would die at Regina Trench, Passchendaele, Vimy Ridge, Beaumont Hamel and Courcelette, to name a few of the battlegrounds that continue to mark our history.

Their sacrifice would indelibly mark Canada as a nation that could be called on to help stamp out oppression and occupation wherever it occurred.

Today there are very few first world war veterans that remain with us. They are national treasures. We must not let their passing dull our memory. Long may we honour those who died so long ago so that their children and their children's children might inherit a great nation. We, their inheritors, pledge to keep their stories alive for the children of the 21st century.

Cjcs October 22nd, 1999

Mr. Speaker, this year CJCS, Stratford's first and still operating radio station, is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Founded in 1922 by electrician Milford Higgins and ham radio enthusiast Lawrence East, their radio experiments laid the foundation for Stratford's radio future.

Attaining an amateur broadcasting permit in 1923, the station was named C3GG and was originally situated at 151 Ontario Street. Owned at one time by Jack Kent Cooke and Lord Thompson of Fleet, the station has had a few well known announcers from the broadcasting field start out at CJCS. These include LLoyd Robertson, John Thretheway and Frank P. Stalley.

I wish to congratulate the present station owners, Steve and Carolyn Rae, on all their success and wish them a further 75 years of quality live broadcasting.

Speech From The Throne October 18th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I would really like to respond to the first part of the member's question but I do not have the background on the issue at hand. As I do not know the situation thoroughly, I feel I would be overstepping the knowledge I have in order to give an answer.

We both see eye to eye and we will continue to work on behalf of our veterans who crewed the ships during the war and were lost in heavy numbers or were taken prisoner well in advance of many members of the Canadian forces. It is certainly my wish to see a wrong righted in that area as well.

I do not think I can say much more other than to say that we do see eye to eye. As we are both on the same committee, we will both continue to work for the betterment of our naval seamen who worked, some of whom lost their lives and now have very little compensation for their efforts.

Speech From The Throne October 18th, 1999

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to join in the throne speech debate. Let me open with a quote from the throne speech:

We stand before a new century confident in the promise of Canada for our children and grandchildren.

As the opening of the second session of parliament coincides with the turn of the millennium, it is invigorating to see that our government has the knowledge and foresight to engage itself in the long term betterment of its population. Canada's quality of life is second to none. Yet without proper management it is difficult to sustain.

I applaud the government's untiring work not only to support our nation but to encourage Canadians to grow beyond the envelope. Our children and our children's children will ultimately benefit from the new direction our government is now taking.

I understand full well the benefits and consequences of our social system. In a recent era of cutbacks and slowdowns many Canadians have seen the fabric of our social safety net fray, but that era is finally behind us.

Outlined in the throne speech Canadian needs are being addressed to ensure that their lives are significantly improved. With better services being provided for early childhood education, health, the environment, families and our infrastructure, Canadians can face the challenges of the 21st century with confidence.

The task at hand is in no way simple. It will require perseverance and grit for every Canadian to see benefit from this new direction. The throne speech states that “the strength of Canada is reflected in its rich diversity”. This simple phrase speaks volumes about Canada's ethnic makeup and the bounty all Canadians reap from it. It is amazing to think in a world torn asunder by wars of ethnic and religious hatred that Canada stands apart like a beacon of tolerance. This pluralistic cohabitation has led to an immense wealth of culture, plucked from the very communities that make up Canada's geography.

A people are made up of their past and their future. The synergy of these two creates Canada's national identity. It is this identity that culture seeks to preserve, to bottle it in words or movement, to embellish it in works of art or in monuments that grace our parks. With new technologies come new possibilities for enhancing our cultural heritage.

The 21st century will allow us to bring the world into the classrooms and homes of every Canadian. No longer are Canadians hindered by the vast distances that separate them. The digital age is upon us. By plugging in, people will be able to explore the world around them without leaving the comfort of their chair. Our government must embrace this medium by linking our cultural resources and ensuring access to all Canadians. The benefits gained by such quality exposure are immeasurable.

If we speak of cultural heritage then it must also hold true for the military. Canada just recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Boer War, yet I wonder how many Canadians really know much about it. Canadians owe it to our veterans to ensure that the memory of their deeds remain in our collective psyche.

Every regiment's imprint runs deep in their respective communities. Each has its own story to tell and they often do it with fervour. Regiments like the Royal Canadian Regiment, the Hasty Pees, the Loyal Eddies, the Rileys and the Prince Edward Island Regiment. The list goes on and on. As veterans pass and memories fade, there is a generation of children and grandchildren now making themselves aware of Canada's proud war history and affirming their important role in educating generations to come.

As such, we are standing on the forward edge of a new era where digital technology will move beyond anything we can imagine and will provide government with the tools to marry the past and future into a seamless venue to attract and amaze viewers.

Imagine ourselves participating in a World War I dogfight in the skies over northern Europe or experiencing the emotions as we crash ashore in Normandy on June 6, 1944. Using leading edge technology to improve our cultural attractions, this type of viewer interaction is a real possibility. Renewed emphasis on our National War Museum will not only enhance the prestige of our historical past but will also the government to focus new technologies into bringing the past alive.

Today's youth seem to lack the knowledge of the great deeds our forefathers performed in acts of utter selflessness and courage. I wonder how many people today really and truly understand the meaning of Passchendaele, Vimy Ridge, the Scheldt or Hill 355. The government has a duty to pay homage to that past, to elevate and preserve their memory for time immemorial.

The Canadian War Museum will not only honour those who served in war and peacekeeping but will also ensure that their legacy of heroism and sacrifice is not forgotten by generations that have never experienced war.

Canadian Armed Forces June 4th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, as NATO prepares to deploy a peace implementation force, there is a great deal of speculation about the level of resistance our troops will meet. How prepared are our Canadian forces troops for deployment to this region, and how capable is our equipment?

Right To Vote June 3rd, 1999

Mr. Speaker, it is against the backdrop of Ontario's provincial election that I deliberate about voter participation.

In the year of Confederation only 11% of Canada's population was eligible to vote. It was not until 1921 that universal women's suffrage was enacted. Today we can be proud that 68% of Canada's population is eligible to vote. This means every Canadian over the age of 18.

As Ontarians go to the polls I would like to emphasize the importance of voting. Voting is the only instance where direct democracy is at work: ordinary citizens making the choice who will govern them.

I strongly urge every citizen in Ontario to get out today and exercise their right to vote.