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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

Reservists May 6th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, reservists have always played an important role in the Canadian forces. They have represented our country with distinction at sea, on land and in the air. Reservists are committed Canadians who do their military service in their communities, both small and large, urban and rural.

The names of some of the units, like the Fort Garry Horse of Winnipeg, are written on the pages of history books. Other names, like the 2nd Irish of Sudbury and Her Majesty's ship Montcalm of Quebec City, might be known only locally but we know them today.

The names and locations might be different, but reserve units across Canada share the same mission. They have served close to home during the Manitoba flood in 1997 and the ice storm of 1998, and they have served abroad in places like Bosnia, the Golan Heights and Cyprus.

May 5 has been designated Reserve Force Uniform Day and all members of the primary reserve, cadet instructors cadre and Canadian rangers—

Budget Implementation Act, 1999 May 6th, 1999

That is exactly it. There is no government that would take that on. All tax policies say that we should not borrow to give a tax break.

Budget Implementation Act, 1999 May 6th, 1999

They want us to borrow it. That is typical coming from members of the Reform Party, which is supposed to be prudent. It will be a laugh if they ever make it to government.

The surplus that we have accumulated in the last two years has been put against the debt, and that is the right way to go. We will continue to bring down the mountain of debt. We did not put it there. It was created over a number of years. Slowly we will bring it down. For every $10 billion we put against it we will probably save up to $1.5 billion in expenses, which will accrue to the revenue side for the next year because we will not have to pay out that money.

This is an exaggeration by the Reform Party. It takes half truths and talks about unfounded economic policies of borrowing to give tax breaks. I cannot believe it.

Budget Implementation Act, 1999 May 6th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member before he gets up to speak had better check the facts. It was about 90% hot air, nothing on target.

Education is a provincial responsibility. The provinces spend the money, they set the costs. That is who is responsible. We give them money but we do not float it all.

On the deficit, who got to the deficit? It was one of our platforms and this government reduced the deficit. This government put money against the debt. This government will not borrow to lower taxes, not like the Ontario government that has had to borrow $2 billion to $3 billion, that has had to borrow money. There is one fundamental rule in public policy. Do not borrow money to give tax cuts because we never get back on it. The provincial government is off track and it will be tough to get back on track.

The government has put money against the surplus. No other government has hit its target in a more systematic, well planned fashion than this federal government. It is getting praise around the world for the prudent approach to the finances of this country.

Let the stay at home mothers and the working mothers make that decision. It is not up to us to interfere and tell them to go to work or not to go to work.

National Defence April 29th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

The opposition has been questioning the quality of our military equipment that is being sent to the area of former Yugoslavia. The auditor general also commented on this in his annual report.

Would the minister tell the members of the House of Commons about this equipment.

Agriculture April 23rd, 1999

Mr. Speaker, many farmers in western Canada suffered a dramatic downturn in their incomes last year and are looking forward to receiving help from the agriculture income disaster assistance program. However, they will have to fill out the application forms by June 15, right in the middle of seeding.

What can the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food do to help out these farmers?

Supply April 19th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, again I do not feel I am in a position to make a response to that question. I would be working in the dark on that one.

Supply April 19th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party does a number of things that do not always make sense. I was not here when that motion was put forward so I cannot speak with any authority upon it. I would just say that I cannot answer that question with qualified authority.

Supply April 19th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, first of all the proposition put before us is not in line. It is a hypothetical situation which the hon. member should know well.

Second, the Americans have often gone back to congress when they need more money for offshore fighting. There is a precedent. This is nothing new. It is a typical redressing and refuelling of the number of people they will send over there by making a budget increase.

A hypothetical question is something we should not vote on. Also the American analogy does not work. That is a precedent, an American practice in their politics when the president asks for more money to aid in a situation such as has taken place with the NATO operation in Kosovo.

Supply April 19th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join in the debate today.

The proposition before the House today is very interesting. It is as if there was not already precedence in the House of Commons. The House of Commons works on the concept of precedence.

This government and governments before it have allowed soldiers, sailors and airmen to go offshore, either to act on behalf of the United Nations in peacekeeping or peacemaking; or, in the case of the second world war, to go to war; or, in the case of the Korean conflict, to go into another area of live fire and face death. These conflicts were not voted on and have never been voted on in the House of Commons.

We are looking at a precedence. We have given this subject many hours of debate. As a consequence, we keep hearing “Why do you not do this?” We are following the practice of the well-worn and well-tried system of the British House of Commons theory which is to practice by precedence.

This breaks the parliamentary practice. The proposal put forward by the sponsoring member is hypothetical. If we ask a hypothetical question it is generally turfed out. We do not work on hypothetical situations in the House of Commons. We work on real situations.

In looking at the situation as presented, it would and could be unworkable. I do not want to get into a debate on it. I feel it is ultra vires because it breaks the precedence in the House. We believe the energies of the House are best directed toward considering ways of resolving the crisis in Kosovo not engaging in procedural wrangling like this.

The Canadian parliamentary system responsible for deploying the Canadian forces lies with the government. It is the responsibility of the government, through the Speech from the Throne, through the empowerment of the defence minister and through the government as such. We should not go off trying to invent a new form of style in the government at this time.

The opposition should remember that we sent troops to Cyprus, to the gulf war and to the Golan Heights. We have sent troops offshore and many of them at the request of the United Nations. In this case there is an explicit commitment involved. We are a member of a security alliance which has asked us to participate in the action in Kosovo and thereabouts. As legitimate alliance members, we are being asked to participate on that team and we are doing that. As members of this group, and through information from our foreign affairs committee and defence committee, we know it is our solid commitment to take part.

I do not know why we are coming up with all of this cobweb stuff, with a little bit of angel dust on it, when it is not the reality. The reality is that we have a commitment in writing to participate with our defensive alliance. We should make that commitment and we will make that commitment.

I should mention at this time that I will be splitting my time.

The government delivered on this and we said it would have take note debates and have an airing. If there was an airing where we were doing something wrong, it would have been picked up sufficiently by the opposition and the opposition's commitments would be there. However, there has been no such identification of somewhere that we are off on the wrong track. We are on track by being with our allies. We are on track by trying to bring peace to a bewildered and beleaguered country.

We have no plans to deploy any armed soldiers on the ground in Kosovo at the moment. That does not eliminate the possibility of this happening. We always have to keep paratus in front of us as the model of readiness in the infantry.

Very few of our NATO allies have put the Kosovo incident to a vote. The United Kingdom has not voted nor debated this issue. France has not voted. President Chirac decided to intervene and consult the legislature but has had no vote. We are not off centre with our allies.

The motion before us could be a very unworkable precedent if it passed. It suggests that it would be appropriate for the House of Commons to micromanage the aspects of troop deployment in the Balkans, even on simple housekeeping items.

Canadian forces members are currently deployed on nine missions of varying size in the Balkans, each of these managed on a day to day basis by established Canadian forces policies with respect to personnel rotation and replacement. Under the terms of the motion, all of these decisions would be subject to House approval.

The BQ would have the House convene to vote on whether a cook could be dispatched to Croatia. Even deciding to dispatch a rescue team for a downed Canadian pilot could be subject to a House vote. The motion would slow down Canada's ability to respond swiftly and flexibly to the kind of rapidly developing humanitarian crisis that has become so much the norm in the past. The cold war conflicts, of which Kosovo was just the latest example in the Balkans, would draw us in.

None of our current missions in the Balkans were voted on by the House. There is no question that the swift deployment saved innocent lives and, for us, saving lives will always be the priority over procedural wrangling.

Mr. Milosevic's unacceptable conduct predates the current crisis in Kosovo. His use of the Yugoslav army to support fellow Serbs during the war in Croatia and Bosnia materially contributed to the ethnic cleansing that occurred during those conflicts.

Prior to Mr. Milosevic's rise to power, Kosovo was made up mostly of ethnic Albanians who had a constitutional autonomy within Yugoslavia. This right was stripped away by Mr. Milosevic in 1989 and from that point forward he has deliberately worked to impoverish the oppressed Kosovars.

Since early last year his security forces have mounted a campaign in which innocent civilians have been subjected to ethnic atrocities similar to those we witnessed in Croatia and Bosnia. We were part of the European community monitoring mission for the United Nations protection force from 1992 to 1995. More than 1,300 Canadian forces personnel remain in Bosnia at this time as part of the NATO led stabilization force.

Our commitment to peace and stability in the region is well established. This commitment is a logical extension of Canada's longstanding policy of promoting international peace and stability.

A diplomatic solution to the Kosovo conflict has always been the course preferred by Canada and its allies. In March 1998 the United Nations passed resolution 1160 calling on all parties to reach a peaceful settlement. This was followed in September 1998 by UN resolution 1199, that both sides cease hostilities and improve the humanitarian situation.

Regarding parliamentary consultation, on October 1, 1998 all parties agreed that Canada should join our NATO allies on air operations. They proved necessary. We had a second meeting on February 17, 1999. There was hope that a peace agreement could be signed and that our involvement would be consistent with that of a peacekeeping force. On April 12, 1999 when the House once again discussed the events in Kosovo, all parties supported Canada's position to participate in the NATO led air operations.

In addition, both the defence and foreign affairs standing committees held a number of meetings on the developments in Kosovo. There was a joint meeting on March 31 of the ministers of foreign affairs, national defence and international co-operation and they outlined the government's response to these crises. On April 15 the Minister of Foreign Affairs appeared before the foreign affairs committee to discuss the developments in Kosovo. All interested members were invited.

That is involvement of the whole House at all levels.