Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was federal.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as NDP MP for The Battlefords—Meadow Lake (Saskatchewan)

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

Statements in the House

Canada Endangered Species Protection Act April 24th, 1997


Motion No. 15

That Bill C-65, in Clause 3, be amended by replacing lines 39 to 41 on page 5 with the following:


Canada Endangered Species Protection Act April 24th, 1997


Motion No. 1

That Bill C-65, in the Preamble, be amended by replacing line 21 on page 1 with the following:

"measures to prevent the"

Motion No. 63

That Bill C-65, in Clause 38, be amended by adding after line 40 on page 22 the following:

"(h.1) an identification and evaluation of any impact on the communities located on the land on which the species is found and on the workers on and the users of that land;"

Petitions April 22nd, 1997

Madam Speaker, I have a second petition today signed by a number of residents of my constituency, specifically from the city of North Battleford, the towns of Speers and Jackfish Lake, and a few others.

The petitioners note that 38 per cent of the national highway system is substandard and that the national highway policy study identified job creation, economic development, national unity, saving lives, avoiding injuries, lower congestion, lower vehicle operating costs and better international competitiveness as benefits of the proposed national highway program.

Therefore the petitioners call upon Parliament to urge the federal government to join with provincial governments to make national highway system upgrading possible.

Petitions April 22nd, 1997

Madam Speaker, I have the privilege and pleasure today to present a petition pursuant to Standing Order 36.

The petition is signed by in excess of 5,000 Canadians from coast to coast, all of whom are concerned about the future of Parks Canada.

The petitioners note that the federal government is making plans to "offload functions at Parks Canada through employee takeovers". This is a contracting out scheme that will have a devastating impact on many remote communities where national parks are located.

They also note that they care a great deal about the national parks system and the environment and state they will lose the integrity of the park system if it is privatized.

The petitioners request that Parliament stop the employee takeover proposal and work with the citizens and Parks Canada workers to develop cost saving ideas while at the same time preserve Canadian heritage.

Standing Orders Of The House April 8th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I still find it hard to believe that the government has allowed the railways to impose an additional freight rate increase on prairie farmers. On March 11, I rose in the House to express my concern and ask for a justification. Of course, there was no way to justify this insult to farmers.

Late last year, about November, grain was piling up in prairie elevators and elevator agents began placing orders for grain cars. In December when those cars did not arrive they started phoning to ask where they were. The railways reported to agents throughout the prairies that there were a few minor problems in the system, but the cars were coming in a few days.

In January, the agents phoned again, and again they were assured that the cars would soon be arriving to move the grain to port. By February there were some 50 ships in the port of Vancouver waiting to be loaded with grain that was still backed up in the prairie elevator system and on the farms.

The Canadian Wheat Board reported that the transportation problem was likely to cost the Canadian farmer some $65 million in demurrage charges and deferred sales.

The matter received some media attention at the time and I was the first to raise those concerns in the House by late February. At that time the minister of agriculture expressed some concern about the problem and said that the railways had to take some of the blame for the problem. For my part, I think the railways had to take a large part of the blame. After all, they did have the responsibility to move that grain.

The responsibility was all theirs because the Liberal government in the past three years had surrendered the Crow benefit and the guarantees it protected; had turned over regulatory authority of the system to the railways; had changed the way rail cars were allocated; had privatized CN so the public interest no longer had influence over the way the railways operated; had encouraged downsizing to the point where so many railway maintenance workers were laid off that they could no longer maintain the locomotives and cars needed to move the grain.

In a short three years, the Liberals had given away the store but were now still trying to sell the inventory.

Now in response to the railways' further demand for more money, the Liberals through the Canadian Transportation Agency have improved a further freight rate increase which will likely

result in an additional $15 million being taken out of farmers' pockets.

In the House the other day in March I called this a Liberal reward for the railways' poor performance. It is nothing less. The loss of the Crow benefit was an insult and this is an injury. On top of all this, I read in the Financial Post that the Liberals are considering even further railway deregulation as their answer to this problem. It is obvious that they do not understand deregulation is at the heart of the problem facing us.

When we had the Crow rate and the Crow benefit we did not have the problems we have today because there were performance guarantees required of the railways. Those guarantees are gone and so is the service. A number of provinces including Saskatchewan are calling for a public inquiry into the grain transportation system. I think such an inquiry is necessary. Nothing has been put in place to positively identify where the problems come from and nothing has been put in place to ensure that the problems do not exist again. After more than $80 million in additional transport related costs farmers deserve nothing less.

I ask the minister to justify how any of this is possible and to give us reason to believe that the interests of farmers are in good hands. I do not think he can do it.

Railways April 8th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the railways on the prairies are preparing to sell off or abandon a number of branchlines. There is already some talk of establishing short line railroads to replace the lost services.

I appreciate the concern being shown to maintain service on these lines. The railways and the local elevator system provide critical economic benefits to a lot of communities and the thought of hundreds of more trucks on rural highways is horrifying.

However, this could not be coming at a more inopportune time. Farmers are facing increased costs every way they look. Many are anxious to find ways to finance new value added facilities. At this time farmers should not have to be concerned about financing or running short line systems all over the prairies.

Therefore we should not forget that recent Liberal policy gave the railways the right to abandon our lines without concern for the public interest. If the Liberals were serious about safe and productive grain movement, they would insist on existing railways maintaining responsibility for rural grain lines.

Endangered Species April 7th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of the government's mandate it promised that an endangered species act would be passed.

Two separate ministers of the environment engaged in a very open and consultative process that developed and eventually drafted endangered species legislation. Over the last little while the environment committee has travelled extensively to discuss publicly the endangered species legislation.

I understand now that the government is internally discussing behind closed doors the future of the endangered species act. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment whether it is true the department of fisheries is trying to gut this new act.

Rural Development March 13th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I thank members of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources who participated in the preparation of the report on rural development tabled yesterday in the House.

The report identifies a fairly well defined road down which we can travel to restore economic health to rural communities. The problem is that the prescription is three years too late.

Even the Liberals understand that their own policies during the last three years have taken a lot out of rural communities. For us on the prairies the loss of the $720 million annual contribution known as the Crow benefit means that every rural elevator point on the prairies loses about $1 million in local farm income every year.

Liberal government decisions like that one have made it difficult for rural communities to maintain the jobs they currently have let alone work to create new ones. It is important to acknowledge how valuable rural Canada is to the overall well-being of our nation. We must work toward rebuilding it, but let us not forget that the Liberals created a lot of the obstacles we now have to jump over.

Parks Canada March 12th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the department of heritage is apparently preparing to spend a lot of money to give the Parks Canada mascot a new image. At the same time people who work at the national parks and our historic sites are losing their jobs.

Could the minister justify the spending on this image makeover when the quality of service at our parks and national historic sites is deteriorating?

Canada Labour Code March 11th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I realize there is not enough time to answer the question fully but I do believe that anti-scab provisions in the bill would strengthen the balance. The legislation has done a lot to achieve balance, although it could have gone further.

The balance is the ability to pursue the collective bargaining process. As long as employers have the ability to upset that balance by bringing replacement workers into the workplace, the collective bargaining process remains unbalanced. As a result I think the legislation should have dealt with that.