Motion No. 318
That Bill C-9, in Clause 27, be amended by replacing line 6 on page 10 with the following:
“27. Sections 2, 4 and 5 come into force on February 10, 2010 and the remaining provisions of this Act come into”
Won his last election, in 1997, with 49% of the vote.
Nisga'A Final Agreement Act December 6th, 1999
Motion No. 318
That Bill C-9, in Clause 27, be amended by replacing line 6 on page 10 with the following:
“27. Sections 2, 4 and 5 come into force on February 10, 2010 and the remaining provisions of this Act come into”
Nisga'A Final Agreement Act December 2nd, 1999
Mr. Speaker, I find it rather interesting that only members of the Reform Party seem to feel that this tremendously important legislation which is before us is worthy of debate. I do not know why we are not hearing, for example, from the British Columbia representatives in the Liberal Party. Perhaps they are a bit afraid to show their faces around here. I do not know.
This appears to have turned out to be “dump on B.C. week”. We have a government which is using its heavy-handed powers to impose its will upon a province which freely entered into Confederation in 1871. I asked a fellow from B.C. the other day if he could tell me for sure if it entered Confederation in 1871 or 1872. He said “I am not quite sure, but I will sure remember the day we leave”.
That is what really concerns me. Over here we have the so-called party of national unity, which expends a great deal of hot air telling us how it wants to keep Canada together, yet it has mounted a full frontal attack against one of our major provinces. Why, I do not know, but I find it extremely disconcerting.
When the Liberals purported to want to consult after the fact with residents of B.C., after they had already tabled their legislation for the treaty in the House, they went through a little dog and pony show, or some smoke and mirrors. They were going to consult with the people of British Columbia and they were going to have hearings out there.
We have already heard in the House today how that went. Only a very select group of people were allowed to appear before that committee. When the government could not find suitable pro-treaty people to appear before the committee in some of the smaller cities, it flew them in from Vancouver and Victoria to appear before the committee because it had to stack it. That is not my definition of democracy.
Fortunately, or perhaps it will not be fortunate because I do not know what good it will do when we live with an elected dictatorship, but nevertheless I will say fortunately, the Reform Party representatives from B.C. were able to hold their own hearings and they invited interested parties on both sides of the issue to address the treaty. They received many submissions. I just pulled a bunch of them off the Internet.
I want to quote from some of the eloquent testimony that was given at those hearings. I emphasize the word eloquent because these people were speaking from the heart. They were fighting for their lives, basically. If I ever hear the degree of eloquence in the House that came out in these hearings, particularly from over yonder, I will be a very pleased man indeed.
I want to quote briefly from some of the submissions that were made. Clearly there are some 60 pages of fine print. I wish I could read it all, but I am sure the Speaker would not permit that. The Speaker is nodding his agreement. Therefore, I will quote a few little highlights.
This is part of the submission of Mr. Doug Massey. Doug Massey is a fisherman. His father immigrated to Canada from Ireland. He got into the fishing business. His son came in and took up the business behind him. These are some of the comments which Mr. Massey made:
I believe this land and resource known as British Columbia has been provided in trust to all inhabitants, past and present, to be used as a source of life and to be protected for the continuance of life. No one segment of the human race should be recognized as having claim merely by being here longer.
In Ireland...to fish or hunt for wildlife or wild fowl was illegal, for every stream and forest was owned by land barons and anyone caught was a trespasser and a criminal. You can understand why, upon arrival in British Columbia, my father considered this to be a land of freedom, plenty and untold beauty. Are we heading in the direction of the Irish where we are not going to be able to even enter into our own forest to hunt and fish?
I could answer Mr. Massey. The answer is yes, because the Nisga'a treaty is widely acknowledged by people on both sides of the debate to be a template. More than 100% of the rural land of British Columbia is covered by land claims—overlapping land claims.
When Nisga'a becomes the pattern, as it must for future land claims agreements, we will end up with a situation where the average citizen of British Columbia will be excluded from entering what is now the public domain in the same respect that people in my part of Canada are now excluded from entering Indian reserves. The difference is that in B.C. most of the land will end up with reserve status if people follow the course they have been blindly following.
I heard somebody in the House this morning state that there are no dangers in the Nisga'a treaty for native women, that their rights will be truly respected; don't worry, be happy. I would also like to quote Ms. Wendy Lundberg, a status Indian from the Squamish Nation. She delivered a very long dissertation. She lives off reserve. She is unable, therefore, to claim access to many of the benefits, such as mortgage and rent-free housing, freedom from taxes and other benefits which reserve members enjoy. This is what she had to say about reserve governments and what she foresees for the Nisga'a government:
In an attempt to build a better relationship between native and non-native Canadians a federal action plan called Gathering Strength was introduced by the former Minister of Indian Affairs....To grassroots native people, particularly native women and band members outside the governing elite, Gathering Strength appropriately describes another tool used by male dominated councils to maintain their control over federal funding, programs and governance. Gathering Strength is exactly what our so-called native leaders have been doing to the detriment of their own people who remain oppressed under their leadership. While young native warriors are out on the front lines hunting, fishing and logging, native leaders armed with cell phones, lap tops and the Internet sit comfortably on padded, ergonomically correct swivel chairs, orchestrating their assertions from behind massive mahogany desks. They are secure in the knowledge of supportive fellow leaders with whom they have set up mutually beneficial advisory boards, joint ventures and partnerships.
Ms. Lundberg went on to say:
The reason the Indian Act was put into place is because natives were considered to be stupid and irresponsible and the Indian Act allowed the government to control them. This is the same logic used by the chiefs today to control their own people. I assert that self-reliance and self-government must go hand in hand with responsibility, accountability and transparency. Native leaders say they must exercise what they believe is their inherent right to hunt, fish or log. They say they must do this in order to educate, house and feed their people, even though native programs are funded $3.6 billion annually by the federal government. Where does this money go to? This is a question that continually perplexes me.
I really do not think Ms. Lundberg is very perplexed, but she was being polite when she made her submission. This particular question has been raised many times in the House by members of this party. I think it is something that has to be taken into consideration when we talk about a treaty which will be constitutionally cast in stone if it is approved by the House.
The problem is the permanency, the perpetuity. We have to stop this thing before it is too late.
Trade December 1st, 1999
Mr. Speaker, this week representatives of 135 sovereign nations are gathered in Seattle to launch the next set of global trade negotiations.
Canada, which exports more than 40% of its gross domestic product, has a vital interest in these talks, especially with regard to unfair subsidization of European and American agricultural products.
Habitual Canadian and American protesters, most of them warmly dressed, well fed, middle class and comfortable, have adopted opposition to global commerce as their cause of the week and they are trying to shut down the talks.
I wonder how many of those sanctimonious obstructionists in cutesy costumes have ever shown the courage of their conviction by refusing to buy products from countries where labour is routinely exploited. Do they buy $50 North American shirts, or do they go for the made in China product at $12?
Canadian Tourism Commission Act November 29th, 1999
Mr. Speaker, I have a question and comment for my colleague. The comment concerns a remark he made about the views of the hon. member for Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys with respect to selling Canada. I heard that member this morning make an almost hysterical speech with regard to what he views as the undesirability of selling Canada. I would love to correct that point.
I wonder if my colleague has given any consideration to the problems for tourism that are being created in this country through the collapse of our infrastructure, particularly our highway system which is an absolute national disgrace.
We have what is called a national highway system that is more like the national goat path. People who want to drive from Etobicoke to Banff jump in the car, hook the trailer on and away they go. But where do they go? They certainly do not follow the Trans-Canada highway. They go down through Michigan, cross through the northern tier prairie states and then swing back up as close to Banff as they can get without actually touching Canadian soil. This is costing us millions of dollars in taxes. It is not just tourists who are doing this. Even the commercial truckers are doing it. They are abandoning Canada because the roads are so bad. I wonder if the member would like to comment on that problem.
Canadian Institutes Of Health Research Act November 29th, 1999
Madam Speaker, as my colleagues who have spoken before me have indicated, the Reform Party will support Bill C-13.
Canada has a long and honourable tradition of medical research. However, it is ironic that in the land of Frederick Banting and Charles Best we have seen a long, slow decline in the level, if not the quality, of our research. I do not know the causes for that, but I suspect they may have something to do with internal bureaucracies or perhaps bureaucracy emanating off of the Hill.
There is no question that we need an accountable, well administered health research institute. That appears to be what is going to come out of this legislation, at least that is our fond hope. The projected 4% to 5% administrative cost is certainly commendable. I hope that goal can be reached because there are not too many organizations that can operate within parameters of that nature.
I am very pleased that this institute will operate at arm's length from government, from the politicians and the bureaucracy. It will be run basically by the people directly concerned, the researchers, and in this respect it should be as useful as many other professional organizations which have existed in this country for decades without direct government interference.
I would like to diverge a bit, since I have already stated that I support the legislation, and talk about the gradual long term decline, not just of medical research, but of the entire health care system which, to a great extent, is tied to the research establishment.
I want to talk about the lack of reasonable distribution of the fruits of medical research within this country. We hear talk across the way about the danger of Canada slipping into a two tiered medical system. I wonder where these folks have been living for the last 15 or 20 years. We probably have a multi-tiered medical system, but for a rural person like myself, boy, do we ever have a two tiered system.
If people try to access modern, state of the art medical technology in my riding, I wish them luck, because we simply do not have it. If people want decent medical attention they either have to go to one of the major centres in Canada or, unfortunately, sometimes for efficiency and for expeditious treatment, they head south to the United States. There is a bit of an epidemic, a good medical term perhaps, in the flight to seek better medical care.
I would like to give members an example of the sort of thing I am talking about. Magnetic resonance imagery units are ubiquitous in the United States. Any small or medium sized city in the United States will have one or two of them. In Canada we have to go to a major medical centre and wait in line sometimes for months, depending on the seriousness of our need, to have access to one of these machines.
I do not understand why we have to live in the past with our medical facilities. I say that I do not understand it, but actually I do understand it to a point. The problem is that the government has gutted the medical system. It has taken billions and billions of dollars out of it and thrown the responsibility to the provinces to maintain the level of service. Therefore, we do not have access to the good stuff. By the way, MRI units are not really state of the art now. They have been around for quite a while, but we have not caught up.
I do not see any reason, other than the bloody mindedness of the government, for which we could not have state of the art medical treatment all over the country, instead of a two-tiered system which gives it to the urban areas, and the devil take the rural folks.
We cannot blame the provinces. Under the Canada Health Act we started with a 50:50 sharing of the cost of medical care. It is now about 85:15. The provinces are digging and scratching. That is simply unfair. It is indecent. The federal government made a deal 30 years ago. If it made a deal it should stick to it. This will have historical ramifications.
By all means, let us have a better developed medical research organization in this country. Let us encourage research. Let us fund research. That is something which really has not been mentioned much in this debate, but we cannot do medical research without something in our jeans to pay the bills. We have to fund this research. We have to encourage it. We certainly should encourage the new organization.
There are a few problems in the bill with respect to how the organization will work. There are a lot of details that have to be worked out, which can be managed in committee. That is what committees are for. I am hopeful that in this instance, since there is no debate about the desirability of the bill, perhaps the government will allow the committee to function as committees were designed to function and let it actually have some real input into the legislation, instead of having the whip sneak over to make sure that the good little boys and girls do not stray. I hope the committee will actually be able to do a bit of thoughtful work. I think this is a great opportunity.
Madam Speaker, I thank you for being so patient and not cutting me off when I diverged. I hope the people out there in TV land will take note of the fact that there are some people in Ottawa who realize what is going on with health care, and we are those people.
Division No. 55 November 23rd, 1999
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I did not hear my name called. I would just like to confirm that my vote was taken.
National Highway System November 19th, 1999
Mr. Speaker, it has been a long, lonely ride. It has been a ride over bad roads too, but that is another issue.
I have been at this now since 1995. Occasionally, I get whispers from the ministerial side that makes me think that I am making headway. However, it always seems to be not one step forward and two steps back, but one step forward and about five steps back. We get a lot of rhetoric and a lot of talk about infrastructure programs, but in the meantime the roads are crumbling, people are dying and nothing is happening.
What the country needs is some action. What the country needs is a Liberal like C.D. Howe to come back from the grave and show these guys how to run a country. Instead, we have these effete folks who like to have money to spend for their little projects: their millennium projects, their patronage deals, the Prime Minister's riding and the $800 million to subsidize the CBC television network and so on. But, something of substance, something we could look upon with pride and say “we built that, that is the Canadian national highway system” has not happened.
I am afraid that as long as these folks continue to occupy those chairs, it will not happen. We will still keep driving down to the United States. If we want to go from Mississauga to Vancouver, we start off through Michigan. This is the way it is. This is Canada. This is what we have to show for the tens of billions of dollars that have been sucked out of Canadian truckers and private motorists over the last few decades. To do what? To go into that great black hole known as general revenue, but not to do anything useful for the country. We cannot drive our cars safely on the national highway system.
I drove from Saskatchewan to Ottawa three years ago. While driving across northern Ontario on the Trans-Canada Highway, I lost a windshield and a shock absorber. Now that is beyond disgraceful. We are almost into the 21st century and still we cannot build a decent highway.
I have worked in a lot of third world countries. I can assure members that in many of them the main trunk artery is a damn sight better than the main trunk artery in Canada.
The hon. member for Etobicoke did contradict something I had said in my presentation. I quoted from a report of the Standing Committee on Transport, which in turn quoted the Minister of Finance as saying “yes, maybe we could look at dedicated revenue”. If the member does not believe me he can check that himself in the government document. I know that it is baloney because do I know this minister. If there is one thing he has it is a hard head and his hard head does not allow for any input from private members, from his caucus or from anybody else. He does not like dedicated taxes. To use the American terminology, when there is a fire wall around that money he cannot get his greedy hands on it. That is the whole idea of a fire wall.
I hope that, some day before I die, I will live to see a highway that one can safely and reasonably drive on, right from the Atlantic to the Pacific. But, I get discouraged. We have our surges in the country of activity. All of a sudden, back in the late 1870s and early 1880s, we build a railroad. It was a marvellous thing and we are still talking about it. From 1958 to 1962, we build a Trans-Canada Highway. It was a lot better then than it is now because it had not had 30 years to fall apart.
It is time we got out act together and started acting like a modern industrialized state, did something useful and permanent, and gave taxpayers something to show for all the money that is being scooped up by the government.
National Highway System November 19th, 1999
That, in the opinion of this House, a minimum of 20 per cent of federal excise tax revenues on gasoline should be directed to joint federal and provincial programs to upgrade or renew many sub-standard sections of the national highway system.
Mr. Speaker, my motion proposes that two cents from the ten cents per litre federal excise tax on gasoline be directed to joint federal and provincial programs to upgrade and renew our crumbling national highway system.
I have addressed this issue many times both in and out of the House. I was eagerly anticipating presentation of this motion and I very deeply regret that today we will be going through this silly charade of a debate with no opportunity for a vote on a matter of great public interest.
Canada is the only developed country with no national highway program or even a coherent national highways policy.
In 1992, a federal-provincial study identified 25,400 kilometres, including the Trans-Canada Highway and a few major cross-border arteries, as the national highway system. However, having been identified, the system has been almost totally forgotten. There is no administrative framework and no federal funding for maintaining or upgrading it.
Every year the federal government collects about $5 billion in fuel excise taxes, including $4.3 billion specifically from highway fuels. A miserable 4% of that lovely pot of money is going to be reinvested in highways this year.
On November 4, 1998, in the Standing Committee on Transport, the Minister of Transport readily admitted that there is a lack of balance between federal fuel tax collected and federal expenditures on roads. He said that the government needed the money for other purposes. He stated, “I accept the general thrust of your argument and it is something we have to work toward as we progressively get the books in order”. The government has been crowing about its huge projected revenue surpluses, surpluses from usurious taxation, so the time has come to invest in something of permanent national benefit. Show us the money, Mr. Minister.
On February 7, 1997, in a transport committee report called, A National Highway Renewal Strategy, it is mentioned that the Minister of Finance had conceded that the dedicated tax concept might be examined at such time as the government is generating substantial surpluses. Show us the money, Mr. Minister.
That same finance minister has from time to time expressed his distaste for the dedication of tax revenues and has indicated that dedicated taxes are not the Canadian way. Apparently only excessive taxes can be classified as truly Canadian. Actually there are precedents for dedicated federal taxes. For example, old age security and the air navigation system were both in the past funded by dedicated taxes. Now, in spite of usurious federal fuel taxes, there is no dedicated federal road improvement fund in place.
Contrast this with the United States where federal fuel taxes go into a highway trust fund, where the money is protected by a budgetary firewall mandating that transportation infrastructure spending cannot be reduced in order to finance other programs. The U.S. transportation equity act provides each state with a minimum guaranteed level of federal highway funding proportional to each state's highway mileage.
The budget for six years is $217 billion U.S. An equivalent expenditure proportional to Canada's population would be $5.3 billion Canadian annually, not much more than we have been paying every year into the fuel tax fund, or as fuel taxes with nothing substantive to show for it.
Our neighbours have not only identified a national highway system, they fund it, as part of the program that I have just described, to the tune of $29,000 per mile per year.
If we financed our much smaller so-called national highway system at that rate, the annual cost in Canadian dollars would be less than $700 million. With the $800 million that my motion would yield, we could actually play catch-up on the worst parts of the system before it deteriorates beyond the point of no return. If we do nothing and total replacement becomes necessary, tens of billions of dollars will have to be found somewhere or we will have to revert to red river carts.
It is a national disgrace that the Trans-Canada Highway traffic is routinely diverted south of the border to where the highways are. Tens of millions of dollars in fuel taxes that could be used to upgrade our system stay in the United States, together with the costs of lodging, meals, repairs and incidentals.
Traffic does not just move south for comfort, convenience and speed, but also for safety. Hundreds of people die every year in Canada because of substandard highways. Almost every province has at least one stretch of two-lane Trans-Canada Highway referred to locally as the “death strip” or “death alley”. In Saskatchewan, the death strip happens to be in my riding where a 113 kilometre segment has claimed 40 lives in the last 20 years. The provincial government has just completed twinning a 27 kilometre piece of it, with no federal assistance, and plans to complete this project in small segments over a period of several years. To do that, it will have to take funds away from secondary roads now being destroyed, thanks to federally-blessed railway abandonments.
Ninety-five per cent of Canadian passenger miles and 24% per cent of freight tonne miles move on the public road system which is rapidly disintegrating under that heavy burden. Transferring a mere two cents per litre from the ten cent federal excise tax for the national highway system would not only solve some of our arterial highway problems, but it would free up provincial funds for other roads.
Yesterday I received an unsolicited and kind letter of support from Mr. Brian Hunt, the president of the 3.2 million member Canadian Automobile Association. I would like to quote a few segments of his letter. He said:
—structurally sound highways improve safety, productivity and trade. The National Highway System must be upgraded to ensure continued economic growth and productivity across the country. It's time the federal government paid serious attention to our nation's transportation infrastructure...and commit to multi-year funding for Canada's national transportation infrastructure.
That is from a member of the public who represents a very large number of Canadians.
The government has always had a bottomless purse to pursue pork barrel projects in the Prime Minister's riding, development aid to despotic countries like China and useless initiatives such as universal firearms registration. But, it has nothing for vital communication links of any kind, much less highways.
One cannot see the condition of a highway from a Challenger jet at 30,000 feet. I would recommend that a few cabinet ministers jump into their limousines and try driving from here to Vancouver. Perhaps then they would gain a little understanding of the situation.
Municipal Grants Act November 19th, 1999
Mr. Speaker, one of the bedrock principles of our system is that there is to be no taxation without representation.
At the municipal level, in my lifetime, that has been expanded so that there is no residency without the right to representation. Renters who pay their taxes indirectly are allowed, just as landowners are, to have a vote on the activities of their local government.
We have before the House a bill that flies squarely in the face of that principle. It is called the ratification of the Nisga'a treaty which will make it quite possible for a group of municipal councillors, band councillors if you will, since the government keeps telling us that what it is setting up is a form of municipal government, to levy taxes. This group will be able to levy taxes on any and all residents on the reserve irrespective of what the persons being taxed may think or what they may want to do. They will not have a voice in it because voting and the choice of councillors will be limited only to people who have the correct skin pigmentation. The fact that one may be living, doing business or providing a service on the reserve will be totally irrelevant.
We already have an example of this sort of thing on the Musqueam reserve where in addition to the massive rent increases that we hear so much about, there is also a silent and somewhat unreported problem of taxation. The band is levying taxes to the tune of about $6,000 per residence on the people who will ultimately be dispossessed of their homes. They are doing this without any recourse to democratic action. These people cannot vote in any way on what their local government is doing with respect to taxes.
Does my hon. colleague have any thoughts or suggestions on this subject as to what might be done to ameliorate the problem?
Nisga'A Final Agreement Act November 1st, 1999
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think it would be in order if the hon. member would give credit where credit is due, to his speech writer.