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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was grandparents.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Reform MP for Mission—Coquitlam (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 1993, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

House Of Commons Standing Orders February 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House to join in the debate on the motion put by the government House leader dealing with changes to the standing orders, the rules of the House of Commons.

I would like to begin by congratulating the government and its House leader for bringing in these changes at this time. To me they represent the beginning of the reform of this place that my party, the Reform Party of Canada, has been advocating for some time now.

We in the Reform Party are fundamentally committed to changing the way business is conducted in Parliament so the people of Canada and the members of Parliament who represent them can gain some influence over the policy making process.

In our party platform, devised long before the call of the last election, we made it clear we did not believe this place was functioning in a way that best served the people. We proposed in our platform changes which we believe would give members some influence over the policy making process of government. Ours was not a plan released in the heat of an election campaign. Our plan for reform goes much further than what has been proposed today.

We believe the government is reacting positively to our pressure by bringing in these changes to the standing orders. We in the Reform Party will watch the government carefully to see if it is really committed to fundamental reform or if it is simply putting limited reforms in the window for Canadians to look at without any real intention of making them work. However these changes represent a good first step, but it is only a first step.

The changes introduced in relation to bills proceeding to committee prior to second reading and enabling the government to request or ask a committee to draft a bill are really not necessary. If the government wants to do these things it simply has to do them and could do them under the present rules. These changes present an orderly procedure by which bills can be sent to committee after first reading and the government can request a committee to bring in a bill. These procedures allow for limited debate so that the government is assured of accomplishing its objectives without giving up valuable House time.

In relation to the proposal to send bills to committee prior to second reading we know that the subsequent debate on second reading will really become debate on amendments. As well when a bill comes back to the House from the committee which has been asked to draft it, again debate at second reading will not take place.

Debating time which could have been used by the opposition to set out deficiencies will be lost, but as we believe in the greater good of getting on with reform we support these two initiatives.

I hope the government will take advantage of these changes. If it does then we might see the beginnings of real input into the legislative process by both backbench MPs on the government side and by opposition members as well. If the government does not use these new rules then the people of Canada will deal with it appropriately four years hence.

By virtue of changes proposed to Standing Order 81 the mandate of standing committees will be broadened to allow them to comment on departmental spending plans when the committee is dealing with the department's main estimates. This is good as far as it goes, but in reality it will do little to affect the spending patterns of government departments and help bring government spending under control. More changes are necessary and I will be addressing this issue later today.

Also changing a standing order to allow the finance committee to hold pre-budget consultations and report prior to a particular day in December every year sends a welcome signal that at least members of the House will be consulted. Hopefully the report which will be forthcoming yearly from this committee will be taken into consideration by the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister.

The last proposal in this motion is to refer a number of procedural matters for examination to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. I am concerned that the date for reporting on these matters has been lost. We in the Reform Party will be vigilant in ensuring that these matters are reported back to the House at the earliest possible time.

I note that in response to suggestions made by my party this list has been broadened to include elements of direct democracy and I thank the government. The matters contained on this list are important. I look forward to the discussions of this committee.

The list is still incomplete. How can we have meaningful reform or even a study of reform without including in this list the structure and functioning of the standing committee system?

In my initial address to the House I dealt with freer votes and the relaxing of the confidence convention. I also stated that there is a feeling among Canadians that government-and by this I mean government in its broadest connotation, the party in power, the opposition and the bureaucracy-is not serving the needs of Canadians; that is government serves its own needs first and the public's needs second, if at all.

With all due respect to the hon. minister of the government, a point of clarification is we refer to freer votes and relaxation of the confidence convention. This does not refer to the government's saying today or on this issue it will have free votes. Legally and constitutionally all members of the House are guaranteed the right of independence.

Again may I stress this is an attitudinal change. We are all campaigned on party policy, on definite issues which we were elected to support by the Canadians who elected us. However, that does not suggest that each member of the House should be prevented from truly representing their constituents on specific matters which reflect the very serious interests of that area of Canada. We must not operate from fear. If the government loses a vote on a certain initiative, that could have a good positive result. Perhaps it was bad legislation.

I cannot agree with former Conservative House leader, Doug Lewis, who expressed that government is entitled to its bad legislation. Why? When we have the opportunity to correct this waste of valuable debate time in the House and this waste of taxpayers' dollars let us address it.

In my initial address to the House I dealt with freer votes and relaxing the confidence convention. That is why I argued for an attitudinal change in this House that would result in a relaxation and redefinition of the confidence convention, which would result in freer votes. Through such changes members could begin to play a vital role in making and influencing in public policy.

I believe my remarks in relation to the confidence convention and freer votes are equally valid in the context of reform of the standing committee system.

The changes proposed to the rules today, bills to committee prior to second reading and the government's asking committees to bring in bills, are good ones. If they are used and the results of the committee deliberations are not ignored by the government, this will make committee work more rewarding for the members.

I urge the government to go further than this in relation to committees. Let us in the committee on procedure and House affairs examine the report of the House of Commons liaison committee tabled last spring, which addressed committee reform in detail. Let us together devise methods to limit the power of the whips in this Chamber so that substitutions on committee are not made in order to ensure the outcome of a vote which is crucial to the government. Let us look at various structures so that the House, through the committee system, can once again make meaningful comments on government spending.

This House, through changes to the rules brought in over time, has effectively lost control over government spending. This must not be allowed to continue. Ways must be found so that members can gain some control over public expenditures. These changes are worth the time it will take for the House and its committees, especially the procedure and House affairs committee, to study.

Reform goes much farther than what has been presented today. It is a beginning. I congratulate the government for taking the initiative and implementing some of the changes which members of the House, both today and in the past, have strongly recommended.

I also want to recognize the contribution made by the Reform Party toward these changes. Although in our opinion these changes do not go far enough, we do recognize the good intent of the government just as we recognize that the Reform members and the Reform Party have prodded the government into action. If the Conservative Party were sitting in our seats in opposition today it is highly unlikely we would be witnessing these changes.

I look forward to being a part of the procedure in the House affairs committee and contributing to its discussions.

Railways February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak in support of one of our great traditional enterprises, our national railway system.

When we are considering the role of rail in any infrastructure decisions, a real possibility in my riding of Mission-Coquitlam, we must be aware of these facts:

A core rail network compliments the highway system as rail serves as the prime mover of bulk resources and exports, provides a commercial alternative to trucking, enables marine and road intermodal links, provides infrastructure that can continue to be user pay, reduces current and future liabilities for public spending on transport infrastructure, and creates an opportunity for partnership with governments to use available rail corridors for intercity passengers and commuter rail transit.

For the environment rail means less congestion, less air pollution, fewer accidents, less cost of injury, less noise and more effective land use.

Speech From The Throne January 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments regarding my speech. I was very pleased to hear that in fact Liberal members of the House are encouraged to speak freely and to use their own thoughts and ideas in the process of deliberations. I am very encouraged by that.

I want to point out that while I recognize the red book has been used in the campaign and the red book has alluded to certain ideas which I think correspond with many of the Reform ideas, I still feel strongly that there has been much reprimand in the past. We have seen the results of it.

I honestly would like to say here today that allowing MPs to do their jobs in the House and freeing them up to represent their constituents properly can only improve the legislative process.

Differences of opinion are healthy. As long as members are constructive in their criticisms of all members' proposals, all members of the House will witness the parliamentary process as it was meant to be, as it actually has been in the earlier part of this century. The relaxation of the confidence convention will strengthen the proceedings in the House, not weaken them.

I look forward to working with all members of the House, and particularly with the hon. member opposite, in both a co-operative and a constructive way.

Speech From The Throne January 21st, 1994

I welcome the opportunity to take part in this throne speech debate. At the outset I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, upon your appointment. I would also like to congratulate our Speaker of the House of Commons upon his election as Speaker of this 35th Parliament.

As someone who is vitally concerned with parliamentary reform I feel we owe a debt of gratitude to those who served on the special committee on reform of the House of Commons in 1984-85 and who recommended the method of election of the Speaker. A Speaker elected by his or her peers in a free vote is ideally placed to serve the needs of this Chamber and its members.

I would also like to congratulate all those who have been elected to serve in this 35th Parliament.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the electors of Mission-Coquitlam, a riding in the heart of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, for seeing fit to send me to Ottawa to serve as their elected representative.

For those of you not familiar with this most beautiful part of our country I can only attempt to describe it. Mission-Coquitlam has a population of approximately 115,000. Its population has grown more than 25 per cent between 1986 and now and

therefore has associated with it all the problems of a growing rural area located close to a thriving metropolis, Vancouver.

Employment in this area is spread among the primary industries of dairy farming, lumber and fishing as well as manufacturing, construction and the wholesale and retail trade required to serve the population.

At this time I would like to just take a few moments to address this House on two government initiatives that, depending on how they are implemented, may or may not be beneficial for my constituents. I understand the government is proceeding with its shared cost, two year, multimillion dollar infrastructure program to upgrade transportation and local services. I trust the moneys to be used for this plan are not new moneys but are already designated as government expenditures and we are dealing here with a simple reallocation of funds and priorities.

I also want to say that such a program would be of great benefit to my riding. Improved transportation and communication links are of vital importance to the industries of Mission-Coquitlam and to our residents, many of whom commute daily to Vancouver in a frustrating two hour, one way trip.

I am concerned that the outcome of the recent GATT discussions may have a detrimental effect on our nation's farming community and in Fraser Valley dairy farming in particular. The recently signed GATT agreement calls for the removal of border restrictions in article XI. This will, we hope, be replaced by a set of import tariffs which will be removed on a graduated scale until eventually completely phased out in approximately 15 years. I trust the government realizes that these tariffs and the long phase out period will be necessary to ease the transition of our supply managed farmers.

This being my first address to this House I would like to take a few moments to reflect upon why I believe so many of us from the Reform Party of Canada were elected on October 25, 1993.

During the past 10 to 15 years a feeling has developed among Canadians that government, the party in power, the opposition parties and the bureaucracy is not serving the needs of the people who are to be served and whose tax dollars pay for this government. The separation between government and the people grew in the last few years because the views of Canadians seem to be ignored by government or, alternatively, there was no means by which Canadians could see that their views were being expressed, especially in this House. This led, I believe, to an unprecedented feeling of frustration in Canadians.

I believe the electorate chose on October 25 a higher standard in political accountability and by their votes requested a role in the policy making process. The people of Canada want their views to be considered and they want to see how their views and interests are reconciled when policy is formed.

I believe the people of Canada are willing to give their trust once again to those of us who are willing to take up this challenge. They want to see politicians who are willing to exercise the courage necessary to state their views publicly, even though they may be contrary to party line. At the same time the public wants to see courage exercised by our leaders so that dissent may be publicly expressed without fear of retribution.

I am privileged to have been chosen as the chairperson of our caucus committee on parliamentary reform. In the short time I have been here I have had the opportunity to study this subject at some length.

I have come to the conclusion that the first fundamental change we must make in this place does not involve rule changes but lies in an attitudinal change that must be made by the party leadership of this House both on the government and opposition sides.

This change in attitude relates to allowing private members, back bench MPs, to exercise some measure of independence from the party line when voting on measures in this House.

Freer voting among members requires only attitudinal change. However such a change in attitude would send a signal to the people of Canada that we as politicians are listening and are reflecting their views in our decision making.

I want to make it clear at this point that I am speaking about freer voting which means a relaxation of the established informal rule that private members vote the party line on all legislative matters.

This is to be distinguished from free votes when the party leadership actually tells members that on a particular piece of legislation they are free to vote either for or against it.

The declaration of free votes by the leadership of this House does not solve the problem of exercising independence by the members. It is my understanding that in our Canadian political system the leadership of political parties have taken the confidence convention to extremes. It has been linked to a view whereby virtually all votes both in committee and in the House of Commons are matters of confidence so that any member who votes against the wishes of the leadership, whether that member is in government or opposition, is being disloyal and is subject to reprimand.

A simple review of the voting practices in Great Britain illustrates that this does not have to be the case. In recent times backbench independence has been asserted with members voting against the party line. In some cases this defeats government legislation. Once this independence was exercised it could not be stopped and has successfully resulted in allowing members to influence the public policy agenda. It is important to note that punishment by the party leadership did not materialize. A participatory attitude prevailed.

What I am saying today is not new. Attitudinal change in relation to the confidence convention and freer voting was one of the major recommendations of the special committee on reform of the House of Commons in 1985. This committee even went so far as to categorize the types of confidence votes so that on all other matters private members, at least on the government side, would feel free to vote against the government position without fear of bringing down the government.

It is appropriate to recognize that today's Minister of Foreign Affairs represented the Liberal Party and the hon. member for Winnipeg Transcona represented the NDP on that committee.

While in opposition the government participated in other committees and advanced a policy paper on January 19, 1993 on reform of the House of Commons. This also formed part of the red book giving more freedom to members to voice their concerns in the House.

Leadership on this issue must come from the government. A clear statement should be made by the Prime Minister that dissent will be allowed and only certain legislative matters will be looked upon as confidence matters requiring strict party discipline.

It must also be made clear that anyone exercising independence will not be punished. Opposition parties must agree to this so that their members are free to voice their own views. It is also important that opposition parties not treat government members voting against the government line as special or as lightning rods of dissent within the government caucus.

Opposition parties should not call on the government to resign if a few of its members break with party discipline or if the government loses the occasional vote in the House or in committee.

Finally, I would like to emphasize that this change of attitude will require political courage on the part of all concerned. For the first few times that members break with party discipline the media will pounce on the situation as a sign of weak leadership. Political parties must resist the temptation to capitalize on this. In fact they should stress that allowing dissent is a sign of strength.

While we listened with interest to the speech from the throne and the promise of the government to create a greater opportunity for members to contribute to the level of public policy and legislation, I was disappointed that no specifics of how this was to be done were presented.

If members are to become a vital part of the policy making process in committee and in the House then dissent must be allowed to be articulated and occur without retribution.

If this occurs the House of Commons may become a more accurate reflection of Canadian public opinion and the policies of government may become more attuned to the needs of Canadians.

It is unfortunate that the Bloc in its amendment had not dealt with the major issue of parliamentary reform, that is free votes and relaxation of the confidence convention. Then I would have moved a subamendment in this House as follows:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should permit members of the House of Commons to fully represent their constituents' views on the government's legislative program and spending plans, or, by adopting the position that the defeat of any government measure including a spending measure, shall not automatically mean the defeat of the government unless followed by the adoption of a formal motion.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for recognizing me today. I thank the voters of Mission-Coquitlam for placing their trust in me.

Non-Confidence Motions January 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Prime Minister for his answer. I do bow to his expertise.

However I would wonder if the Prime Minister might explain to the Canadian people why he refuses to allow their MPs to represent them faithfully in Parliament.

Non-Confidence Motions January 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Prime Minister.

Is today the day that the Prime Minister is to rise in his place and free the members of this Parliament to represent their constituents by declaring that the government will not consider the defeat of a government motion, including a spending measure, to constitute an expression of non-confidence in the government unless it is immediately followed by the passage of a formal non-confidence motion?