House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was forces.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 1993, with 51% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Members Of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act May 9th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, you are absolutely correct.

The hon. member for Calgary Centre made reference to the chief government whip and called him by name, of course out of order, and also made reference to the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada and talked about the money they would be making. How do you know how much money they would be making on their pensions, Mr. Speaker? When it comes down to this, I will guarantee you that the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell and the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada are going to be in this House long after the member who uttered that statement is gone and forgotten, and they will still be serving Canada.

The hon. member was using projected figures, just like the citizens' coalition uses projected figures. It is using inflation rates, and it does not know what the inflation rates will be in the years to come. The same old story that we have heard for years is coming out here

Where is the decency in all these things? Where is the decency from across the way? You do not come to this place, Mr. Speaker, just to get a pension. You come to this place because you want to serve your country. This whole issue is being used as political opportunism.

I got a letter the other day asking me to tell these people in the Reform Party to get on with the major problems of the country instead of always downgrading the public life of this country. They do not know what they are here for.

Most members who come here are very sincere. Hon. members, as I said, do not go into politics to get a pension. If I wanted to get a pension I would have stayed out of politics. The profession I was in would have paid far more than I will get here. I came into this Parliament because I felt I had something to offer. I still think I have something to offer.

If there is anything I can do to settle this big quarrel about downgrading public life in Canada, I think it is here that we should show the public that there is something more to politics in this country than hammering one another, being vindictive to one another. We should practise some decency on the floor of this House with each other. People come here to do something useful.

It reminds me of the biblical story about the two people who go into the temple to pray. One stands there as a sinner and he says "Forgive me, Lord, for the way I have sinned". Then over here you have the publican who was beating his chest and saying "Thank God I am not like one of those". That is the mentality and that is the attitude we are hearing from the Reform Party today, saying "Thank God we are not like one of those".

Members Of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act May 9th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for that and I thank the parliamentary secretary also for his remarks. If the hon. member who raised the question had been listening as carefully as you had been, he would not have had any need to get up to his feet. What I said was that they were talking about MPs in this House as if they were petty thieves. I never applied it to anyone.

I am only repeating your own words. If you are ashamed of them-

Members Of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act May 9th, 1995

The Reform Party remarks in the House are downgrading public life.

Members Of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act May 9th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I want to say a few words about the quality of people who come to this place and the quality of people they represent.

How can the public respect MPs when MPs do not respect each other? If there is anything that has come up in this debate in the House, it is the haranguing across this floor about MPs and their qualities, as if they are a bunch of petty thieves.

There have been a lot of good people come into this House. Let me tell members that those who are speaking today with great purity are not necessarily in that category.

Petitions May 3rd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I have several hundred names on a petition. These Canadians note that the Canadian Emergency Preparedness College in Arnprior, Ontario, provides training in several aspects of emergency preparedness, including earthquakes, hurricanes, forest fires, civil disobedience, railway accidents, floods, et cetera.

The petitioners request that Parliament recognize that the Canadian Emergency Preparedness College is essential to training Canadians for emergency situations and that the facility should stay in Arnprior, as promised by the government, in order to provide the necessary training to Canadians past and present.

Security Services April 24th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay special tribute to the House of Commons Security Services which celebrate their 75th anniversary this year.

It was in 1920, following an act of Parliament, that the House of Commons protective staff was created to protect the parliamentary institution, its members and the precinct. This force has since grown into the efficient, effective and professional force we know today. Both proactive and reactive, the House of Commons Security Service has continuously aimed to provide the excellent service to which we have become accustomed.

The men and women of the security staff are continuously faced with the almost impossible task of providing security in such a way as not to limit or impede public access into the buildings, while ensuring on the other hand that sufficient security is present to adequately protect members of Parliament, employees, visitors and tourists in a period when crime and terrorism are on the increase.

As an honorary member of the security services I invite all members to join with me in wishing them a happy 75th anniversary as well as many more years of success.

Petitions April 3rd, 1995

Madam Speaker, I have two petitions.

Several citizens of Canada state that because the inclusion of the phrase sexual orientation in the Canadian Human Rights Act will provide certain groups with special status, rights and privileges, and because the inclusion will infringe on the historic rights of Canadians such as freedom of religion, conscience, expression and association, they petition and call upon Parliament to oppose any amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which would provide for the inclusion of the phrase sexual orientation.

Peacekeeping March 29th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, this has been a very good debate tonight. I congratulate all those who have spoken for their candour and openness and for putting their points forward.

We have to remind ourselves that Canada was one of the key founders of the United Nations, one of the key partners in that formation.

Today's problems are many and great, as has been pointed out. However they pale significantly when one recalls the world wars and catastrophes that have occurred over the history of mankind. The United Nations was founded to try to prevent that from happening again. It requires every responsible nation that belongs to the UN to pull its weight and to work toward the aim of peace, regardless of how frustrating and how crooked that road may seem.

Many Canadian peacekeepers have served in the former Yugoslavia, particularly in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia. Today some 2,080 are over there performing their role on behalf of Canada and the international community.

It behoves each and every one of us in the House tonight to thank the people who have served there in the past and in other peacekeeping duties around the world. They have served Canada well and will continue to do so. It also behoves us tonight to thank the Canadian people at large for the support they have given our Canadian soldiers as they go about doing their great mission on behalf of international peace.

Recently we heard that the Bosnian Serbs have called for a general mobilization. That is bad news. It almost seems as if when summertime comes the weather is better for fighting. It is a sad commentary on mankind.

Hatred is older than the hills, but it is there and it must be dealt with. It must be dealt with by responsible nations, those that maintain their calmness in duty and have very specific responsible aims in place as they look to the future.

This has not only been a great challenge for the United Nations. It has created frustration for many as well. This is the largest UN operation to date. Therefore, it undoubtedly demands the greatest cohesion and togetherness we are going to see in a UN operation probably since the Korean war.

We have had many fires to put out along the road of international history over the last half century since the founding of the United Nations, but this is not a time to let go of the traces. It is not a time to stop pulling for peace in the world for which we all strive.

There is a Chinese proverb which says that fury is nothing but the energy of weakness. Nothing exemplifies this statement any better than the ongoing circumstances in the former Yugoslavia. There is another saying that ignorance never settles a question. It simply keeps the argument all stirred up.

I love reading history. J. M. S. Careless wrote the book Canada-A Story of Challenge . The 19th chapter deals with a maturing nation. We must remember tonight that many people came from countries across Europe in the early days to settle in Canada. They came here to find peace, a place where they could make a life for their families. As we stand here tonight in the House we certainly can understand very well how many people in disturbed parts of the world must be looking forward to the days when they can see some peace.

Canada has worked on behalf of refugees, the children's fund, humanitarian supplies. We have put troops into very difficult situations. We have had an international airlift from Italy in Sarajevo since July 1992. The Canadian forces Hercules 130 transport planes have been busy with 1,600 flights, 11,300 passengers and 26,600 tonnes of food and medical supplies into Sarajevo. That is a small part of what our Canadian forces have done.

Tonight it behoves all of us to take into consideration the work that has been done to date. We must stand firm and work with our partners in the United Nations toward the goal of the UN for which it was founded half a century ago: to try to bring peace to mankind and some sanity to the world.

Petitions March 29th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by approximately 200 people. They are concerned about the morale in the Canadian forces.

The decision to disband the Canadian airborne regiment brought the forces under intense media and public scrutiny.

They would like a thorough and fully disclosed investigation. They feel that this would result in the public being better informed about the Canadian military's condition and contribution to our country's internal and external stature and well-being.

They petition Parliament to initiate at the earliest time a wide ranging public inquiry into the problems facing the Canadian forces today.

Firearms Act March 28th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, this morning I want to make a few remarks about Bill C-68. First I must comment on the fact that the whole debate has been derailed. Its basic values have been destroyed by much of the rhetoric that has been going on around it.

Across the province of Ontario there have been major gun rallies sponsored by the Reform Party of Canada. In some cases it has been more interested in selling memberships in that party than in improving constructively the laws of the nation. That is a fact of life.

Dr. Sobrian from the Omemee area near Peterborough visited my constituency a short time ago. It was at exactly the same time as we were having a church service and the laying of the colours for the airborne regiment. He appeared before a gun rally at a high school in Pembroke and was using my name all over the place.

I do not consider myself to be part of a gun lobby. I consider myself to be a parliamentarian who is trying to put something constructive into the legislation. Dr. Sobrian would be well advised by his cohorts to stay home in Omemee. He does more harm when he leaves Omemee and goes into the countryside than he would if he stayed at home. I have no hesitation in saying that to him because I do not get scared off by such people. We have to keep our feet on the ground around here.

My decision will be based on my own judgment, not on a lot of hype and cursing and swearing by people who would appear to be leaders when in fact they are feeding their egos and spreading misinformation with their rhetoric.

The impact of the legislation on the average Canadian has to be considered. One has to ask whether making some people pay for the justice system for all is fair and just. There are people paying for the education system who do not use it. They are paying for it the same as everyone else. Why should not Canadian people as a whole pay, if it is to serve the justice of the country and their safety? Instead we are targeting many people who are innocent and law-abiding Canadians. If the system is to benefit all, why should not all of us contribute? I have no problem in that regard, and I do not own a gun.

Training program costs have been mentioned as a great inhibitor. The costs for training courses are considerable. People are complaining to me about the red tape they have to go through. Many police officers whom I have been talking with have not taken the training, yet they will be faced with it. There are major problems in administration out there.

They talk about a coalition of forces. That is not the point. The point is providing good legislation with common sense logic, fairness and justice built into the system. Decisions based on emotions will not stand up over time, but decisions based on justice, fairness and common sense will stand the test of time.

A lot of the problems, the real hype and the gearing up of emotions started with incidents such as the murder at the Just Desserts restaurant in Toronto. In Montreal and in the Quebec legislature such incidents were quickly linked to all guns in general. That was wrong. It should be targeted to certain weapons and not to people who are capable of handling weapons safely.

It is unfair to attribute the problem we are facing today in part to everyday honest people. The ferociousness of the debate does not make for constructive solutions. I have heard some very outlandish speeches in the House and more outside it.

Guns increase violence is the saying, but what about countries where there are guns in nearly every home and there is no violence?

I quote from a very good speech delivered by the hon. member for Cochrane-Superior two weeks ago yesterday:

A number of inquiries conducted in various countries have shown there is no connection between the percentage of crimes involving firearms and the degree of regulation of firearms in that country. In countries with a very low rate of violent crimes or homicide like Japan or Switzerland, the presence or absence of firearms is irrelevant. However making young people socially responsible, giving them a good education and warning them against criminal behaviour, is a major factor in producing low crime rates.

If we look at Switzerland, by its nature over many years it has been a fully armed nation as far as its citizenry is concerned yet has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

It is a culture. It is the enforcement of law. It is the values we put into society. It is the way we train people generation after generation. That will improve the legal system and the courts by taking away plea bargaining in such cases.

The justice minister has made a good start in the legislation. Let us make the justice system work and not have people on the streets who should not be there, not have innocent people become victims of law and become criminals by virtue of it. Because of lack of information or indeed a lack of memory, if someone forgets to do something, according the act as it is written now he would be charged under the Criminal Code.

Nobody would argue about the need for anti-smuggling legislation. It is motherhood. It is necessity. Everyone in Canada, gun owners and non-gun owners alike, would support restrictions against smuggling. On the possession of stolen weapons outdoor sportsmen's clubs would support restrictions on that. They enforce laws within their own clubs, their own bylaws or their own regulations. They have very severe rules in that regard.

Export-import laws are great. They prevent the inflow or outflow of illegal arms. We have a 4,000-mile boundary to handle and it is very difficult to control border problems. With a 4,000-mile border we will have a challenge on our hands with the export-import laws. However it must be done and I give the minister credit for bringing forward that part.

No one should be in illegal possession of a firearm. There is a charge in that regard. We should get rid of plea bargaining and the minister has done part of it.

There is absolutely no sympathy out there for illegal trafficking of firearms, not by sportsmen or anyone else. They know if people with firearms get into trouble it will impact on them. The message is immediately spread on radio stations, TV stations and newspapers. It is very easy to start the hype that everything is wrong in society when certain things should be corrected.

The minimum sentence of four years for a list of 10 crimes is a good start. The court system, plea bargaining and the justice system must generally be upgraded and enforced. It is supported by the general public. There will be no pity on anyone who allows the system to deteriorate in any way. Canadians want the sentence to fit the crime.

This is my fourth time around on gun legislation. None of them has been easy. None of them has been very productive in the sense of the rhetoric used. We keep coming forward with legislation. As time goes on we must pass legislation to deal with the times. We are going through difficult times but let us

remember that the good things in this bill can be supported by almost every Canadian. However, there are matters in it that affect the average Canadian. These must be corrected. There are things in this bill that affect estates. I want to see some of those corrected in committee.

I have voted over 2,000 times in the House of Commons and on only one occasion have I voted against the government. If further changes are not made to this legislation, I am afraid I am going to have to see the second time that I will vote against my own government. That does not sit well with me personally because I am a loyalist and a constructive worker trying to get things done. I do not want to vote against this bill, but if I must, I will. My constituents are not part of the problem with their hunting and their sports clubs that operate throughout the area.