House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was jobs.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Reform MP for Simcoe Centre (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 1993, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act March 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the point I was just about to make was on the similarity between the cancellation of the Pearson airport deal and what we are about to embark on here. The point I am making is that the deal was cancelled on the airport four months ago and nothing has happened. We are about to change this deal and I would suggest that nothing is going to happen. We will go into the next election with nothing having been resolved. That is one of the real dangers in this.

Just let me summarize with a few comments. The government needs to have more faith in the Canadian people to look at this matter and do what is right. There will be some very interesting comments coming out of the hearings that were scheduled. The government should not throw away the millions of taxpayers' dollars already spent up to this point. That is what will be done. It is going to throw away $5 million of our taxpayers' dollars.

This process does not belong in the political arena. With the vested interest that politicians have, how can they address the issue objectively and do what is best for the Canadian people? If we support the bill we will kill any chance for change before the next election.

With those remarks I will conclude. I thank the House for allowing me to make this presentation. I certainly will not be supporting Bill C-18.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act March 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak against Bill C-18, an act to suspend the operation of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act. I do that with some mixed feelings.

My own riding is disappearing in this change which is going to take place across Canada and very significantly in the province of Ontario. There has been only one call into my office regarding this change and perhaps that is because they were anticipating going to the hearings, as I was. However I anticipate receiving many calls when the people in my riding discover what is taking place in this House.

In no way was this a burning issue with the people in this country. There are far more important issues we should be dealing with. While I say I had mixed feelings about what was happening in the riding I represent, I was looking forward to making a representation at the hearings. We would have an opportunity to make representations again when the reports came back into this House.

In looking at the changes I realized there were some winners and some losers. There are going to be winners and losers no matter where this comes out. We will not come up with a plan that will please everyone. That just is not possible. There is no evidence in this bill that will approach anything near that.

There is the suggestion that politicians will be able to do a better job than Elections Canada. That is a leap of faith most Canadians would have a difficult time making. Our track record in the past has not been one of doing a better job.

The decision was made 30 years ago to take this process out of the political arena. That was a good decision that was made back then. I think it is even more appropriate today, given the mood of the Canadian voter.

We just have to reflect back to October 1992 at which time politics in the country took a dramatic turn for the better. The Canadian people said back then that they were no longer going to be led by the political parties. They were going to have a say in what was going on in the country. They sent out that very clear message.

That message can be ignored in the House at our peril. The former government ignored the message that was given to it by Meech Lake. The former government ignored the message that was relayed to it through the Spicer commission at a cost of some $27 million in taxpayers' dollars. The government was told what the priorities of the Canadian people were and that the Constitution was not number one. In spite of that the government ignored it, went on with its own agenda and suffered its fate in the last election.

The mood of the Canadian people that was evident in 1992 and 1993 is still there. They want to be heard. They want to have their say. The process we are about to embark on will be a denial of that.

We are not talking about process today. We are talking about product. We knew this was coming down the pike some time ago, but nothing happened until the proposed boundary changes hit our desks and hit the public. All of a sudden it became an issue. There was no secret about what was happening. It is not about the process. It is about the product and it is about self-interest: my fiefdom and what is going to happen to me. I think that is wrong.

The issue is not new. It has been there but it is in the forefront now because some people's ridings will be affected by it. The government is going to circumvent the public hearings that were to take place so that the public could have input into the process.

How do we justify wasting the $5 million in taxpayers' dollars that have been spent to this point? The suggestion has been made that the $3 million we might spend in hearing from the public would be a further waste of taxpayers' dollars. I do not find spending $3 million to hear from the taxpayers a waste of money. Again I go back to the mood of the voters. They want to be heard and $3 million to allow them to have input will be money well spent.

Time and time again I have heard from members on the other side about the number of seats. They are shocked that Reform would support anything that would increase the number of seats in the House. There is nothing in the bill that restricts the number of seats. Had that been in there, the Reform Party would have supported the bill. It is not there. I would ask members on the other side: Why is it not there? There is no intent. It is left out purposely so that avenue would still be there.

Hearings were due to start in days and the process is being cut off. People were preparing to come to these hearings to state their case. Again it is an example of government knows best: "We will decide what should happen here and we will let you know". That is not going to fly with the Canadian people.

I was shocked at what was taking place. Really I should not have been because the government has a track record of no faith in the Canadian people. When we think back, this is the government that did not have faith in some Canadian people to select its candidates. The government had to go in because it did not trust Canadian people to pick the right candidates. This is the government that does not believe in recall. It does not trust Canadian people to have recall at their disposal.

This party is led by a leader who finds referendum revolting. The thought of listening to the Canadian people on major issues is revolting. Those words will come back to haunt the government in years to come. The government can act when it wants to. When it has a self-interest it can get moving. There was something the Canadian people wanted it to get moving on. We wanted it to get moving on it and we were prepared to support it. I am referring to the gold-plated pension plans. This is something that we could have taken action on and should have taken action on, but nothing is happening. The words we hear are: "What is the hurry? We are here for four years". The government may not be in a hurry about that but the Canadian people are. The Canadian people want action. The government brought us action on this but not on the pension plan.

The question of the legality of the process was raised in the House yesterday. The answer given to that question bore no relationship to the question. I suspect because a legal opinion has not been sought the government does not have an answer as to whether the whole process is legal.

I see some similarities here between the cancelled Pearson airport deal and what we are about to do today. The Pearson airport deal was cancelled, not because the project was not a good project but because of the process.

Members Of Parliament March 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party is quite capable of looking after its own members. In no way are we trying to impose that on members of the other side.

I thank the Deputy Prime Minister for her comments. If we are to end this week on a civil note, I would ask if the Deputy Prime Minister will ask the minister of aboriginal affairs to offer an apology to the member for Athabasca.

Members Of Parliament March 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is the prevailing attitude that we are addressing.

We on this side of the House are here to do a job on behalf of Canadians and contribute to the debates on the great issues of the day.

I ask the Deputy Prime Minister if we can end this week with a promise to all Canadians that the personal insults hurled from the government benches will stop.

Members Of Parliament March 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday you encouraged this House to be more civil. The Reform Party has promised to bring civility to this place. However, as early as three years ago a member opposite was referring to our leader as the David Duke of the north. Supporters of the Liberal Party were encouraged to refer to Reformers as racists or bigots. Even when we had only one

member in this House derogatory comments were made about Reformers by members opposite when they were in opposition.

My question is direct and simple. Is the Deputy Prime Minister prepared to stand in this place today and promise to persuade her colleagues that the rat pack days are over?

Supply March 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, item (c) where we are asking that money be spent on quarterly reports on our progress ties in very nicely with a recommendation that was made in the Auditor General's report.

One problem we have faced over the years is that the Canadian public is not being kept aware of the magnitude of this program and our progress or lack of progress in solving it. Our reference to that is for information, to keep this Parliament and all Canadians aware of the progress that we are making toward attacking the deficit and the debt.

I do not think that is wasted money. It is money well spent. We will be keeping in touch with our progress in addressing this most serious concern that we face and indeed that all Canadians are going to be affected by.

Supply March 14th, 1994

I cannot afford to do that. I appreciate that this is a two part budget and nothing in the first part will correct the problem. Given the track record on promises for the future on the second stage I have no optimism.

We have been living beyond our means for over 20 years and over that same period each budget would acknowledge how serious the problem was, yet we still overspent and the debt continued to grow.

In spite of this history of year after year of failed budgets we continue to go down the same road. Apparently no one is asking the question: "What are we doing wrong? Why have our plans not worked"? The problem to me is the fact that we place all of our emphasis on those things that we have little control over; interest payments and growth in the economy.

The one area where we do have complete control is spending and yet we ignore it in the hope that we can grow our way out with optimistic growth projections and pray that interest rates will remain low. The government has a spending problem. There is no other variable available that we can control.

If we are serious about eliminating our deficit and then reducing our debt we must attack spending. Make no mistake about it, this is a war of Canada's survival. I am not talking about nibbling around the edges like this budget. I am talking about serious spending cuts, not next year or the year after but now.

From my background in small business I know how important the bottom line is. If you want to stay in business and employ people you must make a profit or at least break even. As a manager of that business if you fail to make a profit you fail the employees who lose their jobs. The bottom line is profit for people. Government is a business, not a business for profit but a break even business and the government is failing our people.

You cannot lose money year after year. You can borrow to a point. However, governments have gone far beyond the point of good business sense. Our lenders do us no favours by allowing us to go deeper and deeper into an abyss of debt. The pain and suffering that will come will not be any easier as we delay the inevitable as the budget does.

During the first few days of the 35th Parliament I heard the phrase "lean but not mean" many times. In some ways those are meaningless words of comfort. You cannot be lean but not mean. You are speaking with a forked tongue. To those who are going to be affected by your decisions to cut or reduce you are mean. To the 16,000 military personnel in the defence cuts plus the thousands of jobs lost in the cancellation of the EH-101 contract without debating the merits of those decisions, you were mean.

Unfortunately due to excessive spending by former governments there is no painless way out of the current mess. The budget has only delayed the day and continues to play a cruel hoax on Canadians by pretending there is an easy way out. There is not. We have 20 years of history to prove it.

It is ironic that on the first day of this Parliament the federal budget reached half a trillion dollars, a national disgrace for a country of 27 million people, a personal debt of $74,000 for each family of four living in the country, $18,000 of debt for every man, woman and child.

As shocking as these numbers are, the government is prepared to add almost $40 billion this year toward an additional $100 billion over the next three years to a total of $600 billion or $22,000 per person by 1996. It is madness. We cannot afford the programs we have and yet we are prepared to add more.

The 35th Parliament set three targets. The first is the largest deficit in our history, the largest number of new members, and the largest debt ever. What a great opportunity with so many new faces with fresh ideas to turn this place around and leave it in four years a better place than we found it, fiscally responsible and economically sound.

In 22 years of Liberal governments the debt soared from about $25 billion to $180 billion with an absolute freefall starting in 1975-1976. After losing to the Conservatives in 1984 the debt plunged to a record $500 billion in 1993, almost triple in nine short years. This in spite of the fact that each and every budget announced the intention of attacking the deficit and the debt.

Where is the credibility? We have had 20 years of failed budgets, 20 years of broken promises, 20 years of tax increases, and 20 years of declining services. Is there any wonder that Canadians have lost faith in their politicians?

There is a frightening similarity between overfishing and overspending. For years we were warned that our fish stocks were in danger and that continued fishing at current rates would deplete them, costing thousands of jobs. We ignored that advice at our peril. We have the same scenario today in out of control government spending. We have been warned it cannot continue yet we ignore the warnings.

With our situation deteriorating by the minute as it has done for the past 20 years no one is asking why. What are we doing wrong? How do we stop this addiction to spending? Like drugs or alcohol in many ways it is an addiction. Like an addiction the first step toward a cure is acknowledgement that we have a problem.

This budget fails that test. Much worse, it says very clearly that our finance minister does not understand.

Unless we face and solve these problems now nothing else matters, not health care, not education and not our ability to compete.

The headline on the cover of this week's Maclean's magazine asks the question: ``Are we cheating our kids?'' While the story deals with education, the same question applies to this generation's overspending and the terrible debt load we are leaving on their young shoulders.

The reason I am here today is my deep concern for my children and my grandchildren. I am ashamed of my part in this spending binge that has mortgaged their future. Sitting back was not good enough. I had to get involved and do what I could to save their future, and in saving their future we would be saving Canada from the terrible prospects of bankruptcy.

Some politicians will say that deficit and debt are a problem but not to worry. Those politicians are burying their heads in the sand. We have been told for 20 years that things are going to get better, yet our situation has never been worse.

In the next three years we will add $100 billion more debt and we will still be overspending by $25 billion.

For 20 years I ran a small business in Barrie providing employment for some 20 people. Each month and each year I worried that we would maintain a profit or at least break even so I could protect their jobs and mine. It is no different from any other business, large or small. It is no different than the taxpayers across this great country making ends meet, living within their means.

Why is it that governments think they can do otherwise? A big part of the answer is the fact that governments have been able to come back to us for more taxes, never cutting spending, just increasing taxes. The day of tax increases being productive is over.

My constituents told me very clearly they have no more to give. Any further attempts at a tax grab would ignite a tax revolt. Many of our citizens have expressed their disgust in past increases and broken promises by joining the underground economy which is costing honest taxpayers billions of dollars.

As part of our zero in three plan we outlined a savings of $500 million in subsidies to special interest groups that have been living off all taxpayers when they should have been getting funding from those they supposedly represent. We are doing a further study on this issue.

Governments do not create jobs. The private sector does. The $6 billion infrastructure program outlined in the budget to kick start our economy was described by Sir Roger Douglas, former finance minister of New Zealand, as taking a feather duster to the Eiffel Tower. Those few jobs will disappear after the funding runs out and we will be a further $6 billion in debt.

The private sector will create the long term jobs our children and grandchildren need. The private sector is not looking for government handouts. It is looking for governments to get off of its back and out of its pockets and out of the pockets of its customers.

The reduction in UI premiums is a step in the right direction and I applaud the government for that.

In closing, let me say that all of the problems we face are pale by comparison. If we fail to attack this overspending, this mortgaging our children's future, we will fail Canada. We are facing a battle that is greater than any our country has faced before. Working together we can make the tough decisions to bring back fiscal responsibility.

This budget is not the answer. We cannot delay. We can pay now or we can pay much more dearly later.

Supply March 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak against the budget and in support of our motion to do something about the current deficit and debt that we face as a country.

I do not know if members have ever heard a million dollar speech, but I am about to give one. Members may not agree it is worth that much, but the fact remains that by the time I conclude, with our current debt accumulating at $78,000 per minute, we will have slipped another million dollars into debt. This is the ticking time bomb we are sitting on.

Petitions March 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of summer residents of my constituency of Simcoe Centre, I would like to present this petition which calls on Parliament to take a fresh look at Canada's current policy on official languages and to hold a national referendum on the question.

Pearson International Airport March 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport.

Mr. Robert Nixon's review of the proposed privatization of Pearson International Airport recommended that Transport Canada proceed with construction at terminals one and two and then establish a non-profit operating authority.

This position is supported by the five regional chairpersons who say that delays will kill several economic development opportunities in the Toronto area.

Why is the minister delaying action when much needed jobs and infrastructure are at stake?