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

Auditor General's Report January 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, a supplementary question. Could the minister tell us to what extent the civil servants of his department will be held accountable for their actions in the future?

Auditor General's Report January 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence and was inspired by a concerned citizen, Mr. John MacIntosh of Dundas, Ontario.

Will the minister inform this House what action if any has been taken against the members of his department staff who failed to provide Parliament with the actual cost of transporting cabinet ministers and others in Canada as disclosed by the report of the Auditor General.

Speech From The Throne January 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his compliments on my election. I am considered the green dot in a sea of red. It was the subject of much media attention to see what this giant killer looked like. They were some shocked when they found I was only five-foot-four.

To deal with the question, health care in this country is in grave peril. Our position is that the system must be saved. Our provinces have the constitutional responsibility for health care. When we brought in health care the federal government was supporting the provinces on a 50-50 cost-sharing basis. That position has declined to the point where I think it is something like 30 per cent coming from the federal government and is heading in an even lower direction to the point where the federal government in a few years time will no longer be participating in a cost-sharing plan for health care.

By virtue of that mere fact it will end up with the provinces having that responsibility which I and my party members feel is properly their responsibility. They are the ones who are closest to the people in delivering health care. They are the ones who will ultimately answer to the voters on the job that they do in running the health care system. We think the responsibility properly belongs there.

Speech From The Throne January 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Kitchener for his question. I do not think I indicated in my speech that solving the problem of representing constituents was an easy one. It is not and there is no member of my party who is confused about that.

I feel that what has happened in the past is that governments have responded to the special interest groups. They are the ones who have had the ear of government to a larger degree. Average Canadians, the ones who are paying the bills, are the ones who have not been heard from. It is incumbent on me and I believe my party members share this feeling that we must go out into our ridings with town hall meetings, meet the people, talk to the people but more importantly to listen to the people about what they have to say about what is going on in this place, what we are talking about and the decisions that are being made. That is the challenge that faces me. I am going to meet that challenge because when I go back to my riding I am going to maintain that contact with the people.

I believe that is the main factor that caused the upheaval we experienced in this House after this past election. The people who sat here had lost touch with their constituents and the result is what we have here today. We want to make sure that we do not lose that contact, that we keep in touch with the average Canadian and not be heavily influenced by those special interest groups that have captivated our ear.

Speech From The Throne January 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your appointment as a deputy speaker. I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate the Speaker on his election to that office. While this position has been a challenge over the years, the unprecedented number of new members in this 35th Parliament may provide the most difficult challenge of all.

As one of the new members I will do my best to learn the rules as quickly as possible and in so doing make both our jobs a little easier. Under your guidance, Mr. Speaker, I sincerely hope the House will enjoy the same harmonious relationship that exists in the Ontario caucus of my party.

My congratulations go out to all members on their election or re-election to this new Parliament. From the number of new members it would appear that being re-elected was a much more difficult task, so a special bouquet goes to those members.

To those who voted for me in my riding of Simcoe Centre, I want to say how much I appreciate the honour and the opportunity to represent them in this House. The trust my constituents have placed in me will not rest lightly on my shoulders as I work hard to be deserving of that honour.

A special thanks also goes to my wife and my family for their love, support and hard work on my campaign.

I have always regarded my riding of Simcoe Centre as grassroots Ontario with a good mix of industry, tourism and farming. It has been said that as Simcoe Centre goes so goes most of Ontario.

My riding is named for the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, and like the governor the riding has played an important role in the development of this province and this nation.

The agricultural community in Simcoe Centre has been a mainstay of the local economy since the land was first opened up in the early 1800s. Towns have gained prominence such as Alliston, Ontario's potato capital. Alliston is also famous as the home of Nobel prize winner Sir Frederick Banting, co-discoverer of insulin.

As a place to work and play, Simcoe Centre offers a quality of life that is second to none. Hundreds of thousands of people come to visit each year, to shop and dine as they enjoy both skiing and cottaging in the region. Between the shores of the world's largest fresh water beach in Wasaga and beautiful Lake Simcoe we offer outstanding year-round recreation and leisure activities.

My riding also includes Canada's largest military training base, Base Borden, which has played an important role in the defence of this country since World War I.

I would be remiss if I did not speak about my own city of Barrie which is central to my riding and is the largest city. Barrie enjoys its location around the tip of Kempenfelt Bay. Its manufacturing base and service economy are prime examples of what the hard work and entrepreneurship of Barrie residents can produce.

Being situated just an hour's drive north of Toronto, one of the world's truly great cities, we can enjoy the best of both worlds in Simcoe Centre.

When I made the decision to seek office I was certainly aware of the low image of politicians held by many Canadian people. However as I went door to door I was surprised and shocked at how deeply these feelings were held. Voter after voter complained that politicians had lost touch with them, were only hearing what they wanted to hear, and were not to be trusted. Far too often I heard this comment: "I will not be voting. You are all the same". To me that hurt more than any other response.

In addition to the cynicism and lack of trust, the main issues within Simcoe Centre were the never ending and ever increasing tax burden as well as the economy and job creation. Simcoe Centre and indeed all of Canada is on the verge of a tax revolt. The huge underground economy is evidence of how close we are.

As a youngster I was told there were only two sure things in life: death and taxes. Little did I know then that one was going to cause the other. Unless we are going to get government spending under control we will never eliminate the deficit so that we can offer Canadians tax relief.

Deficits and debt are the most serious issues we face. All others are pale by comparison. Indeed the answer to job creation, stimulating the economy and saving our social safety nets, is directly tied to the solution of this problem.

I campaigned very hard on this issue and was disappointed the throne speech contained no plans for substantial reductions in government spending. Many times I have been asked why I chose to seek office. There are two words that best describe my desire and conviction to come to Ottawa. They are Jessica and Nicholas, my grandchildren. The realization that I have been part of a generation that had lived beyond our means and was now leaving a huge debt on their shoulders did not sit well with me. I had to run for office and try to do something about it.

The decisions we make in this 35th Parliament will not greatly impact on our lives, but they will influence tremendously the Canada our children and grandchildren inherit.

One of the most encouraging points in the speech from the throne was the commitment to parliamentary reform. Trust is a two-way street. If we are to earn it from our constituents we must be prepared to place a level of trust in them.

Canadians have said very clearly they want more voice in the decisions affecting their lives. The Citizens' Forum on Canada's Future chaired by Mr. Spicer listened to 400,000 Canadians as well as another 300,000 Canadian elementary and secondary school students.

One of the strongest messages the forum received was that Canadian people had lost faith in their political leaders. They did not feel their governments, especially at the federal level, reflected the will of the people. They did not feel that they had the means at that moment to correct it. Many of the participants were prepared to support substantial change of the political system if they would result in a responsive and responsible political process and in responsive and responsible political leaders. The forum cost the Canadian taxpayers about $27 million. However, if we can change and respond to this message, it will be a bargain.

If there is a constant in today's world, it is change. After 48 years of Tory representation Simcoe Centre voted for change. I thank it for that. With the improvements in communications and technology changes are occurring within an ever shrinking timeframe. Many of us are reluctant to change but change we must. This Parliament must examine new approaches to the way existing institutions and procedures are used. Changes must be made so that members can be made more responsive to their constituents and more responsible in the exercise of their judgment.

The time to look at these things differently has never been more important or opportune. With over 200 new members we have a window of opportunity for parliamentary reform that must be taken advantage of. There should be changes such as amending the Canada Elections Act to eliminate clauses that place members of Parliament in a position beholden to their national party executive or party leaders rather than their constituents.

We should amend the MPs' oath of office such that they swear a fundamental allegiance to their constituents as well as to the Queen. We should place restrictions and limitations on the number and types of orders in council permitted by a government during its term in office. In the interim my caucus will strive to make parliamentary committees effective in reviewing any regulations before implementation.

We should insist all laws that apply to individuals in the private sector should apply equally to the Government of Canada, its personnel, its agencies and Parliament. On Monday the Hon. Gilbert Parent in his acceptance speech indicated the comfort he felt in the comments made during the past weeks about restoring dignity and respect in the House. Doing things differently, civility and parliamentary reform are words that I have heard and give me hope that the will exists to bring about change.

In closing I will again make reference to the Spicer commission report. The final paragraph in the report was not a quote from Mr. Spicer or one of his commissioners. These are the words of one of the citizens who participated and I quote: "No hyperbole or political hedge can screen any member of any legislature who thwarts the will of the people on this matter. The voters are watching and waiting".

The previous government ignored this message at its peril. I trust and hope this 35th Parliament will not make the same mistake.

Speech From The Throne January 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the hon. member for Algoma on his maiden speech in this House, but I feel I must comment and set the record straight on one thing regarding the position of my party on the bottom line. That position on the bottom line, through you Mr. Speaker, to the hon. member is people related.

As a small businessman I appreciated the importance of the bottom line because if I did not have a bottom line my people lost their jobs. Therefore, as a businessman I was constantly concerned about the bottom line and how it related to my ability to employ people and pay fair wages.

The concern of my party is that the government is a business with a bottom line. Our taxpayers support that bottom line. Our bottom line is in danger of collapsing and then who will be there to look after those who are truly in need? We want to save the social safety nets for those who are truly in need. It is the deficit and the debt that is the real threat to those social safety nets. That is the threat to this economy and the creation of jobs. Our party is dedicated to doing something about that. That is why I say to all members of the House that our party's position on the bottom line is very much people related toward the people who need us most.

Throne Speech Debate January 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I wish to raise an issue of concern to millions of Canadians regarding the activities in this House yesterday.

Much to my disappointment the focus of the affairs of this place yesterday was on the constitutional future of Quebec. The three parties in this House each said during the recent election that the economy and getting Canada back to work would be the number one item on the agenda of this Parliament.

As a member from the province of Ontario, I would remind hon. members that the time will come when the Quebec-Canada issue will rise on the agenda. Until that time on behalf of Canadians in all provinces, the unemployed and those faced with uncertain futures, this House must concentrate on economic and social issues.