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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was jean.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Timmins—Chapleau (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 1993, with 55% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Department Of Human Resources Development Act November 23rd, 1995

Madam Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to speak on Bill C-96, which seeks to establish the legislative framework for the Department of Human Resources Development.

I have been somewhat amused throughout the course of the debate on this issue by the comments of some opposition members, which suggest either a misreading of the bill or an overactive imagination. For instance, some members of the official opposition claim to detect a sinister plot by the government to usurp areas of provincial responsibility. Indeed, some have even gone so far as to suggest that we might seek to sabotage existing educational, training, and manpower programs in the province of Quebec. This rather odd scenario was perhaps best articulated by one Bloc member who suggested that this legislation might be part of some hidden agenda by the government to demolish all the educational tools Quebec has developed.

Members of the third party seem equally confused. Many Reform members have expressed disappointment that the bill will not usher in the millennium and solve all the country's problems in one fell swoop. This would be a miracle were it to occur, since the bill from its inception was designed simply to take care of some legislative and administrative issues.

It is difficult to determine whether such opposition concerns are real or simply represent mere political gamesmanship. However, it seems only fair to give these members the benefit of the doubt.

I would like to take a few moments to address some of the misconceptions clearly plaguing some opposition members and explain why passage of the bill is so important for assuring further progress in providing even higher levels of service to Canadians.

To begin with, let me state what this bill is not designed to do. It is not, as some opposition members have suggested, a power grab or an attempt to raid areas of provincial jurisdiction. This should be clear from even the most cursory reading of this bill, which makes no significant changes to the statutory elements of the founding departments that are being brought together under this legislation.

Equally important is the fact that this bill does not change the powers of the federal government or the provinces. Nor does it seek to grant new powers to the federal government, as some have tried to suggest. The department's mandate is clearly limited to just those matters over which Parliament has jurisdiction. Nor will there be any new powers granted by clause 20, which empowers the minister to sign contracts with agencies and institutions other than the provinces. This authority already exists and therefore represents no change whatsoever.

If such concerns are unfounded, what does this bill really seek to do? Simply put, it seeks to recognize in a legislative, unified way the restructuring already under way, which is bringing together under one umbrella organization portions of the former departments of employment and immigration, health and welfare, secretary of state, and all of labour.

This consolidation is critical, since it will allow us to take a more holistic approach to the social, economic and training issues that have traditionally been addressed by these departments. It will allow us to provide better service at lower cost and develop the flexible, imaginative, and highly targeted approaches needed to adequately address the challenges facing Canadians now and in the future.

Of course this process of renewal has been under way for some time. I am pleased to say that this new department has had a number of successes in developing new approaches so Canadians can better cope with an increasingly demanding labour market.

As gratifying as this is, more remains to be done. That is why the changes contained in the bill are so important. To begin with, it will help us build on these initial successes by clarifying the role of the department and the responsibilities of the minister to both Parliament and Canadians generally. It will simplify the current complex trail of statutory powers, many of them going back to the original pieces of legislation that set up the founding departments, by providing one act that sets out the mandate and powers of the department. Such a change will clarify the identity of the department by laying out for both employees and clients the department's goals and the resources it will have to achieve them.

As well, the legislation will give people and organizations working with the department a clear idea of just who it is they are working with. As incredible as it may seem, many departmental officials still use old letterhead bearing the names of their former departments for legal and contracting purposes. This is confusing for partners, since in their minds those old departments no longer exist.

Of course these are not the only administrative problems to be addressed. For instance, without the proper enabling legislation simple tasks such as transferring personnel can be costly and time-consuming. This is also the case with large and detailed contracts, which often involve a number of former departments.

Most important of all is the need to bring the current transitional phase of restructuring to a close and then move forward. We need to build on our recent successes and undertake exciting new initiatives aimed at investing in our most important asset, people. To do this we need to clear away administrative obstacles so we can further undertake new initiatives such as UI reform, develop new programs and services under the human resource investment fund, and improve programs for our most vulnerable citizens, including seniors and the disabled.

Finally, this legislation will improve service to Canadians while at the same time ensuring taxpayers' dollars are spent in the most cost effective manner possible.

The bill before us will allow us to achieve all these goals. It will create the architecture required to implement the reforms needed to support Canadians with the job training opportunities they need to enter the next century with confidence. I would encourage members to support Bill C-96.

Petitions October 18th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I rise today, pursuant to Standing Order 36, to present a petition signed by 175 people asking Parliament to support the people of 150 communities dependent on mining for their livelihood.

The Government of Canada has a responsibility to encourage investment in mineral exploration and the petitioners are asking that Parliament take action to keep mining in Canada.

Employment Equity Act October 16th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I am appalled at the way hon. members of the Reform Party are misrepresenting Bill C-64 to the Canadian public. They are consistently using terms that do not apply to this legislation either in fact or in spirit.

In its minority report, the Reform Party makes it look like employment equity and affirmation action are one and the same thing. However, any astute Canadian reading Bill C-64 or the current Employment Equity Act can see quite clearly that employment equity is not affirmative action.

I suppose it is fitting, in keeping with its small r republican status, that the Reform Party tries to equate everything with the way things are done in the United States of America. However, employment equity is a fair and just Canadian manner of addressing the inequality of opportunity experienced by persons with disabilities, aboriginal peoples, visible minorities and women.

Of course we know why the hon. members of the Reform Party use the term affirmative action. For the Reform Party, affirmative action is a code word for preferential treatment and in Reformers' convoluted attempts to obfuscate and derail this legislation they think they can pull the wool over the eyes of Canadians by taking this approach.

Canadians are a lot smarter than the members of the Reform Party realize. They will not be bamboozled by smokescreen language that fails to address the true spirit of Bill C-64.

Reform has a section titled "Are Numerical Goals Really Quotas?" in its minority report. I am delighted to be able to tell the hon. members opposite that the answer is no. Numerical goals are not quotas.

I would like to take a moment to tell members of the Reform Party what the difference is between quotas and goals since it is clear from their arguments that they do not seem to know. I want to say at the outset that Bill C-64 specifically states that quotas cannot be imposed. Under the bill a quota is defined as a requirement to hire or promote a fixed and arbitrary number of persons during a given period. I refer them to section 33.

Most Canadians understand the difference between numerical goals and quotas, even if the Reform Party does not understand.

Goals are based on the availability of qualified people to do a given job. Quotas are arbitrarily determined.

The bill clearly states that employers will not be required to hire unqualified people. Goals are percentages of anticipated hirings and promotions that an employer aims to achieve but quotas are usually fixed numbers of positions.

The bill specifically states that employers will not be required to set fixed and arbitrary goals. Employers must make reasonable efforts to achieve goals. Quotas must be attained regardless of the circumstances. The bill clearly states that if employers make reasonable efforts to implement their goals they will be found in compliance.

This is the Canadian way. The government's approach to implementing employment equity can be described as flow based. We are asking well-intentioned men and women to work in collaboration with one another to achieve employment equity goals within a reasonable time frame. That time frame is flexible depending on individual circumstances. We know everyone is not able to move ahead at the same pace and the commission will take that into consideration.

We have a process for those few employers who do not comply with the legislation. We know from experience that the majority of employers bring a very positive attitude toward achieving the goals set out in Bill C-64 and the Employment Equity Act.

Why is the Reform Party misrepresenting the legislation and misleading Canadians regarding its intent? Canadians support equality in the workplace for members of designated groups.

I can assure hon. members opposite that they will not score political points by misconstruing the spirit of the legislation. The goal of Bill C-64 is not to place undue hardship on any employer who is making an honest effort to meet the spirit of the new act. I repeat again, because it seems members of the Reform are having as hard time grasping this, we are only asking for and we only expect that employers make all reasonable effort to comply with the act's provisions.

I ask the hon. members of the Reform Party to consider their bogus argument about the necessity of meeting quotas. The bill specifically rules out quotas. It is that simple.

We know from recent studies that the majority of people entering the labour force will come from members of designated groups. That is simply one more reason that employment equity makes good economic sense. It will help employers focus on accessing the skills of those productive and hard working individuals.

This legislation is a positive step for Canadians. It will help us gain a diverse and highly skilled workforce that will ensure Canada a competitive edge in the rapidly expanding global marketplace. For that reason I am pleased to be able to support Bill C-64.

Employment Equity Act October 3rd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I want to say at the outset that the Bloc's recommendations have resulted in improvements to Bill C-64. My hon. colleague from Hochelaga-Maisonneuve contributed to the work of the Standing Committee on Human Rights and the Status of Disabled Persons. His dedication to employment equity has added to the legislation.

I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised to see Motion No. 7 put forward by the opposition. The Bloc Quebecois has already raised this issue in committee and the committee has gone a

considerable way to accommodate it. The hon. member persuaded the committee to accept a requirement that employers and labour must collaborate in the preparation, implementation and revision of the employment equity plan.

Let me begin by reminding the House that the existing act only calls for consultation between the employer and worker representatives. Bill C-64 would go further, ensuring that employees, through their unions or employee representatives, will have considerably more input to their company's equity plan when the plan is developed, implemented and revised. We saw the merit of this approach and have endorsed it. However, the proposed amendment to the bill goes too far and is not advisable. Allow me to explain why.

This amendment would preserve the employer's sole responsibility to prepare its employment equity plan in consultation with employee representatives. However, if adopted this motion would import a government imposed requirement for co-management rather than collaboration between the employer and employee representatives in the implementation and revision of employment equity plans.

This poses some potentially serious problems since the obligations set out in the act are imposed on employers alone. A bargaining agent might very well refuse to co-operate, perhaps motivated by reasons that have nothing to do with employment equity, and could bring the implementation of employment equity to a standstill, potentially putting the employer in a situation of non-compliance.

Furthermore, since employment equity is an integral part of human resource management this sort of regime might provide unions with an opportunity to exercise direct influence in areas that have usually remained the sole prerogative of management, such as hiring and promotion.

Surely my hon. colleague will recognize that management should have the final responsibility for all employer obligations under the bill and would be held accountable if those responsibilities are not met. It is only reasonable, therefore, that final decision making continue to belong to management in this area.

For the benefit of all employers and worker representatives and for the good of workplace relations, I must recommend that the House not accept the proposed amendment.

Pages September 28th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to welcome the pages to the House of Commons for this 1995-96 session. In particular, I extend a warm welcome to Nadine Nickner, a constituent of mine from the beautiful city of Timmins in the riding of Timmins-Chapleau.

These young men and women from all parts of our united and strong Canada will assist us while we debate the laws of Canada.

Canadian Country Music Awards September 19th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, Shania Twain, one of many famous musicians from my riding of Timmins-Chapleau, was enormously successful in last night's Canadian Country Music Awards. Among other awards, Shania won female vocalist and album of the year.

Shania worked hard to get where she is today and continues to work hard. No doubt Shania is the fastest rising country music star. She thanked her home town of Timmins in one of her many appearances at the podium to receive awards.

In return, I would like to thank Shania and her family, friends, teachers and neighbours, who can all take great pride in her achievement last night. I would also like to congratulate all nominees in the awards. Showcases of such Canadian talent make me proud not only to be from Timmins but from Canada.

I ask all members to join me in congratulating Shania and the other Canadian nominees.

Petitioners March 20th, 1995

Madam Speaker, I have a petition in which some constituents are asking that Parliament punish violent offenders who use a firearm in the commission of a crime, and to protect the rights of responsible gun owners and improve gun control legislation to make it more effective and efficient.

Mining February 22nd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, on Monday of this week I had the occasion to be present for the opening of the 12th annual Mine Operators Conference, held in Timmins, Ontario in my riding.

Today I inform the House of the successful conclusion of the conference at Timmins. Mine managers, operators and technicians have presented papers, sold goods and services to each other and have increased the efficiency of mining today.

Over 350 delegates and 160 exhibits from all over Canada, the United States, Australia, Sweden, Finland and Pakistan were at the conference to trade ideas for the improvement of mining efficiency.

Mining is an important industry to Canadians. Last December the natural resource committee tabled a unanimous report calling on the government to take measures to help the mining industry and keep mining in Canada.

I would like to thank all participants at the conference and invite them back to northern Ontario to trade ideas and make Canada a better place for miners and the millions of Canadians and hundreds of communities that depend on mining.

Government Expenditures February 17th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, Canadians in general and my constituents in particular have expressed great concern that overlap and duplication at all levels of government are costly and unnecessary.

In his speech on Wednesday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs announced that from now on the federal government would concentrate on areas of federal jurisdiction, recognizing that overlap and duplication had become serious problems.

What is the government doing to reduce costly overlap and duplication among all levels of government, particularly here in Ontario?

Petitions November 23rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise today pursuant to Standing Order 36 to draw to the attention of this House that mining is an important industry to Canada. Over 150 communities in every province and territory contribute to Canada's export to the tune of over $20 billion a year. Canada is an important mining country and hundreds of thousands of Canadians depend on a healthy investment climate to continue with this important industry.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to take action to improve the climate, increase reserves, preserve our communities and keep mining in Canada. I support the petition and the 358 Canadians who have signed it.