House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was cbc.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as NDP MP for Regina—Qu'Appelle (Saskatchewan)

Won his last election, in 1993, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Member For Regina-Qu'Appelle April 25th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I, as well, will not be running again in the next election. I want to take this opportunity, first of all, of thanking the community of Regina and the constituents there who have been re-electing me.

Our family came from the camps of southeast Asia to Regina, Saskatchewan in the early fifties and that community has honoured me by re-electing me since 1979.

The House of Commons is a tremendous institution that serves Canada well. It does need to change and as an organic institution I am sure it will. In the future I hope that some members will come here through proportional representation because the voices of hundreds of thousands of Canadians are not heard in this Parliament because of our electoral system.

Also, I hope in the future that the committee system will be strengthened because it is in the committee system that ordinary members of Parliament, regardless of what political party they are from or whether they are in the government or in the opposition,

can have an opportunity of making a contribution in developing the laws of this land.

I suggest that those two reforms are needed. I hope that this institution will serve Canada for many more years to come.

Petitions April 21st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege of introducing a petition with some 1,700 signatures.

The petitioners point out that effective April 1, 1997 about 33 per cent of CBC radio and TV programming, both national and regional, will be lost. This is because of insufficient financial resources due to the Liberal Party's failure to honour its 1993 red book commitments.

Therefore the petitioners call on Parliament to immediately restore CBC funding to the promised level of financial support which existed as of January 1, 1994 so that the cutbacks and the layoffs at the CBC can be rescinded.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation April 21st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the government in the red book in 1993 promised multi-year funding. What kind of long term stable funding results in hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts? How can government members face voters and claim that the red book commitment has been honoured without at least blushing?

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation April 21st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Later today I will be introducing a petition signed by over 1,700 people. This is part of a larger petition signed by over-

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation April 21st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, later today I will be presenting a petition with over 1,700 signatures opposing the cutbacks to the CBC. This is a small part of a petition which was started by a single individual in B.C. and now has over 36,000 signatures and continues to grow. There has been a groundswell of grassroots support from every province and territory.

The petition started from the outrage over the Liberal Party's failure to honour its 1993 red book campaign promise to maintain stable long term funding for the CBC. It also started from an anger against the Liberal Party's shortsightedness in dismantling the single most effective institution supporting Canadian unity by promoting communication and celebrating the unique values, strengths and aspirations of Canadians.

Another $100 million in cuts are scheduled for next year. For the sake of the future of Canada as a free, independent and democratic nation, they must be stopped.

Income Tax Budget Amendments Act, 1996 April 18th, 1997

Madam Speaker, my intervention will not be 40 minutes but I wish to put a few things on the record.

It is of course always a concern for New Democrats, particularly a New Democrat from Saskatchewan, to make certain that the books are balanced. I know many people have accused the New Democratic Party of being the party of tax and spend and running up high deficits. However, the background and history of the leadership of both the CCF and New Democratic governments in Saskatchewan has shown that historically we want to maintain a balanced budget.

The Regina manifesto put it so well: "No CCF government will run its public finances to help feed the parasitic interest receiving classes".

Having said that, it is worth noting that the attempts by the present Liberal government to balance its books have basically been done on the backs of working Canadians, the poor, the elderly, the young and the sick.

As the previous speaker from the Reform Party so aptly put it, most of the money saved by this government has been because of the cutbacks to the Canadian health and social transfer payments. Huge sums of money that should have gone to the provinces to help pay for medicare, post-secondary education and the increased number of people on social assistance rolls because of the lack of job opportunities, are the people who are paying for the deficit reduction of this government.

As well, major hunks of surpluses of the employment insurance fund are going to general revenues to help further reduce the deficit. Yet let us not forget that it is not the poor and not the unemployed and it is not our social programs that have created the debt in the first place. A Statistics Canada study in the early nineties determined that 50 per cent of the debt was due to high interest payments. Some 44 per cent of it was due to loss of revenues. Only 6 per cent was due to increases in government expenditures of which I believe only 4 per cent was due to increases in government expenditures on social programs.

It was not the increase in social programs that created the debt in the first place. It was the reaction to the runaway inflation of the seventies that created the high interest payments going to 18, 19, 20 some per cent that catapulted the deficits into huge debts. Then it was the loss of jobs, plus the tax loopholes that mainly the Liberal government introduced in the 1970s that created a loss of revenue which in turn also accounted for 44 per cent of the debt.

Only 6 per cent of the debt is because of increases in government programs and only 4 per cent of that is due to increases in social expenditures. Yet who are the people who paid for the reduction of the deficit? It mainly comes on the backs of working people, the young, the sick, the unemployed and the poor.

A few years back Jesse Jackson in the United States coined a phrase that "it wasn't us poor people who sat and indulged ourselves at the banquets but we're the ones who are stuck with the bill". That is as true for people in Canada as it is in the United States.

The wild government expenditures of the 1970s that created runaway inflation, that saw the horrendous growth of assets, stocks, bonds and real estate, both in Canada and in the United States, those are the people who benefited. Yet they are not the ones who are paying for it. Their effective tax rates have actually declined while the taxes for working and middle class Canadians, even for poor pensioners, have increased while their benefits have decreased.

This system is wrong. It is morally wrong. It is economically wrong. It is a bankrupt system that does not bode well for the economic health and well-being of our country. The mismanagement and the wrong economic policies of this government and the previous Tory government have led us to a position where we have this huge mountain of debt that will take I do not know how many generations to pay off.

One of the items also included as a tax item in this bill that we are debating, Bill C-92, is a change that resulted from the Supreme Court decision on what is called the Thibaudeau case. It was determined that rather than having the higher income earner paying child support and family support payments being able to deduct those payments from his or her income tax, it should be the recipient of the payment who actually had to pay for those costs.

At the time it was recognized that this would mean less money to families for child care and that it would mean an increase in government revenues. In fact the budget papers for 1996 suggested that as a result of the Thibaudeau court case the government will get a windfall of $120 million in the third year in increased tax revenues and more in subsequent years.

That is $120 million extra which is being taken away from families. In most cases the male makes child support payments. They cannot deduct those payments from their income tax. The low income earner is not able to deduct child care expenses and the government is ending up with more money.

While we support it in principle, it is of concern to us that $120 million is being taken away from families. That money should be going to support children.

I would like to place the position of the New Democratic Party on the record today. We would want this section of Bill C-92 to be reviewed on a yearly basis to determine what impact it is having on child care and the families raising children.

Our concern is the impact this will have on children, particularly those children living below the poverty line. We are concerned that in the end it will mean some $120 million being taken away from the needs of those children. On behalf of the New Democratic Party I would like to put on record our concern and our wish that this section be reviewed on a yearly basis.

The tax system is essential for a government to raise the revenues it needs to do the things which government should be doing and as well to effect a redistribution of wealth in the country. Our position has always been that such a system must be fair and equal to all Canadians. That is why we initially supported the suggestions and reports which recommended that a dollar earned, whether from profits, commissions, dividends, increases in capital gains or by the sweat of one's brow, should all be taxed equally, as the Carter commission proposed. We have never come close to achieving that ideal. What Carter said was that a dollar is a dollar and that the tax on that dollar should be equal.

Corporations should be paying their fair share. We have seen during Liberal and Conservative regimes more tax loopholes being given to the rich and the powerful. While small and medium size businesses are struggling to keep their heads above water, creating jobs for Canadians, the very large transcontinental corporations are able to get by without paying any or very few taxes.

It is a crime that one family should be able to move $1 billion offshore and not pay a cent on the capital gains earned on that money. It is a shame that would be allowed when poor pensioners earning a little over $1,000 a month have to pay tax.

The tax system is unfair. That creates cynicism and encourages average Canadians to cheat. The average Canadian will say "why should I pay this amount of money when the rich and the powerful, those who have the connections to the Minister of Finance and the Department of Finance, are able to get special rules and omissions so they do not have to pay their fair share of the taxes?"

This unfairness must be corrected. We will continue to fight for a fair and equal tax system so that all Canadians will be taxed fairly and equally.

I find it interesting that Bill C-92 should be debated in what is presumed to be the end of this Parliament with an election being called soon.

Taxation is what Bill C-92 is all about; who has the power, how it gets exercised, who benefits from the power. As long as there are political parties in power that are financed by the banks, international traders and the wheeler and the dealers, by the mighty, the powerful and the wealthy, there will never be true democracy, true equality and a true and just society. It will be the poor and the working people who will pay the price for deficit reductions, as we have seen under both the Liberal and Tory governments. It will be the poor and ordinary working middle class Canadians who will pay the price.

The struggle will go on and in the coming election we will make certain this becomes a major issue.

Poverty April 18th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Human Resources Development. A Statistics Canada study shows that poor children are three times more likely to be in remedial classes than children from the richest families.

Since the government was elected the number of children living in poverty have increased while the transfer payments to provinces for social support programs and education have been slashed. The opportunity of getting out of the poverty cycle has been reduced.

Is this an example of the new Liberalism that oversees the entrenchment of a permanent underclass?

Newspapers April 18th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, with each passing day, ownership of Canada's daily papers and private television and radio stations are controlled by fewer and fewer people. Today, entire regions of the country get the news from daily papers owned by one large company. Conrad Black's Hollinger Incorporated now controls 60 per cent of Canada's daily newspapers and 43 per cent of Canada's coast to coast circulation. The consequences for democracy are severe.

When Conrad Black bought control of all Saskatchewan newspapers, 171 jobs were lost and specialized reporting on agriculture, health and civic politics fell 20 per cent of their previous levels.

The reaction of Liberals was to sit on their hands on the grounds that no commercial interests had been harmed. The silencing of dissenting voices, the limits on what we counted on as news did not trouble them.

But highly concentrated media ownership limits the free exchange of ideas and information among Canadians. What we need in this country are new rules to limit the concentration in the media and protect democracy. We need a Canada-

Computer Programming April 17th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is addressed to the Prime Minister or the spokesman for the government today. It concerns what in the computer world is called the millennium problem, the problem concerning the year 2000.

As the hon. member might know, many of the old mainframes left only two digits rather than four digits for dates. To change that on a global basis will require hundreds of billions of dollars. It will also have a major impact on the Government of Canada.

How prepared is the government with its various departments? What is the estimated cost of redesigning the programs? What impact on revenues is expected as private industry will have to undergo hundreds of millions of dollars of costs in rewriting their programs?

New Democrats April 14th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats had a very successful and enthusiastic convention in Regina this weekend. From coast to coast to coast New Democrats are ready to fight the upcoming election.

Canadians have grown tired of the neo-conservative agenda that has totally dominated this Parliament and the sharp swing to the right by the Liberals since they won office in 1993.

Our country is in danger of falling apart, yet this government hacks away at those things that keep us together, our shared values like our social programs and medicare, our culture, our CBC. Instead the government gives us flags to wave.

Canadians are tired of broken promises. They are tired of fighting the deficit on the backs of the unemployed, the poor and working middle class Canadians while the powerful can move a billion dollars off shore without paying a cent of tax.

Canadians realize that Parliament needs many more New Democrats to loudly protest the abuses by the very rich and powerful. More New Democrats-