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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was money.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Conservative MP for Edmonton—Sherwood Park (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 64% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Social Security Programs November 17th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the reference to my age, mature and wise would be better than old and decrepit. In response to what the member has just said, surely I am not so old that I lived before these programs were in place. I guess they did come into place about the time I was in my youth. Certainly they were not nearly as invasive and pervasive as they are now. That is the difference.

We used to have a very modest program for unemployment insurance and everybody was employed. Now we have a pervasive program of unemployment insurance and we have a 12 per cent or 10 per cent rate of unemployment.

That is what I was talking about. There has been such an increase in government programs and such an increase in taxation as a result that the economic balance has been seriously tilted.

Social Security Programs November 17th, 1994

More than that.

Social Security Programs November 17th, 1994

Neither do we.

Social Security Programs November 17th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy interventions by the member for Burin-St. George's. Actually, without any disrespect to him, he did remind me of a friend I have who used to talk endlessly and used many words. When I challenged him on it one time he said: "I am a mathematician. I just use statistics. By the law of averages if I speak long enough and fast enough sooner or later I will say something important". Without putting the member down, there were many words but not terribly many solid ideas in his speech.

One place I was invoked to make a little comment was when he was speaking about unemployment insurance. I have said unemployment insurance is exactly what its name implies. It ensures that we have unemployment, and so it has been. I could give many examples but that is not my purpose right now.

The fundamental difference between the Liberal philosophy on social programs and the Reform philosophy, which is more a philosophy of self-determination or looking after oneself, is that the Liberals make the assumption that unless the government does it, it will not be done. This is particularly true in the area of unemployment insurance and in many of our other social security programs. They somehow feel the government has to be doing it. We believe it is a function of the people, the taxpayers.

I made an observation while the hon. member was speaking. I have the advantage of being old enough to remember enough years and see changes over time. A way back we were very well off. I remember we had lots of jobs. Unemployment was very low. There were very few needy people in real need. Their needs were all met. Yet we did not have these government programs.

Now with all the government programs and the huge rate of taxation we find a dampening of the economy. The government sucks everything out of us. We know that marginal tax rates are 50 per cent or more. There is very little money left for the people to look after themselves and to help their neighbours.

I make a connection. I say that increased government involvement in these things has added significantly to our lack of efficiency, the downturn in the economy and the resulting hard times many of us face.

I would like to hear the member's response to my statement that we differ in philosophy. Would he perhaps consider admitting at least partially that the government is also part of the problem as opposed to thinking that it has not done enough to find a solution?

Immigration And Refugee Board November 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it appears this minister has contravened the Privacy Act and he has also contravened the conflict of interest code. He claims now that he was advised to break the law by the justice department. We need some clarification. Canadians need clarification.

Will the Prime Minister direct both the privacy commissioner and the ethics counsellor to conduct independent, full investigations into the action of this minister and make those findings public immediately?

Immigration And Refugee Board November 14th, 1994

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

Considering the problems the Minister of Canadian Heritage has had recently and considering these new problems of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, it would appear the Prime Minister needs to assure Canadians that these serious allegations against his ministers are unfounded. The Prime Minister or the ministers saying that they did nothing wrong is not reassuring.

Will the Prime Minister launch a public inquiry to investigate what appears to be a breach of the insider information section of the conflict of interest code by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration?

Decade Of The Brain Act November 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to enter into today's debate on Bill C-239. I will begin by acknowledging the good work of the hon. member for London West in bringing the matter forward for our interest and debate.

I would also like to go on record as applauding all those many researchers in the private enterprise companies and certain government funded organizations that do research. I would also like to give my accolades to those who work in medicine, particularly in the area of neurological and brain disorders.

I think the bill is somewhat misunderstood because of its name. Not long ago a columnist in one of the Toronto papers indicated total ignorance of the subject. The same thing happened this week in my constituency when I indicated to someone that I would be giving a speech on the decade of the brain today. She laughed and said: "Don't you people have anything worth while to do there? Everybody has a brain". She had totally misunderstood. When I explained to her that we wanted to increase awareness about brain disorders and increase awareness and understanding for people with these various illnesses and diseases, her attitude changed abruptly. She immediately became very supportive.

I could probably use my time best today by bringing some personal experiences into this debate. I have been challenged and privileged to be near some people who have suffered from brain disorder. I would like to say first that it is right in my own family.

In February 1945 my mother was taken to the hospital because though we did not know it then, it was time for our little sister to be born. To everyone's regret there was what was called an accident. Actually it was very clearly an error on the part of the

medical people present. It was ignorance. My sister suffered brain damage at birth because of oxygen deprivation.

My sister is going to be 50 in just a few months now. All her life she has suffered from a disorder called cerebral palsy. She is a bright young woman and understands everything but she is unable to speak. How do we know she is bright? It is because she has developed her own language that my mother mostly understands and the rest of the family understands to some reasonable degree. However she does not speak so that anyone else can understand. She is totally dependent.

How I wish there had been enough information so that hospital workers would know that one does not prevent a baby from being born because the timing is inconvenient, thereby causing this very severe trauma for our family over the years. I will say just as a parenthetical phrase here that I take great umbrage at the suggestion from some that perhaps my sister should be put away because she is not useful to society. She is part of our family and we love her dearly.

I would also like to share another experience of a young lady who used to come to our home when she was in nurse's training. She got married and had a family. One day she and her husband and young family were in a car accident that was not of their cause. Unfortunately their oldest son, at that time a very bright precocious 10-year-old, suffered brain damage. He has become totally dependent. His life was never allowed to be fulfilled as it would have been had that not occurred. Despite the best medical efforts, it seems there was nothing that could be done for him.

The next experience is probably the one closest to our family. My wife and I know a couple who have been our closest friends for years. About 10 years ago my friend who is indeed even younger than I-I guess just about everyone is younger than I-showed the first symptoms of what was diagnosed as premature Parkinson's disease. I do not know how I can express and communicate the impact that has had on his wife, his family, his own life and those of us who know him and who care for him.

My friend went through some research studies. He was involved in some of the experimental work. A number of years ago he underwent a new and very intriguing surgery. They actually took off the cap of his skull. A cavity was made between the two hemispheres of the brain in the part that is called the caudate nucleus which generates the chemical dopamine which is necessary for muscular movement. After a short time they operated on him again and removed part of his adrenal gland. That was put into the cavity in the brain. They thought that perhaps it would stimulate the caudate nucleus again to do its work.

Unfortunately this attempt was not successful and 10 years later now my friend continues in total dependency. I am sure members can hardly understand the impact that has had on us.

We try to see him every week, although with this new job I have it is more difficult. He cannot speak most of the time. He communicates very poorly and it is a very severe intrusion into our relationship because we cannot communicate well.

Those are some examples. I am sure all of us can relate to someone who has had these problems. The question is what we should do about it. The proposal before us is to declare the nineties the decade of the brain, the purpose being to promote research and understanding. Certainly we must do more to promote understanding of these diseases among Canadians and people worldwide. People do not know how to react when in the presence of those with a brain disorder. They need to be educated. They need to be taught.

I think of my friend in the hospital. At times he can move very easily and then within minutes he is totally immobilized. Even the nurses misunderstand and sometimes ridicule him. How unfortunate. There needs to be more understanding.

We definitely need to put our resources into research. I do not think Canadians would approve of the bill if they thought it was only making a case for people to travel around the world on junkets to get together and have a good time. However if it is used for people to work together internationally sharing their research and discoveries and promoting advancement in this cause, and if it is genuinely used in an efficient way I am sure there would be a high degree of support.

We need to promote medical research, but we also need to start looking very seriously at how we are spending money in the whole medical field. It is atrocious that people with brain disorders and brain tumours sometimes have to wait for up to half a year before they can get an MRI diagnosis while we fritter away our money on other things.

We need to focus very sharply the limited funds that are available to us and use them for properly directed research. We need to make sure that some very distinct objectives are met in that research.

We could accomplish a great deal if we were to focus on this issue in the same way the Americans did some several decades ago when they said they would put a man on the moon. They put all their resources into it, all their technology and top scientists. It is definitely a challenge to us to do that and to focus our resources. I am sure that through research and with our scientific abilities and the available technology we can do very much to discover new frontiers in this area.

Credentials November 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to this motion with great pleasure because I have been very privileged to have received an education and also to have worked in the education field all of my life to this stage, some 31 years.

I taught high school for four years. It is illustrative to what the hon. member is saying when we talk about the portability of credentials to tell members about an occurrence when I first started my teaching career.

The hon. member for Saskatoon across the way will appreciate the fact that I am a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. When I first graduated from that illustrious institution and tried to get a job in my home province, because I had a high degree of loyalty, unfortunately most of the school boards in that province thought I was over qualified since I had two degrees. I was very young and inexperienced. They said they could get a teacher with some experience and less training for less money. I was not able to get a job, but they hired me in Alberta.

It was very interesting. I went to a rural county in Alberta. I applied for a job in writing. The superintendent phoned and asked me whether I could come and work. He offered me a job. I sad: "Ho, you have not interviewed me. You have not seen my credentials". He said something that is very fitting to this debate: "We have hired a great number of teachers from

Saskatchewan and we have not yet regretted one of them". We could all applaud that for the University of Saskatchewan.

There are differences in credentials accruing to the place at which one got an education. The University of Saskatchewan built a reputation in western Canada that teachers trained in the faculty of education-it was called the College of Education at that time-were well trained and were able to compete.

Hon. members are going to have to think very carefully when I state this statistic because it is a catchy one. One of the people who was from Saskatchewan who taught in that rural county in southern Alberta said that the worst teachers from Saskatchewan go to Alberta and the teaching standards in both provinces rise. If one knows statistics they will get the significance of that statement.

I would like to also relate the fact that I taught at a post-secondary technical institute for 27 years. Here I have a point that is very important. We need to hear this. It is a waste of financial resources to try to train people who are not ready, who do not have the prerequisites. I believe it is very important as our students go all the way from kindergarten through grade 12 that at each level there be a good degree of quality control and that they be passed on to the next grade only when they have achieved a certain standard.

Teaching in a post-secondary institute for 27 years, I have experienced receiving there many students, some of whom were really sharp, whiz kids with good intelligence and good prior education. They did very well. Some of those students however were not as intelligent. They did not have the same mental capacity. There is nothing wrong with that. It is the same when I run in a race. I am at the tail end of the race, physically speaking. Mentally there is also a variation.

I am proud to say that many students who were of average intelligence in the post-secondary institute where I worked did very well because they were able to compensate for that by good, solid, hard work. They did very well. They graduated, some of them with high marks, and they went on and chose their careers.

A number of my students passed me in earnings. A number of my students have already retired. They earned so much money they could afford to do that due to the training that they got. Not all of them were exceptional students. They were just hard workers.

I want to come to this point of international education. I also experienced on a number of occasions foreign students. We had a number of students from foreign countries who excelled just the same as we had students from Alberta, from other provinces in Canada, some from the United States and many from other foreign countries.

We had them on the whole spectrum. Some were really good students. They breezed through the work. Some were average and there were some with difficulty. I am thinking of one young man from a foreign country who came to us. Our prerequisites in the programs I taught in required a grade 12 when they came in. That is from Alberta standards. I do not know how that compares with grade 13 here but it is probably comparable to grade 12.

This poor student-I liked him-did not have the prerequisites. Somehow he got into this country on the credentials of his government. He enrolled in our institute and consistently got zero in his exams. It just tore me apart but I could not begin to give him marks because I was training a person who was going to work, providing services to other people. I could not give him marks that did not reflect his actual ability.

I counselled him and tried to help him. I tried to persuade him to go backward, to take a lower level course, to get the prerequisites and to get up to speed. There we found a real problem because of the fact that there were no international standards, no agreement.

That part of what the member is proposing in this bill in terms of standards between provinces-we could extend that-should simply be expanded so that we have a quality control system, a testing system. Before students move on and particularly before they graduate they should be required to demonstrate an ability, a competency that is truly worthy of the profession or of the trade that they have entered.

My last comment is going to be with respect to the federal government's involvement. We all know that the constitutional mandate for education at the pre-post-secondary level is a provincial jurisdiction. We need to move in this country not to a federally mandated, federally controlled, federally organized, federal bureaucratic system but to a system whereby provincial governments will voluntarily get together in order to establish some national standards.

The same is true for post-secondary institutions, whether they are technical institutes like the one I worked at or universities or trades. It is very important. We need to have national standards so that there can be free trade among our trained people as well as among our goods. We need to have free trade in this country in order to be strong economically and to be able to compete internationally.

I would favour that. I would be opposed to the federal government doing that. Let it help in terms of getting the provinces together but let us not create another federal bureaucracy. I have found in my experience that when we work with a federal bureaucracy we all get pulled down to the lowest common denominator.

Let us, rather, establish standards and allow the individual provinces to work and work hard in their organization, in their training, in their statistical quality control so that we have the very best trained people who we can possibly have.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to be able to add this to this debate.

Ethics Counsellor November 2nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the Prime Minister that he made a red book promise to give the Canadian people an independent ethics counsellor. I do not know why he is now so afraid of that independence.

Will the Prime Minister cut the political strings between his office and the office of the ethics counsellor? If not, why not? Also, how does he balance his response with his own needs and the expectations of Canadians?

Ethics Counsellor November 2nd, 1994

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Will the Prime Minister promote public trust by giving the ethics counsellor full independence and have him report directly to the House of Commons?