House of Commons photo

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

Parliament Hill October 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I begin my speech as my hon. colleague from the Bloc has by once again chastising the minister and the department for the problem of timing.

We understood that the government had an agenda of more openness in government, more accountability. I remember hearing during the campaign: "We want to make Parliament work better" and yet at every turn we have what could almost be called obstructionism from the government. We are receiving inadequate notice of these statements and therefore cannot respond in substance. We cannot possibly hold a reasoned debate on the issue.

I believe that the work in committees is important. I was in a committee meeting where we were talking about the Lobbyists Registration Act and how to improve accessibility and accountability in government.

Ten minutes to the hour I received notice that the minister was going to make a statement. As the critic in that area I had to leave what at that time was very important work. I had no time to arrange for a substitute so no representative of our party is in the committee meeting which is going on as we speak.

Here I am talking about a statement which, admittedly, has very little substance so I do not need five days to look at it, but I really would have appreciated enough notice so that I could have organized my time today. I could have had substitutes in my committee so the real work of Parliament could proceed in a rational, orderly fashion.

I cannot help but applaud the initial statement because we want to keep these buildings up, we want to keep them in a safe condition, we want to be environmentally responsible. Those are all very good goals. However we need time to go through the cost estimates to see whether the taxpayers' money is being spent wisely. I do not know at this stage whether it is but we need some time to do that.

The minister has given some specifics. He indicated for example that we should repair some washrooms and remove the

asbestos in the ceilings. That is pretty good and I do not think we need to spend a lot of time debating that in the House of Commons.

I find it interesting that he made no mention of repairing the tunnel to the East Block. Perhaps he too is writing off the usefulness of the other place. I do not know.

When we talk of repairing and keeping the buildings up, an even more important point is that we ought to be looking at what is inside. The buildings are not nearly as important as the people and the individuals who work here, including the members of Parliament.

What we ought to be doing, because this type of thing should be passed very quickly, is getting on with the job. We need to look at the effectiveness of members of Parliament and whether we will ever in this place have free votes so that members can represent their constituents. That is one of the flaws that needs to be fixed in this place, that needs no public works but is very important and needs to be done.

I really believe that the minister needs to sharpen up a bit. How can I say that politely? This is the second time we have had 10 minutes or half an hour to react. Let us assure the people of Canada that we can run this place correctly and properly.

I would like to say one more thing about the process. This is the only thing to which I have had a chance to respond. I read this thing while walking over from my office, walking and reading, and the only thing I can say at this stage because of lack of time to analyse it in greater depth is with respect to the time.

I can hardly believe we need to shut down a building for three years while it is being repaired. That certainly is not the way things are done in private industry. If this were an office building and no rent was being collected we can be assured that whoever owned that building would arrange for contractors to do it. I do not think they would do it on the weekends but I assure the House they would do it much more rapidly.

The West Block has four floors. Surely crews could be assembled so that four crews per floor could work over the summer and the repairs would be finished when we came back in the fall. There is no reason that could not be done.

I cannot believe this is going to take three years. Maybe it is going to be a case of one dumb digger dug into the ditch, the other dumb digger dug out. Maybe that is what is going to happen. I really do not know.

There is an obvious lack of planning when it has been determined it will take that long. There is a considerable disruption to the operation of Parliament by having the displacement away from that building. We should be able to do much better than that.

I suppose that is all we can expect from the present government. We very much look forward to putting the Liberals into their correct place at the next election. Perhaps we will have the opportunity to do better.

Parliament Hill October 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to call for quorum.

Social Security Program October 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have a number of points here but I am going to have to limit it to one because of time. I will do that.

I want to caution the House and the government particularly on the use of statistics. A long time ago I read a book

How to Lie with Statistics . We often hear that a large proportion of Canada's children live in poverty.

I deplore children living in true poverty. I need to give members very quickly this anecdote. My son who now is in Rwanda was in southern Sudan a number of years ago. He was working with a relief agency there. When he wrote home he said: "Dad, Mom, we are having great success here. Whereas there used to be 160 children a day dying of starvation, we have brought the number down to 60". He said: "That is a great success". Then he added, referring to our community back home: "Of course by Sherwood Park standards, we have not quite met it yet".

That is so true. In this country, we do not know what poverty is. The statistic that is used by Statistics Canada is that a family is in poverty if its family income is less than half of the median income.

The irony of that is that if the average family income in Canada were to reach $100,000 then anyone who makes less than $50,000 would be considered by that definition to be in poverty. Yes, they are making considerably less than the average peers around them but they are not in true poverty. I think we need to be very, very careful.

Poverty is also a state of mind. I grew up in a very poor family but we were never poor in the truest sense of the word. We always had the basic necessities of life and we had a family with loads of love. When you have that it is really all that a person needs.

Criminal Code October 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my intervention in this debate today is going to be relatively short but I hope important.

I would like to caution the government, the minister, the committee about the danger of some of the aspects of this particular bill. I want to use a specific example which came to mind when I was listening to the debates.

I was thinking of little Randy. Randy was a young boy about two years old who lived for a while with a very close member of our family as a foster child. In order to reunite him with his sister, he and his sister were adopted by a couple. Imagine how shocked we were when we heard that Randy and his sister and their adoptive mother had been murdered. It really hurt our hearts. I can hardly speak of it now without the emotion of that occasion returning.

One of the things in this bill is the government proposal to get into the mind of the perpetrator of the crime to find out what motivated him. We really do not know what motivated the person who did that evil deed.

I am greatly offended when I stop to contemplate that someone would venture to say that a person took the life of another person simply because he had a different coloured skin, simply because he had a different religious background, simply because he had a different sexual orientation. If that could be proven and that person is now subject to a more harsh sentence than the person who took the lives of Randy, his sister and his mother, leaving that husband and father bereaved in that way, I am deeply offended.

I believe this government makes a colossal error by starting to say that we are going to base sentencing on what we think was in the mind of the person.

I would like to also say something with respect to sexual orientation. The hon. member has talked about that. He has added to what other people have said imputing somehow to the members of the Reform Party an improper motivation, which I think is against the rules of the House in any case. He has said that we somehow hate these people because we are talking about these ideas.

Again, I have some level of resentment being told that I cannot openly and honestly debate an issue without getting into

name calling. That is wrong. I believe we ought to have total freedom of speech in this place particularly if we are going to be able to debate and to bring in laws which are absolutely the best for the future of this country and for its citizens.

I do not know how to communicate to the member and to all the members of that community that we do not hate them. A friend of mine was of that particular orientation. His funeral was this year. The hon. member can say that I hate homosexuals and he is totally wrong. In the case of this friend of mine who died this year of AIDS I know and every thinking person in Canada knows that if he would have behaved sexually he would not have had that disease.

I would like to promote very simply that what we need to do in this country is promote sexual fidelity. We need to promote a lifestyle which is healthy, right and good. In no way should we be promoting a lifestyle which has such dangers, even according to what the Minister of Health has said in this House.

I would like to urge all of the members of this community to recognize that we are trying to do what is right, we are trying to do what is good. To legitimize the homosexual lifestyle in this way is a wrong direction.

Further to that, it is again misguided. I remember when I was a young man. Members should all recognize looking at me sideways now that I have a propensity for a little wider girth than others. I have had that all my life. I was some 180 pounds when I was in grade 8. I remember coming into the big city school as a farm kid from Saskatchewan. One day some of the mean city kids beat me up. The best I know the reason was that they were taunting me for being fat and then they proceeded to beat me up. It was not a happy experience. It was many years ago and I still remember it. It was a traumatic event.

By the same token, I do not believe that any citizen in this country for any reason whatsoever should be subject to being beaten up. It is my understanding that there are laws in place right now which would provide for punishment for people who do things like that. I submit to the different people who are classified specifically in this Bill C-41 proposal that they are already included. If you are beaten up the person who did it should be found and punished in a substantial way so that there is a deterrent to this type of thing.

I think we should simply say, as the Reform Party always says, a good country, our nation is going to be strong if we can come to the place where we treat our citizens equally without regard to how they are classified into subgroups, without regard to what race they belong to, without regard to whether they are male or female, without regard to any of these other classifications.

I implore, I beg, I plead for the minister and the committee to think very carefully of the implications that are being included in the proposal that is being given here.

Social Security Programs October 6th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I congratulate the member for her speech. It was well presented but I feel that somehow it lacked the kind of commitment that Canadians are looking for in terms of actual deficit reduction.

What I am driving at here is this. I do not believe in cutting for cutting's sake but it is time to be more realistic and to realize that spending $5 for every $4 we take in is going to eventually cause us to hit a wall.

When I hear the different concerns and particularly that of balancing the budget on the backs of the poor, it presupposes that the only way one can look after those who do not have what they need is to give them a handout. We need to really seriously look at replacing handouts with work, with things that people can do for themselves, and expand the involvement of family and community in looking after needy people.

Instead of sending a dollar to Ottawa and having it eaten up by bureaucracy and administration and then getting 10 cents back to the person who needs it, we need to bring that more closely to the people.

I would like to know the member's response to this question. How can we be more efficient with the money that we are taking from the taxpayers in order to look after those needs? How amenable is she to making it more local, moving it to the provinces and indeed even down to the communities?

Social Security Programs October 6th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I was most interested in this speech and I would like to commend the member for the process he is going through in his constituency. I would like to do something like that in my constituency too.

I wonder whether he would contemplate giving us a copy of the questionnaire he is using. Hopefully between what he has done and what we would do, we could remove any political bias in the process and thereby get a good cross-section of what people across the country would respond to. I really believe in honest and open discussion. I want to hear the options and I too trust the people in my constituency.

Reform Party October 5th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, next week the Reform Party will be holding its democratic assembly here in Ottawa. In sharp contrast with this place, voting will be fast and easy. The expected 1,500 delegates will vote electronically and the results will be known in about 30 seconds.

Although I cannot invite all members of the House to come to observe, I extend the invitation to you, Mr. Speaker. Please come and see how a modern, efficient organization operates. Come and see for yourself that in policy and in process we are ready to form the government and to bring a new measure of efficiency, competency and accountability to the governance of this great country.

With the national debt now at $533,082,058,000 and the dollars and cents growing more rapidly than I can speak, Reform has become the only hope for the country.

Canadian Heritage October 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I listened with real interest to the speech. I am very interested in the direction the government is taking Canada with respect to equality of our citizens.

Over and over when I have been speaking to groups I ring a chord of agreement when I say we need in government policy to remove totally any reference to gender, colour, race, or to culture because only then can we treat people equally.

I have an example of racial and gender discrimination in my riding in the person of a young man who in applying for an RCMP position for which he was qualified in every way was disqualified because he happened to be white and he was male. That is sexual discrimination. That is racial discrimination. I do not care how you cut it.

The direction we are taking where we name certain races, certain colours, and female gender as having special privileges is perpetuating the kind of apartheid that brought South Africa down. We need to remove that. That will be the healthy direction.

I would really be interested in the minister's comments on that.

Reform Party October 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party is giving Canadians a real voice in government. This evening we are going to experience the first ever, Canada-wide, live, nationally televised, interactive electronic town hall meeting.

It is true that technologically we are limited to communities receiving cable television and to people who have touch tone phones, but this is a most important genesis of an idea whose time has come. We are a democracy and it is time that our citizens are heard between elections as well as at elections.

At a time when we are being pressured into redefining Canada, the outcome of which will affect us all profoundly, I urge all members of the House, as I urge all Canadians, to invest the $1 user pay fee to express their views on the subject of national unity. For French dial 1-900-451-4032. For English dial 1-900-451-4841.

Department Of Public Works And Government Services Act September 30th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the privilege of being able to respond to the proposal by the government to put into legislation something which it has already done, that is to amalgamate the Department of Supply and Services, the Department of Public Works, the Government Telecommunications Agency and the Translation Bureau into one new department, the Department of Public Works and Government Services Canada.

Before I comment on the actual legislation before us, I cannot help but note that things are being done in backward order. The thing is already done. The decision has been made and implemented and it will not be reversed. We are now discussing it and soon we will be voting to formalize a decision already made.

I wonder if I am the only one who notices illogical things like this. The same thing was done on the question of the military. With much fanfare the government cancelled the helicopter contracts. With great flair it announced the closure of a number of military bases and moving them around. Then a military review was announced and the work started on thinking about what should be done. After some time the committee will announce its findings and we will probably discuss the report, but the actions have already been taken at huge expense. There will be even greater expense if it becomes apparent that some of these decisions need to be reversed.

We have had exactly the same thing in the last few days in the post office. We knew in June that the post office applied for an increase in first class postal rates to 45 cents. Ironically the government proceeded to do the work. The stamps were printed and distributed. Now we see cabinet deciding whether or not to actually do it. Meanwhile the taxpayers have spent the money.

No real business that has any hope of surviving can operate in this way. We need to do our analysis first and include in that analysis the most cost effective way of making changes. Why is it that government can waste billions of dollars simply by terribly poor planning and by taking hasty actions that are not well thought through? Billions of dollars are forcibly removed from citizens by the bully of taxation.

I need to get on with the main topic of my speech but I cannot forget the Pearson airport deal. Is it not another example? If the former government had not been in such a big hurry to sign contracts without having covered all the facts of the situation first, we would not be in the mess we are in now with that deal. I find it appalling that the government is now ramming through a bill respecting that deal which will hide payments made at the discretion of the minister from parliamentary or public scrutiny.

I need to turn the corner and talk about Bill C-52. After what I have just said members may be surprised to note that in general I am in favour of the legislation. In general I support the move toward downsizing, but the plan needs to be well thought out. A number of issues need to be tackled. They must be done in the right order.

In analysing the situation one should really ask the following questions: First, what public service, what actual work, what functions do we want the department to perform? Second, in order to achieve what we want the department to do, how can we best organize it so that it can perform those functions with the greatest efficiency?

The amalgamation proposed in Bill C-52 is positive in the sense that it will result in the reduction of overlapping duties and functions. It should reduce overall costs, though that remains to be seen. There will be a reduction of overhead costs. Hopefully the new department will be able to deliver the services specified in a timely and efficient manner.

Another efficiency will be achieved by combining the annual report and the estimates. It will make it possible for managers, and indeed members of the House, to make decisions more effectively and more quickly on whether or not an expenditure is being controlled by looking at the consolidated statements.

There are two broad principles governments should use. The principles have been given to us by the people. The Reform Party is articulating the principles on behalf of citizens who have not been heard by governments of the past 20 to 40 years. The first principle is that governments, civil servants, politicians and political parties exist to serve the people. They should demonstrate this service at all times.

I cannot help but interrupt my speech again to draw the attention of the House to a great misunderstanding concerning the Reform Party. Several days ago the hon. member for Saskatoon-Humboldt gave a rather cute member's statement in which she echoed the misinformation broadcast by our sometimes untrustworthy CBC. She implied that members of the Reform Party were somehow herded along by the leadership of the party. The facts are that the leadership of the party and

Reform MPs are driven by the grassroots. Ordinary citizens are finding that their voices are being heard by us. Party policies in our party are initiated by the members and the party leadership acts as a clearing house to expedite debate and decisions at our assembly.

Yes, we believe in service. That is the first principle that should pervade all levels of government. It is government of the people, for the people, by the people. If we could do a 180 degree turn in how governments operate compared to the past and the present, perhaps that would be the single most important move in restoring the faith of the people in the governments they elect.

The second principle is that public money should be regarded by governments as funds in trust and governments should practise fiscal responsibility. In particular, they should exercise the responsibility of balancing expenditures and revenues. There are not many issues that upset my constituents more than the issue of the burgeoning debt.

If we were a board of directors of a public company the shareholders would fire us. We are spending 20 per cent more every year than we take in. We are headed for financial disaster and for bankruptcy. Yes, the shareholders of a company would fire the board of directors if that was how they carried on.

Indeed, this is what the Canadian people have begun to do. They are totally fed up with the flagrant waste of their money by governments of the last 20 or 30 years. Beginning in the west there is a massive sweep of support for Reform because we are promising to balance the budget. We just cannot go on the way we are. In some form or another, if not now then in the very near future we will have to pay the bills that we have run up.

The most unfair transfer of responsibility in this country is the intergenerational transfer of debt. We are spending our children's inheritance. From our graves we will have to apologize to them for giving them the inheritance of such huge financial indebtedness that they will not be able to enjoy anything near the standard of living that we have stolen from them. I am embarrassed to be a member of this generation, leaving my children a legacy of profligate overspending, exercising no discipline in how we handle our affairs.

In speaking to Bill C-52 I believe that we are beginning to move in the right direction on these principles. I want to show my support and commitment to the principles by helping to hold this government accountable for the steps it is taking. I want to assume that the motives of the government are honourable. I want to assume that it really means it when it says it wants to do better.

I suppose it is almost impossible to do worse than the government that was defeated last fall. But there is always the danger that the frail ship can be blown off course. We will be there to help and to remind the government to abide by these principles.

The principle of service to the public should be demonstrated by the way that business processes are developed and implemented. It should be evident in the way that public property is managed, particularly office and warehouse space. It should be evident in the way bidding and procurement procedures are developed and implemented. It should be evident in the way technology will be utilized to increase effectiveness and efficiency. Most of all, it should be evident in the way we and all civil servants meet the people, the way we talk to them and the way we serve them. There should never be an attitude of condescension but always an attitude of helpfulness and service.

I would add that we should also always have an attitude of total honesty and openness, whether it is procurement or whether it is talking about the way government influences public policy. There should be total openness. It is the people's business. The people have the right to know everything.

With respect to the second principle I mentioned, the one of sound fiscal management and wise use of the limited financial resources available, I need to emphasize it is my opinion that we are not doing enough here in this bill.

It is insufficient to merely shuffle the deck to bring together two or three departments here and two or three there. It is not sufficient to merely reorganize the management tree. We need to look very seriously at the functions of government. We need to re-examine many things government is doing that is not supported by the people. There need to be some cuts. Some departments need to be eliminated because there is no longer a need or a demand for the functions they provide.

Can this be done? Would it be possible for us to discuss this in a meaningful, non-emotional way so that we could brainstorm our way to some positive solutions?

I can think of a number of examples in which we are not serving the people well with regard to monetary stewardship. I think of the $60 million taken out of the accountability loop by the antics of the CCG. I think of the ongoing construction of a national GST processing centre in Prince Edward Island at the same time as this government is promising to eliminate the GST.

I am thinking of some extravagant offices and some unacceptable vacancy rates. I am thinking of moneys to crown corporations and special operating agencies and the way some of them are operating without full accountability. I am thinking even of the fact that the collection of hundreds and hundreds of smaller

savings could save millions of dollars for the Canadiantaxpayer.

Departmental contracting value for last year was in the order of $7.8 billion. The handling of this large amount of tax dollars must be treated with great respect. We need to assure the public that everything is done out in the open with full disclosure of who is getting what and how much they are getting.

I wish to conclude by saying that I am personally committed to doing my share in influencing the way the government does its business. I want the people of Canada to know that in the Reform Party and hopefully among the other members of this House there are individuals who are deeply committed to doing this thing right. We want to treat the people with the respect they deserve. We want to stop overtaxing them. We want to serve them and we want to be good stewards of the money that they entrust to us.

I believe that the Canadian public is becoming more and more disillusioned with the concept that the government has to do everything for everyone. There are more and more people who simply want the government to back off and give them some freedom to make their own choices and manage their own affairs. They want government to do just the minimal things that it is not possible for them to do by themselves.

The days of thinking that nothing will get done unless the government controls and subsidizes or pays for it are over. The days are ending when everyone can use the government as a means of confiscating the dwindling available earnings of the average person to spend at will on whatever project seems to meet their fancy.

Henry Samtrooke said it well when he referred to the rapturous, wild and ineffable pleasure of drinking at somebody else's expense. In giving support in principle to Bill C-52, I hope that we are beginning to move in the right direction. We will be waiting with great interest to observe that this government takes it all the way. We want to see that the deficits are stopped before its too late.