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

Brent Epp June 16th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to and express profound respect for a young Albertan who has left Canada for the fourth time in his young life to serve needy people in other parts of the world.

While he was a student he spent a summer working as an unpaid volunteer in the refugee camps in Thailand. Upon graduation from university he worked for a year in southern Sudan, Kenya and Somalia at considerable personal danger to bring food and medical supplies to starving and suffering children and adults. Last year, he was in the war-torn former Yugoslavia working at a home for women who had undergone much suffering and violence.

Last Tuesday he left again, this time to serve the suffering people of Rwanda. Susie, his bride of 12 weeks, will be joining him there in July.

I salute this young man, his wife and the Christian relief agencies he has represented. I am especially touched by this young man's humanitarian effort because this man is Brent Epp, and my wife and I are his parents.

Integrity In Government June 16th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the right hon. Prime Minister has correctly identified a need for trust in government. We too have found that many Canadians are disillusioned with government and cynical with its processes. But the question I want to ask is whether the statement of the government today is going in the right direction and whether it is going far enough.

Before I comment on the Prime Minister's speech I would like to make a comment on the process that has been going on here with respect to this legislation. I have found it extremely frustrating to try to build the response I am giving now because of the guarded secrecy which has surrounded this issue until today. I challenge the wisdom of operating in secret to this degree especially since the topic of the day is openness.

The Prime Minister has outlined some of the achievements of his government so far. There have been some minor cosmetic changes, some symbolism, but not much substance. The right words are being used but they have not in my opinion delivered anything substantial to this point.

The Prime Minister indicates that they have given MPs a larger role in drafting legislation and greater influence over government expenditures. Then he goes on to say that for the first time, MPs debated the budget before it was tabled.

If the question is whether the people of Canada through their elected representatives have power to control government overspending, the answer is a resounding no. We did in fact have an opportunity to speak, but no one heard. We gave many well documented facts and figures and they were ignored.

The government is continuing on its path to increasing debt despite the protests of the taxpayers who can see clearly that this is wrong.

No, there is little here beyond the fluff of correct terminology. There is not yet any substance to a promise of more open, more responsive, and more representative government.

The Prime Minister made mention of the Pearson airport deal. Indeed, this deal stands as a monument to the evil of backroom dealings without accountability. We must commend the government for taking prompt action to bring that deal to a halt, but now what is happening?

The Reform Party moved an amendment to the bill which would require full disclosure of any agreements entered into to terminate the Pearson deal. We felt that Canadian taxpayers should know the amounts paid and the recipients of those payments. Yet every Liberal in this House voted against that amendment, defeating it and preventing Canadians from possibly ever knowing what kind of backroom deals the present government engaged in to bring this project to a halt.

I seriously doubt that the measures being proposed today would have the effect of being able to prevent another deal like the Pearson deal.

The government is proposing to send this bill to committee right away. Hopefully all the members of that committee will have meaningful and substantial input into its final wording and impact. However, I want to remind the members of this House and all Canadians that this process was completed last year and the results of the Holtmann report have not been implemented.

I can only wish and hope that the government will not waste a bunch of time repeating the whole process. The red book promised: "A Liberal government will move quickly and decisively in several ways to address these concerns about conflict of interest, influence peddling and selling access".

The response we have today from the government is a beginning. It seems to me that the measures taken are woefully inadequate. We will be watching with interest to see if this committee work will result in a report which will actually be implemented in legislation, or if it will be like the previous efforts, much work for the backbenchers with little or no tangible results. We will be watching to see if the new committee will expand on the work of the Holtmann report and whether the government will implement its recommendations.

I note just in passing that among other things the Holtmann report has one chapter with six recommendations to remove the distinction between tier one and tier two lobbyists. I have not yet seen the bill because of the secrecy I was speaking of earlier, but I was informed just before I came in that this new bill does not even mention distinguishing between tier one and tier two. Maybe it is the lobbying of the lobbyist groups themselves that prevented this from getting in.

The Prime Minister has announced the appointment of an ethics counsellor to oversee and enforce the strengthened Lobbyists Registration Act. Since we know very little about the individual named, it is prudent on our part to wish him well. We will be watching his work with great interest.

Finally, I would like to ask a few questions, not to embarrass the Prime Minister or the government but to challenge them to really deliver what Canadians are expecting.

If the Prime Minister says: "No goal is more important to this government than restoring the trust of Canadians", then why is this government spending dollars hand over fist in the Prime Minister's riding for a theme park? Why is this government conducting polls in private, released only when a minister gives approval? Why is this government giving fat advertising contracts to old political buddies? Why is this government continuing to hedge and waffle on the much demanded overhaul of the MPs pension plan? These are items which would produce great leaps in the increase in trust by Canadians in their government.

Would it not be better if we had a government in which the members of Parliament were actually empowered to do what they were elected to do, to represent their constituents in a meaningful, effective way?

Would it not be better if all of us who are charged with the responsibility of forming government policy would do as I always do when approached by a lobbyist? I tell them that my constituents, the people who elected me, are my lobby group. I take my direction from them.

Recall Act June 14th, 1994

Read the bill.

Canadian Film Development Corporation Act June 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate some of what the hon. member said. However, I would really like to challenge his thinking and the thinking of other members on the other side of the House with respect to the necessity of having to pluck money from the pockets of supporters of these programs in the form of taxation. If a program is really good, if it is really quality, it will win. If it is not, then it should not be subsidized.

I believe that too for businesses and other industries, some of which he mentioned. If we were to have a level playing field tax wise, we could compete very easily right around the world and that is the missing link.

Specifically with respect to the CBC, I have on numerous occasions had people ask me why we support it. They then use words which I am sure are unparliamentary-they are not in my personal vocabulary in any case-about the things they have heard.

I was tremendously offended one Sunday evening when, as we were finishing our day, I switched on my radio as I often do and chose the CBC. Sometimes it has some nice classical music which I enjoy at the end of the day. I cannot relate to you in the House what I heard because it was so offensive. It was tremendously offensive to women and to men, and the explicitness of what was being broadcast at midnight on a Sunday got me so upset that I immediately ran downstairs, turned on my tape recorder in order to have it on record even though I could hardly stand to hear it.

My response was why should I as a taxpayer be forced to fund this without any choice at all. If it were another station I can turn away, it's ratings go down and, as happened to one of the radio stations in Edmonton, it would go out of business.

The CBC should be subject to that same kind of continual scrutiny on a personal basis by all taxpayers, by all the people who are listening. I really think we ought to very quickly phase out the funding of the CBC and many of these other cultural organizations which, very frankly, appeal to a very narrow group of people and are far away from and, in many cases, opposed to what the majority of Canadians want to hear and want to see.

Credit Card Interest Calculation Act June 7th, 1994

Madam Speaker, it is with great delight that I stand to speak to this motion. I am one who has long felt that the banks are very important to our society, not only for financing business but also for financing short term interim money people need in order to keep our economy rolling.

As has already been mentioned, many people pay their credit card balances off monthly and in most instances incur no costs at all. Then there are some who do not pay and that is where the problem comes in.

We must first ask ourselves what the object is of having this type of legislation. Probably a very loose term would be that we want fairness. We want those people who use this bank service not to be unjustly charged, not to be charged exorbitant rates. At the same time the banks should have sufficient reason to stay in that business thereby providing the economy with the necessary little oiling to keep it going.

Once the purpose is decided the next question is how to achieve it and this is where we would come to a parting of the ways. A lot of members on the other side are given to that first hypothesis that unless the government taxes it, subsidizes it, controls it, funds it, regulates it, unless all that is done, it will not happen. I humbly submit that is not true.

The opening of this country was done quite magically before there was any substantial government involvement with respect to the operation of individual businesses and the financing of homeowners.

I reject the idea that we need to regulate this. I really believe that the marketplace can determine a good balance. If we allow the free enterprise system and fair competition to take place, then the rates will be kept down. If there is a lot of money to be made there will be new organizations entering the field. They will compete and bring their service in at a little better rate. Consequently the other ones, those that are in there higher, would have to come down. However it would reach a lower level where it could not go any further because they would no longer be making any money.

The best solution would be for us to not have legislation that would cap the rates, cap the fees, but rather that we would observe. We should have laws that simply monitor the fair disclosure of what the charges are.

This is one of the greatest areas of error in this whole scene. There are irregular ways of reporting interest rates. There is not a good comparison. We must recognize, and I have this on good authority since I have been in the mathematics field for years, that approximately 85 per cent of our population does not feel comfortable with mathematical calculations. It is surprising how many people have trouble with simple things like conversion to metric. When we talk about interest rates and their implications most of them are lost.

If financial institutions will not voluntarily adopt a method of uniform reporting of rates and charges, then there would be a role for legislation.

I would like to briefly indicate three areas where we need to have truth in advertising. First we need some sort of uniformity in declaring the cost of fees. Fees for different cards range all the way from zero dollars per year to the highest one I saw at $30 per year. Depending on the balance that is carried this can either be a negligible portion of the interest or it can be a fairly high portion and it would be incumbent on the financial institutions to indicate the actual costs very clearly up front.

Second is the use of nominal versus effective interest rates. This is an area a lot of consumers do not understand. We ought to

be requiring financial institutions to declare their interest rates as effective annual rates. The use of nominal rates is widely used and is very misleading.

It does not make too great a difference at lower interest rates. I did not find any banks that charged these rates but there are some retailers' cards that charge, they say, 2.4 per cent per month. Then in brackets they say 28.8 per cent per annum. Of course that is simply not true. The interest calculations are always done monthly. Hence this is compounded monthly and the effective rate of 28.8 per cent per annum compounded monthly in fact turns out to be 32.9 per cent per annum.

If they were required to actually express the rate as the effective rate, then they could not play these games with the consumers where there is a lack of understanding when it comes to effective versus nominal rates.

The third area that I would like to address is a bit of a bombshell because I have never heard anybody talk about it. Several financial institutions that I am aware of which I have checked personally actually land up computing their interest on a time error as well as a rate error. Most of us know that interest equals principal times rate times time as a simple formula. I have talked about the rate and the way they fudge that and now they fudge on the time.

They do something that is very intriguing. Whenever there is a transaction, whether it is the computation of the interest to date based on the statement date or whether there was a payment made, they compute the interest up to and including that day.

If I borrowed from my credit card a thousand dollars in the morning and paid it in the afternoon I think there would be a case that said I should pay for one day's interest.

However, if I borrow a thousand dollars at noon today and repay it tomorrow at noon I do not believe they are justified in charging me two days of interest and yet they do if you check this out. I think if this goes to the committee I would really like to see the committee address that question because that is a very costly one to Canadian consumers and as far as I know it is not widely known.

I did an actual experiment on this and found that if I made a payment and my interest was calculated from the previous statement to the payment date including that date and then at the next statement it was made again including that date, in essence my financial agency got from me 24 extra days of interest in the year. I did not carry on the experiment that long. I did it long enough to ascertain that in fact that is what they were doing.

Using 18 per cent per annum and with the $11 billion I used as the amount that these institutions have outstanding, this yields to them an additional $141 million per year which I think is a substantial amount of money to be taking from the consumers.

I have other things to say but my time has expired and so I really congratulate the member on this bill. I look forward to seeing it go into committee for real study, including these issues I have raised.

Supply June 7th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I really appreciated the speech just given by the member opposite. As a youngster born in a family of immigrants that pioneered in western Canada I feel that same love for the country in its entirety.

The question here today really is not, for most of us at least in the House, whether this is the best country in the world. It is not a question of whether we want to maintain the programs and the things we are famous for. The question is really how we are to do it.

Would the member respond in any way specifically to any of the questions that we are asking in the motion? What vision does she have for actually strengthening our economy? What vision does she have for balancing the budgets? How about sustaining social services and so arranging our affairs that we can continue to deliver the things all of us would love to promise?

I could go on and on. Our cultural heritage, I share that. I am a Canadian whose first language was neither English nor French. We are, as the hon. member said so emphatically, a multiracial, multiethnic, multilanguage country.

If we want to preserve that I believe there should be a real vision for how we can bring all Canadians, including those 25 per cent whose first language is not English or French, into a real sense of belonging.

Young Offenders Act June 6th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the member who just gave a very good speech.

I agree with him in the sense that we ought not to be incarcerating people thinking that thereby we can make them good. As a matter of fact, I do not believe there is a law that we can pass that will make people good.

I grew up in a very special home, one in which we were not permitted-I grew up before there was television-to listen to radio programs which had violence. We were not permitted to settle our differences with violence. It had to be with negotiation and compromise. As a youngster I grew up so that as an adult for me to impose a criminal act on someone else was not even within the realm of my thinking.

How does the member propose to deal with those people who did not have that training, who do not have that built in morality that restrains them? How do we restrain those who actually find it very easy to pick up an axe, a gun or a knife to harm other people?

Budget Implementation Act May 31st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the hon. member's speech. I appreciate his sentiments with respect to working together as opposed to engaging in the rhetoric of partisan politics. However, I was very disappointed by his comments with respect to our being in opposition and therefore always opposing. I do not know how he did not hear what we have been saying today. The elements of Bill C-17 that we support were clearly enunciated. We basically support most of it.

The freezing of salaries makes a lot of sense. The government proposes it and we agree with it. We are on the same wavelength. We agree on the capping of the transfer of money through the Canada assistance plan. On the reduction in transportation subsidies though it affects us most vigorously in the west, we agree. In these times of fiscal restraint, those things need to be done.

I challenge this concept of the previous speaker when he says we always oppose because we are in opposition. No, we are here to debate the issues. I am very deeply committed to not reduce myself to name calling. Let us stay on the issues and if we agree, then let us say we agree.

On reducing the UIC rates, I really could not agree with the member more. As was previously stated today, if that reduction of seven cents is so significant in creating jobs, perhaps we ought to look at it further.

At the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology where I worked before, 750 instructors together with the employer portion contribute an amount of money which would give about 60 people jobs, each at $35,000 a year. That is from 750 instructors at NAIT.

Clearly that money left in the hands of the individual would be very useful in creating real ongoing jobs. Someone could then afford to have their leaking roof fixed instead of just paying their taxes and UIC premiums and getting nothing for it. The individual would have a job instead of the benefit of UIC.

I appreciate very much those members in the Bloc who are saying that we are threatening the very poorest among us, but that is very narrow thinking. That is saying that all we can do to help poor people is to give them a handout in the form of UIC or welfare. The most significant thing we can do for them is, as the hon. member just said in his speech, to provide an economic climate in which there is prosperity. That is done by reducing government spending and allowing the marketplace to be strong.

I appreciate the member's speech. He has said a lot of good things, but I would encourage him to listen more carefully before he jumps to the conclusion that we are always opposing. We are not.

Canada Student Financial Assistance Act May 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member. I respectfully differ with him in terms of government involvement in our education vis-à-vis what it is now.

If I am not mistaken, I believe the involvement of the government directly in education then was about in the same proportion as it is now. Somewhere between one-half and one-third of the costs were borne by the students through tuition and the other part was subsidized. It depended again on what kind of study was pursued. If you went to medical school or some of the highly technical oriented places where the lab and shop equipment was very expensive then of course the government involvement was higher.

However I do not quibble with that. As a taxpayer and as a citizen I think we are very, very wise to invest in education. That is one of the things government should be doing. It is not something that should be left to go by itself. The government has a legitimate role to play. However in the actual practice of it, to introduce a degree of competition by vouchers, to introduce a degree of accountability by that I think can only improve our educational system.

The member asked whether I would be supporting this bill. If the choice is between the status quo and what this bill provides as an improvement, I think I will have to support it because it is an improvement. It is better than what we have, but it is not going far enough and it is going in the wrong direction.

I still have to study the bill some more to see the details. Hopefully the committee will come up with some good amendments. Maybe we will be able to introduce more elements into it which will reward those who are diligent, who work and come out the other end without the debts instead of penalizing them at the expense of those who incur a debt.

One of the features of this bill is that if you happen to run up a really huge debt you can get part of it forgiven. However if you are astute and you live on potatoes and rice because there are those times when you have to be really frugal-as some of us did, and you can see I had my share-the fact is the frugal individual is the one who forgoes the benefits. In a way he is penalized.

In education, as in all areas of life, we need to reward the actions and activities we want. We should somehow be punishing those we do not want, instead of vice versa.

Canada Student Financial Assistance Act May 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I join in this debate with great delight today, since I am one among all members of this House who have received an education.

I remember seeing a bumper sticker which said: "If you can read this, you're too close", but I think a much more poignant bumper sticker reads: "If you can read this, thank a teacher". All of us are beneficiaries of the education system in this country, myself included.

I began my schooling in a very small rural school in Saskatchewan. As a matter of fact I was instrumental in saving the school from being closed. I was the fifth student and that was at the margin where it would have been closed. Later on I had the privilege of being one of the first young men from my community to go to university in Saskatoon. There I jumped into classes of 200 to 250 students which was a remarkable transition from my earlier school years.

I am one who is a very firm believer in education as are all the members of the Reform Party. I think I can say that unequivocally not only for the members of this caucus but also for the members of our party throughout this country.

There was a question asked not long ago in this House by the parliamentary secretary. He asked one of his fellow Liberal members to explain the Reform position on education. Fortunately the Liberal member declined.

During the last campaign various attempts were made at stating what the Reform position was by our opposition parties. If I can say so with great respect, there was a great deal of distortion in the explanation by our opposition.

It should be known that we based our position on consultation with a wide variety and a large base of our constituents, of people in our ridings, on a consensus for what the priorities of spending should be. It is totally clear that this country is in financial trouble. I am going to come back to that a little later in my speech, but we are going into debt at the rate of $1,200 per second. That is how fast we are going into debt. That cannot continue if we are going to keep this country from going down the tube. Consequently the Reform Party has assumed leadership in asking the people of this country what should we do first, what are our priorities?

Contrary to what many people said about us, our own members, Canadians, told us-and we are a party that responded to it-that the very first item to be maintained in terms of spending and keeping it healthy and strong was our health care system. That was the very top item. That was in our platform. We stated it, it was in our documentation, and there was no excuse for there being any misunderstanding on that point.

The second point on which we were unanimous and where we said it was very important for us to be strong and healthy was in the education of our youth. In fact our policy stated-and I challenge any member here to check it out if they want to go back to the documentation from the campaign-that present levels of funding for education should be maintained or even increased, if possible. There will be found in the Reform Party a very strong level of support for education.

All of us know how important it is. I do not think I need to spend a great deal of time speaking about how important education is. Can we imagine living in a society where very few of us could read or write? The majority of us can read and write, but we occasionally hear of this thing called marginal or functional illiteracy.

That is something that we must continue to address but the fact is that in this country every individual is entitled to that starting education. As students proceed through the years, for various reasons they reach a certain level of education and stop their formal education.

I want members of this House to know that I have a lifelong career in education. I chose to become a teacher when I graduated from high school. On the influence of a very effective teacher whom I had in high school, I changed my career choice to one involved with young people.

I was a young person at the time, but he challenged me to become involved. I am still young, yes, half way to 110. I was challenged to work with young people. Frankly, I have enjoyed it. I taught high school for four years. During the first three years of that career, I was the math department in a small rural school with some 150 high school students. I taught all of the maths from grades 9 to 12. It was a delightful experience.

I taught in a very large city high school for one year. For reasons that I will not go into here today, I decided not to stay there. A wonderful opportunity came up. I received the opportunity to work in a technical institute, a post-secondary education institute in Edmonton, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

Prior to this rather abrupt career change that I experienced last October, I worked there continuously for 27 years, teaching and working with young people. I always felt that I was a failure as an instructor if I only taught my students what I knew. I had to go beyond that and teach them how to learn.

My greatest successes were those students who passed me in knowledge and who went on from the technical institute. In some cases they went back to the university and exceeded even what I knew which-I suppose I should be modest here-is not that great.

During that time I encountered a number of students who quit school during the time they were at the institute. They stopped for various reasons. Some realized that after they got into this program of studies it was not the right one. Some left because of home pressure or home difficulties. The most heart wrenching ones were those who stopped because they ran out of money.

I feel very close to this question today. How do we effectively arrange our affairs so that our students can go on in their education to the very apex of what they are capable? Only as we do that will we have a society which benefits from that.

I know that we are all pleased that the majority of us can speak, read and write. Unfortunately in my field of math the academic strengths out there are not that strong. In fact, I have been doing a little ongoing survey. When I tell people that I am a math instructor, I find that about 95 per cent of them right away respond by saying they hated math. I guess there is a flaw in that.

Not many years ago the question of sex education in school came up. When we were discussing whether this should be taught in schools, one of my colleagues indicated: "Why not? If the schools teach it the way they teach math and physics, the children will lose all interest in it".

I need to get back here. We want to train our young people to the very apex of their abilities. Though we like the majority of them to be educated, it is true that we owe our high standard of living to a select few among them. These are the students who go past high school, past their undergraduate degrees. They become our scientists, engineers and researchers and we must do all that we can in order to accommodate them.

In his opening comments today in introducing this bill, the minister said that we need reform. As soon as I heard the word my heart just fluttered with delight. After that he said we need fundamental reform. While I gave an accolade to the government for at least addressing the question and recognizing that in the past number of years our financing and our help for students to carry on with their education had suffered, I looked to see where this real reform was coming from in this proposed bill.

I would like to humbly recommend some changes to this bill. We need to get down to the fundamentals. What I observe in this bill is not a reform, a rethinking, a reinvention or real good creative thinking. What I picked up was "We are going to take what we have done before and just make more of it". Where we used to limit the loans to $2,500, we will now make them $4,000. Where we used to have students under great financial pressure to pay their loans back, we will now make that a little easier for them. I applaud that. Those are very necessary steps if that is the route that we are going to take.

However, there is a marked absence of creative and lateral thinking in actually looking at the solution to this problem. Regardless of which method is chosen to finance education, it costs the taxpayers money. We want to use that money as efficiently as possible. There is no doubt in my mind that dumping money from the taxpayer to the different levels of government and then dumping it back again with these big dump trucks, having no accountability for how it is used, is one of the greatest detrimental features to the effectiveness of our educational system. I certainly think that we should do something a little more creative.

Other speakers in our party talk about the concept of the voucher. It has a great deal of merit. I challenge members opposite to stop and really think about what it does. First, it grabs on to a catchword that we have nowadays, and that is choice. If we were to give individual students a sizeable voucher, one that would cover their total cost of education in whatever university of college or technical institute they choose, they would then have a total choice. Too often their choice of where they go for their schooling is imposed on them by financial restrictions. If we gave them the voucher, they could go to the school where they themselves have determined they can benefit most and therefore return to us the taxpayers the maximum benefit.

I have also thought that we should not have students working when they are studying. Most of the time that is a distraction from their studies. I have thought of this: Why do we not reward them for what they are actually supposed to be doing when they are students? Why do we not give them the opportunity to earn money by being good students? One thing I thought of was why do we not have tuition that is refundable as a percentage of their performance in their classes? Give them a real reward for the effort that they put out.

I was a student way back in the mid-fifties. I realize now in looking back at it that I lived in an ideal world. When I wrote my university exams in spring, if I finished in the morning I was on my job at noon. A week or two before the exams my boss whom I had worked for the year before asked me: "Ken, when can you come to work? I need you". I drove a truck as my summer job. He had some hauling to do and he needed me. It was wonderful.

What is the difference between then and now? I went through school without a loan. I came out of school after five years of university, having been completely self-supporting without any debt. I paid my room and board, my clothing, tuition and books and I had money left over. I made a dollar an hour on my job which was about 50 per cent more than I needed.

What was the difference? There is a remarkable coincidence. If we go back to the mid fifties and sixties-I graduated in 1961-those were the years before our government started cranking us into a huge debt hole. Those were the years when there was consumer confidence. There was business confidence. As a result there were jobs for us during summers and on graduation that were waiting for us.

When I graduated from university, I had a choice of jobs. I cannot help but make the connection that there is some correlation between the level of debts of government and the burden that has placed on all of us and the dampening effect that has on our economy. That is the reason why our young people are now in this bad situation.

I cannot help but think that this government is missing a great opportunity. This government thinks in terms of: "Let's borrow more and spend more and thereby get out of our problems".

I am very disappointed with this bill which among other things provides a mechanism to allow students to graduate from university or college with a maximum debt load. I wish we could stop thinking about borrowing and debt and start being creative so that students can earn their way as they go and come out without a debt as we did away back then. We would really have a strong economy as a result.

I believe that my time is almost up. I conclude by saying that there are some areas in this bill which I think we really ought to look at. I am not sure that we are wise in choosing to target certain groups for special consideration. I really do not believe that we should be saying that you are special if you are of a certain gender.

When I fly in an aeroplane, drive in a car or go over a bridge I really do not care about the gender of that engineer, but I do care a lot about the competence of that person who designed and built the structure to which I am entrusting my life.

I think it is myopic at this stage in our society to keep dividing people into this category, that category and that one. We ought to begin treating all of our students equally regardless of gender or race or ethnic background or what language they speak. Let us treat them equally. Let us give them a voucher. Let us give them freedom of choice. Let us give them the maximum opportunity to go out there and do the very best they can with their lives.

I really encourage this government. I think it is on to something here. It is starting and at least facing the question. I sincerely wish that it would step back and try to be more creative.