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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was farmers.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 60% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Questions on the Order Paper February 15th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, as the minister knows, we have discussed this matter on a couple of occasions. I sit on the committee that has been investigating any sort of national day care program.

Last week the authors of the OECD study on child care made a presentation to our committee, two were via satellite video conference from Paris and several from Canada were in the room. There was discussion around the test scores of children who had been in what they called high quality regulated care versus low quality care. They never mentioned kids who stayed at home with their parents. When I asked how children who were raised at home by a stay at home parent fared in their testing, the response from one of the authors in Paris was that in fact children who had been raised at home did very well in testing.

I reject the very notion that some monolithic government operated day care system will inevitably lead to better results in terms of early learning than the alternative, which is to support parents who want to stay home with their children. Not only should it be financial support, but as we do with early year centres in Ontario, we should support those parents with tools and resources to help them teach their children.

I find that the minister has jumped from the fact that early years learning is needed to the notion that the inevitable result is some large government run monopoly for child care, which is the way Ontario seems to be going. I am wondering how the minister squares that with the fact that even the OECD says kids raised at home by their parents do very well in testing.

Agriculture February 11th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, as you probably know, February 8 was Food Freedom Day in Canada. This means that in just 39 days Canadian families earned enough to pay for their food for 2005. As recently as 1997 Food Freedom Day was February 15. In just eight years the percentage of income spent on food in Canada has dropped by more than 15%.

While consumers celebrate the fact that they are spending less on food, this also means farmers are receiving less for what they produce, at the very time they are paying more for the inputs they must use to produce it. In the opinion of many, the inevitable result of this cost price squeeze on farmers will be the erosion of our very capacity to produce food in Canada.

In my opinion, the only way to stem this tide is a commitment to sustainable food production in Canada. That is why I believe we need a Canadian food strategy to ensure we still have farmers in Canada 10 years from now, 20 years from now, and 50 years from now.

Agriculture December 7th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, most people agree that one meaningful way to measure the success of a new government program is to look at the take-up rate. For example if 70% or 80% of intended recipients take up a new program, this suggests people know about it, want it and believe it is in their best interest to sign up for it.

By this standard the CAIS program is a complete failure. In Kawartha Lakes it is reported that just 47 out of hundreds of farmers have signed up for CAIS.

Why does the minister continue to defend the CAIS program when it has so obviously failed the vast majority of Canadian farmers?

Agriculture December 7th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, farmers across Canada agree on one thing, and that is the CAIS program does not work and it needs a major overhaul.

In my opinion, the most compelling evidence of the failure of CAIS is the fact that most farmers have not even bothered to sign up for the program yet, almost three years after it was first introduced. In Kawartha Lakes, where I come from, it has been reported that just 47 out of several hundred farmers have opened CAIS accounts.

If CAIS is as great as the Liberals say, why have more farmers not signed up for it? There are only two possible answers to that question. Either farmers are making a mistake because they do not understand what is good for them, or this really is a lousy program that farmers rightly understand is of little value to them.

In my opinion, I would say the farmers are right.

If the Liberals really want to make CAIS work, they should not rest until a majority of farmers deem it worth their while to sign up for an overhauled CAIS program. It is time for the government to stop proclaiming the virtues of an obviously flawed program and get on with the job of fixing it.

Food and Drugs Act December 1st, 2004

Madam Speaker, in my opinion, the bottom line on the CAIS program in my riding is that the government has put forward a program for which the majority of farmers have not signed up yet. So there obviously is a problem. Either they do not understand it or they do not feel it is worthwhile, or they do not think that it is actually going to help them solve the problem. The bottom line is that most of the farmers have not signed up for it.

I think everyone recognizes that, as a result of the border closure in the last year and a half or two years, we have an increased population in the number of cattle in Canada. Even if the border was to open, a month from now or six months from now, we have an oversupply of cattle, particularly older cattle. When President Bush made reference yesterday to opening the border, he specifically talked about younger cows.

Has the government considered a major cull program in Canada that would bring the total population back to where it needs to be?

Food and Drugs Act December 1st, 2004

Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to question further the government's position on CAIS program and the BSE crisis that confronts farmers across Canada. I would like to make three points.

First, it is indisputable that there are some very serious problems with regard to the CAIS program. The Canadian agricultural income stabilization program is not working as intended. Many farmers in Canada are not signed up for the program. In my own riding in the city of Kawartha Lakes it has been reported that fewer than 50 farmers are actually signed up for CAIS program when there are several hundred farmers in that area. How can we help farmers if the mechanism is CAIS program and they are not signed up for CAIS program in the first place?

The CAIS program is a relatively new program. It has been in effect for less than three years. I am not sure it is doing the job it was intended to do. I would suggest that it was never intended to deal with a national disaster such as BSE.

Second, the CAIS program does nothing to address the serious loss of equity that many small producers have faced. I have many small cow-calf operations in my riding and to many of those operators, their livestock was their retirement fund. It was a place where they were accruing equity. Over the past year and a half since BSE broke out, those operators have seen their equity wiped out. The CAIS program is unable to deal with the equity issue.

My third point is that BSE is not an every day issue that the government needs to manage. In my opinion, the government has so far dealt with this as an every day issue that is on the minister's desk. In my opinion, BSE is a national disaster and it needs to be treated that way by the government.

Government has a standard procedure for dealing with things, but it also has the ability to kick things into a higher gear. When we were faced with SARS, when we were faced with the ice storm in eastern Ontario, and when we were faced with other natural disasters, the government can take that issue and put it on the cabinet table. The Prime Minister takes the lead responsibility for the issue, usually in cooperation with the minister responsible, and things happen quickly.

With regard to BSE, producers across Canada feel that what goes on in this place is a technical ping-pong match between the government and the opposition in terms of the CAIS program. Members ask themselves if this part works or if that part works.

However, farmers are facing a disaster. There are multigenerational farms in my riding in central Ontario and farmers are afraid they are going to go under this winter and not make it until spring. Those farmers are looking to the government, and the minister and his parliamentary secretary.

What is the government going to do, beyond the CAIS program and its shortcomings, over the next few weeks and months to ensure that farmers in my riding and across Canada are still in business next spring?

Agriculture November 5th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, CAIS was never intended as disaster relief. It was meant to even out cashflow in a business as usual environment. As it turns out, CAIS is actually failing two groups of farmers: first, the farmers who took money out of their own pockets to sign up for CAIS and still have not received any assistance; and second, farmers who could not afford the deposit in the first place and are now ineligible for the program.

BSE is not business as usual. It is a national disaster. We would not demand that flood victims put up their own money in order to be eligible for flood relief. Why does the government continue to rely on this failed program?

Agriculture October 29th, 2004

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

Last night I had a teleconference with members of my farm council back in Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock. Even over the phone I could hear the growing desperation in many of their voices. The border is not opened. The CAIS cheques have not arrived. Farmers are losing hope they will see any assistance before it is too late.

My farmers are watching question period today. They are waiting to hear the Prime Minister's answer. What is the Prime Minister going to do to ensure that my farmers can survive at least until Christmas?

Supply October 28th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed listening to the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River. I have known the member for many years. He has a long history in public life, having served as the mayor of Thunder Bay and as the president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

The question I would like to ask the member is on an issue that I raised earlier today. It is the notion of the fiscal imbalance. I raised the point that we have three levels of government in Canada; federal, provincial and municipal. I would argue that there is a fiscal imbalance in terms of the taxing powers compared to the spending responsibilities.

Certainly, when the federal government cut its transfers to the provinces in the mid-1990s, when that member was in municipal government, many would argue that caused the provinces to pass that through to municipalities and the municipalities bore the brunt of it.

What are the member's thoughts on this notion. If the federal government did more to help the provincial governments, would that not allow the provincial governments some more flexibility to pass through some of that generosity to the municipalities?

Supply October 28th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I listened with some interest to the discussion about the fiscal imbalance. With all due respect, I think my colleague is misstating the principle.

He says that cumulative provincial revenues are roughly the same as cumulative federal revenues. I do not think the fiscal imbalance is about that. When we look at the different levels of government in Canada, and I would like to introduce municipal government as well, we actually have three levels of government. When people talk about the fiscal imbalance they are saying that each of those three levels of government have tax levers available to them and each of them have responsibilities for things for which they need to pay.

As time goes by there seems to be a mismatch between their taxing powers, not in the taxing powers of other levels of government. That is not the comparison. The comparison is between the taxing powers they have and their funding responsibilities.

I will take my home province of Ontario as an example. There are more than 440 municipalities in Ontario. All of them are under a crunch. All of them are complaining that they do not have access to sufficient revenue to pay for the services they need to provide locally. These municipalities are looking to the province and saying that there is a fiscal imbalance between the provincial and municipal government, which is similar to the same discussion that is going on between the provinces and the federal government.

We are not looking at the revenue generating capacities of the three levels of government to see whether there is an imbalance. We are looking on the other side. We are saying that the federal government is the only level of government that seems to spend time sitting around thinking up new ways to spend money, while provincial governments of all parties are having a hard time balancing their books. I presume leaders of all levels are having a problem. The fiscal imbalance is between the money the federal government raises and the responsibilities it has compared to the responsibilities of the provinces.

The fact that neither the local nor provincial governments are stepping into federal jurisdiction, but the federal government is doing it to the provinces is proof positive. I would like to hear the member's comment on that.