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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

A Capital Experience October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, this week I am pleased to host 14 students in Ottawa as part of a program I call “A Capital Experience”. In this program two students from each of my riding's seven high schools get to visit the capital region for three days to learn about a variety of career opportunities in public life that could await them following their education.

These are not just any run of the mill teenagers. They are leaders on their student councils and exceptional young people.

Today I want to welcome to Parliament Hill Jill Lewis and Will Rea from Haliburton; Keith Marquis and Frank Parker from Brock; Katie Fallis and Leigh Sands from Crestwood; Anne Handley and Stacy Gudmundsson from Fenelon Falls; Anne Baxter and Dave Cavanaugh from LCVI; Kasey Hinton and Heather Drury from I.E. Weldon; and Zack Swain and Corey Smith from St. Thomas Aquinas.

It is often said that our young people are our future. Based on what I have seen over the past three days, I would say our future is bright. I salute these students seated in the gallery today.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am interested in any new ideas that people bring forward in terms of doctor recruitment to increase the supply of doctors in our system. With all due respect, I personally hope we can move the health care debate on to a more rational level where we can look to countries around the world for good ideas. If and when people bring forward an idea from the United States, it should not be immediately shot down as American style health care. A good idea is a good idea and if it is being done in Washington State, then we should look at it.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of thoughts on the issue of Senate reform. First, imagine telling visiting students from eastern Europe or some other emerging democracy that fully one-quarter of our parliamentarians, as we enter the 21st century, were still appointed. It is outrageous that we have a Senate that is appointed by the Prime Minister. If we were describing the way our government works to people from many other countries, they would not think that was the hallmark of a modern democracy. The existence of an appointed Senate is an idea that has outlived its usefulness. If there are senators, they need to be elected.

Second, the question essentially is whether we ought to have a unicameral legislature with only a single House or whether we ought to follow the model that is used in most large federations where there is a lower House that is based on the principle of representation by population, which we largely have in the House with some modifications, and an upper chamber that is based on representation for the members in that federation.

My concern with getting rid of the Senate is that it would reduce the influence or the say that the smaller provinces have. The United States has a senate for that reason. Australia and many other countries, many other federations have the bicameral system.

It is time to move beyond an appointed Senate. I do not agree with the notion of abolishing the Senate and having a uniicameral legislature in Canada. If we are to have a Senate, then it ought to be elected and we ought to have representation.

Ironically, what has filled the vacuum in the absence of a more legitimate and credible Senate is the first ministers conferences where they essentially represent provincial interests. I wish the premiers would stay in their provinces more and deal with their own issues. If we had an upper chamber, it would deal with provincial issues in this place.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise today for the first time during debate in the House, although I did have the opportunity to participate in the BSE debate last week in committee of the whole.

My riding of Haliburton--Kawartha Lakes--Brock is a rural riding located in central Ontario. The northern half is part of the Canadian Shield familiar to anyone from the Toronto area as cottage country. The southern half of my riding where the majority of my constituents live is agricultural.

My riding also includes Brock Township which is a part of Durham region. Part of my riding reaches into the GTA as well as large portions of Peterborough County essentially circling the city of Peterborough. I have one of the few ridings in Canada that actually reaches across three different area codes from 905 to 705 to 613.

I certainly appreciate the support that I had from my constituents in the election on June 28. Blue skies are back again was something I heard so many times this summer. My riding was the home of Leslie Frost who was the premier of Ontario for many years. There is a proud tradition of Conservative politicians from my riding.

When I ran in the election last spring, I identified half a dozen of my priorities, things that I wanted to pursue in this place as a member of Parliament.

The first priority is protecting family farms. For any of us who come from rural ridings, we recognize the enormous impact that the BSE crisis has had not only on farms but on many other rural communities. Many of us have been very disappointed in the response from the government over the past year and a half.

In my opinion, rather than dealing with BSE as an issue to be managed, the House and the government should have declared this a national crisis a long time ago. The management of that issue should have been elevated from the minister's office to the cabinet table with the Prime Minister himself taking a lead role in addressing that concern.

A second priority for me has been to attract more jobs into my rural constituency. This again is a familiar refrain. I listened with interest to my colleague from northern Ontario when he talked about some of the challenges in the north. I would like to remind him and all members that many of the challenges that exist in northern Ontario actually exist across rural Ontario in the south as well.

In my riding, improving connectivity, expanding access to broadband Internet is a major priority. That is something I have begun working with. I rose last week on a member's statement to thank the Minister of Agriculture who worked with me to get some funding for a program that exists in our part of the province.

The third interest that I have is in strengthening rural health care. It was quite easy for me to focus on this one in my riding. Trying to get more doctors into small communities is clearly the priority in this area. There are several doctor recruitment teams. Although health care is primarily a provincial jurisdiction, certainly the federal government can do more to increase the supply of doctors in Canada, particularly those who come from outside the country.

A fourth priority of mine is expanding seniors services. It is my understanding that my riding has the second highest percentage of seniors of all the ridings in Canada, following only Victoria out on the west coast. We have many seniors for two reasons.

First of all, I come from a very beautiful area. Many people who have owned cottages for years in Haliburton have since made their retirement homes in that area. The second reason we have such a high percentage of seniors is that many of our young people have had to move away. There are no jobs or opportunities in those rural communities that there are in cities. I would like to address that at some point in the future. I would like to be able to say that we no longer have the second highest percentage of seniors because we have repatriated many of our young people back to my area.

My fifth priority has to do with improving access to housing. This is an issue in communities, both large and small, across Canada. Earlier today reference was made to a lack of adequate housing stock on first nations. In many other small communities it is also a problem. I have many ideas in that area which I hope over the coming months and years I will have the opportunity to share with members in this place.

My final priority is focusing on children. As the father of two children under two years of age, I have a personal interest in this area. I sit on the human resources, skills development, social development and the status of persons with disabilities committee. I hope through that body I will have the opportunity to discuss and to make positive recommendations to improve programs and services for young families and for young people.

A second initiative I have launched in this area is called the capital experience. In a capital experience next week I will be bringing two students from each of seven high schools in my riding to Ottawa for three days to learn about career opportunities in public life.

I think many young people in rural communities are not aware of some of the different opportunities that exist in public life. Therefore, we will visit researchers at the Experimental Farm. We will be received by the Saudi Arabian Ambassador. We will come to this place on Tuesday so they can witness question period.

I urge all my colleagues to be on their best behaviour that day because I have told them that this is a respectful place where the serious business of Canada is conducted. I hope that all parties will heed that warning and avoid any sort of unparliamentary behaviour on that day.

Specifically, tonight I have the opportunity to speak on the Speech from the Throne. It is a historic occasion that for the first time there was substantive amendment to that speech. I was somewhat disappointed that the government in this minority Parliament did not make a greater effort to consult with opposition parties prior to the Speech from the Throne.

As the House knows, it is the Prime Minister's responsibility to demonstrate that he has the support of the House and that he has a working majority in this place. With 135 seats, the governing party cannot do it on its own. The Prime Minister should have made greater efforts to consult with the opposition parties prior to the speech last week.

It is also why I was so proud of the leader of my party when he put forward our amendments to that speech. As my leader made very clear, it was our attempt to put some meat on the bones. The Speech from the Throne was vague. I heard one of my colleagues a few minutes ago refer to it as a blueprint. The blueprints I have seen are quite precise and have more specific information on them. I would refer to the Speech from the Throne more as a rough sketch. We have made some progress in this place in the past 10 days to add some precision to that document to make it better and to make it work for all Canadians.

I will quickly touch on the different amendments that were put forward.

First, it is scandalous that the EI rates have been set so high that they generate a large surplus. This is essentially a job killing tax that the current Prime Minister, when he was the finance minister, made no effort to address. He himself has said at different times that taxes kill jobs. It is overdue that we bring the EI situation into balance.

Second, in terms of reducing the tax burden on lower income Canadians, I think we all recognize the challenge that lower income Canadians have faced and continue to face. That is a step in the right direction.

Third, the introduction of independent budgetary forecasting is a step in the right direction. I refuse to believe that it has been by accident for 10 years now that the government has misread the projected revenues and expenses in this place. I do not buy the slice theory. If you have ever seen me golf, Mr. Speaker, you would know I am an expert on slices. This does not bear any resemblance to a slice. In fact I think it was a strategic and deliberate move on the part of the government. I hope that it addresses this.

On the fourth point, which is examining our electoral system, I am an older reformer. One of the reasons I joined the Reform Party in 1990 was to address the democratic deficit in this place. Someone once said that I was country before country was cool. I was talking about democratic deficits and changes more than 10 years ago.

Finally, a vote on ballistic missile defence is another step in that direction.

Technology Alliance Group October 15th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, one of the realities of rural Canada is that Internet access is limited or even unavailable. That is why the government's Community access program, known as CAP, is so important. CAP provides thousands of Canadians with free access to computers and the Internet in places such as schools, community centres and libraries.

In my part of central Ontario, the Technology Alliance Group, or TAG, provides this service in Kawartha Lakes and oversees it in the counties of Haliburton and Simcoe and the district of Muskoka.

Recently TAG's general manager, Linda Rickard, informed me that it was still awaiting confirmation from Industry Canada that it would receive funding for 2004-05. Given that TAG's service extends into Parry Sound--Muskoka, I approached that member, the agriculture minister, to seek his cooperation. By working together we got the ball rolling. TAG's contract is signed and its funding is forthcoming.

This is clear evidence that by working together in this minority Parliament, we can make things happen for the benefit of our constituents.

Agriculture October 12th, 2004

Mr. Chairman, I apologize. If there was a fleet and passing reference to agriculture in the Speech from the Throne I must have missed it. However, partisan jousting aside, the fact is that farmers across the country are on the verge of bankruptcy. Money has been promised and it has not arrived. The bottom line is that these people need help now and if it does not come soon it will be too late.

Agriculture October 12th, 2004

Mr. Chair, I find it interesting that my colleague talks about commitments the government has made and the announcements that have been made. If he would actually talk to farmers he would find that no CAISP cheques have arrived yet. It is all well and good to say that the money has been promised and the money is there but if CAISP is the pipeline, the pipeline is blocked. The money is not getting to farmers and those farmers will be broke this fall. Promises, more words and more rhetoric from the government in Ottawa will not help them.

I also find it interesting that in his language my colleague seems to be acknowledging or suggesting that his government has failed. As I hear his argument, he is saying that the government has done a lot of work, spent a lot of money and that it is not its fault that it did not succeed. The bottom line is that a lot of farmers across this country, beef producers and many others, multi-generation businesses, as my colleague from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo mentioned, are at risk of losing their farms. They have not changed. Their business has not changed. This is a political issue. This is a political trade dispute. The Liberal Party is the Government of Canada and it is its responsibility to deal with it.

If the hon. member is standing in his place and saying that he acknowledges that even though everything has been done and that the government has made its best efforts, it has been unable to help farmers across Canada, then I accept that admission of failure. Someone famous once said “Lead, follow or get out of the way”. I would suggest that if the government cannot lead any more on this file, then it should step aside, get out of the way and let someone else deal with it.

Agriculture October 12th, 2004

Mr. Chair, I will begin by thanking the voters of Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock. For those who do not know, my riding is in central Ontario. It is south of Algonquin Park tucked between Lake Simcoe and Peterborough. Lindsay is my riding's largest community but it is made up of many small villages and towns.

The northern part of my riding where I am from is known certainly to everyone in the Toronto area as part of cottage country. The southern part of my riding has a history of successful mixed farming that goes back almost 150 years. It is obviously those farmers that I am concerned about this evening and about whom I would like to speak.

Agriculture is and always has been a major industry in my riding. That is why I feel it so appropriate that my first speech in this place will focus on preserving a future for agriculture. The BSE crisis has had a devastating impact on many families in my riding and I fear the worst is yet to come.

BSE has hurt beef producers, but it has also hurt many others, such as sheep, goat, elk, deer and dairy producers. It has also hurt many businesses that rely on the primary engine of agriculture to drive a rural economy, things like implement dealers, truck drivers, auction barn employees, hay producers and seed dealers, to name just a few.

One week ago today as I listened to the Governor General deliver the Speech from the Throne, I waited patiently to hear what the Liberal government would have to say about the future of agriculture in Canada. I waited and waited and waited. Before I knew it, the speech was over and I realized that the subject of agriculture had not been raised at all. In fact, the word “agriculture” had never even crossed the lips of Her Excellency the Governor General.

Over the past week as I have listened to the debate on the Speech from the Throne, my mind has drifted beyond what I did not hear from the Liberals to what I really wanted to hear.

Prior to entering elected office, I worked for several years as a professional political speech writer. Just as music fans can dream about the greatest concert that was never given and sports fans can dream about the greatest match that was never played, speech writers can also dream about the greatest Speech from the Throne that was never delivered.

In that vein, here is what I would have liked to have seen written in last week's Speech from the Throne. It goes something like this:

“The Government of Canada acknowledges and appreciates the enormous contribution that farmers make, and have made, to Canadian society. The Government of Canada recognizes that farmers are important, and that the work they do to provide food for our families is crucial to the health, wealth and security of Canada”.

“In response to the crisis that now exists in agriculture across Canada through no fault of the farmers, but rather as a direct result of a trade conflict, the Government of Canada has declared a state of national crisis in agriculture. In so doing, the government will make the immediate management and ultimate resolution of this national crisis its number one priority”.

“The Prime Minister of Canada, together with the Minister of Agriculture, will assume co-management of this file until sufficient progress has been made so that this state of national crisis can be lifted”.

“The Government of Canada is committed to seeing farmers and the entire agricultural community through this difficult time, and to ensuring that our farmers keep on farming today, tomorrow, 10 years from now, and 50 years from now”.

“The Government of Canada wants farmers to know that they are valued members of Canadian society, and that they are valuable contributors to the Canadian economy”.

But alas, these words remain but a dream for they were not heard in Canada's Parliament last week. It is my expectation that such words will never be heard in this place until we have a Conservative government fully committed to creating a future for young farmers and a future for everyone in rural Canada.

In the meantime, I want farmers in my riding and across Canada to know that I and the Conservative Party will continue to make every effort to force this national crisis in agriculture onto the agenda of a reluctant and urban oriented Liberal government. I hope that one day I get to make the speech that I just referred to.

My final comment today has to do with something that was in the Montreal Gazette on Saturday, a story about Bombardier. I will quote two short sentences:

Federal Transport Minister Jean Lapierre says his government must move quickly to put together a package to persuade Bombardier Inc. to build its proposed new, larger airliner in Canada. Otherwise, Ottawa risks seeing Montreal lose hundreds more aerospace jobs, Lapierre said yesterday in an interview.

It is interesting to me that we are talking about tens of thousands of affected Canadians from coast to coast and there is no action but when an issue comes up in one of our large urban centres that may potentially affect hundreds of jobs, the government is willing to step forward. This article is suggesting $700 million.

Hmcs October 8th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week a tragic story jumped off the front pages of the national newspapers and into my constituency office in Lindsay, Ontario.

Yesterday I learned that Peter Bryan, brother-in-law to my executive assistant, Jamie Schmale, and older brother to his wife, Julia Bryan, is aboard HMCS Chicoutimi as its executive officer. Like so many other families, the Bryans have been awaiting word ever since that Peter is safe.

Last evening we were relieved to hear that HMCS Chicoutimi is being towed back to port and that the worst of this catastrophe may be behind us. Unfortunately this will be scant relief to the family of Lieutenant Chris Saunders who lost his life while serving his country.

This week's tragedy reminds us of the dangerous work that our armed forces perform daily on our behalf.

It should also remind the government of its solemn responsibility to provide our men and women in the armed forces with both modern and safe equipment.