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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was things.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Conservative MP for Saskatoon—University (Saskatchewan)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 42% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act November 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today in order to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Bill C-21 respecting not for profit corporations and other corporations without share capital. The bill is also to be known as the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act. This legislation will replace parts II and III of the Canada Corporations Act.

The government's intention in drafting Bill C-21 is to make it “easier for Canadians in the voluntary sector to take advantage of the protections offered by incorporation”, according to a November 17 release from the Department of Industry.

In short, the implied aim of Bill C-21 is to provide corporate directors with a better idea of their duties and responsibilities and to provide said officers with better protection against liabilities.

Other provisions of this legislation include improvements on financial oversight of the corporations and better member participation in corporate governance.

As I am not a lawyer, I must ask, what does all this legalese mean?

Officials from the department have assured my office that this legislation will make it easier for volunteers, especially those in small organizations, to incorporate and to become involved generally because their rights will be spelled out with respect to decisions by their own executives that have an impact on them.

Assuming this to be true, it is music to my ears. Giving grassroots a say in their own future has long been a trademark of Canada's Conservative political parties. It is nice to see that the enhancing of the rights of members to participate in their own organizations has made it into Bill C-21.

Perhaps the Prime Minister could read over the applicable clauses of Bill C-21 and work on his own democratic deficit in his own government.

Bill C-21 is also designed to provide “the accountability and transparency necessary to maintain public trust and confidence in the not-for-profit sector”, according to the Industry Canada November 15 new release.

Accountability, transparency and public trust are all important democratic concepts that this government across the way needs to work on, but I digress.

One of the most important stated features of Bill C-21 is the protection it says to provide to faith based corporations. It is my understanding that this legislation aims to prevent activists from using corporate law as a sword to attack faith based organizations for, among other things, not performing same sex marriages. This protection, if real, will surely be welcomed by faith based groups.

My fellow hon. members are constantly presenting petitions in the House calling for the definition of marriage to remain the voluntary union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, a position which I am on the record as supporting.

The millions of Canadians who support the traditional definition of marriage will be relieved if Bill C-21 provides a small measure of protection to such a crucial social institution in Canadian society.

For those volunteers watching from home, the faith based defence is found in clause 251 of the bill. Without reading all the subclauses under clauses 250 and 251 in the interests of time, it is important to note that paragraph 251(2)(c) states the court may not make an order to redress a corporation's oppressive or unfairly prejudicial action that disregards the interests of any shareholder, creditor, director, officer or member if:

(c) it was reasonable to base the act or omission, the conduct or the exercise of powers on the tenet of faith, having regard to the activities of the corporation.

This of course means a religious corporation.

It is not beyond the realm of possibility that a member of a religious corporation or affiliate thereof might feel oppressed because the faith based organization does not support same sex marriage. It remains to be seen how the courts are going to define the word “reasonable” in this context. If I may note, this subclause may need some strengthening when it goes to committee.

I can understand why the government would want to modernize legislation in order to expand governance for not for profit corporations since the Canada Corporations Act was last substantially amended during the first world war in 1917.

For example, it is a good thing to provide directors and officers of corporations better protection against liabilities, especially with the defence of due diligence. However, if this legislation means that in the end corporate directors will have to pay for thousands of dollars in directors' insurance, this requirement will create a dampening effect on the volunteer recruitment and sustainability of existing members.

It is a common practice that men and women involved in volunteer organizations to improve the life of their community often wear more than one hat. A person may be a member of the local volunteer fire department, the local golf or curling club and the Lions Club or the Kinsmen. The Royal Canadian Legion and other organizations are common in my riding. The federal government should not require that these volunteers take out directors' insurance, especially at a time when volunteer groups are in need of more members.

The work that volunteers provide to communities in my riding of Saskatoon—Humboldt is very important. Let me give an example. I was reading in the Wakaw Recorder , a paper published in my riding, that volunteers are building an addition to the curling rink. Curling club bonspiels, raffles, concessions, sales and donations raised about $12,000 for the Wakaw Curling Centre to provide a new water supply and upgrade the curling stones.

It is time to recognize the sweat equity that volunteers such as these put in day after day, year after year, which improves the lives of Canadians in communities large and small across the country. It is for this reason that I stand here and voice my opposition to Bill C-21.

Even though the inclusion of faith based defence in the bill may offer some respite upon the assault upon traditional marriages across Canada, this is a very technical, complex bill. While legislation regarding not for profit groups needs to be updated, the complexity of Bill C-21, especially the blizzard of requirements that would be imposed on the volunteer sector, would make it harder for groups to attract new blood.

The classified ad section of any newspaper has columns of ads from organizations needing new members to help housebound seniors, volunteer for the local hospital, raise funds to build a new community hall or provide playground equipment. The need for volunteers and the time they provide out of already busy lives is at a premium.

Now, thanks to Bill C-21, not for profit corporations, the vast majority that are respectable corporate citizens, will have to change their bylaws, their constitutions and hire auditors and pay for liability insurance.

Second, I will note as a member of the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology that I do not believe this bill should be sent to committee before second reading. The government should have come to committee with legislation in draft form for review.

By Industry Canada's own admission, Bill C-21 is a complex technical bill. The bill needs extensive hearings and the industry committee needs to hear from a cross-section of witnesses representing the 18,000 federally incorporated not for profit corporations. Debate is limited to 180 minutes in the House. Under regular rules for second reading, there would be unlimited debate. What this government is doing is limiting debate.This is not fair to the democratic process or the millions of volunteers who would have to work under these heavy regulatory requirements.

Reference to committee before second reading allows this minority government to say to Canadians that if they do not like it they can take their current concerns about the bill to committee, thereby making the committee process the scapegoat in a minority situation. It is also a neat way of using up the committee's time.

The government had two options on how to handle a bill as complex as Bill C-21. The first was to send draft legislation to committee or, if the Liberal government believed in this creation, it should have had the courage to send it through the proper processes and allow all members enough time to make the legislation better.

It is for these reasons that I oppose the current Bill C-21.

Office of the Auditor General November 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the Treasury Board minister implied just a few minutes ago, yesterday the Auditor General said that she will not be able to do her job because the government is cutting her budget by 15%.

Why is the Prime Minister undercutting the Auditor General? Is it to punish her for uncovering Liberal waste and corruption?

Criminal Code November 15th, 2004

Madam Speaker, it is a very serious piece of legislation that we deal with here today, which is not to imply that any other legislation is not serious. The core of the legislation, the attempt that is being made in the bill has at its roots an attempt to protect human life, something of which we must not lose sight.

Whenever people get behind the wheel of a vehicle while impaired, they not only threaten their own lives, but they threaten the lives and well-being of everyone that comes in contact with them. I stress this point because in parliamentary debate it is often too easy to forget the people involved. It is too easy to merely recite numbers, statistics and facts and forget that each person affected by our legislation is very real, has a family, has friends and has a vibrant life.

No legislation should just be for public relations purposes. Legislation that impacts on human life should be even more thoroughly reviewed so that we will not need to revisit the matter in the future and so that we will not need to fix areas that we had overlooked in the first consideration of a bill.

Having said all that, when I look at the legislation, the first question that comes to my mind is, how does this piece of legislation fit in with an overall strategy? How does the legislation fit in with the government's strategy for dealing not just with impairment of drivers, but with an overall drug strategy?

I pose the rhetorical question, does the government have an overall comprehensive plan in dealing with the drug abuse problem that Canadian society is dealing with, or is there only a piecemeal approach? Is there only a firefighter mentality, that when we have a problem, let us only then deal with it?

I think of some of the problems that have been reported in my home city of Saskatoon. According to police reports over the last year, the amount of crystal meth has quadrupled in the city of Saskatoon. The drug problems in Canada need to be tackled with renewed vigour. More than just minor tinkering with legislation is needed. We need an aggressive approach to deal with the entire drug abuse problem, a problem that extends far beyond drug impaired driving.

Having set the broad landscape in which the bill lies, let me deal with some of the specific elements of the bill. The aims and goals of the bill should be commended. I have spoken with substance abuse counsellors and a retired police officer and the reaction has generally been positive. They appreciate the enhanced ability of law enforcement officers to administer assessments of driver impairment. They view this as a necessary step, if only the first step.

It raises the question as to how we can implement this in the practical sense. How efficient and how accurate will the assessments be? This is relevant for a very simple reason. The law is useless if it cannot be brought into force. It will have no effect if it cannot be enforced in the very streets of our nation. It is for this reason that one must question the seriousness of the government's commitment to this issue.

According to my briefings on the legislation, the training of law enforcement officers in these techniques will not be completed until 2008, four years from now. If anything expresses my frustration, this is it. Drug impaired driving has long been a problem in Canada, yet the government seems not to have made it a priority. Any effort that the government can undertake to speed the training of law enforcement officials should be done. As I stated earlier in my speech, it is ultimately a matter of human life. It should be given the highest priority.

I would also like to offer my encouragement to the government to act with all haste on the technological front.

It is my understanding that for many of the drugs, there is no effective test, no effective technology. There is no equivalent to the breathalyzer for alcohol.

Be it in conjunction with other jurisdictions or through enhanced efforts of the government, all attempts should be made to prioritize and provide law enforcement officials with the technology they need to effectively enforce this legislation. There are two specific reasons that I understand this would be necessary.

First, it is my understanding it is more difficult for prosecutors to prosecute if they do not have the scientific technological evidence. While I am not a lawyer, this does seem to me to be a problem prosecutors may face. It goes back to my earlier point that for the law to be real, it must be enforceable.

The second reason is that the technology will help to catch impaired drivers that other techniques may overlook. No peace officer will ever be 100% accurate and no technology will ever be 100% accurate, but the combination of trained officers and enhanced technology should make for safer streets.

The final point I would like to make on this bill is its relation to other legislation. As I stated earlier, no bill can be seen on its own. It must be seen in the light of an entire legislative and policy agenda.

As seems clear from other legislation, the government seems intent on decriminalizing, and in my opinion I believe eventually fully legalizing marijuana. This legislation, Bill C-16, seems nothing but an attempt to deal with some of the problems that other legislation will cause. The bill seems to be a classic case of closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.

Will the legislation stand on its own merits? One must really ask why the government, after a decade in power, is only now bringing this legislation before the House. The answer is that this legislation is an attempt to cover for other failings in other legislation.

Let me close by offering the government some general advice on the bill and the overall policy with regard to drug abuse and drug impaired driving in Canada.

The government should deal with the root of the problem. By the time a driver gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, a failure has already occurred.

A tough law and order campaign might be a good start. Being tough on first time drug abusers not only helps society at large, but it also helps the abuser. In short, a tough love approach, an aggressive approach will help not only society but much more, the abuser involved.

Second, the government should not decriminalize marijuana. This is an area where we should show leadership. We should not enable drug abusers. We should not enable drug abusers to have a discount in purchasing their drugs. That is the effect of the government's overall agenda.

What the government seeks to control with Bill C-16 it seeks to encourage with Bill C-17. We must be consistent in our actions. We must move to defend the citizens of Canada from the dangers of drug impaired drivers.

This legislation in itself is a positive step, but we need to do more. We need a full comprehensive approach to this problem.

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

Mr. Speaker, I have a comment and then a question for the member. I do not know if the member knows it, but in Saskatchewan we too have steelworkers. IPSCO in Regina is a steel producer.

One of the things noted in a newspaper article in the Regina Leader-Post some years ago was that at that time the possible implementation of the Kyoto accord could increase the cost for electricity 25% for IPSCO thus killing off steelworkers' jobs in Regina and of course steelworkers' jobs all across the country.

How does the member bring together his party's support for the Kyoto accord, which according to the steel industry will kill steelworkers' jobs? How does he bring that together with his professed support for the steelworkers in his riding?

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

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of questions for the minister. In particular, he has been talking about environmental costs. I am interested in how Kyoto and the environmental plan, when they come forward, will impact a couple of areas of transportation and agriculture.

One thing that has been noted by the fertilizer industry of Canada, as Kyoto goes forward, is that the demand for natural gas will rise considerably, leading to a point where it will no longer be economical for fertilizer plants to use Canadian natural gas, thus killing off the fertilizer industry.

My first question is, has the government researched how much farmers will face in increased fertilizer costs? How much will this add to the bottom line. I am sure the minister knows that farmers are already suffering. They have intense international competition and this will continue to drive up their costs. I wonder if the government has thought of that.

I also wonder if the government was aware that many pollution devices for engines, automobiles and tractors take energy to run. They clean out the pollutants that actually cause smog, but they cause more fuel to be burned in the process, thus creating more carbon dioxide. My follow up question is, has the government thought through that reducing carbon dioxide emissions from these vehicles, tractors and so forth, would actually increase the smog?

Justice October 15th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. On Wednesday when the minister was asked about closing loopholes for child pornographers, he said that we must “protect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”.

Why does the government use the charter as an excuse to protect pornographers instead of children?

Prime Minister of Australia October 15th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate a Liberal of vision, a Liberal of integrity, a Liberal prime minister who has shown real leadership in this world; a prime minister whose economic management has been second to none and whose presence on the world stage has made a nation proud.

I am of course referring to the recently re-elected Mr. John Howard, the Liberal prime minister of Australia, a leader whose conservative policies of integrity in government, lower taxes and a strong and well-equipped military have brought his nation 13 straight years of solid economic growth.

It is a shame that our Liberal Prime Minister's record is one of higher taxes, corruption in government and a systematic weakening of our armed forces.

If Canada had a government with the same principles, integrity and vision as Mr. Howard, then Canada could be proud, but then Canada would need to have a Conservative government.

Agriculture October 7th, 2004

Mr. Chair, this is my first intervention in the House. I would like to thank the people of my riding of Saskatoon--Humboldt for electing me to represent them in the House.

It is a great honour and privilege to represent this riding, particularly in light of the history of some of the previous members from long ago who represented the riding. In particular, I think of the former Prime Minister, Mr. Diefenbaker, who represented most of the rural portion of my riding. Mr. Diefenbaker was a Prime Minister who stood for the farmers of Canada, and who unlike this government actually delivered for the farmers of Canada.

My question for the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands is following on something said earlier by a colleague. One of the things we note is that most of these programs are provincially shared. In particular, looking at a document produced by the parliamentary library, it notes that the provincial share contributed by the Province of Saskatchewan as of September 26, 2004, was a mere $12.5 million. For Saskatchewan's 3.5 million cattle it works out to $3.50 per head.

Does the member think that the Calvert government has done an adequate job in providing only $3.50 per head as of this date, September 26?