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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was fact.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Richmond Hill (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Budget March 2nd, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question. It is clearly outlined that in the most populous province in the country there has obviously been provincial restructuring of hospitals, et cetera, and these dollars will be extremely important to making sure that residents who live in Ontario will be able to get the kind of health care they need.

Again, in conjunction with the provinces, there is no question that these dollars will obviously be used by the provinces effectively. The Ontario government, having signed the health accord, has committed to making sure that the issue of chronic care beds that are needed and reducing the waiting period for ER as an example will be dealt with.

We hear the Premier of Ontario telling us that this is a good budget and therefore he likes where these priorities are going.

The Budget March 2nd, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I certainly applaud the government's moving in the right direction with regard to the money for our military.

Governments are elected usually from four to five years and they cannot do everything in one budget. It is a major step toward improving the quality of life for armed services personnel. It is clearly $525 million better than we had before this budget. It clearly addresses many of the issues that the standing committee reported on. The Minister of National Defence has done an excellent job in listening to those concerns, providing those concerns to the Minister of Finance and clearly we are on the right road.

The Budget March 2nd, 1999

I would point out facts to the opposition members if they would stop heckling over there and listen for a minute but unfortunately they are not very good listeners. They like to prevaricate the truth but they do not like to listen to the real facts.

We are doing the job. We are continuing to do the job. In terms of providing the necessary health care, we have given the provinces and the territories the tools to do the job.

I would defy members of the opposition to put their health proposals on the table in comparison to this government's.

The Budget March 2nd, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I referred to members of the fifth party as taking advice on fire prevention from an arsonist. Listening to the official opposition, it is like asking a pyromaniac to hold the matches for safekeeping.

Our record speaks for itself. Very clearly we have done the job. That party would dismantle the health care system in this country. That party would take apart the very foundation that Canadians have in place.

The Budget March 2nd, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to participate in this debate and to focus on health care. I would like to say to my friends from the fifth party who are dispensing advice on the budget that it is like learning fire prevention from an arsonist.

Given the fact that they left us with a $42 billion deficit, I cannot really believe that we can take some of their comments very seriously. I would point out to members of the fifth party when they talk about 1995 levels that we are talking not about borrowed money. This $11.5 billion is not borrowed money. I ask members to keep that in mind.

This government has continued to build on the strong fiscal foundation that was first started in 1993. Our economic house was in a serious state of disrepair. Our financial house was sinking with a $42 billion deficit, unemployment which had gone through the roof and investor confidence that was sluggish. The government rolled up its sleeves and presented to Canadians the state of our financial affairs. Canadians rallied to the cause. They understood that large deficits and astronomical debt would cripple Canada for generations to come.

Governing means that one has to establish priorities and has to work with all sectors of society to rebuild our economy. The 1999 budget continues to build on the sound and prudent fiscal management that the Minister of Finance has put into place over the past five years.

Canadians embraced the deficit reduction strategies of the government. Together we have been able to eliminate the deficit, bring in two balanced budgets and forecast two more balanced budgets. In 1998-99 Canada will balance the books or better. It is the first time since 1951-52 that the government has been deficit free for two consecutive years.

The Government of Canada has recorded four consecutive balanced budgets, which is only the third time since Confederation. Canada is the only G-7 nation to do so with a strong fiscal discipline to help Canada get into a position to focus again on the priorities that matter to Canadians.

Today I would like to focus on one of those priorities and that is health care. Investing in Canadians and in the future of health care is the cornerstone of this budget. Our publicly funded health care system is one of the key elements that defines our identity. Canadians point with pride to this particular social program. It is a policy that has helped to shape our quality of life as a nation.

Canadians have been increasingly worried about the future of health care. They are worried that this comprehensive program will not be there when they need it. Canadians told us that they want a health care system that will be able to meet the needs and the challenges of the 21st century.

The Canadian government, working in partnership with the provinces and territories and the volunteer sector, provides leadership in developing policies, enforcing health regulations, promoting disease prevention, enhancing healthy living and in strengthening and securing our health care system.

The government provides funding for provincial and territorial health systems throughout Canada through the health and social transfer, the CHST. This budget provided the largest single new investment in health care, $11.5 billion over five years for the health of Canadians. Again, it was not borrowed money.

In addition to these increased transfers this budget injected $1.4 billion over three years into a number of important health initiatives.

The recent federal, provincial and territorial health agreement reaffirmed all government support for the five principles of the Canada Health Act: universality, comprehensiveness, accessibility, portability and public administration.

This budget provides through future increases in the CHST $8 billion, an additional $3.5 billion as an immediate one time supplement that the provinces will have the flexibility to draw down on according to their needs, according to their own priorities.

For provinces like Ontario this budget proposes to eliminate provincial disparities of CHST allocation over the next three years. The provinces will then receive identical per capita CHST entitlements.

Further, investments in the health of Canadians this year and over the next three years include developing and improving health information systems to assist in establishing a more integrated, effective and appropriate system of health care.

In a round table I had in my riding last year on this with the Minister of Health, that was the very important issue that was brought to the fore. I am very pleased to see the minister responding in this way.

Areas of other investment include the Canadian institutes for health information, the Canadian health network, the Canadian healthy infoway and Health Canada information, improving accountability.

If we examine the Canadian health network as an example, this network will provide Canadians with one stop shopping for credible, current information on health promotion and disease, prevention, self-care and the performance of the health system.

In my riding of Oak Ridges hospitals such as York Central Hospital and Markham—Stouffville Hospital will benefit from these initiatives.

In fast growing communities like Richmond Hill, the tools have been given to address issues related to the ever increasing demands on our health care system.

York Central Hospital has told me that the federal budget is indeed good news, that it is a positive step that will help it relieve the increasing pressures to meet the growing health care needs of our rapidly growing community.

I point out, as did the member for Don Valley East, that the health care budget is a step in the right direction on a long term approach to working with our partners, the provincial and municipal governments, on one of the causes of homelessness.

Many people who live with mental illness are homeless because they were discharged from institutions like hospitals. By targeting health care in this budget, by providing the provinces with more money for health, we are dealing with this issue.

I congratulate the Minister of Finance for listening to Canadians and for providing the necessary dollars to make sure we continue to have the best health care system in the world.

First Nations Land Management Act March 1st, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I will continue my remarks with regard to the impact of the framework on municipal governments. As the former president of the federation of municipalities and as a member of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, I offer the following perspectives.

We prefer that first nations and their neighbours work out issues among themselves without our interference. We strongly believe this bill and the framework agreement will pave the way for better understanding and closer relationships between first nations and neighbouring municipal governments. They remove some of the constraints that impede the building of partnerships between first nations and neighbouring communities.

First nations recognize the necessity of consulting with neighbouring municipal governments to establish long term co-ordinated approaches to development and servicing. These consultative processes are already in place. First nations are already working with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities to develop the appropriate consultation mechanism.

In its January 20 response to this issue, the UBCM indicated that on the recommendation of the aboriginal affairs committee, the UBCM executive endorsed in principle the idea of mutual consultation. The letter also stated: “Further, the aboriginal affairs committee believes that the ideas contained in the draft discussion paper attached hereto are a very good starting point for the negotiation”.

In other words the UBCM supports that in the following areas: the land use plans in existence at the time of agreement and in the future; environmental impacts for development on their lands; the provision of local infrastructure and services to their residents; cross-boundary land use issues; other matters of general concern relating to land development and its effect on the respective adjoining lands. Consultation and discussions will occur in a round table format to which all parties will be invited. Individual agreements between neighbouring B.C. first nations and B.C. local governments will be encouraged. The local governments affected in support would be Vancouver, North Vancouver and Kelowna along with the five first nations already mentioned. I mention that particularly for my colleagues across the way.

Various land and resource management initiatives will again proceed. First nations will be able to sign servicing agreements with their neighbours on such matters as water, sewer services, schools, roads, and so on. In one case one first nation has already loaned money to a neighbouring municipal government to help complete a water project.

I also point out that there are over 100 active service agreements between first nations and neighbouring municipal governments in the province of British Columbia in the areas of water, sewer, transportation and schools.

I further point out that the Centre for Municipal Aboriginal Affairs which is based in Ottawa would indicate again how, from a best practices standpoint, first nations and municipal governments work together not only in British Columbia but right across the country.

I would like to address the concerns of third parties who are neither provincial nor municipal. They are, for the most part, individuals or associations representing individuals who have leased property on first nations land. Let me emphasize that any interest currently held by third parties will transfer to the jurisdiction of the first nation with the original terms and conditions intact. At the expiration of these interests, the lessee, like lessees anywhere in Canada, will have the opportunity to negotiate directly with the first nations to remain on first nations land.

Members will appreciate that while provinces and municipal governments were consulted extensively in the development of this act, the department had neither the resources nor the time to consult with individual lessees affected. Some meetings did take place, however. For example, department officials met with the Ontario Association of Cottage Owners last September and most recently with the Musqueam Home Park lessees. Wherever the concerns of third party leases were brought to the government's attention, federal officials did meet to try to address these concerns.

Third party tenants will not have an opportunity to vote or have input into the land code because they have no proprietary rights to the effect that lands are on the existing lease, licence or permit. Therefore voting rights under this regime have been restricted to those directly affected by the delegation process under the Indian Act who do hold proprietary rights to the affected lands, in other words the band members.

This House can be assured that individual third party leases are and will continue to be notified by Canada and the first nation where the first nation opts to come under the new regime. The framework agreement and this bill require that they be informed of the proposed land code, the first nations land management act and the date of the vote.

One of the attentions of the new land management regime is to foster partnerships between interested parties such as provincial governments, municipal governments and private industries that deal with first nations on a daily basis. We hope that all will participate in making sure that the relationships foster mutual respect and co-operation.

Division No. 319 March 1st, 1999

Madam Speaker, I would like to speak in support of Bill C-49, the first nations land management act. As a member of the standing committee I will point out a number of things with regard to the amendments presented today.

The bill is a very important step for the 14 signatories who have worked hard to negotiate the framework agreement. Hon. members will appreciate the impact of the bill and that the framework agreement extends beyond individuals communities and their relationships with the federal government. Third parties are affected.

Over the course of past months we have seen considerable discussion and the impact land codes made possible under the bill may have on provinces, municipal governments and individual tenants on first nation lands. There has been some misunderstanding and I would like to set the record straight.

I will address the issues of each of these third parties. The theme is common to all. Even though the third parties have no direct say in the creation or ratification of the land codes, they have been and will be kept well informed of the process for creating a first nations land management regime.

I will outline the issues raised by the provincial governments affected. British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick are not signatories to the framework agreement because the issues addressed are within federal jurisdiction. However the new regimes provide for the participation of provinces in matters that normally fall within or could affect their jurisdiction such as the administration of justice, environmental protection and assessment.

Both federal and first nation representatives consulted with these provinces throughout the development of the framework agreement in the bill before us. Moreover, the provinces which do not have participating first nations have also been informed of the new regime. We consulted on the issue by removing provincial expropriation powers. We consulted on the extent of the expropriation powers for first nations. We consulted on environmental protection regimes.

The framework agreement and the bill reflect a balance that has been struck as a result of taking provincial interests and needs into account.

The bottom line is that we have been consulting with the provinces on an ongoing basis to resolve these issues to the greatest extent possible. We consulted the province of British Columbia regarding the impact of the framework agreement and order in council 1036 and privy council order 208 which provide for British Columbia's power to resume its authority over a portion of the reserve lands; in fact one-twentieth of the lands.

Discussions have been ongoing throughout the development and introduction of the bill. British Columbia has given strong assurances that the legislation will not affect these orders. The Government of Canada has given B.C. the assurance that the legislation affects only the Indian Act and not other existing orders in council or legislation.

I will turn to the impact of the bill and the framework agreement on municipalities. Being the former president of the federation of municipalities I can speak with some authority as to the impact and the issues with regard to my colleagues from the municipal sector in British Columbia. The Union of British Columbia Municipalities had similar concerns to those of the province. It sought to have a provision for mandatory consultation included in the legislation respecting any development of first nation land.

We see in this example the reason it is important for the framework agreement and the bill to go through. For the first time municipal governments are concerned about land management in neighbouring reserves. The first nations communities are rightfully concerned about land management, and that takes place in neighbouring communities.

The five British Columbia signatory first nations have been working with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities. The first nations have received a letter from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities supporting the first nation consultation process and mechanisms for discussion. Under the existing regime the federal government gets involved in the process.

Let us imagine if the situation took place with two communities, neither of which was a first nation. The citizens of those communities would not welcome federal government interference. They would not tolerate it. It should be up to the communities to resolve the issues using existing law where necessary.

The bill and the framework agreement allow first nations and neighbouring municipal governments to work out issues between themselves without federal interference. The municipal governments and the signatory first nations have met to address mutual concerns. Both parties agreed to provide letters of assurance that each will consult with the other on an issue.

Neighbouring municipal governments will not be consulted when the land codes are developed by first nations. There are several reasons for this.

National Flag Day February 15th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, today we are celebrating the anniversary of Canada's national flag.

Our flag was raised for the first time in 1965 and for the past 34 years has been a most prominent symbol of our identity and our sense of belonging to Canada. Because it represents our achievements and hopes, our aspirations and all things that we hold dear in this country, because it illustrates 132 years of collective history, the maple leaf inspires a profound feeling of pride in each of us.

Because it symbolizes the values we hold dear, freedom, tolerance, compassion and understanding, and because it recalls Canada's role in defence of human rights and in peacekeeping and rescue missions abroad, the Canadian flag has become the emblem of democracy all around the world.

I hope that the anniversary of the Canadian flag will strengthen our sense of belonging and our faith in this country as today and every day we realize the tremendous blessings of belonging to this vast and beautiful land.

Year 2000 February 11th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, this is Y2K week, with 10 months to go before the year 2000. Can the Secretary of State for Western Economic Diversification tell us what the government is doing to assist small and medium size businesses to prepare?

Supply February 11th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague. She is on the finance committee and she does have a very clear view of what this government has been doing.

There is no question that in the last budget 400,000 Canadians came off the tax rolls and 90% of Canadians benefited from tax relief. There is no question that 1.5 million people have been put back to work.

When we talk about self-reliance, what the member is suggesting and I would like her to comment on is the fact that the government has a clear plan. We cannot do everything. We are criticized by the opposition when we do not spend money, and when we do spend money they criticize. When we give tax cuts they say it is not enough. Clearly it is a lot easier to talk than it is to act.

This government is acting. This government has a clear plan of what it is doing. It is taking a step by step approach. Not everything is done in one year. Governments are elected for a maximum of five years. I would like the hon. member to comment on that type of approach.