House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was reform.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Conservative MP for Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 62% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Saint-Maurice Constituency April 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, Canadian taxpayers were angered to awake this morning to find a story in the Montreal Gazette outlining the federal government's intentions to invest $4.8 million of their hard-earned dollars on a theme park in the Prime Minister's home town.

This project, which I suggest they call Jean's World, calls into question the new politics that were promised in the Liberal red book by continuing the tradition of rewarding the Prime Minister's home ridings with useless patronage projects.

I remind the members opposite of how loudly they bleated when Brian Mulroney built the patronage prison in Baie Comeau. In comparison, the reaction from the members opposite regarding the Prime Minister's patronage park is the silence of the lambs.

Direct Democracy April 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the city of Rossland, British Columbia has regularized direct democracy through the use of citizens initiatives.

Rossland has adopted a constitution that gives taxpayers the right to challenge council's decisions. It has energized community participation, protected the public process from interest groups, saved taxpayers money and surprise, it has not resulted in irresponsible decisions.

One hundred and fifty years ago politicians wondered aloud if lay people could be trusted to vote. A century ago they questioned whether women could handle the power of suffrage.

Today some politicians ask the question: Can the average citizen be trusted to make decisions between elections? Well history reveals and the experience in Rossland confirms that the answer is a resounding yes.

Let us put aside our private political agendas and get on with the agenda of the people by giving citizens a way to challenge and even initiate federal legislation.

Supply April 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, there was not really a question at the end of that but I certainly caught the gist of the member's comments. I can try and understand historically some of the frustrations, not being from Quebec.

Overall the French culture and the French language have done very well within the Canadian context. The people the member mentioned who went south into the United States were not able to hang on to their culture and their language by and large and they have lost that and have become assimilated.

As I mentioned earlier, there were wrongs in the past. To take note of them and try to rectify them where we can is obviously what Canadians have tried to do. A further mistake would be to

try and redress past wrongs in a way that exacerbates another problem somewhere else.

Our motion is to try and get at the nub of the issue which is where numbers warrant and where there is significant need for the French language outside of Quebec then those services should be provided; likewise in Quebec where there is significant demand for the English language.

I will use my own province as an example. French barely makes the top ten languages in British Columbia. Chinese is by far the second most frequently used language. In my own riding people who are either unilingually German or use German as their mother tongue outnumber French-speaking people perhaps 200 to 1.

Where there are numbers and where we can justify it and where we can financially afford it, for that reason, because we want to provide it, I say let us provide it. We cannot have a Canada wide policy to try to redress some wrongs from the early part of this century. It is not practical. I do not think we can afford it. I do not think it redresses those wrongs and makes people feel better. If it did we would have unanimity. As it is we have people who are actually driven apart by the act.

Supply April 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I will dive right into my speech without commenting on some of the things that have gone on.

In his report to the Prime Minister of England a century ago, Lord Durham's characterization of Canada was profound and enduring. He described English and French Canada as two nations warring within the bosom of a single state. We cannot hide the unfortunate reality that there have always been varying levels of tension between the two groups.

Because of their numbers the English have in times past enjoyed the lion's share of political power within Canada. We find an example in the federal civil service which employed very few francophones in proportion to their share of the population. Federal services were almost unavailable in French, which was clearly unjust. In Ottawa, the nation's capital and an hour and a half from four million francophones, many services were simply unavailable in both official languages.

For nearly a century there was very little overt reaction but Quebec underwent a fundamental transformation after the second world war. After it had served there so nobly like a sleeping giant, Quebec shook itself awake and it defined itself as Confederation's underprivileged partner. Its intellectual elite began to pursue redress with a vengeance in a quiet revolution.

The Canadian way is the way of compromise. Some see this as a political weakness. That can be true, but in general the way of compromise is the way of peace and reconciliation. Rwanda is a nation without compromise. The democratization of South Africa we hope will be an example of noble compromise.

The Liberal government saw that compromise was necessary in order to keep Quebec within Confederation. Under Pearson

the federal government began to right the old wrongs in part by providing services in French and hiring more francophones.

It also passed an act of Parliament in 1969. The Official Languages Act was designed to quell calls for Quebec's independence. Its architect was Pierre Trudeau and his purpose was to satisfy other Quebec intellectuals by making federal services bilingual across Canada. The notion that some federal employees might not want to become bilingual did not appeal to Mr. Trudeau. The fact that there might be no demand for it in certain regions did not concern him. The cost of this venture went unestimated.

Twenty-five years later what do we find? Has the purpose of the act been fulfilled? Is Quebec satisfied? With the expenditure of over $600 million a year is Quebec now more comfortable within Confederation? I should say not. Quebec is closer than ever before to separation and the Bloc Quebecois is calling the act a failure.

On April 12 the Commissioner for Official Languages tabled a report that describes in detail not how civil servants across this land have embraced bilingualism, not how services are now adequate in both languages, not how the administration of the policy has been cost effective, no. The commissioner reported a litany of bilingual woe across Canada.

Many offices designated as bilingual can hardly deliver the service. Offices that have virtually no demand are hounded by the commissioner's language police to display bilingual signage. Imagine a Canada employment centre in Saskatoon being rebuked by the commissioner for putting up an ad for a job that was not translated perfectly. This rebuke came in response to one complaint and this is in Saskatoon. The commissioner forced the letter of the law upon an unwilling office.

Let me talk about a small post office in my constituency in the community of Sardis, B.C. The Official Languages Act says that where there is a significant demand for two languages, the service shall be provided by the Government of Canada. There is no definition of the word significant in the act although it does define a bilingual district as an area where 10 per cent of the population speaks the minority language.

To transfer the meaning of the word significant to my constituency, it would require a population of at least 8,000 people with French as their mother tongue to require services in French. After the last census the government determined there was a significant number of francophones who needed bilingual services in the tiny Sardis post office.

What does the word significant mean to the government? One point seven per cent of the population identifies their mother tongue as French. That is 1.7 per cent. Far fewer actually speak the language. That is their mother tongue. To top it off there was not one request in the post office for service in French, not one ever. Yet bilingual service must be provided. This is just one example of a silly policy that becomes horrendously expensive when it is repeated in different ways thousands of times across Canada.

It is no wonder bilingualism costs $660 million every year. That is only the official figure. Add in the administrative inefficiencies, enforcement, lost opportunities and the opportunity costs and the real world figure is much higher.

A comprehensive study done by Scott Reid says it seems reasonable to set this overhead cost at approximately 5 per cent of all public service staffing costs or $951 million per year.

Donald Savoie, a noted Canadian scholar, hikes the figure to 20 per cent.

Is this incredible cost necessary to hold Canada together? Are French and English bound only by the glue of this frustrating, burdensome regulation, inefficiency and waste? Why maintain a charade of bilingualism when after trying and spending for 25 years people still do not want it?

If the loss of the Official Languages Act would cause Quebec to separate then the act must be one of the main pillars on which this country rests. We managed for a century without such an act. Is bilingualism really the substance of Canadian unity? I do not believe it.

Canada is much greater than that. Canada possesses the only cords strong enough to bind a nation together. They are not the shackles of language law, they are historic ties, unity within diversity, the bonds of shared sacrifice, shared elements of culture, shared hopes and values, bandaged where necessary with generosity and good will.

Petty arguments over language cannot sever the fundamental oneness felt between all Canadians. Like a storm on the ocean, there may be tumult above but beneath the waves the deep waters lie undisturbed.

I am grieved that the Bloc Quebecois, along with other intellectuals, has created such a storm in Quebec. Even though the problems of inequity are largely resolved, the media and the politicians have for 20 years repeated their perception that vast inequities still persist. They have trumpeted this concept and held out false promises to persuade people to pursue them in their folly.

What will be the result of their actions? Every Canadian of every group will suffer, chief among them the people of Quebec.

I question the attitude of the Bloc when I hear of its support for unilingualism in Quebec, asserting at the same time that even if Quebec separates the federal government should force bilingualism on English Canada. This is not the spirit of the tolerance and generosity that has helped make Canada one of the

best places in the world to live. This is the kind of political ambition that breeds mistrust and anger.

The Commissioner of Official Languages expressed a great principle at the beginning of his report when he quoted Montesquieu: "Nothing is just merely because it forms part of the law; rather, it should be law because it is just".

The commissioner said that the form of law must reflect the substance of justice. The law simply reflects an underlying reality. I agree fully with that concept. Where there is significant demand, as our motion states, it is only just that bilingual services reflect that demand. The Official Languages Act is an attempt to change Canadian reality, to shape a different Canada, to create a new reality by forcing bilingualism coast to coast on what is frequently an unwilling population. It is expensive, it is intrusive and it is unnecessary.

The Reform Party does not oppose bilingualism. All Canadians would profit by learning another language if they would like to. Reformers are not unkind or insensitive to the rights of minorities. The Official Languages Act is not the act that makes us kind or sensitive. It is my desire and the desire of Reformers to make law reflecting underlying reality by giving jurisdiction over language to the provinces and using federal powers to protect all minorities from linguistic injustices.

We live in a changing Canada. Millions of new Canadians today were born neither French nor English. They too deserve to become part of the Canadian language equation.

The Reform Party of Canada wants to effect a new Canadian compromise, to reach out to French Canadians to cement and rebuild our great national home, not on the artificial, unstable basis of language or ethnicity but on the sure foundation of mutual respect, understanding and equality for all races, cultures and languages; on the desire for peace and prosperity rather than on power, anger or unrest.

To this new vision of Canada we pledge ourselves today and I invite all members to join with us in this grand adventure.

Supply April 18th, 1994

I would just like to ask a question of the member. I guess we do not all realize that we are all trying to arrive at a better solution for Canada. I guess that is not accepted and I do not know what I can do to put the concerns of the hon. member to rest on some of these things.

Just as an example of a policy gone too far, I have an electrician in my riding who tried to get a copy from Employment Canada of the major contractors and locations of the major projects in British Columbia. This document is available and was submitted to the employment office in British Columbia. It is a catalogue, something like a Simpsons-Sears catalogue, and it is a significant document with hundreds and hundreds of locations, jobs and so on.

When he found out about this he went to the employment office and asked if he could have a copy of that so he could get on with his job search. He has been out of work for several months. He was told, although the document was brandished across the desk, that until it was translated into both official languages he

was not allowed to have it so that he could get on with his job search.

He sits, as I speak, at home waiting for the translation. It will take several weeks, in which case he sits there, and he has been on my doorstep as well, asking why can he not get that when in my riding I think there are 40 unilingual French people.

I realize we can provide the service to them but for the 70,000 people, a good number of whom are looking for jobs, they want to have access to that document.

It seems that it is a good idea sometimes, a good concept, but it is pushed so far, pushed to such an extreme that this person sits on the unemployment roles waiting for access to this document.

Official Languages April 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am merely responding. My initial question was to the comments made by the minister last week that they do not really know the true cost. I am wondering how we are going to determine that.

The first Commissioner of Official Languages, Keith Spicer, said in 1975: "It would seem more sensible to pull the whole lot of linguistic items together, tote up the terrifying sum, then publish and defend the thing".

Two decades later we still do not know the true cost. Will we have to wait another two decades before we see Mr. Spicer's proposals put into practice?

Official Languages April 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

We are still trying to find out the true cost of the official languages program in Canada. For example, the commissioner states that the armed forces spent $35 million on bilingualism last fiscal year. The department gives the cost as $47 million but adds that the cost may actually be much higher.

Will the minister admit that his government does not know the real cost of bilingualism and will he establish an accurate system to determine the total cost?

Taxation April 12th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the ultimate tax revolt occurred at the Boston Tea Party of 1773 and the rallying cry behind it was "no taxation without representation".

Did the Americans do wrong in opposing British taxation without representation in the British Parliament?-of course not. Taxation with representation is not only an entrenched concept in our Liberal democracy. It is a fundamental rule of fairness and common sense.

The burden of debt this government is inflicting on our nation will fall on the shoulders of Canadians not yet old enough to vote. They seem to go unrepresented in this government, yet they deserve a say in the spending habits of their parents because they are the ones who will end up paying the bills.

Parliament does not have the luxury of sending mixed signals to money markets, investors and taxpayers, but most especially we need to send a strong, unified message to young Canadians. Let us start treating taxpayers' dollars like funds held in trust.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994 April 12th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I always take heart, and it happens so frequently in the House as the previous hon. member mentioned, in talking about privileges of the House. The other thing that always impresses me is how passionately every member speaks about his or her own riding as they introduce the subject of what it is that makes their riding. Often it is called a microcosm of the Canadian identity. Often each member in their own way does represent that here in the House and it is always encouraging to me when I hear members talking with pride about their constituencies. Of course I do extend an invitation to you, especially since last week it was 24 degrees in Fraser Valley East. But I do not want to rub that in.

I do want to address the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act and also our proposed Reform Party amendments to it which I think would make it more palatable to Canadians and to those of us who are concerned with certain parts of this suspension procedure.

There is of course a huge boundary readjustment of my own that I am faced with in Fraser Valley East. The boundaries have now been extended to include the Merritt-Princeton area of the interior of B.C. It would make a logistical nightmare in some senses for me to try to service a riding that has three separate highways, each with one small town at the end of it. It would be very difficult.

I think it is important that we deal with the principle involved, not my own personal feelings about whether I agree with the adjustments in my own riding, in boundary alignments and readjustments. That is what I would like to address here this morning.

There are five particular reasons why I think this bill should never become law. First, I believe it thwarts the purpose of Parliament in the electoral process. The Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act requires the readjustment of the federal electoral boundaries every 10 years. That is a requirement of an act of Parliament that has already been passed.

The first eight sections of the act deal with the appointment of the commissions that will decide these issues for the provinces and how those commissions are made up, how they are appointed and so on.

The important thing is that these commissions have almost a judicial impartiality. It is important that they have the freedom to make choices based on the impartiality that they supposedly have based on the requirements of the act.

When the Speaker or the chief justice of each province appoints someone to the commission, those are almost judicial positions. We have to accept that they are without prejudice. I believe we have to go along with their ideas at least as it fits into the process or else we thwart the purpose of Parliament.

Parliament specifically and importantly prohibits anyone in the Senate or anyone who is a member of Parliament from being part of that commission. The reason of course is because they do not want political interference. They do not want the partisanship that could enter into electoral boundary redistribution to be a part of it. It has to be impartial and it has to be seen to be impartial.

The timeliness of these changes is also important to me.

It states in section 13 of the act that as soon as possible after the completion of any decennial census, which is every 10 years, the chief statistician gives a report to the chief electoral officer and they calculate the seats and so on. The important thing here is the timeliness. As soon as possible after a census we need to make our redistribution so that we can more accurately reflect the needs of the shifting populations and so on in each of the provinces. "Then each commission shall prepare", it says under section 14, "with all reasonable dispatch a report."

The last census was in 1991, which is already going back three years, and so timeliness has already been thwarted once, I believe, by the last Parliament because it suspended the act for two years. That is not a big thing in some people's minds, but again it thwarts an impartial boundary readjustment. I am very nervous when parliamentarians interfere with what I believe should be an independent body and an independent report.

All boundaries were supposed to be redrawn as soon as possible after 1991. The last bill, C-67, halted the whole process. All 11 government commissions were eliminated. It was a total waste of their time and effort and the money involved.

I wonder why at this time we have to again dive into this process and shut the whole thing down again, with another $5 million being spent. I can only speculate. I know the new boundaries may be inconvenient but they are inconvenient for us all. Politics never was totally convenient. It could be that MPs

have to make new political contacts as their boundaries are shifted. Be that as it may, that is also part of this impartiality. It could even include boundaries in some areas that traditionally vote against the member. Some areas vote stronger for certain parties than others. Possibly that has caused some concern on the government side.

I am not sure what it is but regardless of how you slice it we are three years late already in what was supposed to be a very timely thing and now we are going to put it off for another two years, which means there will be another election and so on.

I think it is a mistake to keep putting off what should be an independent-I repeat independent-review. Our first amendment to this bill is that we should bring in a report. If we are going to have this interference, we should at least have it in place for the next federal election.

I am concerned about B.C. which is the fastest growing province and which already should have an extra two or three seats. We are going to go into the next century with the same number of seats and the same distribution that we had in 1981. Since 1981 we have had from within Canada alone over 40,000 people move to B.C., mainly from Ontario. There is a shift in population westward. There are 35,000 additional people who came from overseas. We get 20 per cent of all Canada's immigrants. B.C.'s population continues to grow at a faster rate than the rest of Canada and yet we are going to be stuck with a proportional representation that is mired in the 1980s.

People in B.C. have mentioned that this is unfair, it is not proportional representation, and it is going to skew the power base away from the growing population centres and leave it in the eastern areas, some of which have been nice enough to send us their people to populate B.C.

I am not sure if that is the intention of the government in bringing this in. I am not sure if it is concerned about maintaining a power base where it happens to have most of its seats. I am not sure exactly why it has been done.

I come back to the idea of impartiality, that Canadians have to accept and have to know with regard to boundary readjustments and the way this is put together that the people who sit on the commission are not political hacks. They are not doing things for the favour or the benefit of any one party. They are doing it truly for the benefit of the democratic process. I think that is thwarted, especially by delaying it for two years, which means another election that we would have to go through.

I support our first amendment which would bring it forward in a more timely fashion and would allow us to get on with whatever changes the government deems necessary in time for the next election. That could take some of the sting out of this. Some of the waste and so on would be easier to accept if we knew that a timely settlement of some sort was in the government's mind. I wish it would consider that first amendment thoughtfully.

I mentioned earlier the whole idea of cost. All the commission's work and the money spent in 1991 and 1992 were wasted. On the current process all of us received in the mail or saw in the newspapers a proposal for boundary readjustments. I have already asked to make a submission to the commission about boundary readjustments. I have some ideas, and all of us are free to make presentations to them.

Those meetings have been set up. They have been advertised. The entire newspaper propaganda idea through which all these ideas were sent to every Canadian household has taken place at huge expense. That expense is all for nought. It is a waste of the commissioners' time and it is a waste of our money.

I realize that $5 million is not the end of the world in some people's minds, but as a couple of people coming out of Parliament once said, a billion here and a billion there soon adds up to real money. Possibly government should consider that every $5 million is a significant amount of money, not just a chunk of change.

For all of the reasons that I mentioned earlier and especially because this has been done behind closed doors and brought in by closure and so on, it leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. I hope the government will accept an amendment that will bring it in before the next election and restore faith in the impartiality of our Electoral Boundaries Commission.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994 April 12th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, on that invitation you would be a busy person because I am sure you will be invited to all our ridings.

I am always impressed-