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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

Tariffs March 21st, 1994

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

The U.S. government is threatening to impose high tariffs on Canadian grain and is saying that it might compensate Canada for this action by making concessions on the protection of Canadian poultry, eggs and dairy products.

This kind of bargaining, pitting Canadian farmers against Canadian farmers, is unacceptable.

Will the Prime Minister assure the House that the government will not accept a deal that sacrifices the interest of one agricultural sector for the interest of another?

Government Contracts March 17th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.

Yesterday I asked the minister if she would table the guidelines that help to guide her department in the allocation of advertising contracts under her jurisdiction. I hope to get those guidelines sometime soon.

When it is a sizeable contract, like the one that has been awarded to McKim Advertising in Winnipeg, surely the minister has conducted a detailed investigation into this or any prospective contractor, especially if the agency has come under new management just two weeks before the major contract was awarded.

Was the minister personally aware of the political background of the new owner of McKim Advertising when she signed off the new contract?

Government Contracts March 16th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister would table later in the House of Commons the actual guidelines within her department.

It has been reported that the minister's department awarded McKim Advertising from Winnipeg a contract with a potential value of $184 million just two weeks after Drew Cringan, a former Liberal aide and long time campaign manager, purchased the company.

Was the minister aware of these facts when she approved that contract?

Government Contracts March 16th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I direct my question to the Minister of Health.

Would the minister tell us briefly what safeguards are in place to ensure that political patronage is not a factor in the awarding of advertising contracts within her department?

Foreign Policy Committee March 16th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, tonight this House will vote on a motion to establish a special joint committee on foreign policy.

Yesterday my colleague from Red Deer moved an amendment to the motion that would exclude members from the other place from sitting on that committee.

Individuals from that other place have a valuable contribution to make and should be able to appear before the committee as witnesses. However, members from that other place, a place that is unelected, unaccountable and undemocratic, have no business sitting as members on this important committee.

I encourage all members of this, the elected and accountable House, to vote in support of the amendment. I hope the government will allow its members to vote freely on this issue.

Canadian Foreign Policy March 15th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

I realize that often it is not just money that is being transferred in our bilateral systems. Often money is part of it. There was a budgetary figure not this year but last year or two years ago where we spent tens of millions of dollars in direct transfers to help other countries with their national debt problems, for example.

To me that is not a purpose for CIDA. That is not something that Canada should be doing at this time, giving other countries direct assistance to help with their national debt problems when we have the biggest national debt problem we have ever had in our history. There are times when direct money is transferred. In those cases we have to restrict the mandate of CIDA through legislation to eliminate that abuse.

Second, there are times when instead of thinking of strictly humanitarian reasons, we start to think of Canada's commercial interests. Madam Labelle mentioned the other day that 60 per cent of our money is spent here in Canada, sometimes for buying foodstuffs and so on but sometimes for reasons that are more commercial in nature and not particularly geared for the poorest of the poor whom we should be helping.

In those cases, I am concerned. The Auditor General this year did not specifically identify any horror stories. He tried to zero in on the process and the problem within CIDA that he identified by a lack of legislation and some other things but tried to avoid the horror stories as I have tried to avoid them today in my presentation. However those horror stories still exist. We can go back through the last 10 years of Auditor Generals' reports to see them in their fullness.

That is why we need to restrict it to humanitarian aid. I realize that sometimes it is goods and services that are also exchanged but by and large we need to restrict it to the poor, make the mandate strict in legislation and we will not only enhance CIDA's reputation within Canada, which is very important at this time as it is flagging, but improve our opinion abroad as well.

Canadian Foreign Policy March 15th, 1994

Madam Speaker, the problem is twofold. One is the idea of separating the mandate or giving CIDA a mandate. What is the purpose of CIDA? The management of CIDA has been flipping every 18 months. It is in a total state of turmoil not knowing what its mandate is, which should be to protect the purpose of our humanitarian aid and to help the poorest of the poor.

That was the mandate suggested by the Winegard report. We need to focus in on what is the role of CIDA. That role should be brought under the authority of Parliament through enabling legislation.

I also have budgetary concerns. CIDA's budget is too large. There are too many tentacles, too many countries, too many purposes. It needs to be restricted and that is another reason to focus our attention on a few countries.

On the other question of whether commerce and humanitarian aid would be looked after together, I believe that may be possible. As one parliamentary secretary mentioned earlier today it is almost impossible to dissociate international trade,

foreign policy and defence policy. All of them go together often under trade policy which is really the commerce aspect of what the member was talking about.

Trade must be left to the international trade people. We need that commercial process to develop arrangements, agreements, free trade agreements and so on with other countries. It would allow them to pursue trade opportunities in Canada and would allow Canadian businesses to pursue trade agreements with those countries. It is a trade issue.

Our humanitarian efforts need to be focused without expecting commercial return. In that sense we target our money and say that whatever the amount is, the money is given without strings attached. It is done as a humanitarian gesture because we want to help that country so that in the coming years it is not dependent on foreign aid.

One of the critiques in the Auditor General's report is that countries that have received $1 billion or $2 billion from Canada over the last 20 years are as dependent or more dependent on international aid now than they were when we started what we thought was going to be short term assistance.

We need to focus our humanitarian aid for that reason. International trade is a separate issue. Although sometimes it will overlap and it is a good thing if it does that should not be the focus of CIDA. It should be a foreign aid and humanitarian gesture.

Canadian Foreign Policy March 15th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to see that after the short break to reconsider their position members are coming in droves to hear the end of my speech.

Before the break I had been talking about an important part of our foreign policy review. That is the position we should take as we study and review the position the Canadian International Development Agency should have in this foreign policy review.

I have heard that numerous well-intentioned and influential people have run into a brick wall trying to reform CIDA's system for the sake of the Canadian taxpayer and the sake of hungry people abroad. We need leadership or the problems will continue. The Reform Party of Canada is willing to offer leadership in this respect. I want to clarify the Reform position.

The Reform Party of Canada has called for a reduction in foreign aid funding simply because Canada no longer has that money to spend. Reformers are concerned about the poor, but they are unwilling to ignore the larger context of our ability to pay. They are also unwilling to overlook the reforms that CIDA so urgently requires.

The Reform Party is well aware of the plight of one-third of the world's nations. In them 34,000 children die of hunger or illness each day. Eight hundred million people are malnourished.

On the opposite side we are well aware that on the United Nations index of human development, Canada sits second from the top out of 172 nations. This position of privilege carries with it a unique weight of responsibility. We as Canadians must not close our eyes to the grim realities facing others.

It is our recommendation that CIDA be clearly mandated to assist the poorest of the poor to become self-sufficient. We recommend that this mandate be enshrined in legislation. This would be legislation that protects CIDA from the political pressures that divert its energies toward other tasks. It would be legislation that includes a project by project evaluation mechanism and budgetary sunset clauses. It would be legislation that controls CIDA by requiring it to justify its actions to Parliament on a regular basis.

A scaled down CIDA should concentrate on working at the grassroots level with the poorest of the poor. It should give less bilateral or government to government assistance, because that is where the corruption and the greed too often frustrate our

efforts. It should concentrate instead on its efforts to forge more partnerships with community based non-governmental organizations where help goes directly to needy people. Currently only 9 per cent of our foreign aid budget is used in that way.

CIDA should follow, as an example perhaps, Sweden's lead and reduce its focus from 115 countries to just a handful, making a significant impact on poverty and health in each one of them. An example of this can be found in the latest years for which figures are available.

The statistics show that Indonesia which is classed by the UN as a middle income developing country received $40 million in aid under CIDA. Haiti, sitting at the bottom rung of the world's ladder, received just $6 million. By shifting priorities we could have a real impact on a country that is the poorest of the poor through our non-governmental organizations.

CIDA must take a long term view by making the poor self-sustaining rather than allowing them to become dependent on continuing foreign aid.

Canada enjoys an unprecedented position of respect in the world today. Other rich nations do not enjoy the same level of international esteem. Why is this? In large measure it is because Canada has reached out with benevolence. We have given generously to nations like Bangladesh and Pakistan knowing they may never be able to repay us.

The world has recognized that our motives for giving are generally altruistic and for that we are rewarded with global goodwill. At the world table we have substantial bargaining power for a nation of our size. This is possible because we back up our words with tangible assistance.

The vehicles for enhancing Canada's trade already exist. The industry and international trade departments are well suited to serve Canada's commercial interests. However we ought to separate our economic interests from our humanitarian motives. The overt promotion of Canadian trade is a worthy and necessary endeavour best left to he departments of industry and international trade. I believe our integrity is somehow diminished in the eyes of the world when we quietly couple commerce with humanitarian relief.

It is impossible to estimate the value of our good international reputation in monetary terms. The good seeds we have sown in the fields of the poor may well bear the future harvest of increased trade. Whether this happens or not let us move now to enact legislation recreating CIDA as a vehicle that can deliver aid with efficiency and purpose.

In case the government is not contemplating such legislation at this time, I intend to introduce a private member's bill in the coming weeks that will incorporate the principles I have addressed. It can serve as a starting point for a non-partisan effort that I believe all members could support.

Within our ability let us give freely to the poorest of the poor without ulterior motives but in the spirit of generosity and compassion that marks each member in this House as truly Canadian.

Canadian Foreign Policy March 15th, 1994

Madam Speaker, it is unfortunate that I did not get an opportunity to question the minister following his comments. It was a dynamic question. The minister is going to have to wait until another day.

Before I start into my main point, I believe no one party has a monopoly on love for Canada, for patriotism, for a concern for the improvement of the system. When we on this side of the House ask questions I hope the minister takes them in the spirit they are intended. We may not be as slick as some in the way we can present questions and we may not have the years and years of experience. However, the love for Canada and a belief that the system may need to be improved are part of what we hope to have in all our questions, comments and speeches in these debates and reviews.

There have been a few surprises since I came to Ottawa. I am surprised that it can be this cold. I have come during the coldest winter in living memory. I guess I could expect that. I am surprised that the salt stains on my shoes never come out. I am surprised at the cost of an apartment and I am surprised at the workload of an MP.

I am also surprised in some ways to find that there are many fine MPs on all sides of the House and I commend them for their concern in debates such as this as we review important policy and try to set the policy that will lead us into the 21st century.

I have also experienced one of my greatest surprises during the last few days while sitting as a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. I want to pass on some of this astonishment to the House and to anyone else who listens today. Hon. members will be more than a little surprised to hear some of the things that have come up in the last few days in this important committee.

Our committee is undertaking a sweeping foreign policy review. Part of that is happening here today. Over the next few months we will begin comments on foreign policy from this side of the House, talking about an agency I would like to focus on today, integral to Canada's foreign policy.

This agency is responsible for delivering 80 per cent of Canada's foreign aid and dozens of other nations shape their concepts of Canada through their contact with this agency. Its budget is huge and the very lives of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of people depend directly upon it. CIDA, the Canadian International Development Agency, is a very important agency, an organization in our foreign policy.

Let me say a little bit about CIDA. It falls under the authority of the Department of Foreign Affairs. It began in 1968 with a budget of $279 million. Today its budget is over $1 billion. It has 1,300 employees and is involved in 115 countries around the world. These facts do not surprise me.

What I find truly incredible are the very basic things that we do not know about CIDA. What is the mandate of this organization? We do not know. How many and what kind of countries is it supposed to work in? We do not know. What kind of aid is it supposed to deliver? We do not know. Is it doing a good job? We do not know that either, we have no idea.

The few answers we do have are just as surprising. What legislation brought CIDA into existence? There never has been any legislation. CIDA is a creation of cabinet. Is it directly accountable to Parliament for the billion dollars it spends every year? Not at all. Is there the political will to make it accountable? The answer is a simple no. I found that out from the minister last Thursday.

The minister appeared before the foreign affairs standing committee to present the estimates and I asked him if he felt it was a problem that there was no legislation spelling out CIDA's mandate. With some characteristic, political caution he said that laws are useful but not necessary. Then he added that laws could become an impediment.

I could read between the lines of these statements. I think he meant the government may not want to bring CIDA under the direct control of Parliament because legislation by its very nature is restrictive. It says that there are some activities that we cannot do or that we cannot take part in. Or it could mean if we create legislation that gives CIDA a humanitarian mandate, for instance, we will not be able to use the organization as a political tool of foreign policy or an economic tool of Canadian commercial interests. We would restrict our freedom to manipulate CIDA by introducing legislation.

This would be a bit more acceptable if there were not grave problems with CIDA, problems that can only be solved by legislation. The Auditor General included an entire chapter on this organization in his last report and he exposed fundamental shortcomings which could be mitigated by enacting appropriate legislation.

The Auditor General says that the first problem is one of conflicting objectives. Some see CIDA as an instrument of Canadian business, others as an agent of humanitarian aid. CIDA does not know what it is supposed to do. It stumbles along trying to please both sides but pleasing neither very effectively.

CIDA, very simply, is overextended. Its activities are spread too thin, we are in too many countries doing too many things to be much help in any one place. We need to have a sharper focus to our foreign aid.

The Auditor General says that CIDA is also too bureaucratic; is it any wonder when we realize that it has 1,300 employees but only 125 actually work overseas? I was astonished to learn this. That is an average of only one CIDA representative per country that we are represented in.

CIDA's management style is also inappropriate. In the past it undertook more physical projects like building bridges or building roads. Its project managers knew a lot about how to build bridges and how to build roads. Today CIDA is involved in a far wider range of activities such as policy advice and human resource development. Its managerial expertise, though, has not changed to match its new activities and the result is that CIDA has not been able to properly dovetail its current staff to the new and evolving tasks which it has been asked to accomplish.

The Auditor General says that CIDA needs to be more accountable. I could hardly believe it when I read that when CIDA signs an agreement with a foreign government to complete a project there are no required results set out in the agreement. There is no independent on site monitoring of the project and there are no clear budgetary limits. There is no legislative requirement to evaluate CIDA's involvement and report those results directly to Parliament.

These are all very theoretical. In a practical sense what kind of problems result from these types of inadequacies? I will cite just one example.

The Auditor General took pains to tell us about Bangladesh where Canada has spent approximately $2 billion over the last 25 years. In one village officials counted more than 80 separate international aid groups and the Auditor General said: "That country could not possibly absorb and use in a cost-effective way all the development assistance it was already getting from the multiple donors".

Bangladesh still receives 40 per cent of all CIDA funding. It is no closer to being self-sufficient than it was 25 years ago, and there seems to be no process for deciding if it should remain Canada's top priority.

These are very significant problems. If they were ever to be resolved we as Canadians should consider a deeper, more philosophical question about CIDA, one that goes to the heart of our national character. Before we enact legislation to enable CIDA to solve its own problems we must answer this basic question or it will be impossible for CIDA to become effective.

For a quarter of a century CIDA has been the arena of a great struggle within Canada, a struggle about Canada's motives for giving foreign aid. The problems exposed today earlier in my speech are just symptoms of this greater struggle. Should our motive be to help poor people, with no strings attached, or should our motivation be to profit commercially in some way through aid for trade arrangements?

If our motives are to help the poor, we must realize that we will not be repaid in an economic sense. If we want to benefit Canada's economy through foreign aid, we will likely turn away from the poor and divert those resources to richer nations with potential for increased trade with Canada, thereby increasing our own wealth.

In 1987 the standing committee on external affairs authored a very popular report called the Winegard report which recounted many of the administrative problems that I have already discussed and also tackled this deeper question about CIDA's role. The report was entitled "For Whose Benefit?", which implies the question who are we helping. Do we really want to help others, or is giving aid just another way of helping ourselves?

That same committee in 1987 made it clear where it stood on the humanitarian versus the market orientation question. Its very first recommendation was that the government adopt a development assistance charter as part of a legislative mandate for Canada's development assistance program.

It recommended legislation and stated as the first principle of that legislative charter that the primary purpose of Canadian official development assistance is to help the poorest countries and the people in the world. The committee acknowledged and upheld that humanitarian concept of foreign aid and the government of the day, the Conservatives, paid lip service to 98 of the 115 recommendations found in the Winegard report.

During the last election the Liberal Party also spelled out a continuing commitment to humanitarianism. Government seemed to be consistent in its support of humanitarian goals and, to that end, consistent in its desire to reform CIDA. Nothing is

ever actually accomplished because the underlying question has never been resolved through legislation.

The continuing struggle was echoed just one week ago and addressed to our standing committee by the president of CIDA. I sympathize with her. She is trying hard to please two masters here. On the one hand she attempts to please the humanitarians in the crowd by telling about CIDA's accomplishments with the poorest of the poor, and there are some very positive accomplishments and achievements there. On the other hand she also tries to please the more market oriented people by noting with some pride that 60 per cent of CIDA's foreign aid is actually spent right here in Canada to support Canadian businesses. That is a direct contradiction and that is where this needs to be settled.

It is no wonder that members of the global aid community shake their heads in disbelief. Obviously there are internal pressures to make CIDA an instrument of Canadian commercial interests.

The so-called Carin paper leaked from the Department of Foreign Affairs in late 1992 saw CIDA as a means to promote Canadian interests and values abroad. It advised the government to shift aid toward richer nations like Russia where we might have the chance to develop stronger economic ties. This report was never implemented but the trend is clear.

This problem and the administrative ones I have highlighted are obvious and long standing. The problems and many of the solutions were clearly laid out in the Winegard report nearly a decade ago. When one reads the latest Auditor General's report much of it sounds like the reiteration or the reinvention of that same Winegard report.

There is a continuing lack of political will in the government, as revealed by my conversation with the minister last week, because of the competing philosophies about CIDA's most basic role, aid or trade. I have heard that two successive ministers, the past two, have tried to change CIDA and have failed. I have also heard that numerous, well intentioned and influential people have run into a brick wall trying to reform the system for the sake of the Canadian taxpayer and the sake of hungry people abroad. We need leadership or the problems will continue.

The Reform Party of Canada is willing to offer leadership in this respect. I want to clarify the Reform position. The Reform Party of Canada, as members know, has called for a reduction in foreign aid funding simply because Canada no longer has the money to spend like it once did. Reformers are concerned about the poor but they are unwilling to ignore the larger context of our ability to pay and they are unwilling to overlook the reforms that CIDA so urgently needs.

The Reform Party is well aware of the plight of a full third of the world's nations. In them, 34,000 children die of hunger or illness each day; 800 million people are malnourished. On the opposite pole, we are all well aware that on the United Nations index of human development Canada sits second out of 172 nations. This position of privilege carries with it a unique weight of responsibility and we as Canadians must not close our eyes to the grim realities faced by others.

It is therefore our recommendation that CIDA be clearly mandated to assist-

Canadian Foreign Policy March 15th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. parliamentary secretary for his comments. I agree with the gist of the member's earlier comments noting that the key to future prosperity was going to be in both access to foreign markets and enticing foreign investment to come to Canada in the sense that the recent GATT negotiations enable us to ensure those markets. It is a good move. The approval of the NAFTA is also a positive move.

One of the ministers who reports to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade has mentioned that he did not differentiate between foreign affairs and international trade, that the two were almost inseparable in many ways. That is part of the process we will be going through in the next few months in our review.

Because the member has a longstanding tradition in the human rights movement, I would appreciate his comments on whether he believes there should be any linkage between human rights or human rights violations and international trade opportunities, open doors and so on.