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

Supply February 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is good we have a few points we agree on. I appreciate that.

Since the public accounts committee is generally chaired by a member of the opposition party and especially since it holds that chair it can set the direction and the tone of the public accounts committee. The direction and the agenda given to that committee could well effect the changes I was looking for, changes that have measurable results that are reportable to the House. I believe that is the way to do it.

Since the Bloc Quebecois holds that chair it has a perfect opportunity to make sure that is made as public as possible. Changes could be initiated if it takes that and demands results, demands accountability and demands measurable performance. I think it could be done through the public accounts committee.

Supply February 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the motion brought forward by the Bloc Quebecois dealing with the same subject the Reform Party of Canada has been talking about for some time now.

I am happy to see that the Bloc is in accord with us in suggesting we take a closer look at government expenditures. I think we laud their motive, if not their specifics in proposing this all-party special committee to examine government finances.

The nation knows how concerned the Reform Party is about government spending in general. In saying a few words to the House today I want to touch upon one of the most important aspects of the control of government spending. I am sure most of the members here today are frugal people who want to save all they can for the taxpayer and would gladly make sacrifices to make sure that it is done.

There is a story told that President Lyndon Johnson used to walk around the White House turning off the lights at night in an effort to save a few dollars for the treasury. It is almost comical when we think of the size of the U.S. government and such a small measure he was taking. The President experienced frustration because he had little direct control over government expenditures.

In exactly the same way the expenditures which are directly controlled by any individual member here in the House are very small indeed in comparison with the vast amount of money expended daily by the federal government.

Who then actually spends this money? I want to speak today about the role of the civil service in government spending. The civil servant is the gatekeeper of the federal treasury. The money government spends is disbursed by civil servants who make hundreds of thousands of decisions every day about the smallest details of government spending. Whether it is a public servant deciding upon a loan to the private business sector or a UI agent deciding a question of entitlement, the billions that pour forth from our taxpayers must all pour through this plethora of civil servants.

Although a great percentage of government payments are statutory obligations, even these obligatory payments involve an element of discretion over which the public service exercises a large amount of control. I just cited the example of the UI

agent who must pay what the client is entitled to, yet that agent also has some latitude to decide exactly what amount of entitlement will be offered.

I want to make a very important statement. If the public service does not change its discretionary behaviour members of Parliament will be almost powerless to effect real substantial change in government spending. It will be as frustrating as trying to trim our budget by walking around the House of Commons turning out the lights.

How can the House of Commons affect this discretionary behaviour of the civil servant? There is a way. The Auditor General did touch on it in his report and I want to expand on it for a moment today.

Public Service 2000 was an initiative begun by the former government in 1989. Its goals were noble: to streamline the public service; to make it more service oriented and responsive to the needs of the public; to combine certain functions of departments to improve efficiency; and to foster a better attitude among civil servants.

Five years later what do we find? We do not really know for sure. Annual progress reports were supposed to be submitted to the Prime Minister, but that has just not happened. In fact there has been only one report submitted since 1989 and this shows two really big problems. One is a lack of political will to force these reports and a lack of motivation on the part of the civil service to submit them. Perhaps we are not surprised at the lack of political will, especially in times past, but it is unfortunate that we cannot expect the civil servants to submit these reports as the government initially required.

When I look at the origins of the PS 2000 initiative I am not at all surprised to see reform proceeding at a snail's pace. Ten task forces made up of high ranking civil servants together plotted the major objectives of the PS 2000 program and presented the plan to the politicians of the day.

I am not in any way attempting to cast any kind of bad light upon our good civil servants. They are dedicated, well qualified and well intentioned. However one can hardly expect those who have spent their entire careers in the service to effect serious change that would cause real disruptions to that service. Each civil servant on those committees had an unconscious vested interest in maintaining the status quo even though everyone agreed we urgently needed change. What is missing from the Public Service 2000 is a check and balance mechanism that would guarantee results.

What concrete results have we achieved to date? Not having many of the required reports in place we are not really sure but the Auditor General does give us some ideas. Mostly the Auditor General talks about an improved attitude in the public service. Good feelings are all very nice but when we look at the cruel hard numbers what do we see?

According to Statistics Canada we see that we still employ a total of 413,000 civil servants. We paid $19 billion last year in wages and salaries, up from $17 billion in 1992. When we come to the line that affects every taxpayer in the country daily, the bottom line is that PS 2000 has had virtually no effect on the civil service.

According to the Auditor General, many top level bureaucrats are disillusioned with PS 2000. I will quote a few excerpts from his report:

Some of the executives we met wonder whether PS 2000 was dead, and we detected an atmosphere of scepticism and cynicism surrounding the renewal initiative-Several witnesses emphasized that the changes-would be difficult and time-consuming to implement-Inconsistency is perceived between some of the principles of PS 2000 and other initiatives, including downsizing and operating budget cuts.

This is exactly what the system needs. Why then has PS 2000 been ineffective? It is because the organizational structure in charge of it, the civil service, automatically protects its own position. It is called the survival instinct. I guess we are all guilty of it. There is nothing wrong with it, but in this case the instinct does not serve the public interest.

As leaders in the House of Commons we are charged with the responsibility of leading the civil service, not the other way around. The civil service is not a democratic institution. It is a group of people hired by us to do the work we have mandated it to do. The civil service has no implicit desire to change itself. That mandate for change is the awesome responsibility of every member of Parliament today. Members in past Houses have abdicated that responsibility for over a decade now. That is why we are suffering some of these problems today.

It is time for the House of Commons to take charge of spending in this country. It is time for elected members to begin to control the public service. Let me list a few broad general principles that will guide this. I take my lead from the positive changes which have been made in other Commonwealth countries, especially in New Zealand.

First, the mandate for change in the service must emanate from this House of Commons. The idea of the civil service reforming itself will never work and I do not think we should be under any illusion that it will.

Second, civil servants must have incentives to make the necessary changes. Put deputy ministers and other senior executives on contract like they did in New Zealand. Give them authority to make changes and things will happen because the incentive will be there.

Third, we need to require concrete results. If departments do not achieve measurable performance objectives laid out by the House of Commons, contracts should not be renewed. If incen-

tives do not hasten change then something even tougher may have to be required.

Something needs to be done. We appreciate the general direction of the Bloc Quebecois, but that direction needs to become even more specific. If we give the direction to the public accounts committee as was mentioned earlier, it is within its means to check on this and to make sure it comes to fruition. I honestly believe that civil servants acting frugally can effect many of the changes all of us in this House are looking forward to.

I urge all members of the House to set aside their party politics when it comes to this sort of thing and ensure that changes to the civil service come mandated from the House and not the other way around.

Petro-Canada February 8th, 1994

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

The new chief executive officer of Petro-Canada is quoted as saying that there is no longer a public policy mandate for Petro-Canada.

Will the Prime Minister take this advice and sell Petro-Canada and apply the proceeds of the sale to the federal deficit?

Social Policy February 4th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government threw Canada's financial dice for nine years, taking a terrible gamble with our tax money. It bet heavily on a rising economy hoping that the economy would outgrow the deficit and the problem would just somehow go away. As we know the economy did not grow fast enough and the result is today's fiscal disaster.

In the budget to be brought down this month let us hope the government realizes that good intentions, wishful thinking, or hoping that somehow the right cards will turn up will never put anyone to work. Governments should learn from the mistakes of the past.

Reformers have been warning for years that high deficits and high unemployment are directly related. We will seal the fate of our unemployed by allowing deficits to balloon out of control.

Any budgetary plan that trusts in luck as a basis of its fiscal policy will keep the unemployed out of work and that, you can bet on.

Social Security System February 2nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that. Most of my discussion tonight was about my concern for families and the tax disincentives. For example, the court decision I quoted was that in the past somehow married couples were not treated the same as couples who decided to live together. That is what the court ruling referred to.

I have been talking about the need for the state through its tax laws and through other means to monetarily encourage families especially while they are raising children. That is basically what I was talking about. We have to find ways to make sure that we do not penalize people for trying to raise a family.

I do not have the motion in front of me, but it refers to children, young adults and families. I do not think anyone will dispute the idea that we need to support families because families are our future.

We see the government's role as supporting the financial needs of people rather than picking a program and stating: "This is the program you have to try to fit into, whether you are a square peg in a round hole". Instead we should say: "If you have a financial need, then the social contract is there to make sure you do not fall through the cracks and be left to your own devices".

Social Security System February 2nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments and thank the member for the encouragement. He is taking quite a leap here from my discussion of family into the constitutional swamp, as we have talked about before, of trying to relate that somehow to Quebec and its relationship to Canada.

I would say that for many of us in the west if you are asking for the British Columbia perspective, or the perspective from where I come from and where I have been elected from, in many ways we do see Canada as a family in the sense that we think Canada has 10 parts, 10 equal members, 10 siblings, 10 people, all part of this family that together forms a country.

In many ways there is a support in the west, in B.C. particularly, for the idea that when you have a family everyone is treated equally. No one is put down and no one is elevated because a family works best when 10 provinces or 10 people are treated the same.

Although there are different programs and different priorities in different areas, and that is as it should be just as 10 children are unique, they are not treated specially, they are part of a 10 member family.

I will take the leap with the hon. member and I will talk about the family in that sense. Certainly, as has always been said in a family, all members are always welcome and all members are discouraged from leaving.

Social Security System February 2nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I consider it a privilege to debate the reform of social programs in the country. For many here today, reforming them to ensure both their sustainability and their availability to those who need them is a significant reason to have run for Parliament in 1993.

We feel grateful that the government has given all members a chance to air their views on this issue before legislation is introduced. I am sure that all members share my desire that backbenchers and constructive opposition members alike will be able to see reflections of these debates in the legislative program to come.

Certainly there is general agreement in this country on the need for reform of our social programs. Members on both sides of the House again agree that cosmetic changes are not enough.

Questions are being asked that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Is there a better way to deliver this program or service? Do we need it at all? Are there built-in disincentives to people who need to be fully self-supporting? How much do programs cost? Can we sustain them?

Watching the finance minister's pre-budget consultation in Calgary on the weekend, I was struck by widespread agreement on these issues. Almost everyone said that our current method of funding social programs is killing jobs and export opportunities, that less government intervention is better and that government needs to spend less, spend smarter and tax less.

Spending less does not mean taking Canada back into the dark ages. What it really means is that funding must be refocused and it is incumbent on this House to lay down the principles that will guide a rechannelling of program assistance in a way that is fair, effective and compassionate.

Other speakers have already discussed a number of principles. One of them is that spending in the future must be based on need rather than entitlement. People with high incomes do not need the same kind of help as those with low incomes. Therefore the fact that they belong to a particular ethnic or demographic group should not automatically entitle them to extra government support.

We feel that tomorrow's programs will be delivered more in concert with private groups. People in need will work with a community based network rather than those who are simply paid to supply them a service. These private groups may be part of the answer in helping an individual emerge from this chronic position of need.

There should be also a stated objective of other programs that recipients be required to undertake training or community service that will enable these people to acquire the skills that will reduce their future dependence upon governments.

These principles are significant. I have the privilege of addressing the most important principle this afternoon and this evening. That is the position of the family in relation to the state. This principle is important because it questions the assumption of the welfare state that has become entrenched in the post-war era, the assumption that has spurred this magnificent fiscal situation in which we find ourselves today.

I am speaking of the concept of the paternalistic state, the notion that the state or the government has the capacity or even the duty to somehow replace the family as the basic unit of nurture in our society.

This sentiment, while never accepted by most Canadians, was heralded when Bonnie Kreps announced to Maclean's magazine in 1969 that her group's objectives included getting rid of the conjugal family unit. For decades this idea has occasionally found its way on to the desks of government policy makers. Many feel today that families have been unappreciated and under supported as a result.

While the role of the family has been questioned, the concept of the state is also changing.

People are disillusioned. They no longer believe it is possible for government to provide all of the solutions. Certainly its scope is shrinking because of its financial problems. In a way this could be a positive thing because with a little help human relationships could fill in the gaps left by government programs.

The basic unit of care should not be a government cheque or the department of something or other or a social worker. The

unit must be the family. Society has yet to develop a better way to care for the young, protect the weak and attend to the elderly.

People who come from dysfunctional families need special help at times and then the government must step in to do the best it can for the individual, realizing that it will always be an inferior choice to a functioning and loving family.

In some ways governments have even played a part in encouraging dysfunctional families because they support people without reference to their family ties. An example is a young person who rebels and leaves home only to end up on some kind of government assistance, or the husband who moves to another province to shirk his responsibility to pay for court ordered support.

Governments should require people to demonstrate at least this minimum level of responsibility toward their relationships and this might even lead to an increased incentive to make families work.

There are other positive things government can do to encourage strong families. I would like to see some aspects of our tax structure changed, especially encouraging couples with children. Last year's tax ruling against married couples in an Alberta court sent a mixed message to Canadians. Incredibly, the courts ruled that while married couples have suffered tax discrimination in years past, it is acceptable because families have suffered less discrimination in the past than other stereotyped groups. Surely this was and is wrong.

Another positive change could involve day care. Those who advocate the welfare state would like to see government workers control the care of children. However, the Reform Party prefers a de-institutionalized setting that gives the choice to parents.

As Margaret Wente mentioned in her column in Saturday's Globe and Mail , if we really want to help parents, why not put extra money directly into their pockets and let them figure out how to spend it? The government's role would be relegated to licensing and monitoring day cares, allowing parents to choose their own system, be it a day care, a nanny or some other personalized arrangement.

I want to touch for a moment on the reasoning of the welfare state and why it can be damaging. Advocates of government solutions feel that the government is somehow objective and that families are unobjective, unenlightened bastions of conservatism.

While it is probably true that families are more conservative than your average university professor, I do not believe that there is any such thing as a value neutral objective authority. If the authority of the state replaced that of the family it would simply teach and impose its own values through that system.

It is quite clear to me that the values of big government are frequently a fundamentalist mish-mash of left wing, politically correct dogma that in its own way is far more conservative and legalistic than that held by most families. Any concerted, large scale attempt to replace the authority of the parent with that of the teacher, the social worker or even the courts will be resisted on this side of the House.

Where is this debate going to take us? We have heard some discouraging debates in the last few weeks, talk of maintaining universality regardless of need or broadening the tax base and changing RRSP rules. Each of these proposals would adversely affect families.

How will they hurt them? By maintaining or adding new programs at the urging of special interest groups or failing to address our debt and deficit problem squarely and honestly, by refusing to prioritise the dwindling resources of our government we will harm the most vulnerable in society, including young families, in the years to come.

There have also been glimmers of hope during these debates. Speaker after speaker has begun his or her speech with passionate thanks to the people who count the most to them, their families. During the one minute presentations that precede Question Period, many single out family members for special recognition. Honourable mention for the international year of the family continues to sprinkle our discussions.

The death certificate of the family has been written prematurely. Statistics will show that Canadians, especially our youth, hold a strong family life as a measure of true success. It is my conviction that history will judge legislators, at least in part, by the way we treat our families.

I would like to read a quote from someone who shared this concern: "Men say to us, `there is this problem with the family. How are we to preserve it? It seems to be dissolving before our eyes'. This has been true perhaps always and everywhere. Everywhere good things have seemed to be going. Yet everywhere they are merely struggling to their new birth".

The family has been under many stresses in this generation but it cannot be extinguished. It is merely struggling to its own sort of new birth.

Our social programs as well need to struggle for a new expression in order to serve the needs of Canadians. We have been discussing principles upon which this rebirth can stand. I would suggest to this House that any principle upon which our social programs are reordered must strengthen the social unit which forms the historic bedrock of our nation and that foundation upon which all strong nations are built, the family.

Social Security System February 2nd, 1994

Madam Speaker, I would like to advise the House that pursuant to Standing Order 43, our speakers on this motion will be dividing their time in half.

Peacekeeping January 31st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, since 1947 Canada has distinguished itself among the global family of nations through its involvement in the UN peacekeeping function. One hundred thousand Canadians soldiers have participated in over 23 separate UN missions.

I would draw the attention of the House to the worthy personnel of One Combat Engineers Regiment located in my own constituency of Fraser Valley East. Four hundred and forty of their number have been deployed since 1992 in the former Yugoslavia.

In a short while 125 more will leave for this dangerous theatre. Our thoughts dwell with these men and women and the families they leave behind.

In the last century military conquerors were hailed as heroes. In this closing decade of the 20th century, let it be said that modern military heroes are those who conquer the worst of human nature. The House lauds the heroic and sacrificial efforts of the Canadian Armed Forces. Blessed are the peacemakers.

Speech From The Throne January 28th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I really enjoyed that speech. There were parts that I thought were particularly good. The admonitions to all of us in the House to fight inequality and discrimination are well taken and I think she will find widespread support on all sides of the House for those kinds of sentiments.

Many of us who sit at this end of the House come from a region of Canada that was deliberately populated by an immigration program that brought a lot of immigrants into Canada at a specific time. Therefore there is a lot of support for an immigration program and a wide acceptance of a large variety and degree of different backgrounds. I applaud those sentiments and I think they are well taken.

I particularly liked the comments about no special status. There is a large degree of support in western Canada and in my riding for the idea that there is no special status, that all people are Canadians regardless of their race, colour, language or background. That concept has wide acceptance.

What I would caution the minister about is how we fight inequality and discrimination. She should use with much caution this idea of an affirmative action plan. In Ontario Premier Rae tried to move into a realm where he was going to force something on to people they felt was unacceptable and he had to back down. The reason is that people want to be treated equally, not with special status.

That is my caution to the minister. I would ask her to comment on the idea that affirmative action sometimes does not bring about the result that I know she is trying to achieve.