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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was chairman.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Conservative MP for Dufferin—Caledon (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act November 1st, 2004

I can be challenged on how I pronounce my words but I look forward to the member challenging me on what we are saying over here as to how the bill is so faulty. It has major drawbacks. The Liberals boast about how they will support the bill but they cannot give answers to all these issues.

The constitution does not form part of the agreement. The agreement states in article 7.1.2 that the protection under the Tlicho constitution shall be no less than the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and yet in article 7.1.4 the agreement prevails over the Tlicho constitution. However the constitution states that it prevails over everything else. It is like a big circle.

Those are my major arguments for not supporting the legislation. I cannot support the bill with clause 5, and I encourage all members of this place to vote against the bill.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act November 1st, 2004

Madam Speaker, I would like to make a few comments with respect to Bill C-14 but before I do that I want to say how much I agree with the member for Wild Rose, who talked about the social problems of our native people in this country, the extreme poverty and drug problems. It has been going on for a long time. No government seems to be adequately dealing with it. The government has an opportunity now to deal with it.

The bill seems to have a lot of legalese in it. One member over here spent a great deal of time making us rather dizzy with some of the legal arguments as to why we should support the bill, but what it comes down to it there is nothing in the bill to solve the very serious problems that these people have. A lot of money has been spent by many governments and it is still going on. I think it is regrettable that we can stand here, debate these issues and not solve these problems.

Several other arguments have been raised as to why we in the Conservative Party are opposing the bill. One argument is that it is not a final agreement. It is quite remarkable that the agreement contains an article to reopen negotiations if another Northwest Territories aboriginal group negotiates terms that are attractive to the Tlicho in a future agreement. It fails to do what it is supposed to be doing, which is to create something that is final.

It is like no one thought about that. This other group thought about it but we did not think about it, so let us reopen the agreement. How silly. Why can we not have a final deal now? Why is that article in there? It is quite remarkable that clause is in there.

The second opposition we have to the bill is that it appears to recognize the right of the Tlicho people to enter into international agreements. I find that remarkable as well. This is Canada. Canada is supposed to be the one that negotiates international agreements, not a balkanization of this country, whether it is aboriginal or any other group. It is Canada that decides what the international agreements are supposed to be.

This agreement states that it does not limit the authority of the Tlicho nation to enter into international, national, interprovincial and interterritorial agreements. It further requires that the Government of Canada consult with the Tlicho nation before Canada enters into an international agreement that may affect the right of the Tlicho government, the Tlicho First Nation or a Tlicho citizen. Does a Tlicho citizen mean one person? Is that what that means? Surely to heaven we are not going to restrict ourselves to Canada making an agreement that one citizen can come forward and challenge the Canadian government. We will be in anarchy.

We on this side are saying that it is very broad language and puts a remarkable restriction on a power constitutionally reserved for the Canadian government. It would be quite a new change in the laws of this country if we were to allow one group to literally veto what a Canadian government is going to do.

The third argument of course is that it would create a racially based electoral system. The agreement would create a category of citizens called “Tlicho citizens”. They would be the only people who could be elected as chiefs. Further, 50% of the elected councillors must be Tlicho citizens. Surely this is contrary to the Canadian Bill of Rights.

The final argument that I wish to address in my comments is the one that alarms me the most. I referred to it in a question that I asked one of the government members. It has to do with clause 5 of Bill C-14.

Someone said that was not the right interpretation. I am reading it and it says that the agreement, or the bill or the regulations made under the bill will prevail over the provisions of any other act of Parliament, any ordinance of the Northwest Territories, any regulation made under any of these acts or ordinances or any Tlicho law. It is really amazing, this paramountcy section.

The government members have said that we are not reading it correctly. Well, that is what it says. In other words, I can only assume that the Tlicho nation can create its own criminal code. The Criminal Code of Canada does not apply if there is a criminal section set up under this agreement. It has paramountcy over the Criminal Code of Canada. It could even be suggested, although the government disagrees, that it takes paramountcy over the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If I were one of the Tlicho citizens I would have grave concerns as to how laws might be passed that would take paramountcy over the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Clause 5 will be a lawyer's dream. The courts will be so packed with constitutional cases for eons over this section alone, let alone all the other sections that are being referred to by my colleagues on this side.

The agreement describes three different hierarchies to determine which legislation is paramount in the event of conflict: federal legislation, territorial legislation, the Tlicho laws or the agreement. It is not clear whether the Tlicho citizens will have the benefit of protection under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the event of a conflict with the Tlicho constitution. That is the most serious issue.

The Liberal government, of course, has taken great pride in saying that it set up the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is directly contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Why in the world anyone would want to support it, I do not know. It does not make sense to support legislation that will violate the rights of Canadian citizens. I would encourage all members, including members of the government, to oppose the legislation on that issue alone.

There is a final element of confusion. The agreement provides, in article 7.1, for a Tlicho constitution. Although the constitution does not--

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act November 1st, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think more people would like to hear this speech and I do not think there is a quorum.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act November 1st, 2004

Mr. Speaker, my colleague spent a great deal of time on clause 5, which deals with the issue of paramountcy. In other words, if the Tlicho pass some legislation, it is paramount to federal, provincial and any other type of legislation.

This makes me think of that old political maxim that all people are created equal, but some people are more equal than others. Would my colleague elaborate a little more on this? Why should one group of people have more rights than another group of people?

My friend spent a great deal of time talking about the charter in which we are all supposed to be equal. Clause 5 is the most glaring of all the sections in the bill. The legislation makes one group of people more equal than others.

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

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member was listening because that was the major crunch of what I was trying to tell the House.

I will deal with two issues. The first one is the BSE issue. I do not know how many members over there represent rural communities, but we have a serious problem in this country with respect to beef. Farmers are calling me and telling me they are using their equity to feed their animals and perhaps that can be done if they can see the end of the tunnel. However, the farmers cannot see the end of the tunnel. This is a serious problem.

I now have people asking if they can get tax relief when they are forced to sell their farms? That is how desperate it is getting. To simply mention it without a concrete plan is absolutely inexcusable.

This is why I made the reference considering what the agricultural community has provided and will provide in the future. Surely to goodness the government can be a little more respectful to the farmers who keep this country going. Surely we have not become one big urban city where we are going to put all our ideas into the big cities.

With respect to other issues in rural Canada, I talked about infrastructure. I mentioned specifically one township where a bridge could not be fixed. The township does not have any money to fix the bridge. What does it do? It closes the road.

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

Mr. Speaker, I can only say that I have been waiting for a response from the government as to how it is going to deal with this. How is it going to deal with smog and the environment?

The government says it is going to support Kyoto, that it signed the agreement and it is going to reduce all of the environmental problems in this country and around the world. When is it going to do something? When is it going to take action?

The answer is it does not seem that the government is going to do anything. It keeps saying that it is going to do this and it is going to do that. It is no different from the throne speech. For heaven's sake, do something.

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

Mr. Speaker, that is an issue with which many of us had to deal during the past election. It is a concern that all of us have with respect to our environment.

With respect to Kyoto, absolutely nothing has happened. It is said that Kyoto is the answer, and parts of it may be. We are prepared to take action on this side of the House with respect to smog, water and general pollution, but the government is not. The government says it is going to support Kyoto. The Russians came out with something the other day and said that they were going to follow it. They all jumped up and said that they are all for it.

What has happened? Absolutely nothing has happened. The Conservatives are prepared to take action to deal with all of the environmental problems that I suggested.

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

Mr. Speaker, what a pleasure and an honour it is for me to respond to the Speech from the Throne.

I would like to thank the constituents in my riding, the new riding of Dufferin--Caledon, for the trust that they have placed in me to deliver their message to the House of Commons. I will endeavour to serve my constituents to the best of my ability, always aware of my responsibility to them.

Dufferin--Caledon is a diverse riding combining rural, urban and suburban communities. Dufferin County is made up of the five townships of Amaranth, East Garafraxa, East Luther-Grand Valley, Melancthon and Mulmur, and the three towns of Mono, Orangeville and Shelburne.

Caledon is a geographically large town in the region of Peel. It is basically the northern geographic half of the region of Peel. It is made up of a number of smaller communities including Bolton, which is the largest, Caledon East, Inglewood, Palgrave, Cheltenham and Alton, to name but a few.

Dufferin--Caledon has outstanding and diverse geographical characteristics, such as the Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridges Moraine. The headwaters of four of southern Ontario's river systems have their origins in Dufferin--Caledon: the Grand River, the Humber River, the Nottawasaga River and the Credit River. Rich agricultural croplands allow for a diversity of crops, including potatoes, corn, soybeans and barley. The lands support a variety of livestock such as beef and dairy cattle, hogs, chickens, sheep, goats and horses.

The Hills of Headwaters Tourism Association markets the treasures of the riding as being just outside Toronto's back door. These include downhill and cross-country skiing, world class golfing, the Bruce Trail for hiking pleasures, hunting in our forests and fishing in our rivers.

The industrial sector of Dufferin--Caledon encompasses manufacturers of components for the Canadian automotive industry; a thriving plastics and manufacturing sector, including the manufacturing of sophisticated, state of the art injection moulding equipment; and a large number of small and medium size manufacturing companies in the larger centres of the riding.

The throne speech is proof of William Shakespeare's observation that there is nothing new under the sun. When does the government get beyond its old promises and begin to envision a country with a government that leads its citizens and takes its rightful place as a leader in the international community? How many times must we sit through a Speech from the Throne only to hear the latest reiteration of the same old promises? With the passage of time, the lustre comes off these same old promises. Yesterday's vision belongs to yesterday. A promise of a health care plan for a generation suddenly shrinks to a health care plan for a decade.

Canadians had an opportunity to make their voices heard this past June. They chose to elect a minority government which would reduce the amount of power that any one party had in the hope that it would result in the introduction of some new ideas and a fresh vision that would move Canada in a forward direction.

New ideas are not what Canadians are getting with the throne speech. It is left to opposition members like me to report back to our constituents and explain why the government has so little interest in the challenges facing the rural constituencies of Canada.

As I mentioned in my opening remarks, Dufferin--Caledon consists of many farms and many farm families who have been farming for generations, although there are not as many as 10 years ago. Like the rest of the country today, we have fewer farmers doing more, but for how much longer?

Farmers in my riding talk about their concerns for their industry. They are increasingly telling me that for the first time in the history of their family business they are losing equity. They are worried about the future of their livelihood and the country's future ability to feed itself. With the average age of farm operators in the riding of Dufferin—Caledon now being 52, an age when they should be planning for retirement, they are left wondering if there will be anything left to retire on.

Canada was founded on the principles of agriculture. It is one of the four main industries on which our country was built. The recent throne speech promised nothing but a few words on the recognition of the importance of reliable access to U.S. markets. At least there was no speculation that the border would be opened sooner rather than later.

International borders were shut down due to one cow that carried BSE. It is 16 months later and the borders are no closer to being opened than they were months ago. How can we believe that anything will be done given the lack of prominence provided to BSE in the throne speech?

BSE is given a few words in one paragraph in the speech, and the government is asking Canadians to trust that it will be building on successful smart borders initiatives and on measures to develop a more sophisticated and informed relationship involving business and government officials in the United States. My constituents can take little comfort from this tepid mention masquerading as a plan or a strategy to get the border with the U.S. open. It is neither.

Given the fact that my riding of Dufferin—Caledon is situated at the source of four southern Ontario river systems and significant aquifers, the natural environment of the riding requires an informed and dedicated stewardship.

I am disappointed to see that the environmental portion of the speech is a collection of promises made in earlier years with delivery dates in 2005, or start-up dates in 2006 and 2008 or at some other distant date in the future. When it comes to an environmental plan, Canadians deserve more than platitudes and a promise of some vague action some time in the future. Our environment requires action now.

Having outlined solutions to all of the challenges facing the government in areas traditionally recognized as being matters of federal responsibility, the throne speech proceeds to offer solutions for some areas in the provincial domain with a new deal for cities and communities, and the often talked about national child care program.

In government circles this is probably what passes for thinking outside the box. Given that municipalities exist at the pleasure of the provinces, surely any new deal should rightfully be orchestrated by them.

Last month I met with the warden of Dufferin Country, his worship Keith Thompson. The purpose of Warden Thompson's meeting was to advise me of the county's needs for a continuing and significant infrastructure investment by all levels of government, municipal, provincial and federal.

The warden pointed out that the rural municipalities' need for investment in roads and bridges, and water and sewage upgrades was outstripping their ability to keep up. He told me that one of the local townships had closed a road because it could not afford to replace a bridge that was no longer serviceable. In the small community of Marsville, residents now face the extraordinary situation of having annual water bills that exceed their yearly property tax bills. These are just two examples of the need for traditional infrastructure programs in rural Canada.

Canada's rural communities are much more than a rich resource of natural resources and our cultural heritage. Some 40% of Canada's exports and 24% of our country's gross domestic product are generated by rural Canada. Investment by governments in rural communities make good business sense in that 40% of all of Canada's exports are generated by rural Canada. This is an impressive contribution to the prosperity of our country.

Rural Canada's ability to continue to make contributions at this level is very much in question, which brings me to the second reason for Warden Thompson's visit. The warden reminded me that the great disadvantage of rural communities is the digital divide that separates rural and northern communities from our neighbours.

In the 2001 Speech from the Throne, a commitment was made by the Liberal government of the day to work with the private sector to achieve the goal of making broadband access to citizens, public institutions and all communities in Canada by 2005. That has not happened and I do not see any sign in the last throne speech that it is going to happen. The throne speech reminds me of Samuel Beckett's play, Waiting for Godot .

Orangeville Rotary Clubs October 12th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, this Friday, October 15, the 10th Annual Rotary Clubs of Orangeville fundraiser, a Taste of Autumn, takes place at the Hockley Valley Resort and features a terrific seven course dinner prepared by the chefs from the Mono Cliffs Inn, Greystones, One 99, the Woodside, Alex's Kitchen, Hockley Valley Resort and Whitfield Farm.

A silent auction throughout the evening and a live auction around 9 p.m. have helped raise over $1 million to support both local community projects and international programs. Headwaters Health Care Centre, the Shelburne Library, the Dufferin County Fire Department, Operation Eyesight, Sleeping Children Around the World, and Polio Plus are just some of the organizations that have benefited from a Taste of Autumn.

For a sensational evening in Dufferin—Caledon on October 15, it is a Taste of Autumn.