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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was international.

Last in Parliament August 2019, as Conservative MP for Calgary Forest Lawn (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 48% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation Act November 24th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak in support of this bill today.

Bill C-22 is an important bill and I am happy to have this opportunity to share my comments with my colleagues in this House.

I would like to take a moment to express my appreciation for the tireless hours that several individuals have dedicated to this very worthwhile cause.

Internationally the names of this year's Nobel Peace prize recipient, Jody Williams and her organization, and the efforts of the late Princess Diana brought international attention to this cause. I applaud the Nobel Prize committee for recognizing the efforts of Jody Williams and her organization who rightfully deserve the Nobel Peace prize.

Here in Canada there are many individuals and groups such as Mines Action Canada who have taken the initial momentum to work toward an international ban on land mines.

On a more personal note, I applaud my colleague for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca who has worked tirelessly over these past several years in making this an issue on the Canadian stage.

In late 1995 he introduced a private member's bill that called for an international ban on the anti-personnel mines, a bill which was supported by the then Minister of Foreign Affairs. When the current minister came into this portfolio, he too supported this initiative.

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister of Foreign Affairs for his efforts which began the Ottawa process. This is a proud achievement for Canada. My congratulations go out to all Canadians who participated and made it possible to bring together over 120 countries which will be present in Ottawa next week for the signing of the treaty.

This treaty includes the banning of the use, production, stockpiling and the trade of anti-personnel land mines. It also includes assistance for de-mining and for victims of land mines. This was intended to be a collective disarmament treaty and has several significant humanitarian elements that will not only ban the creation of the land mines but also ban countries from using and trading them.

Canada's exemption will allow it to import, export and possess mines for military training, mine clearing and destruction. Police officers and the RCMP will also have the authority to possess and transfer the mines in the course of their duties to defuse them.

In the event that a country falls under suspicion of violating the treaty, fact finders will be sent by the international community. They will have the powers to search and seize them with or without warrant. Dwelling houses can be inspected with a warrant. Warrants are not required to search military bases and/or warehouse facilities.

This bill comes into effect once given royal assent and also takes effect in all provinces. As I only have 10 minutes on this bill, I will leave most of the technical details of this legislation to those who have spoken before me as well as those who will speak after me, as I agree with most aspects of this bill.

Land mines are a very serious issue in the international arena. The use of anti-personnel mines already violates numerous tenants under international law. Each and every year it is estimated that over 250,000 individuals are at the least maimed and all too often killed by land mines. That works out to one person every 20 minutes. This is a tragic loss. To make it even more tragic is that these losses are often unnecessary.

Without the removal of land mines in post-war areas, many of the land mine victims have died or have been injured unnecessarily. These land mines are currently deployed in over 70 countries, most of them developing countries. Countries such as Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, Croatia, Eritrea, Iraq, Mozambique, Somalia, Sudan and Vietnam are all affected. There are approximately 100 million mines that are waiting for their next victim. With the variety of land mines in existence, there are over 350 different types of land mines. The severity of injury can be quite varied.

These losses could have been and, more importantly, should have been prevented. Land mines do not discriminate. They will target any individual who comes into their path. Our brave peacekeepers have paid a heavy price in places like Bosnia. These brave soldiers carry on their duties which bring honour and pride to our nation and are to be saluted for their courageous work in spite of danger to their lives.

It is interesting to note that those who manufacture or order the deployment of land mines themselves are in no danger of losing life or limb to these land mines. It is instead the soldiers that are at risk as well as innocent civilians who ultimately are the victims of this senseless carnage. I often wonder how many politicians or high ranking officials face danger from these land mines.

I take a personal interest in this bill. Coming from Tanzania, which is the northern neighbour of Mozambique, a country which has been devastated by the use of land mines, which has been the result of an internal conflict within that country, from my experiences in my native land, I can see how land mines placed indiscriminately can cause havoc in the civilian population.

In these countries the infrastructure development is concentrated in the urban centres. In the countryside people walk on trails and bush paths going from village to village. Women use these trails to fetch water from rivers and from wells. Children play using these areas, running up and down these trails to meet their friends from neighbouring villages.

When unchecked, the use of these land mines interferes with a society whose primary mode of transportation in the countryside is the time honoured use of two feet. We can, therefore, visualize what terrible deeds these land mines can do. Women, children, elderly people, soldiers all pay a heavy price for the absurdity of men who pursue political agendas.

Those who manufacture such items of horror should be held as responsible as those who place those land mines. It is only fitting. Therefore, we can move forward and stop manufacturing land mines.

There are real economic costs to the production and removal of land mines is estimated at 2 million land mines being deployed every year. When one considers the cost of production for each land mine which runs anywhere from $3 to $70 each, just think what this money could be better spent on. It is estimated that approximately 100,000 mines are removed each year at a cost of approximately $300 to $1,000 each. With these figures there is an estimated cost of approximately $50 billion. Although this figure is enormous, I would argue that this would not compare to the loss of life. It is believed that for every mine removed another 20 are planted.

At the current rate of de-mining, if more land mines were to be placed it would take over 1,000 years to rid the world of these dangerous killers. Getting rid of these mines is not going to be easy.

Besides the sheer time involved in finding these mines, as most mine fields are not mapped out, de-mining is a very dangerous job. It is believed that for every 5,000 mines removed, one person will be killed and another two will suffer injuries.

I could go on and on and read a whole list of statistics and figures, but that does not bring the real issue to the forefront. This is not a financial issue, but an issue of our core moral values.

The contribution that those who were maimed or killed would have made to our society would have far outweighed the so-called economic loss of getting rid of these land mines.

To put it more simply and bluntly, one cannot put a price tag on life. We all have to move forward to ensure that this senseless killing of innocent civilians and soldiers stops.

I would like to note that several key nation states have not yet signed this treaty and I hope they overcome their differences and sign on as well.

For the most part these countries are citing security reasons for using the mines. Yet often the use of these mines is as destructive for the armies that have set up the mines as for the enemies.

We now live in a global village. We are members of one gigantic family. Our efforts should be devoted to promoting harmony and peaceful coexistence. All religions of the world espouse neighbourly love. Wars are destructive, causing loss of precious human life, breaking up families, causing pain.

However, we have a long way to go before we can peacefully coexist. This treaty is the first step toward achieving that goal and it receives my full unconditional support.

In conclusion, I would like to say that while I stand proudly in supporting this bill, I also feel and share the pain of those who were the victims of land mines. To them I say while we may have been late and have let them down, our prayers are that our present and future generations will not suffer the same pain that they have suffered.

Taxation November 24th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the riding I represent is made up of small business people, single parents, working families and seniors. They are trying to make ends meet. These Canadians do not want government handouts. All they want is the government to take its hands out their pockets.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. His so-called latest tax relief is simply nickels and dimes. When will he listen to these Canadians and commit today to bringing in real tax relief for small businesses, single parents, working families and seniors?

Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park Act November 21st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on the final reading of Bill C-7, the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park.

When the Reform Party critic from Kootenay—Columbia spoke on November 4 on this bill, he raised certain issues of concern. I quote from the Reform member for Kootenay—Columbia:

The legislative process that we entered into in this House is very important. All steps in the process are very important. In this case the committee work will be a very valuable part of putting this important legislation in place.

It is important for people on both sides of this issue to have an opportunity to express themselves so that we as members have a clear understanding as to where their concerns are.

What we suggested is that the committee must take a look at the flexibility of the legislation and the impact on potential tenants.

What happened at the committee was there was a briefing from Parks Canada officials. The member for Kootenay—Columbia asked that we address concerns and call witnesses. The member requested recorded votes. The committee members unanimously defeated the call for witnesses. The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage effectively gave it the old rubber stamp.

The committee did not do its job. It did not do due diligence. The rubber stamp was unanimous by all other parties.

As far as the member for Kootenay—Columbia stated on November 4, 1997, once again the Liberal government is using the House as a rubber stamp. Today we now have the committee acting like a rubber stamp.

Some of the concerns raised by the Reform critic are, for example, the implication for commercial and sports fisheries on the St. Lawrence. What are the implications for other users of the river? It is absolutely essential that the people who are using the area for its marine life be consulted. What are the implications because of the overlay of the park regulations? If we consult generally speaking we can avoid any confrontations and avoid taking unnecessary steps.

Most important is what precedent has this bill established for future parks. Parks cannot be established in isolation or in a vacuum. Consultation is required in order to ensure that they work well.

At second reading the member for Kootenay—Columbia said that it is imperative the committee ask all the questions and ensure those questions are debated at committee and answered before coming to a final conclusion. This was not realized.

I reject the rubber stamp process and therefore have some concerns about the balance of this legislation. It would appear that all the other parties at the committee are unwilling to do their jobs. All the same, this would not stop Reform from voting in favour of the establishment of the park.

Parks are an important issue to the Reform Party. Reluctantly and in spite of the flawed process I am recommending to my colleagues that we vote in favour of the park.

In conclusion, on a personal note as a Canadian I am proud to see that Canada will have the first marine national park in the world.

Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park Act November 21st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on the final reading of Bill C-7, the Saguenay-St. Lawrence marine park.

Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park Act November 21st, 1997

Thank you, Mr. Speaker—

Cultural Grants Acknowledgement Act November 18th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and join my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia in debating his private member's bill, C-204, an act to require that in the advertising and at the opening of a cultural project supported by public money a public acknowledgement of the grant be made.

As my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia mentioned, this act requires recipients of grants of public funds for cultural projects to acknowledge that a grant has been made and to specify the amount of the grant at the time the program is announced or advertised and opened to the public. Non-compliance of this requirement may result in the recipient having to repay the grant.

I strongly support this bill. In fact, I have introduced a similar bill, namely Bill C-222, which requires the recipients of grants to specify what percentage of the project was funded with taxpayer dollars. In this day and age, taxpayers are far more observant of how their tax dollars are spent. As parliamentarians, we must act responsibly to ensure that the tax dollars are effectively being spent. I believe that this bill is a step in ensuring that tax dollars on cultural projects are being spent wisely.

Over the last few months I have had the opportunity to speak with people from all across this great land of ours and they are often quite surprised about how our tax dollars are used for certain projects, most notably in instances where cultural grants are being pursued.

In some instances, some people are appalled at the fact that their tax dollars are being spent on what some consider to be objectionable material. I have been asked who is accountable for this spending and I cannot provide them with an answer as no one is willing to take responsibility. Typically, everyone washes their hands of taking responsibility.

As tax dollars are being spent on these projects someone must be held accountable. The responsibility falls on the government to ensure that the money is spent wisely and for all parliamentarians to ensure that the government is acting responsibly.

Bill C-204 is a step in the right direction. It targets any grants that are provided through agencies such as the Canada Council and the Canada Information Office. As my colleague mentioned, this does not apply to direct parliamentary appropriation such as those for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the CBC.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage has stated that she is not responsible for agencies such as the Canada Council and leaves the decision as to who is given what for grants up to the council. I am presuming that this holds true for other arm's length agencies within the department as well.

This does give these agencies some autonomy so that they are not merely puppets of the governments of the day. However, on the flip side, it does not provide the taxpayer with any accountability for their contribution.

This leads to the question: Who is responsible? With the principle of responsible government that is one of the foundations of our parliamentary system, the answer should be the minister in charge. However, as I mentioned just a moment ago, she does not claim responsibility on how agencies related to the Department of Canadian Heritage spend our money.

This must change. Our government must take responsibility for how each and every dollar is spent. For far too long we have let governments spend money without being accountable for how it is spent. The taxpayer is demanding that an answer to the question on how we spend their hard earned money is given.

I do not think the purpose of this bill is objectionable. It is not meant to discriminate against any one agency or group that receives or gives grants for cultural events and projects.

As my colleague for Kootenay—Columbia mentioned, Bill C-204 is not focused on any one region of the country and is not meant to be discriminatory against any of these regions.

Events and projects are being funded by taxpayers dollars in every community across the country. Although there is some discussion and disagreement over the amount of funds provided by the federal government to subsidize such events, some individuals feel too much money has been spent on events. Some individuals feel more should go toward promoting cultural events. This is not the purpose of this bill. I will not be debating those arguments now.

What I will say that is that under this private members bill, the taxpayers will have some say, albeit indirectly, over how the tax dollars are being spent and a right to know when and where it is spent. Governments not held accountable succumb to pressure and go on wasteful spending sprees, resulting in higher taxes.

While the government claims credit for balancing the budget, Canadians on the street know that the budget has been balanced on their backs. They are fearful that governments not made accountable can easily run a deficit. There is no law for this government to operate within its means and I commend the Government of Alberta for introducing the law requiring future governments to operate within their means. Perhaps this government will see the light and introduce a similar bill.

By making the public aware of various cultural projects which receive grants, either in whole or in part, the arm's length agencies, such as Canada Council, will be somewhat more responsible and accountable for their choices as to who receives what. Otherwise public pressure resulting from some unwise choices may lead, in extreme cases mind you, to funding for their agencies being decreased by the federal government in the future.

One of the many facets of private members' business is to fill the gaps that the government leaves open. Bill C-204 fills one of those gaps. I would encourage all my colleagues from all sides of the House to support this initiative. It is a small step in making us more accountable.

I would like to go on record to show that the governing party in the House has denied unanimous approval to make this bill votable. It is denying accountability to the Canadian taxpayer for expenditures on cultural grants.

In closing, I would like to take a moment to express my personal gratitude to those individuals and groups who promote and preserve Canadian heritage through various projects and performances. This bill is not intended as a barrier to these groups who are receiving funding, but instead it is intended to provide some accountability with the expenditure of taxpayers funds.

Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park Act November 4th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I encourage the government to really promote this unique national park around the world. I agree with the hon. member, as I mentioned in my speech, that national parks are a treasure for Canada but they are also a treasure for all human races.

We should promote this national park all across the world, through all the means that we have from our Canadian embassies, brochures and tourism listings to promote this unique heritage. We are the custodians of this great national park for all the world.

Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park Act November 4th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise today to participate in the debate on second reading of Bill C-7.

This morning the Minister of Canadian Heritage talked about her experience with the wonders of nature in Newfoundland. My colleague from British Columbia talked about his experience in the Rockies. I want to add that I grew up close to national parks in east Africa. As such I am a very strong supporter of preserving our environment and its unique habitants. One can proudly call them national treasures. These treasures also belong to the citizens of the world. Nations fortunate enough to be custodians of these treasures must fulfill their obligations to preserve this heritage for present and future generations.

The purpose of Bill C-7 is to create a marine park at the confluence of the Saguenay fjord and the St. Lawrence estuary, and to conserve and manage its marine resources.

This bill represents the culmination of an agreement which was signed by the federal government and the Quebec provincial government in April 1990. The Quebec national assembly ratified its commitment to the establishment and maintenance of this park earlier this year in June. Its bill will come into force once the federal legislation has been enacted.

This bill is a first. Not only is this the first federal-provincial salt water marine park, it also represents the first time these two governments jointly agreed to establish a park and to co-ordinate their park activities. Under the agreement made in 1990, the Quebec government retains the ownership over the seabed and the sub-soil resources. The federal government maintains responsibility over matters such as navigation and fisheries.

Since the agreement was signed in 1990, the two governments have worked together on legislative mandates respecting the park, compliance strategies, emergency plans and on research and education programs to ensure the protection of the area designated for the marine park.

The level of involvement by the regional and local organizations in this whole process has shown the general support for the creation of such a park. There has been no transfer of land in creating this park as both governments are responsible for their own jurisdiction in creating and protecting this park.

This park comprises a marine environment exclusively and measures 1,138 square kilometres. The boundaries may be changed if both governments agree on such changes and only after the public has been consulted.

A park management plan must be tabled in Parliament within one year of the park being established. The plan is to be reviewed every seven years and must be tabled in Parliament. I will speak on these points later.

Funding for the park was provided for in the 1995 federal budget. The federal contribution toward the development and operating costs is to total $20.7 million over five years. Additional funding from the federal government over 1989-93 was in the range of $6 million. Between 1993-95 an additional $4 million had been set aside from the green plan for the funding of this park.

Parliament must approve all new parks and any changes to existing parks. Although the auditor general feels that this is a cumbersome process, we welcome the fact that we have to debate such changes.

Our national parks system is a great source of pride for all of us. I do not think there are too many people who have yet to visit our magnificent parks. They provide us with a connection to nature and also give us a glimpse of our past and even our future.

National parks are owned by all Canadians and are supposedly managed on their behalf. By debating changes to the national parks system in Parliament, the government is held more accountable for how these parks are managed. The official opposition welcomes this debate and the opportunity to see that the government is held accountable for its actions dealing with our national parks.

That being said, there is some concern about the way in which this bill came before Parliament. By the time we as parliamentarians were given the opportunity to debate this bill, the agreement to establish the park had already been in place for several years. Should there not have been some consultation with Parliament before such an agreement was entered into?

I know that this is somewhat of a special case and that there were extensive consultations with local and regional groups in the area in which the park is to be established, but I wonder about future cases. Will the government do the same thing the next time? Are we nothing more than a rubber stamp?

This is the first of many future national marine conservation areas which the government set out in 1995 with its sea to sea strategy. At present studies are under way to judge the feasibility of establishing 15 more NMCAs and another six within the next two years. To date four areas have already been established. What guidelines are in place to ensure that there is adequate consultation with Parliament and with the areas involved?

Even though I have some concerns with this legislation, most of them dealing with the manner in which the government approached Parliament, I wholeheartedly support this bill. I believe it is important to live up to the agreement made at the beginning of the decade to conserve our environment, in this case our marine environment.

I would like to take a few moments to go over some of the specifics of the bill and deal with the concerns which I have.

This bill outlines four zones for managing parks resources. Zone one deals with the rare, unique, natural and cultural features that are sensitive to any type of land use. Zone two is similar to the previous zone, however some form of use can occur. Zone three deals with recreational activities. Zone four deals with land which will be accessible to many human use activities, such as commercial shipping and fishing, and natural resource harvesting.

There are no specific levels of protection described in this bill. They are more clearly outlined in the 1995 management plan. Fortunately this plan goes into much greater detail concerning how these regions will be protected and available for use. However as it is only a plan, it is subject to change quite easily.

As I alluded to earlier, a new management plan is to be tabled in Parliament a year after the park is established and is subject to review every seven years by the respective provincial and federal ministers responsible. My concern is that the government of the day, either due to pressures from certain groups on either side of the issue or from economic pressures, may decide to make changes in the plan which may be detrimental to the park and to the organisms that the act is to protect.

Another concern relates to governor in council appointments concerning the administration of federal activities within the marine park. The minister can under the powers outlined in Bill C-7 conduct activities to advance ecosystem knowledge and to enter into intergovernmental agreements. The minister would have to allow for public participation and could cancel and issue permits. If it is not the minister currently responsible, namely the Minister of Canadian Heritage, then it will be up to the cabinet to choose who is in control of this park.

On a related note, some concern also exists with respect to the regulations.

Currently the two governments are working to harmonize the activities of both levels of government in this park. This harmonization committee currently is comprised of representatives from the federal, provincial and four regional governments, the affected band council, the scientific community and a conservation group.

At present they are ensuring the goals of the management plan established in 1995 are put into place and are serving as a consultant to the respective federal and provincial minister responsible for ensuring that the strategies and methods outlined in the plan are attained.

The main concern here comes with the minister's power to determine the composition of this committee. Although the 1995 management plan has already established the composition, it is at the minister's discretion to change this composition.

My main concern deals with the accountability of the minister. Will such changes be announced or will there be some consultation with Parliament before any changes are made?

A good portion of the bill deals with compliance issues and enforcement officers powers to control unsanctioned activities in the park, including their authority to conduct searches with and without warrants and to make arrests.

Fines for individuals range from an undetermined amount for minor fines and anywhere from $10,000 and/or and six month jail sentence for summary convictions to $20,000 and/or a maximum five year jail term for indictable offences.

For corporations, the fines range from $100,000 to $500,000 for more serious infractions. Courts are also given the authority to order compensation for any remedial action necessary.

I support the general principle of this bill. Both the federal and provincial governments over the past several years have indicated that there is at the time a strong commitment to conserving this unique area.

The regulations and management plan that have been put in place appear to give this bill its teeth. While I can understand why these two governments have proceeded this way, as it is much easier to amend management plans and regulations when not legislated into law, I do hope this practice is maintained by future governments and that adequate public consultation takes place before any changes are made.

As I said already, national parks such as the one proposed here are national treasures for all Canadians to enjoy. It would be a shame if actions were taken which would not reflect the sense of immense pride we take in our national parks.

I therefore join my colleagues on both sides of the House in supporting this bill.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act October 28th, 1997

I thank the member for asking the question. We do not have a problem with the Mackenzie Valley. I think the member is right. It is nice clean water and all the rest. The First Nations have every right to take full advantage of it for their prosperity.

We have a problem with the record of this government, the government intervention through this bill, a creation of a level that we feel will not utilize fully the Mackenzie Valley. That is the problem we have and that is why we are saying let us look at it again so that we can clean out the bureaucracy level and make sure that the people of the First Nations take full benefit of the Mackenzie Valley.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act October 28th, 1997

Madam Speaker, let me tell the member what our real problem is. Our real problem is the level of bureaucracy the government is creating. We do not have much of a problem regarding the intent of the bill. We understand the intent of the bill but we have a problem in the way the government is going about doing it. It is creating another level of bureaucracy. It is fine to say that it has free votes on everything, but why does the federal government have a hand in it by appointing certain members to the board?

We know from past experience that the government is going to appoint to the board some Liberal MP who has been defeated or someone who may not have the proper expertise. Therefore, we definitely have a concern about this.

The member should listen to what the Reform Party has been saying. We have no problem with the intent of the bill. We have a problem with the way the government is going about having the bill implemented and in the way it is set up. That is the problem we have with this bill.