House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Calgary Nose Hill (Alberta)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 70% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Excise Tax Act June 21st, 1994

I thank my colleague for his question. It is clear that we need to examine this matter of putting some inhibitions on the use of cigarettes by citizens in our country. There are a number of ways that this can be done, some of which I mentioned when I spoke earlier in the debate. I think this matter of an export tax would take a lot of the economic incentive out of smuggling activity. That is a very important consideration.

I think there can be better enforcement through higher penalties for this type of activity. There has to be a cost benefit analysis for people engaged in cigarette smuggling. If the costs start to outweigh the benefits then we will find fewer people finding it attractive to engage in cigarette smuggling.

We also need to start educating citizens about the cost to them of the use of cigarettes. A lot of us as citizens are under the impression that somehow things are free, particularly health care costs associated with the use of cigarettes and that this is paid for by government or by the health care system. In fact, these costs are paid by Canadians who work very, very hard for their money and who then turn it over to government to administer programs that protect us from the consequences of certain actions.

Canadians need to have some cost benefit analysis for themselves as well, realizing that the buck does not stop anywhere but with us and it does not come from anyone but us. Then I believe our choices will be a little more realistic when it comes to cost benefit.

When we talk about diminishing the use of cigarettes, diminishing the demand for smuggled cigarettes there are all of these aspects of enforcement and deterrence that are tied in together. That is why I recommended to the House a need to just back up a little bit and re-examine what we are doing here. I think we moved ahead too quickly when this legislation was first considered, promised and introduced. I think it can work better if we bring the pieces together in a more thoughtful manner. I think giving it a few more months and re-examining and redrafting some of its provisions would serve our country better than the bill before us.

Excise Tax Act June 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my discussion of Bill C-32 I would like to comment on the operation of our democratic system, the authority of Parliament to fully discuss legislation and the way that this bill is being moved so quickly through the House.

The first reading of Bill C-32 occurred on May 27, a short time ago. As everyone in this House knows, this is a very complex bill of 62 pages, filled with highly technical information.

The government should show respect for the role of opposition parties to study, analyse and prepare constructive criticism on such bills by allowing sufficient time for comprehensive review.

This is particularly true when a great deal of new legislation, again much of it very lengthy and complex, is being introduced all at the same time toward the end of this session. I believe it does a disservice to our country, to this House and the members' roles in it to be dealing so quickly with some very important legislation and this is one example of that.

By pushing debate ahead so quickly on this and other last minute legislation the government is disrepecting the spirit and purpose of our democratic institutions. Canadians deserve better than this. Canadians do not want to sacrifice principles, respect for democratic process and due process for the sake of expediency.

Unfortunately this expediency has a severe cost in the case of Bill C-32. While Reform supports certain elements of this bill, such as some of the anti-smuggling initiatives, the air transportation tax changes and the meal allowance changes, there is much that is questionable about Bill C-32. It is a flawed piece of

legislation because it deals with the health of Canadians and in the view of many caves into the pressure of the tobacco lobby, discriminates against western provinces and can well contribute to interprovincial smuggling. These elements make it a bad bill, pure and simple.

The first issue which I would like to speak to is the government's unfortunate provision in this bill which removes one deterrent to the threat to the health of Canadians. This is the lowering of the tax on tobacco products. Nothing is more important to Canadians than their health and the health of their loved ones. This concern of Canadians is an especially strong case for young people when it applies to our future generations.

Unfortunately it is this age group that tobacco manufacturers have been targeting for many years with their advertising campaigns. The government, however, seems to have lost the will to combat this problem directly. It decided to lower tobacco taxes without making a proper evaluation of the impact of its actions on health care costs and on possible increased addiction among the nation's young.

As we were reminded last week by the hon. Reform member for Yorkton-Melville, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health clearly stated in one of her speeches that the government fully recognizes that the action plan to combat smuggling and the tax measures associated with it would pose health risks. How can the government pursue such measures in good conscience when it knows that one serious result of this legislation before us today may lead to greater addiction and result in heart disease, cancer, and death?

Where is the logic here? Where are our priorities? How are we to believe the government's professed statements about concern for the health of Canadians, indeed statements made today in this House by the Minister of Health showing great concern and great sympathy for a very unfortunate case?. These actions do not square with that professed concern.

I do not doubt that there are some in our country, mainly the tobacco lobby, who are pleased with this legislation but it should not be the concern of this House to cater to special interests, especially interests which put their own profit margins over the health concerns of the nation. This House is here to provide good government to all Canadians and this is the goal of the Reform Party.

Even if we were to consider the idea of tobacco tax reductions as legitimate, this bill does not even handle the tax decrease fairly. The provinces of western Canada which wanted no part of the tax decrease and desperately needed the revenues, mostly to pay for health costs, a good portion of which are incurred by smoking, have been bullied by this government. They have been given no choice. They have lost a great deal of revenue and received no compensation whatever. This is clearly discriminatory in our federal system.

Worse still, western provinces which never had a tobacco smuggling problem before now are having to cope with a large inflow of cigarettes from the eastern provinces that have lower tobacco taxes than they do. This is unfair and it must stop.

We recognize that you cannot beat a plan with no plan so the Reform Party would like to suggest an alternative route to the hasty and misguided path upon which the government has now embarked.

We recommend a plan for restoring tobacco taxes to previous levels should be considered. It is true that tax levels need to be lowered in this country but lowering them in this one instance in this one narrow area without regard for all the consequences is not the proper way to go. The government may complain that increased taxes will again lead to increased smuggling. However that is not wholly true.

As has been mentioned in this House before the majority of cigarettes being smuggled into Canada, in the region of about 70 per cent, were coming from reserves located on Ontario and Quebec borders with New York State. However, due to a U.S. court decision on Monday New York will now be limiting the supply of duty free cigarettes to these reserves based on a per person quota. All cigarettes in excess of this quota will be fully taxed. This means that cigarettes coming through those reserves will already cost about 35 cents more per pack than those legally purchased in Canada.

Furthermore, if the proposed American health tax on cigarettes is added later this year as anticipated, Canadian cigarettes will be cheaper by around $1.50 a pack than their U.S. equivalent. This opens the door for the return to previous taxation levels with no increased risk of smuggling.

The Reform Party would therefore ask the government to act on this development as soon as the House resumes sitting in the fall. If the government still finds that there is a smuggling problem then it should consider the reinstatement of an export tax on those cigarettes sold to neighbouring jurisdictions which are above and beyond our historic levels of cigarette exports, which are about 3 per cent of Canadian cigarette production.

The Reform Party also suggests that the health promotion surtax imposed earlier this year on the profits of cigarette manufacturers be extended from three years to six years.

I would ask the government to introduce a complete ban on all advertising for tobacco products. It is high time that government put the health concerns of Canadians first on its list of priorities. The more time we lose, the more health care resources and lives of our citizens are going to be lost. Now is the time for more considered action.

The Reform Party believes that this is an important debate of concern to all Canadians and we believe that the government should now re-examine this matter of lowering tobacco taxes. A vote against this bill now could be a vote for a better approach to this problem in the future and indeed a vote for a better future for the health of our Canadian citizens.

I would urge members of this House to vote to suspend the implementation of Bill C-32 at this time so that with the resuming of sittings in the fall we can all work together to get it right.

Young Offenders Act June 21st, 1994

I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I believe there was a request for unanimous consent to hold the vote without the ringing of the bells. There was a loud denial for that unanimous consent. I am puzzled why the vote is proceeding.

Department Of Citizenship And Immigration Act June 13th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I certainly acknowledge my colleague's expertise in this area. Having been an immigrant he probably has greater knowledge in some areas than I do.

The concern is that one-third of the spaces available in our inland refugee program were filled in the first quarter of the year. That means either one of two things: Very few inland refugees will be able to be admitted as the year progresses because the quota has been filled so early; or that the quota for inland refugees will displace some of the quota for refugees who are in other countries and under severe stress. It was more a word of caution that our system be very careful to make sure it balances those two competing interests.

Department Of Citizenship And Immigration Act June 13th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's remarks. I assure him that referring to the department with the name reversed was not a Freudian slip. However, I do agree with his remarks. I believe that immigration comes before citizenship and if he would like to make an amendment to the bill to change the name of the department I would be very happy to second it.

Department Of Citizenship And Immigration Act June 13th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, today we are debating Bill C-35 to formalize the department of immigration and citizenship. I do not oppose the creation of the department. However it is important for the House to consider the mandate of the department and the way that mandate is fulfilled. I would like to discuss one aspect in particular: the department's processing of refugees.

Canada has undertaken, with the support of its citizens, to offer safe haven to people the world over who are in danger of death or serious harm in their countries of origin. It is help we are proud to be able to offer.

I therefore want to talk not about whether we should continue to accept refugees-I believe we can and should do that-but about the process of how we determine to whom we should offer assistance in this regard. More specifically I want to talk about the acceptance of inland refugee applicants, those who are now in Canada, and how it affects refugees who cannot afford to come to Canada before applying.

There are literally millions of people from all over the world who are in dire need of help. Even as we sit here safe and comfortable, many of these people are experiencing starvation, injury and even death. Most cannot afford or find a way to travel

to safety in other countries and are instead forced to wait until help reaches them where they are.

According to a report by the executive committee of the United Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, in 1992 the world refugee population rose to a staggering 19 million. Some of the numbers mentioned in the same report were as follows: 420,000 Somali refugees in Kenya; 80,000 Bhutanese in Nepal; 250,000 refugees from Myanmar in Bangladesh; and 280,000 Togolese in Benin and Ghana. These are only a few of the many people around the world whose lives have been shattered and who are often living on the edge of survival. Nor is there any end in sight. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, already strained to the limit, has said in stark terms that "the number of refugees continues relentlessly to grow".

In the face of this massive need for safe haven, Canada has offered to take in approximately 30,000 refugees this year. Of these, approximately half of the spaces are reserved for inland refugees already in Canada. Many of these refugee applicants are legitimate refugees who have overcome incredible odds to arrive on our shores and ask for help.

We should also realize that a large number of inland refugee applicants are not legitimate refugees and come to Canada simply to find a better life. This is understandable and we should continue to encourage the arrival of productive individuals through immigration.

Under the present policy there are well over 200,000 spaces available to people wishing to come to Canada as immigrants but a very limited number of spaces for refugees. In view of this it is important to take special precautions when deciding which inland refugees are legitimate claimants and which ones are simply seeking to skip immigration procedures, seeking to jump the queue by claiming refugee status.

The United Nations has issued a warning to countries that offer asylum to refugees. In the words of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:

The line between the voluntary migrant and the refugee is a fine one. Yet it is important for states to be able to make the distinction in a fair and consistent manner so that people who genuinely need asylum are granted it, and so that the protection system for refugees is not overwhelmed with economically motivated migrants.

I share the concern of the UNHCR that if we continue to increase the numbers of inland refugee applicants accepted in Canada we will take away spaces from those people who cannot afford to come to Canada before applying for refugee status.

A confidential report recently leaked to the media from the office of the minister of immigration brings to light some troubling facts. First, the acceptance rate of inland refugees has jumped under the minister's newly appointed board members. It is not a small increase but rather in the words of the minister's own staff it is: "the first really significant quarterly increase since the board's inception".

The report shows that fully 67 per cent of all inland refugee applicants are currently being accepted by the new board. This has had the effect of allowing 4,855 refugee claimants to stay in Canada or almost one-third of the total annual target of 15,000 in the first quarter of 1994 alone. At this rate the full annual target of inland refugees will be met well before the year is up.

What happens then? Will the minister expand the total available refugee spaces in Canada even though the services we are able to provide to Canadians are already strained because of our economic situation? Or, will the inland refugee category alone expand and take away spaces from refugees who cannot afford to come to Canada to apply for refugee status?

If all inland applicants for refugee status currently applying were truly in fear of their lives it would be one thing, but the increase in acceptance rate leads to the conclusion that the immigration board is weakening the criteria in the case of inland refugees. The new refugee board vice-chairman has offered two alternative explanations for the increase but the facts tell a different story.

One explanation is that a new streamlining process is in place. Yet the leaked report states:

The proportion of claims completed in under four hours at traditional full hearings declined from 60 per cent during 1993- to 53 per cent in the first quarter of 1994.

The report goes on to state:

New CRDD member appointments may largely account for the general decrease in the percentage of claims completed at the regular hearing in less than four hours.

This can hardly be characterized as streamlining.

The second explanation is that a large number of Somalis and Sri Lankans have finally had their claims heard. It is understandable that the recent crises in these countries have produced a large number of refugees. However, again according to the report, the acceptance rate for inland applicants from nine out of ten source countries mentioned has similarly shot up; the most significant rates of acceptance being for refugee claimants from China, Pakistan and Israel. This across the board increase suggests that something other than recent outbreaks of violence in the two countries mentioned or a streamlined review process explains the increased rate of acceptance for inland refugees.

I believe we owe it to ourselves and to the millions of legitimate refugees the world over not to apply sloppy procedures or the lowering of standards to dictate who will fill the limited number of refugees Canada can afford to help.

We have already broadened the category of what constitutes a legitimate refugee to be the most open in the developed world. With increasing budgetary restraints in the country and with the tenfold cost of processing refugee claimants here instead of overseas, perhaps it is time we re-examined the criteria under which we admit inland refugee claimants to Canada. At the very least we have to stringently apply existing criteria.

The recent case of Pedro Hugo, an admitted terrorist, is a case that exemplifies the current laxity of our refugee laws. After being returned to Peru and living there for 18 months, Hugo was returned at taxpayers' expense to Canada because it was alleged that the board had "erred" in judgment. Only after Canadian taxpayers, including hard working immigrants, had paid for Hugo's plane flights, legal aid and housing did the board come to the obvious conclusion for the second time that Hugo was not a legitimate refugee.

In the face of 19 million refugees world-wide the vast majority of whom cannot afford to come to Canada to claim refugee status, we have a moral duty to be very careful about which inland refugee claimants we allow to stay in Canada. It is imperative we do not let misplaced generosity interfere with these decisions. Every person who comes here claiming refugee status because they want to find a better opportunity or because they simply do not like it in their own country is taking the place of someone who is in desperate circumstances or truly in danger for their lives.

The decisions to be made are not easy ones but they have to be faced. In the words of Sadako Ogata the UN High Commissioner for Refugees: "Resettlement should be driven by need rather than want". Let us make sure we find and admit the real refugees.

The Family June 13th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, Reform Party principles are designed to preserve and strengthen the family of Canada.

Reforming our parliamentary system and putting the levers of direct democracy into the hands of Canadians will ensure that family values carry more weight with the federal government. It will also ensure that national policies reflect the interests of all Canadians and their families rather than the interests of a politically connected elite.

Through fiscal and economic reforms the burden of taxation would be reduced, sparing tomorrow's families the economic consequences of still more borrowing and wasteful spending.

Reform's tax policies would ensure fair treatment for families. Through our party's reforms to the justice system we would place the rights of victims and protection of families above the rights of criminals, making our schools and streets safer places for our children to learn and play.

These are the common sense policies that families across the nation want and need.

Supply June 7th, 1994

Madam Speaker, the motion before us today reaffirms the desire of Canadians to remain federally united as one people and asks the House to support them in that desire.

Surely nothing could be a higher priority for those of us who have accepted positions of trust and responsibility in the Parliament of Canada than to preserve and protect the unity and character of the country we have been elected to serve.

Unity is more than an abstract concept, more than some ideal detached from practical realities. There are things that unify people in the structure and operations of a federation. Citizens must realize concrete benefits from their association in the confederation.

In Canada our social support systems have for decades been an important element in making us the envy of the world. Unfortunately our current economic situation has eroded those traditional support systems. In light of this our citizens want to be assured that leaders of the new Canada of the 21st century will act and act decisively to ensure they continue to benefit from affordable and sustainable social services.

A fresh approach to the delivery of social programs is imperative for one simple reason. Our country's financial resources are being increasingly drained away by Canada's huge debt. Over one-quarter of our total spending is paid out in interest every year, a whopping $41 billion this year alone on the more than $500 billion which was borrowed by past Conservative and Liberal governments.

Incredibly this present government intends to borrow a further $100 billion which will diminish our cash resources by an additional $4 billion to $6 billion each year in higher interest charges. These are billions of dollars that will be lost when we need to fund health care, pensions and education for Canadian citizens.

For more than two decades those we have elected to manage the affairs of this great nation have seen fit to violate the most basic rule of sound fiscal management, living within one's means.

In order to buy the goodwill of every interest group in society and to fund extravagant and wasteful government, Conservative and Liberal decision makers have placed a mortgage on our country which as of today stands at nearly $518 billion. That is more than $18,000 for every man, woman and child in Canada. We owe almost $1,500 more every single second than we did the second before. In fact, in the time it takes me to complete my remarks in today's debate, our country's debt will have shot up by nearly a million dollars.

This incredible mismanagement and the resulting debt has severely reduced our ability to pay the cost of the social programs that we have enjoyed in the past.

With this evidence before them of instability and unsustainability of current social programs, it is no wonder many Canadians are losing faith in our federal system.

It is no wonder they believe a united Canada offers little long term personal benefit in return for the huge long term liabilities it has amassed.

As services are reduced so is the incentive to stay together as a country. Raising taxes with decreased benefit to the citizens

being taxed has throughout history been a sure fire recipe for social and civil unrest, instability and eventually even revolt.

If Canadians willingly continue to turn over a large amount of their earnings to the federal government, they will expect value for their money. Canadians have in the past been proud and thankful for the fact that they can rely on programs to ensure that their basic needs will be met when they are most vulnerable, when they are young, old, sick or destitute.

It worries many of us when services and benefits are wasted on those who do not truly need them. For too long our political leaders seem to have lacked the will to make the hard choices, the courage to do the right thing, to put social programs on a sound financial footing for the long term.

Reformers believe that Canadians want to preserve federal funding in support of health care, advanced education, the child benefit, the guaranteed income supplement for seniors, veterans' pensions and old age security for households below the national average household income.

They believe their contributions to the Canada pension plan should be managed in such a way as to ensure that benefits will be available to them in their retirement years. This means that there will be less money available for OAS for seniors with a household income above the national average, for federal support for UIC and to some extent for welfare and equalization payments.

Canadians are committed to caring for those who cannot care for themselves, the most vulnerable members of society, but they know we cannot possibly sustain our present social program spending without some intelligent priorization and reorganization.

Unfortunately in spite of the current roles with our shaky social safety net, our federal government continues to refuse to take the bold steps necessary to save it. When others like the Reform Party offer specific and concrete proposals designed to preserve and protect essential services, they are derided and met with fearmongering.

One particular blatant example of this attitude is our present health minister labelling those who want changes designed to preserve health care funding as advocating a two-tier health care system. She knows full well there are at least 10 tiers of health care in this country, her own privileged access to DND medical services being one of them.

The ministers of the government should fear the consequences of not acting to bring about the change. Threatening provinces will accomplish very little. What are Canadians to think when the cost of services goes up? The level of services goes down but they are told that constructive proposals for better management are harsh and unfair.

An explicit element of the Reform Party motion being debated today is recognition of and support for the desire of Canadians to remain federally united as one people, committed to sustaining social services. We believe present and future Canadians could count on receiving the services they most need and want if we took the following steps.

First, reorganize contributory social programs like UIC and the Canada pension plan so that they pay for themselves. Our unfunded CPP is a political and fiscal time bomb. The Reform Party believes that Canadians need the financial security which would be provided if CPP were fully funded. If this does not happen, the CPP premiums of working Canadians will be hiked, something that is already happening. CPP premiums started out at 3.6 per cent of income and today they are 5.2 per cent. By 2016, premiums are expected to be 10 per cent of income.

Second, focus the benefits of non-contributory social programs like old age security on households whose incomes are below the national average Canadian family income. With good management, we can continue to assist seniors who need help from society. We cannot do this if we give away money to citizens who are not in need.

Third, give students and job trainees a greater say in how education dollars are allocated by the use of education vouchers. Let user needs and demand drive the provision of education services rather than automatically awarding institutions scarce funds without reference to provision of effective training.

Fourth, amend the Canada Health Act to allow provinces more flexibility in the funding of health services to better rationalize diminishing resources and ensure that essential services can be maintained.

No one should be denied adequate health care in Canada because of inability to pay. It is clear that if we want to count on this we can no longer afford to pay 100 per cent of the cost of 100 per cent of the services for 100 per cent of the people regardless of need.

It fools no one to pretend that nothing has to change in the provision of health care services. Rather, we ought to honestly face the new realities and work to ensure that Canadians can have confidence that certain core services will be maintained and indeed be sustainable in the long term.

I believe that Canadians want to live in a country whose social spending is organized fairly so that we pay our own way. We expected individuals, groups, governments and our country as a whole to operate under that principle. We know that if we do we have ample wealth to preserve and sustain essential social

program spending and fulfil the obligation of any civilized society to care for those who cannot care for themselves.

I challenge members of the House, the leaders and elected representatives of the people of Canada, to work together to build a new Canada to meet the challenges of the 21st century, including managed essential social programs secured for this and future generations of citizens.

Sri Chaudhuri June 6th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to share with members of this House the pride we feel in my riding of Calgary North at the achievements of Ms. Sri Chaudhuri.

Sri Chaudhuri is a grade 12 student at Sir Winston Churchill High School in northwest Calgary. She has just received top honours at the National Science Fair in Guelph, Ontario. Sri won six awards including best overall project, the gold medal in the physical sciences division, and the Manning award for innovation.

Her project demonstrated it is possible to use high frequency sound to break down toxic organic compounds that contaminate the environment.

Sri is the first young scientist from western Canada to have won this national honour.

Today as we remember the men and women who fought valiantly to safeguard our future, it is especially fitting to celebrate the achievements of a new generation of young Canadians like Sri Chaudhuri who is conquering obstacles to help preserve our environment.

On behalf of the citizens of Calgary North, I extend sincere congratulations to Sri Chaudhuri.

Canada Pension Plan May 30th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, what really is going on is that some of the provinces are funding some of their activities with low interest federal money instead of with tax dollars. They are getting further into debt because of it. Also CPP premiums are now expected to rise to keep pace with payments of benefits.

Will the government agree to a moratorium on these low interest loans and ensure that from now on CPP surplus funds will be invested with an eye to a reasonable rate of return?