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

Agriculture May 10th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I would like to advise the Chair that Reform speakers will be dividing their time with the exception of the leader of the Reform Party who will be speaking later in the debate.

I would like to thank the hon. member for a chance to address the very important topic of agricultural reform. It is clear to many people that the counterproductive programs in place today cannot be fixed by simply cutting them without replacing existing programs with something else.

Most hon. members would agree that changes are needed in how we help Canadian farmers compete in the world market of the 1990s. The question of what type of change has not yet been resolved.

I would like to talk about the problem of subsidies and how they relate to transportation. We know that subsidies largely do not work. Not only do subsidies drain the public purse, they actually retard economic development.

We are fortunate in Canada to be able to learn from the mistakes of other countries like New Zealand, which had no choice but to drastically slash its farm and transportation subsidies. Between 1979 and 1983, a period of just over four years, farm subsidies in New Zealand tripled from $440 million to $1.2 billion per year. The former president of the Federation of New Zealand Farmers pointed out that these subsidies had inflated land prices, made it difficult for younger farmers to enter the industry, and ate up much of the value of the land.

The more the farmers received in subsidies, the more they had to pay in taxes for fertilizer, farm chemicals, machinery and transportation. The subsidies had a practical effect of limiting the choices of farmers when it came to deciding which products were the most economically viable to produce. Finally, the heavy subsidization paid for by the taxpayers of New Zealand encouraged wasteful and inefficient land and transportation practices.

The former finance minister of New Zealand, Roger Douglas, has a warning for countries with heavily subsidized agricultural sectors. He said the following:

New Zealand was able to demonstrate to the world the true effect of such subsidies, and I would say to those other countries: "The results of your policies are that your poor are poorer than they need to be; your jobless are more numerous than they need to be; your taxes are higher than they need to be; your economic performance is worse than it needs to be; and your farmers nevertheless continue to go bankrupt".

Sounds very familiar to us here.

In 1984 New Zealand ran into a debt wall. It was unable to borrow money to continue to fuel deficit programs and had to slash agricultural subsidies to almost zero. With no other choice the new New Zealand government withdrew agricultural subsidies and farm prices fell 40 per cent. The market values for some livestock fell to one-third of their original value and many farmers were driven off the land.

In spite of the hardships created by the withdrawal of subsidies, New Zealand today finds itself in an enviable position in the world market. The economic growth rate of the country will probably be about 3 per cent this year, the second strongest in the OECD. New Zealand now boasts as many farmers as it did a decade ago. Perhaps most important, farmers are free to choose what types of produce are the most economically viable.

The result of this is that New Zealand has diversified into many areas previously closed through directed subsidies and overregulation.

I believe Canada can learn a lot from the New Zealand experience. Canada is fortunate to have more time to change than New Zealand did. If we use this time to make wise decisions, Canada will be able to achieve the benefits of a

market driven agricultural economy without facing many of the hardships suffered by New Zealanders.

No matter how long we wait, Canada will still have to make the transformation from a centralized and over-subsidized farm economy to a market driven economy. If we wait too long we will not be able to assist our farmers in the transition.

One thing is clear. We have to change our policies. Three factors external to the agricultural sector are coming together to force us to change.

First, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade specifies that all members, Canada included, will have to modify their domestic agricultural programs to conform to a world of reduced subsidies and greater market access.

Second, there is an urgent need to keep Canada's debt from growing. Agricultural subsidization has put an enormous strain on our national resources and has had a negative effect on the industry.

Third and last, the Canadian agricultural industry needs to diversify if it is to survive.

The subsidization programs by previous governments forced Canadian farmers to produce and export only certain crops and only in an unprocessed form. Farmers want to be able to choose which products to develop and how to transport them.

If there is a trade war in wheat but not in wheat products then it only makes sense to sell wheat products instead of wheat. In addition, these value added products will create additional jobs and will help us avoid trade disputes over grain.

Reform believes that we have to change our agricultural policies to reflect a more market oriented approach and that we should do so with the least amount of disruption possible. Whatever their failings, free markets drive efficiency. Events in New Zealand are only the latest of many examples which underscore this fact. Markets allow farmers, grain companies and carriers the freedom to choose. Change and efficiency in a market oriented system are driven by the free choices made by the market participants.

Also, it should be recognized that there are some circumstances, such as international trade disputes, that farmers cannot control. For problems like this we need to redirect the funds currently used to subsidize transportation toward a trade distortion adjustment program and crop insurance safety net system. To demonstrate how we think this can be done let me say a few words about Reform's policy on transportation.

Under the present system trains loaded with U.S. bound grain are travelling as much as 1,400 kilometres out of their way so prairie shippers can take advantage of attractive federal freight subsidies. Ironically, at the same time we are told that farmers stand to lose over $200 million because there is poor grain movement.

Clearly the present grain transportation act does not encourage efficiency in the transportation system. The WGTA is a direct federal subsidy on grains and oilseeds paid to the railways. Because it encourages farmers to export grain instead of shipping it to Canadian processors, the WGTA results in the creation of provincial programs such as the Alberta Crow benefit offset program set up for the purpose of counteracting the WGTA, subsidies to balance other subsidies.

Second, the government currently subsidizes 57 per cent of the cost of shipping prairie grain by rail to various ports. This takes away any incentive for the railways to increase efficiency since they get paid anyway.

The third point is one of the most important. Under the WGTA farmers are given no incentive to diversify into higher value crops or to ship to domestic processing facilities. I can think of no better job creation program than to allow the market to create its own jobs in our dying rural areas by allowing farmers to make the decision based on cost effectiveness as to where they want to ship their farm produce.

Reform proposes that we do away with the WGTA subsidy and redirect funding to a trade distortion adjustment program to compensate exporting producers as a direct counter measure to foreign subsidies on competing products. This would force the railways to develop efficient methods of transportation and would allow farmers to choose which method of transportation is the most cost effective for them. At the same time it would encourage rural development by adding a market driven incentive to process raw goods into value added goods.

Reform also suggests the deregulation of the rail transportation system and the elimination of regional development as a goal of transportation policy. The markets are far better at creating development than the huge bureaucracy which currently exists.

Under the present system farmers can be held hostage to grain handling strikes at any time. The elimination of the WGTA and the creation of a more efficient system would allow farmers to seek alternative means of transportation if this occurred.

Let me end by saying that Canadians involved in the agricultural sector can and will compete in the changing world economy if only given the chance to take control of their involvement in the market. External factors will eventually force the necessary changes with or without our agreement.

Unlike New Zealand and other less fortunate countries, we have the chance to create a viable, self-reliant and market driven agricultural industry before we are forced to. Reform believes now is the time.

Government Spending May 4th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are astonished that the Department of Canadian Heritage is giving away 70,000 tax dollars for a study of riddles.

Student tuition fees are increasing steadily. Workers are forced to take wage cuts. Someone with a brain tumour can wait over a month just to get a CAT scan.

Why, when we face such serious problems, would any government minister allow such a senseless waste of our tax dollars? Is there not anyone in charge who cares that we are losing ground on health care, education and financial stability?

This government seems to think that Canadians are cash cows to be milked to fund every silly program that comes along.

The only riddle this government should study is why the finance minister seems unable to understand that frivolous spending hurts job creation and funding for health care and education.

Sahtu Dene And Metis Land Claimsettlement Act May 2nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in participating in this debate today as this House examines the wisdom of supporting Bill C-16, the Sahtu land claim agreement, I have been fortunate in having the benefit of hearing the many thoughtful, sincere and well-informed arguments made by members from all parties. I would like to acknowledge their contribution to this debate and thank them for it. Their perspectives have been a great help to Canadians in weighing this initiative, the Sahtu land claim agreement.

It is always difficult to express any reservations about such an initiative. As we have seen already in this debate to do so brings down swift charges of lack of compassion, fairness and generosity.

I doubt if any representative of the people of Canada cares to be depicted in such harsh terms. However, someone surely has the duty and obligation to weigh agreements such as this in a thoughtful and reasoned way, especially since the well-being of the people directly affected, the people represented by the Sahtu Tribal Council, is an issue. In addition the interests of all Canadians, the 27 million people whose welfare is entrusted to the 295 representatives chosen to sit in this Chamber must also be weighed and considered.

It is plain to see that many of Canada's native peoples live in social and economic conditions that are appalling in a country with the third highest standard of living in the entire world. There has been a little verbal sparring about whether these individuals would now be enjoying a pastoral existence of self-sufficiency if they had been left as the sole inhabitants of this vast land that we know and love as Canada.

The present reality is that Canada is home to more than 27 million people from many other lands due to a policy of immigration that has been maintained by Canadian governments from the very first one to this present one. The process of immigration will not be reversed. Our duty therefore is to make decisions on behalf of all Canadians that are good and right and just and in light of current and foreseeable future realities.

For decades Canada's decision makers have attempted to ensure that the needs and aspirations of Canadians of native origin are met and looked after by the creation of a huge bureaucracy costing in excess of $10 billion each year. That is over $10,000 per capita for Canada's 997,000 aboriginals. Unfortunately very little of this money actually reaches the individuals for whom it was intended. Instead, it is used to fuel an ever growing bureaucracy.

It is painfully evident this multiplication of tax funded bureaucrats, advisors, consultants, lawyers, studies, programs, grants and politicians has done little to assist the plight of the vast majority of native peoples. Instead, a deplorable state of dependency, surrender of initiative and erosion of pride and values has resulted.

Does the agreement before us resolutely and energetically redress this ineffective approach of the past? No, not at all. Instead, it leaves in place the approaches that have allowed the present state of affairs and then incredibly adds to them with yet more boards and councils.

Will self-esteem and initiative be restored to the Sahtu people through receiving a windfall of thousands of dollars to each individual? There is no provision, no process put in place that would permit this newly acquired purchasing power to be used to hold the Sahtu's own leaders and advisors accountable to them. I strongly recommend that this element of democratic accountability be considered an essential dynamic in the coming self-government negotiations.

Further, the agreement is silent on any obligation for the Sahtu to be subject to the federal laws of Canada, including the charter. This requirement surely ought to have been made explicit in the section dealing with the provision for negotiation of self-government agreements.

The biggest concern raised by this agreement is the precedent it sets. It is not difficult to show expansive generosity with land that few Canadians will ever need or use when the number of people compensated is minuscule, less than 2,000.

What happens when the same process affects a land base that is directly vital to the personal and economic interests of not only a significant number of Canadians but to municipal and provincial governments as well? How will the Government of Canada then be able to offer the same level of land and cash to significantly larger numbers of native people? If it cannot, will it be able to justify to those claimants a different level of compensation and settlement? Have these fundamental issues of fairness and equity been thought through?

Since everything awarded to one group must be paid for from the resources and work of the rest, this is a question which also will affect the interests of all of us as the claims process proceeds with other native groups across the country. This is especially so because, as others have also pointed out, the settlement awarded here does not extinguish or even diminish the huge cost of existing programs extended to native peoples.

I would like to say that the federal government ought to be praised for many aspects of this proposal. It recognizes the need to move expeditiously to resolve such claims. A resolution of this nature is long overdue in fairness to native Canadians and for certainty to all. The cost of such settlements increases dramatically when there is delay in reaching agreement.

We would also applaud the fact that the people affected were directly consulted and their approval obtained prior to proceeding with this agreement. There is also a healthy element of self-determination in the proposed arrangement when it comes to resources and land use. I believe Canadians would support that especially if it could lead to self-sufficiency and placed the Sahtu on the same level of contribution to the country's well-being as other Canadians.

I also believe that so long as all Canadians are subject to the same federal laws and charter, an accommodation of community customs and values at the local judicial level will benefit the administration of justice in the region.

In short, there is much that is positive in this agreement. However I believe this government needs to accept the many expressions of concern about the specifics of the agreement and consider them in the constructive spirit in which such criticisms are intended.

The deficiencies in the agreement ought to be rectified and addressed before the bill is passed in this House.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee.)

Members Of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act April 25th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I would like to make four short points about the bill under consideration this morning.

The first point is that this is something the public cares very deeply about. I think we are all aware of that; all members who have spoken today on this topic have mentioned it. Because this is something the public cares about, it is something we should seriously consider.

In my experience nothing gets the public more riled than this whole subject of the members pension plan. This is for a couple of reasons.

One is because there is nobody else in the country who is able to command a pension for life after working only six years. Canadians feel it is fundamentally unfair that anyone should be able to do that. Another is that the pension plan is a very rich one, even if you discount the fact it can be earned after only six years. It is fully indexed and is based on 75 per cent of the best six consecutive years of earning. Again it is not something which is available to most Canadians.

Therefore it is fair to say it is something we should legitimately deal with because the public is demanding it be dealt with.

The second point I would like to make is that change is very much needed in this pension plan. Canadian taxpayers are not able to fire us, to put it bluntly. If they lose confidence in us, if they feel we are not competent in the job we are doing and our performance is unsatisfactory, the taxpayers are not able to relieve us of our duties as can happen in private industry and in any other walk of life.

It adds insult to injury in their view when not only can they not get rid of us in between elections but even after an election if our performance has been unsatisfactory they have to pay us forever under a pension plan as long as we had been MPs for six years.

Canadians do feel that change is needed simply on the basis of equity. On the basis of the dollar figure Canadians feel that change is needed. As other members who have spoken have said, for each dollar an MP pays into the pension plan or did in 1993, the taxpayer contributed more than $6. That is a very high ratio of contributions of the person receiving the pension and the employer, who in this case is the public or the taxpayer.

In other words MPs pay about 20 per cent of the value of the plan. This compares to 40 per cent for federal public servants and about 35 per cent for public sector executives. Once again the percentage of contributions in the eyes of Canadians is inequitable.

Other members have also mentioned that of the MPs from the 1988-93 Parliament 134 will receive pensions now. Those will cost $5.5 million each and every year. That is an increase of 56 per cent over what was paid out in pensions to former MPs in the last fiscal year.

Again Canadians see this pension liability as one which is growing very rapidly. In a time when our tax resources are shrinking and the demands on them are increasingly competitive, Canadians are concerned even though it is a minuscule amount in terms of the overall budget. The percentage of growth and the growth of the liability does concern a lot of Canadians.

The average pension for those 134 MPs from the last Parliament is $41,450 per year and that will go up as the indexation goes up. This is true even though a number of those 134 former members of Parliament are not retired. They are working and some of them are even working for the federal government. Canadians do not see any equity in paying pensions to people who are quite able bodied and working and are able to support themselves. They are asking why pensions are paid to people who are working and are well able to work.

The last point I would like to make about the fact that change is needed is that a lot of our pension obligations are unfunded.

I have been contacted, as I am sure other members have, by members of the Public Service Alliance. They are concerned that there is an unfunded pension liability of about $100 billion for federal civil servants. They are concerned that this fund should be managed, should be funded, should be actuarially sound. They are concerned about their future pensions.

When Canadians are concerned about their future, their pensions, their retirement years, it is very difficult for them to feel positive about a group who again seem to be free or not subject to those kinds of uncertainties.

The third point I would like to touch on is what this bill proposes. It proposes essentially two things. One is that double dipping would end. In other words people who are entitled to members pensions but who are working for the federal government or crown corporations would not be entitled to pension moneys as long as they are employed by the federal government or by crown corporations. The second thing it would do would be to end any pension payments until at least age 60.

I think it is fair to say that those are key elements of pension reform for members of Parliament that the Canadian public is asking for, but I very much agree with other members who have spoken on both sides of the House suggesting the bill does not go far enough, that this just touches on the need for pension reform but there are other elements that really need to be brought into a comprehensive reform of members' pensions.

While this is a good start and the two points are valid, there are other elements that need to be addressed.

Canada Pension Plan April 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in spite of the hon. member's reassuring words, many analysts suggest the aging of our population means that the Canada pension plan cannot survive as currently structured. The situation is so bad that many Canadians do not expect to collect CPP when they retire and think of CPP premiums as a tax on youth.

The CPP has now turned a corner. Premiums are no longer keeping up with payouts. Does the government have specific proposals for CPP reform?

Canada Pension Plan April 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

For the first time in its 28-year history the Canada pension plan has been forced to dip into its contingency fund. Many Canadians believe that unless it is reformed it is only a matter of time before the Canada pension plan runs out of money.

What plans does the government have to preserve the Canada pension plan for the long term?

Petitions April 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I too have a petition to present on behalf of the constituents of Calgary North, several hundred of whom have signed this petition. They request that the serial killer board game be banned from sale in Canada.

They will welcome the speedy passage of the legislation that has been introduced today. It is clear these concerned citizens and many others firmly support this legislation demanding the banning of this alleged game from Canada.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Process April 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I had understood the amendment to read "including the possibility of a formula or cap to reduce". Are those words not in the amendment? That is what I had understood.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Process April 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have a few thoughts to add to this motion to refer the matter of redistribution to a committee of this House and on the amendment of the member for Kootenay East to look at capping the number of members of the House of Commons. I have seven short points to make on that, the perfect number for those in the House who would like to have something to count.

First, we need to look at the cost considerations of increasing numbers of members in the House of Commons. The Canadian public is becoming increasingly critical of the cost of its government, the inefficiencies it perceives in the allocation of moneys that go to support government; the budgets, the support systems, the salary costs, the pension costs. All of the liabilities that we incur as a country because of increased representation should be a factor because they concern the taxpaying public.

Second, and this has been mentioned, the physical limitations of the House of Commons are a consideration for us and another reason to support the amendment that has been brought forward to this motion.

We have now a very full complement of seats in this House. Many members, especially those members considerably larger than I, have complained about the cramped space for the work of debates and participation in the House. It is very clear that adding more bodies and more physical demands on the space in the House is going to be very difficult to accommodate.

Third, particularly in the system we have had to date there is a very limited role for many of our members of Parliament, particularly backbench members of the government. The decisions generally are made and taken by cabinet and those who advise cabinet. The purpose of the backbenchers in the House seems to be to support those decisions. Simply having more people standing up and voting for decisions that are taken by a small group does not seem to be a very needed addition to the way our system works at this time.

Fourth, it is fair to say that most Canadians would not see an increase in the number of members of Parliament as being equal to better representation for them. I believe from talking to Canadians and from comments that many of us have heard across the country that most Canadians would argue that they are not as well represented today as they were 10 years ago, even though the number of seats has increased. It is not the number, the quantity of representation, it is the quality of representation that is important to Canadians. It is clear that it is the quality of representation that Canadians want to see addressed, not the quantity.

Fifth, these points have been made and I think bear repeating. Canada is over represented as a population compared with other democracies. For example, in the United States members of Congress number about a hundred more than in Canada with 10 times the population. They have only about 30 per cent more representation with 10 times the population.

It is very clear that other democracies manage to give quality representation with far fewer representatives per component of the population. We need to look at that as well.

Sixth, it should be emphasized that Canadians want fewer politicians. We do hear this over and over and this is not disputed. All members of the House when we discussed these issues agreed that the feedback they get from their constituents and from other people in Canada is that they do not want to see more politicians, they do not want to see more representatives, they do not want to see more MPs. They want to see the ones who are here be more effective, they want the system to be changed so that decisions are more representative of the judgment of Canadians. There is no cry for increased numbers of representatives.

We should not forget who we are supposed to serve. Our decisions should be taken in a way that meets with the approval, that carries the judgment of the people who are paying the bill, the people who are asking for the service that we provide. It is very clear that Canadians do want fewer representatives rather than more.

Seventh, when we talk about capping the number of MPs, how do we address the problem of regional representation? In my view it would be unwise to make regional representation too strong a feature in how we structure the way our representatives are chosen and the proportions from particular provinces or areas. It is clear that we do have some anomalies like Prince Edward Island, which has been mentioned, which perhaps need special consideration.

In our view the principle of representation by population should be adhered to as closely as possible in the way we structure the choosing of our members of Parliament. Regional representation and the need for that element in our political system, in our law making bodies, should be addressed through changes to the Senate rather than through changes to the House of Commons to ensure that certain proportions are made and do not change for different regions or provinces.

We have put forward as the Reform Party specific proposals for the reform of the other place in order to achieve those objectives.

The bottom line today when we consider whether to support the amendments that have been proposed is whether we are responsive as members of Parliament to the clear wishes of our constituents and the citizens of this country, to the economic

resources which they are able to provide for the operations of government, and to considerations of fairness and practicality.

Canadians would welcome a commitment on the part of this House to limit the number of representatives they must support and instead work more on increasing the quality of representation rather than the quantity of representation.

I urge members of the House to support the amendment that has been put forward and to instruct the committee of the House working on these issues on our behalf to factor into the proposals it brings back to us at the end of its deliberations a specific proposal to cap the number of members of Parliament and, if possible, to reduce it.

Supply April 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to point out to the hon. member that we in our motion are suggesting that services be available to official language minorities in their own language in any part of the country where there is demonstrable local public demand. It would be a judgment that would have to be made by the government as to whether in this member's riding, with 11 per cent anglophones spread across a very large area, it would constitute a significant demand. I think it would certainly constitute larger demand than the one my colleague just spoke of where there was 1.7 per cent but still requiring bilingual services or at least the offering of bilingual services by the commissioner.

We want to be careful that we do not get into these matters simply on the basis of dollars and cents. We have to get into the situation on the basis of common sense and on the basis of this significant demand and not just ask where can we cut back. We need to ask where do we really need the services, where do Canadians really require these services. On that basis there can be savings. We are suggesting that because there are services provided where there is no real demand, there is no significant need, that money is being wasted.

We need to approach it from the point of view of the needs of Canadians rather than simply from a straight dollars and cents viewpoint.