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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was fact.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Cambridge (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 39% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply February 8th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to also address the motion put forward by the Bloc on the textile industry, or perhaps I should say the lack of said industry due to the government's just in time policy that it seems to have adopted.

I will be referring to letters and statements from experts within the industry, experts such as Mr. Harvey Penner and Mr. Marcel Thibeault.

I have stood in the House and demanded action from the government, from the Minister of Finance, on this industry's struggles, problems that, in my opinion and many of the opinions of members of the House, were created by the government's inability to see the collateral implications of its poorly thought out so-called solutions.

I emailed the Minister of Finance and I sent notes to him during question period. I organized members of the House who, for the most part, supported me and helped put pressure on the government, which had been, along with the old member of Parliament from my riding, sitting aimlessly and carelessly on this file for years. The Minister of Finance himself admitted that the file had been sitting on his desk for months. That is shameful conduct from a government that professes to be a job creator.

In this case we have an industry that was disadvantaged by its own government. When the Liberal's program started to cost Canadian jobs, what we saw was not an action plan to solve the problem, but instead an obvious lack of concern for jobs we already had. Eight hundred jobs were lost In Huntingdon, Quebec, and almost 200 jobs in my riding of Cambridge due to the government's inability to get on the ball in time.

Just in time is an automotive industry success story. It is not and should not be a government policy. The original idea was sound and the objective of helping countries that require our assistance is very important, but the manner in which the government implemented the program has not only caused a dramatic decline in outputs for Canadian textile producers and apparel manufacturers but it has had questionable results in terms of the intended effect of helping the truly poorest of countries.

Under the rules of origin, up to 75% of x factor price of garments made in less developed countries can be of non-LDC materials from countries such as China, Korea and India, countries with huge and sophisticated textile and clothing industries. These countries hardly need Canada's help in their exports.

Another result is that these rules of origin deprive the less developed countries of any incentive for foreign investors to establish textile manufacturing facilities in their countries, investment that would lead to long term employment and advancement opportunities for the people who need it the most.

The Minister of Finance said on December 14, 2004, that these were issues of competitiveness, of market access, of new technology and that these were issues he believed the government had to address in cooperation and partnership with the industry.

That statement alone confirms a complete lack of knowledge of this incredibly competitive industry in Canada.

I toured John Forsythe Shirt in my riding of Cambridge where hundreds of thousands of dollars have been reinvested to keep that plant at the leading edge of technology. I strongly suggest that the minister get his facts correct and I would offer him the researchers on our side of the House.

The facts are that this industry in Canada is innovative, capital intensive and has continually invested to the tune of more than $1 billion in the last five years alone simply to survive an increasingly competitive international trade environment. It is as modern and efficient as any textile industry in the world.

However increased efficiencies, enhanced productivity, modern high tech equipment and skilled workers will not do the industry any good if it does not have customers and markets in which to sell. That has been obstructed by government policies.

Let me repeat that it will take good government policies to make this happen. The government cannot blame this problem on someone else. It must accept the problem in this industry full face. The industry is and always has been at the plate. The government has not stepped up to the plate yet.

The government's decision to provide duty free and quota free entry for textiles and clothing from at least 48 LDCs as of January 1, 2003, has had a profoundly negative impact because Canadian apparel customers switch to importing and price points fall to impossible to sustain levels.

The program could have been, and I believe it still can be, very successful if given a little more thought.

Thanks to Brian Mulroney, the textile industry has in the past been a FTA and NAFTA success story. Textile exports grew from $0.8 billion in 1989 to $3.3 billion in 2003.

However, most of that growth preceded 2000 when the U.S. government embarked on a series of bilateral agreements with third parties. Those agreements effectively cut Canadian textile producers out of the picture. The industry is losing export business because of these U.S. measures and they have contributed to several recent bankruptcies and closures in our country. Again, the government appears to have no action plan on this front either.

I will talk a little about what I see is a very simple solution, either not thought of or ignored. I am sure the House can achieve what again appears to have been overlooked by a government that appears to be too lazy to solve the problems that it has created.

I will talk a little about outward processing. In 2003, $5.6 billion worth of apparel was imported into Canada, which is double the amount only 10 years, but all of that apparel was 100% foreign content. These imports represent approximately one billion square metres of equivalent fabric, a massive loss of opportunity for the Canadian textile manufacturers. If we were able to repatriate even a small portion of that foreign content Canadian production and employment would benefit significantly. Providing duty free entry for imported apparel made from Canadian fabric would enable the Canadian textile industries to grow. They could grow export business with foreign customers who would now have an incentive to buy from Canadian textile manufacturers.

Outward processing may be the missing link. By replacing an imported garment made of foreign fabric with an imported garment made of Canadian fabric is a very good idea in my opinion.

Contrary to the finance minister, who was recently quoted as saying that the industry needs to be more competitive and modern, I say strongly that this industry is not dying. It is an industry with a future in Canada if the proper framework for investment and job creation is in place.

Textile manufactures provide high quality, well-paying jobs that contribute to the high standards of Canadian living. This industry is modern, dynamic and innovative and textile firms have been proactive in adopting new technologies and developing new products to be successful in an increasingly competitive world. What they do not need are further roadblocks, potholes, dead ends and destructive policies.

On that note I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the honour of speaking once again for the jobs in my riding of Cambridge.

Petitions February 7th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the second and third petitions call upon Parliament to respect and uphold the current law which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Petitions February 7th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present three petitions pursuant to Standing Order 36 from my riding of Cambridge.

The first petition calls upon Parliament to protect our children, taking all necessary steps to ensure all materials which promote or glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children are outlawed.

Automotive Industry February 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we warned that meeting Kyoto requirements could cost up to 450,000 jobs. The Minister of Industry said that it was no problem, that Technology Partnerships Canada would fix that.

The minister had better get out his famous Liberal chequebook because that translates into $27 billion at $60,000 per job.

Has the minister discussed this with the slush fund manager over there, the Minister of Finance?

Supply February 3rd, 2005

That is not what he said.

Supply February 3rd, 2005

We are opposed to the failure of the program.

Supply February 3rd, 2005

How is it working? It is not working. Lead or be led.

Textile Industry December 14th, 2004

Mr. Chair, this is outrageous. The member himself just admitted that they were not able to solve this problem year after year. I did not know we were in an election campaign already, but I will say that if the member had been that effective, this would have been solved a long time ago and we would not be here tonight.

In response to the member, I have done my homework. The government has been on this issue for years, by its own admission, and I would offer that it has been solved thanks to the effectiveness of the members on this side.

Textile Industry December 14th, 2004

Mr. Chair, the answer to the member's question is no, I do not think it is. However every long journey starts with a simple step and this is a move in the right direction. I was not surprised and I am not comforted that this announcement is the solution to the problem. It does not surprise me, as I have indicated before, because I do not believe the government is capable of finding a solution to this problem.

In reference to the first part of his question, the member is absolutely correct. I have seen no movement from the opposite side of the House on this issue. In fact, when this was brought to my attention through a petition sent to me by the employees of the John Forsythe Shirt industry, I was absolutely shocked that such a simple solution had not been solved by the previous Parliament. I believe it was on the same day that I wrote a letter to all the members in the House whose ridings would be affected by this. Half of those ridings, four of them were in Liberal ridings, received responses from every member except the Liberal members. In fact one member wrote to me saying that she had brought this up with the minister many weeks ago.

In answer to the question, it is my absolute knowledge that members of the opposition were on this issue the minute we knew about it, the minute Parliament returned. I also believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that it is the direct result of the opposition putting pressure on the government that this has at least opened the door to a solution.

Textile Industry December 14th, 2004

Mr. Chair, I appreciate the opportunity to speak this evening to this issue. I have to say that listening to the hon. member on the other side of the House kind of reminds me of a reality show called “An MP Without a Clue”.

The government is bragging about going into consultations with this industry in the last 30 days with 30 people. How ridiculous is that? People are not interested in having a different piece of legislation for each situation that happens across the country. People wanted their jobs secured and the government had plenty of time to do that. The owners and managers of this industry wanted to plan for the next year, which is a simple thing, but the government leaves it to the 11th hour. What the people of Canada really want is a government that can solve problems, not legislation that creates more. In fact, that is what is happening here.

This is a band-aid solution to a problem that the government caused many years ago. It decided to give some $50 million to underdeveloped nations, which in itself is a good idea, but what that led to was a problem for our own jobs in Canada. The government is concerned about creating jobs. It is not concerned about the jobs we already have.

In one good idea, it tried to solve the problem and ended up with another problem. That is typical of the government. Whether it is the gun registry or dealing with aboriginal people, it does not think laterally. It comes up with knee-jerk solutions and we end up trying to solve the problem at the 11th hour.

People in Cambridge wanted to know. John Forsythe Shirt has been in existence for 100 years and is completely modern. It is not lagging behind on its technology. It has done everything to meet the demands of World Trade Organization contracts and the conflict with NATO. What it has been waiting for is the government to get out of its way so that it can get on with its business. What does the government do? Two weeks before the deadline it says that it has to fix the problem.

In the last two months since I have been in the House I have raised this issue on numerous occasions. I have e-mailed the minister, talked to him at events, have sent him notes in the House, most of which he has ignored, and I have asked him direct questions in the House, as have other members of the Conservative Party. The Bloc has been onside with this and the NDP has been battling the government. The minister himself admitted that he has been sitting on it for two months. That was just a few weeks ago.

The ministers stands in the House every day when he responds to questions on this issue and says that the Liberal caucus is on it. Guess what? It is not on it. It would not have done anything if it had not been for the opposition putting up a tremendous fight to force the government to fix the problems which it caused in the first place.

The government has now acknowledged that it has a problem and that it needs to remove the tariffs over the next few years. It should have done that in the first place. It brought in legislation that allows this industry to sell its remission orders. That is just silly. It should never have allowed that in the first place. It is no wonder we sit here for these types of emergency debates discussing problems that could have been solved in the first place.

It brings me back to the issue that this was an all committee decision. All of the parties got together and made a decision. The minister was given his marching orders but what did he do? He said that he would look into it and make his own decision. He said that he would consult with his bureaucrats. That is not his role. His role is to put in place the decisions made by the House that are brought forward by the committee. I have no idea where the minister gets off thinking that he can delay this as long as he wants and then claim credit.

The fact is that the $50 million that have been put forward is not even the cost of one of the Prime Minister's jets. It is ridiculous. People want jobs and the government is out of touch. I am happy the government brought this notice forward but it should have been done months ago, and in no way should the Liberal government be credited. This is thanks to the hard work of the opposition and it reflects our ability to make the government work despite the interference from that side.