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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was years.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Conservative MP for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 51% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act October 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today to address Bill C-11. As a former public servant for 22 years, I and many of my colleagues laboured in the trenches without any protection whatsoever. I saw firsthand the kinds of things that unscrupulous management can do if the rank and file do not have support and protection. Therefore I am very glad to address Bill C-11. Although it is flawed legislation, it is a step in the right direction.

I would like to make some observations. First, the Conservative Party has always called for protection for public servants who expose corruption. We have seen so much corruption recently from the government that thank God we are finally enacting legislation to protect the people who care enough to expose this corruption.

In its original form, the bill would have done more harm than good because it was the same old, same old. It was the government controlling the agenda. Now, with the amendments we have made, the Conservative Party has finally convinced the government and the President of the Treasury Board to agree to have an independent commissioner in charge of whistleblowing. Although the legislation is flawed, none of the flaws are fatal and we can work with the legislation. The bill lays important groundwork on which we can work further when we, the Conservative Party, form the government in the not too distant future.

The bill was amended at committee and at report stage to ensure that the bill created a truly independent commissioner to hear and investigate disclosures of wrongdoing from public servants and others and protect those making disclosures. We heard witness after witness at committee, long term public servants with 20, 25 and 30 years of loyal service, and because they were just doing their jobs of exposing what they thought was a wrongdoing to their superior, they ended up losing their careers and suffering years of emotional distress. These people did not even realize they were whistleblowing. They thought they were doing their job and that was the thanks the government was heaping on them. They were fired from their positions after long, loyal service.

The bill includes most crown corporations and the RCMP. I have to thank the member for Nepean—Carleton for insisting that we include the RCMP. He led the charge and we were able to convince the government to include the RCMP under the legislation. The bill still excludes military personnel, CSIS and the CSE. It includes several other government agencies and crown corporations listed in the schedule to the bill but the cabinet, unfortunately, may add or delete from the schedule at any time after the bill is passed. We have some concerns about the fact that the cabinet will be able to remove certain agencies from that.

One of the nice features about the bill, which again is because we worked so hard in committee, is that we now have legislation where whistleblowers may report directly to the commissioner instead of having to report internally first. The government's original piece of legislation was totally ineffective. At one stage of the process the committee was trying to decide whether it should scrap the whole bill and start over again. However we worked on it clause by clause and we think we have come up with pretty decent legislation that requires a heck of a lot more work, but it is a big first step.

In closing, the public servants of Canada, people who have served this country loyally for years and have worked day in and day out and have done such a good job for the country, deserve the respect of Parliament. I believe this bill starts to give a little bit of Parliament.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act October 3rd, 2005

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. The commissioner will have the power to deal with any case of harassment in the workplace. The commissioner will be required to take charge of these situations and solve the problem.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act October 3rd, 2005

Madam Speaker, there is nothing I would love more than to set the record straight for the public servants. I will give the House a very brief description of what the witnesses we heard at committee recounted. There was a gentleman by the name of Corporal Reid, an RCMP officer for something like 28 years of service, who lost his career because he stood against wrongdoing and corruption.

Regarding the BSE crisis, a gentleman by the name of Shiv Chopra and some of his colleagues were fired from Health Canada because of their concerns about BSE testing and prevention. We also have the testimony of Allan Cutler who revealed the sponsorship scandal.

If the bill had been in effect, those people would not have suffered the emotional damage which they had to go through for years and the loss of their employment. Yes, I am very proud of this new legislation which will prevent that and we will never have to live with those kinds of things in the future.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act October 3rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Vegreville—Wainwright.

I would like to compliment the President of the Treasury Board on the fact that he was open-minded enough to allow committee members to effect changes to this piece of legislation that they felt needed a lot of improvement. I appreciate the fact that he was able to consider the changes that we put forth and was open-minded enough to recognize that those changes had to be put into effect.

I also think that we must have worried him some because I notice he has come back to this session of Parliament much reduced in weight from when he left. I assume that is because we worried him so much with all the changes we were requesting.

It has always been the Conservative Party's policy to protect public servants who expose corruption. That is why we felt it was necessary to create a truly independent officer to hear and investigate disclosures from public servants. It now finally appears that the government has given in to that demand.

For years the Liberal government has ignored the demands of accountability experts, public servants, opposition parties and even the House of Commons committee on government operations by delaying this issue and resisting amendments to make this legislation truly effective.

I remember meeting with the President of the Treasury Board in his office before the bill was presented in the House. When he told me what the bill was going to consist of, I told him that in my mind it would have no credibility with public servants because it lacked an independent commissioner. Our differences began there, but we have worked hard at resolving those differences. I think we have a better piece of legislation as a result.

The thing that concerns me is that the government has reintroduced a bill that actually has not changed from the bill it introduced in the last Parliament. I am not sure whether that is just an arrogant government used to operating with a majority, but it did not take long for it to realize that things have changed. It is now a minority government and it has to do business a little differently. It seems that the government is working more effectively in this session of Parliament than in previous sessions because we are making improvements to legislation.

The bill was introduced last fall, and it was not until June 16 of this year that it became clear to the President of the Treasury Board that the bill as written by the government would not be accepted by the committee. No member of the committee was prepared to accept the bill, so the Liberals backed down and promised to create an independent integrity commissioner. I am pleased they decided to do that.

Even then we were hesitant to approve the changes until we actually saw the text of the provisions creating the independent body. The Liberals tried to tell us that the original bill created an independent process, which was untrue of course, and we wanted to ensure this legislation was not just another attempt to pull the wool over the committee's eyes.

Conservative members of the government operations committee have now reviewed these amendments in detail and we are satisfied that most of our demands have been met. We will therefore allow this legislation to pass at second reading and report stage after fair and reasonable debate.

Our support for the bill is qualified because it still remains flawed. For example, it would allow the government to conceal information revealed internally by whistleblowers for five years. The Liberals originally wanted to keep such matters hidden for 20 years, so this is a slight improvement. The Conservative Party would like to see, and we are going to insist, that this cover-up clause be eliminated completely.

The bill would allow cabinet to remove certain agencies, crown corporations and other bodies from the scope of the legislation whenever the government sees fit. The Conservative Party would take away that cabinet power to cover up corrections in agencies and crown corporations. These flaws are serious, but we do not believe they are fatal.

We will pass the legislation because it would put in place the basic structure needed to protect public servants who expose corruption. The problems I mentioned will be addressed by a future Conservative government.

I cannot emphasize enough how important the bill is for public servants and Canadian taxpayers. If this kind of legislation with the Conservative amendments had been in effect years ago, the waste that resulted from the sponsorship scandal, BSE and the Dingwall spending scandal, and countless similar spending scandals could have been nipped in the bud. I believe the legislation, although still imperfect, is a good first step toward cleaning up the way government is run.

I credit my Conservative colleagues for their excellent work in committee to create an independent commissioner, to hear and protect whistleblowers. I thank all members of the committee. There was a lot of hard work by all members of the committee. We came up with what I think, as the President of Treasury Board said, is a workable piece of legislation that still needs improvement but one that we are going to work on.

One of the improvements we were able to make, thanks to the hard work and the insistence of my colleague from Nepean—Carleton, was that the RCMP be included in the legislation. I am pleased that we won that and that is thanks to my colleague from Nepean—Carleton.

During committee hearings we heard from somewhere in the neighbourhood of 15 to 20 witnesses and without fail, every one of them told us that, unless we had an independent commissioner, the legislation would probably be of no value. I must thank those witnesses because many of them had lost their jobs over having the integrity to come forth when they saw something that was inappropriate in government. We heard harrowing stories, one after the other, where public servants who had been working for 25 years or 30 years who had come forth with an account of wrongdoing and consequently lost their jobs because they had come forth. The legislation will ensure that it does not happen to future public servants.

I spent 22 years as a public servant. I am very proud of my time in the public service. I must say though that during that 22 years I saw incidents that I am not very proud of and I am sure that the government would not be very proud if it knew what was going on in some of the departments.

I saw cases where it got so bad that staff would not talk to a supervisor without having witnesses because they were fearful of recrimination. That, hopefully, will be stopped with this current legislation.

The legislation says that the Parliament of Canada, we the government, believes that each and every member of the public service is a worthwhile individual and deserves the support and protection of Parliament. I am so proud to have had a part in the legislation that will bring that forth.

As a Conservative member of Parliament I am proud to stand in the House on behalf of my former public service colleagues throughout Canada and in fact, around the world, and tell them that, although the legislation is not perfect, I am proud of what our committee accomplished and I will continue to work at protecting such a fine group of people.

Public Funds September 30th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the most recent Public Accounts of Canada attest, once again, to the mismanagement of public funds by this Liberal government. Theft, vandalism and accidental damages within federal departments have cost Canadian taxpayers over $31 million this year.

This is a 345% increase over last year.

The RCMP alone suffered over $1 million in damages to its fleet.

What does the Minister of Public Works and Government Services intend to do to curb such squandering of public funds? How does the government intend to recover these amounts? Will Canadian taxpayers once again pay the price of this Liberal government's mismanagement?

Year of the Veteran September 27th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, I had the extraordinary privilege of hosting a reception in honour of 16 remarkable women at the Royal Canadian Legion in the town Lancaster in my riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry.

These women are all war veterans and incredibly all 16 live in the small community of South Glengarry. They served in World War II, both at home and abroad, in all three services, army, navy and air force. They performed a wide variety of roles, including some that broke new ground for women of that era.

All of Canada is indebted to these women for the sacrifices they made, the service they provided and the hardship they endured. They overcame the greatest challenges in our history and forged a brighter future for Canadian women and for Canada as a whole.

I was humbled and deeply grateful to be able to pay tribute to these heroic women in this the Year of the Veteran. Let us never forget the sacrifices that our veterans have made and may we never have to relive them.

Civil Marriage Act June 27th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, there is not too much of my colleague's speech with which I disagree.

I do not think we are at this point by accident. The legislation was not born yesterday. Surely it was discussed by the Liberal caucus. Surely the member had some input. I understand that close to half of the Liberal caucus share the same opinions on same sex marriage as do people on this side of the House. That must have been discussed at caucus meetings. That must have been discussed among Liberal members themselves.

I am wondering if part of the speech the hon. member gave does not ring somewhat hollow. Why was there not a groundswell among the members who oppose the legislation as fervently as they say they now oppose it? Why was it not brought forward to the Liberal caucus and ultimately to the Prime Minister to dissuade him?

I wonder if the member could give us his thoughts on that.

St. Jean Baptiste Day June 23rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, in accordance with tradition, Quebec will be celebrating St. Jean Baptiste Day.

The history of this celebration goes back to Gaul, where there was a tradition of lighting fires throughout the night of the summer solstice, that is, the longest night of the year. The tradition was carried on in France until the Revolution, and crossed the Atlantic to take root along the shores of the St. Lawrence.

Proclaimed the official holiday of Quebeckers in 1834 by the St. Jean Baptiste Society, the day has held special meaning for all Quebeckers ever since.

The Conservative Party caucus joins with me in wishing a happy St. Jean Baptiste Day to all Quebeckers everywhere.

Taxation June 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the school boards in my region and in Quebec are the victims of fiscal injustice.

Despite the favourable and final judgment they have obtained, Revenue Canada is demanding millions of dollars in GST.

When will the Minister of National Revenue return to money that is owed to the students of Quebec and Ontario?

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments June 20th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of things I have to offer the member for Mississauga South.

Yes, we do believe that Canadians are way overtaxed. If we were to discontinue overtaxing Canadians and put more money into the pockets of Canadians, it would spur our economy and the country would have more taxes and each person would pay less tax on average.

The member said that $65 billion have been paid down on the debt but he neglects to talk about the $45 billion that the workers and employers were overcharged in this country. Where did that $45 billion go? Every Canadian employer and employee was overcharged $45 billion, along with the $25 billion that was taken out of health care. That amounts to $70 billion.