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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

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

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about economics the Conservative way and I would love to talk about that but before I do I would like to talk about economics the Liberal way.

He talked about when the country started going into deficit. If I recall, history seems to indicate that started under a Liberal regime. Yes, it was continued through some bad periods of inflation, but I want to remind the member for Kitchener—Waterloo that under the circumstances, with low interest rates right now, what is going to happen, as all the chambers of commerce and economists are now telling us, is that because of this budget interest rates will go up. What will happen to our payments then on this massive debt?

What will happen when interest rates go up another 2%? Where will all the money come from? I would dare to say that if the interest rate goes up 2%, as most people are predicting it will, we will have a heck of a hard time trying to pay the interest on what is close to half a trillion dollars.

Let us talk about economics the Conservative way. This is how we do economics the Conservative way. Our goal is that every Canadian who wants a job will be able to get a job, that every region of the country will enjoy economic growth and new opportunities for people of other regions and to make Canada the economic envy of the world. That is economics the Conservative way.

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

Mr. Speaker, I was elected to represent and protect the taxpayers of the riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry. I came here as a member of Parliament for the Conservative Party of Canada to represent it and the values conservative Canadians believe in.

The Conservative Party of Canada believes that our goal should be to give Canadians the highest standard of living in the world. Our goal is that every Canadian who wants a job should be able to get a job. Our goal is that every region of the country should enjoy economic growth and new opportunities for the people of those regions. Our goal is to make Canada the economic envy of the world.

We want every mom and dad in Canada to go to bed at night knowing that their children will have the chance to live the Canadian dream, get post-secondary schooling, find a good well-paying job, afford to start a family, buy a house, save for their retirement, and ensure that they have a bit left over for summer camps and vacations. Maybe they will want to start a business. They can only do that if government does not tax too much and does not spend too much.

When I rise to speak on a substantive issue in the House that is brought before the House in good faith, I always begin my speech by saying what an honour it is to address the issue. However, I cannot honestly call it an honour to speak to this sham of a budget bill. Bill C-48 can hardly even be called legislation. It is not a spending plan. It does not lay out any strategy for dealing with substantive issues. Bill C-48 is only two pages long and proposes to spend $4.5 billion.

Two pages is not enough to lay out a responsible plan for spending that much money. Not one of the cabinet ministers called by the Conservative Party to appear before the finance committee would actually come to the committee to explain how their departments would spend the money this bill allocates to them. Obviously, they do not even have a plan, or at least they are not sharing it with Canadians. When ministers are spending $4.5 billion of the taxpayers money, they owe them an explanation.

The Liberal-NDP coalition will tell us that this bill is all about the environment and aboriginal affairs and all kinds of things, but simply saying that it will spend a bunch of money on something is not a real plan and it will not solve any real problems. In fact, this bill proves that the only result the Liberals care about is staying in power just a little while longer and they do not care how much it costs Canadians.

The sponsorship scandal proved that the Liberals are more than willing to use Canadians' money to buy power, and this bill is just more of the same. Canadians should be outraged and horrified by this kind of reckless, ad hoc, back room legislation. The $4.5 billion proposed spending means about $300 from the pocket of each and every taxpayer in Canada. That is not the kind of thing a government can reasonably or responsibly address in a two page bill drafted in a hotel room.

The finance minister did not even have any input into the deal, yet Buzz Hargrove, an unelected and undeniably biased individual, did. In fact, the finance minister had already tabled a pretty fat budget because the government did not expect, quite frankly, to last this long. The original budget was a Liberal tax and spend pre-election budget that would have increased program spending by 12% in a single year.

The extra money promised in this bill simply goes too far. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce says that to say the program spending is out of control would be an understatement. The Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, chartered banks, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and virtually every other economic expert in the country have expressed very serious concerns about the bill, and for good reason.

The Liberal-NDP government says that this agreement has to be passed now by Parliament to provide immediate relief to all kinds of issues. That is simply disingenuous. In reality, no matter when the bill is passed, if in fact it does pass, none of that money will start to flow until at least August 2006, if ever.

That is because the bill says $4.6 billion can only be taken from the federal surplus in each of the next two fiscal years and only after $2 billion per year has gone to debt reduction. The government will not know if it has a surplus until August of next year which also happens to be well after the federal election.

The Liberal government is misleading Canadian taxpayers. The vague promises and massive expenditures in the bill are nothing but premature campaign promises which will probably never bear fruit. Even those few who support the bill, including the NDP, should be worried about whether the Liberals will ever follow through. At best this bill is a hoax against the NDP and at worst it is a fraud against taxpayers, not to mention seniors, students, the homeless, aboriginal Canadians and all other Canadians mentioned in the bill.

The $1.6 billion to be allocated for relief of the homeless will only be spent, if ever, starting in August 2006 on affordable housing including housing, whatever that means. There are no plans, no definitions and no details. In the area of tuitions, the bill is to provide for an amount not exceeding $1.5 billion for supporting training programs and enhancing access to post-secondary education to benefit Canadians. That is far from an iron-clad commitment to lowering university tuitions.

The bill is simply bad for Canada's economy. Even the OECD is warning that the extra spending included in this bill will lead to high inflation and high interest rates. Canada's economic health and reputation will suffer under this legislation. In short, my Conservative colleagues and I will do everything in our power to oppose the bill because it is bad for Canadians, including those it purports to help. I call on all members to put the interests of Canadians ahead of the political interests of those who concocted the bill and vote against Bill C-48.

Whistleblower Legislation June 16th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party, along with every stakeholder and expert, has consistently demanded an independent office to protect whistleblowers and investigate their disclosures.

The dithering has to end now. I have an ultimatum for the minister: either he amends his bill to create an independent commissioner who reports directly to Parliament, or the Conservative Party will make sure the bill dies in committee. Independence or death, which will it be?

Whistleblower Legislation June 16th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, as it stands, the Liberals' whistleblower legislation does more to discourage than to protect whistleblowers.

Without an independent commissioner to hear their disclosures, whistleblowers have no protection.

The Conservative Party has a challenge for the Liberals. Give us an independent body to protect civil servants, or the bill will die in committee. Will the minister choose independence or death?

Whistleblower Legislation June 15th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the agency responsible for investigating disclosures of corruption must be completely independent from government. If the minister continues to refuse to commit to creating an independent agency, it is because he has not resolved to protect whistleblowers.

Why does the minister not want to create an independent agency to investigate disclosures of corruption?

Whistleblower Legislation June 15th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, for two years this government has dragged its feet on the need to protect public servants who expose corruption.

Bill C-11 is bogged down in committee because it ignores the recommendations of every expert and stakeholder. They all agree that an independent commissioner is an essential part of effective whistleblower legislation.

Will the minister commit here and now to creating a truly independent commissioner to investigate disclosures of corruption?

Main Estimates, 2005-06 June 14th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for the great information he has given us, although I must admit that I heard the minister speaking earlier, when he appeared before the government operations committee that I am a member of, and at that time he informed us that there was $40 million spent. When we pursued how that money was spent, we were told that there were 20 million photocopies of information that had to be produced. Well, by my mathematics, that means that each piece of photocopied paper cost $2 a copy, which seems awfully excessive.

The other part that confuses me is why this war room needs someone like Ms. Menke, who is a former director of CSIS, to be the director. There are only four or five staff in that unit and apparently Ms. Menke is heading up that war room. I would like the member's opinion on that.

The minister mentioned that there were 20 million photocopies. By the way, these were all photocopied in the other departments. I am sure they were not copied in the PCO.

There is an article in the newspaper today that talks about lawyers for Jean Chrétien, Jean Pelletier and Alfonso Gagliano. The Gomery commission cost taxpayers more than a million dollars.

Let me just go through what it cost. Mr. Pelletier, the former Prime Minister's chief of staff, cost the public purse $382,000 between September 2004 and January 2005. We are talking about four months there, roughly. Mr. Chrétien's lawyer, from the same firm, cost $311,000 for services during the same period. Mr. Gagliano ran up a bill of $401,000. That is in excess of a million dollars. Now other bills, obtained through the access to information request made by CPAC, include $84,000 by lawyers for Chuck Guité. This money was spent to prepare the witnesses. How come there is supposed to be $40 million, along with the photocopies, that was spent preparing witnesses? I am confused. I wonder if the member could shed some light on that.

Canada Border Services Agency Act June 13th, 2005

Madam Speaker, my colleague is right in assuming that this is going to cause some real problems with tourism. The border communities depend greatly on tourism from our American neighbours. We encourage them to visit our wonderful country.

Yes, this is going to cause another problem. It will be a disincentive for American tourists to visit our country. That is what will happen if we let things get to that point. The Americans just do not trust our security systems, our border systems. They have had to go so far as to insist that we need passports to get into their country, but Americans visiting our country need passports to re-enter their country as well.

I share my hon. colleague's concerns. Hopefully we can encourage the government to take this problem very seriously.

Canada Border Services Agency Act June 13th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this important debate on Bill C-26. The bill would finally make official the creation of a consolidated border services agency that would bring together roles previously filled by many agencies with respect to immigration, customs, air travel, passports and so forth.

The new agency would be responsible for ensuring that people, goods and services coming into Canada are safe. Clearly, this would be an extremely important agency and one which would have far-reaching powers and responsibilities.

The agency will be responsible as well for certain technological projects intended to improve our security and speed up the flow of goods across the border between Canada and the United States.

The Conservative Party supports many of these ideas, including the smart border initiative introduced three and a half years ago. We also support FAST, the free and secure trade program, which is intended to facilitate the movement of approved goods across the border and NEXUS, which will facilitate the movement of low risk individuals.

Creating a consolidated border services agency is an important part of establishing the conditions needed for real improvement in our border security, but this bureaucratic reorganization will mean nothing unless it is accompanied by better controls, more resources and more personnel who are better trained and equipped. The government has been shuffling along, dragging its feet on this file for too long. The main reason for the lackadaisical approach seems to be that it allows the government to continually reannounce the same initiative as if it were something new.

The government is famous for reannouncing its initiatives to maximize the media impact. The government announces a fancy program and then does nothing until it sees an opportunity to reannounce it. I understand from the newspaper this morning that will be the Liberal plan for the summer.

We see the same thing in agriculture, an area that is very important to my riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry. Year after year the government makes ad hoc announcements that some inadequate amount of money will be given to farmers to help them cope with BSE and foreign subsidies and the other challenges they face. These announcements are always accompanied by promises that real transformation is on the way, but there is no follow through. Year after year nothing changes, except that a few more farmers lose their fingernail hold on solvency and are forced off the land. Too often the money that is promised never makes it into the hands of those who need it.

My party would like to see the government turn some of its wonderful announcements into real progress for a change. The Conservative Party wants to increase the number of personnel protecting our borders. We want to increase their training and powers. We want to give them the tools and technology they need to do their job well.

That is a problem at all levels of the Canadian security system, whether it be customs, immigration, correctional services, the RCMP or the armed forces. We are allowing resources to disappear, and our personnel is being overextended.

Recently we received the news that our American neighbours are placing further restrictions on Canadians crossing the border into the U.S. For the first time in history all Canadians will be required to carry passports. Why is this unprecedented restriction being placed on the mobility of Canadian citizens? Because the government has failed to satisfy our neighbours that Canada can be trusted to properly screen people and products passing through our country into the United States.

An independent multilateral task force recommended that Canada, the U.S. and Mexico should share a common biometric border pass that would allow smoother passage through customs, immigration and airport security, while ensuring the security of our shared continental perimeter. The U.S. has been working on biometric border control technologies since the September 11 terrorist attacks. In fact, the U.S. has taken many concrete steps to protect its own border while Canada has lagged far behind.

Apparently the U.S. has now decided that it cannot keep waiting for our government to do its part to enhance the security of our shared continent, so it is leaving us behind. There is no indication that things will improve for Canadians who depend on cross-border travel. The very same day the U.S. told Canadians we would need passports to cross the border, the Auditor General told us that the government is failing to properly control the issuance of Canadian passports. No wonder our neighbours are getting frustrated with us. Even requiring Canadian travellers to carry passports will not offer the security assurances it should.

The restructuring provisions contained in this bill will mean nothing unless we also fix the very basic problems of our border controls. We hear horror stories about officers working alone at border crossings, technical problems with communications tools and lack of information about people with criminal records or outstanding warrants. Border officers do not even carry firearms. This combination of problems leaves our borders and border officers very vulnerable.

Our ocean ports and waterways along our border are perhaps the weakest link in our border security system. Anything from illegal immigrants to sex slaves or dirty bombs can come into this country undetected. We inspect less than 3% of the containers coming into our major ports. We have a longer coastline than any other country in the world and our navy and Coast Guard are woefully inadequate to patrol the coastline.

My own riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry includes a major border crossing, the Seaway International Bridge in the city of Cornwall. While legitimate traffic crosses the border over the bridge, there is very little standing in the way of illegitimate traffic that crosses the border below the bridge and speedboats that cross the St. Lawrence River under the cover of darkness.

The aboriginal community of Akwesasne which straddles the Canada-U.S. border has suffered greatly as a result of this illegal cross-border activity. Sadly, the decent law-abiding majority of the people of Akwesasne live in the shadow of a small, prosperous criminal element. This poses all kinds of security concerns for the people of the community. It also entices the youth of Akwesasne to give up their schooling to get involved in illegal activities. This activity also creates problems for the city of Cornwall itself. As illegal drugs and smuggled goods pass through the city, some of them stay and cause social and economic problems.

I recently met with representatives from the Canadian Professional Police Association to discuss this problem and others. I assure everyone that this is not the last the House will hear from me on this very issue.

The Auditor General's report also pointed to significant shortcomings in Canada's anti-terrorist preparedness, for example, inadequate inspections at airports and a lack of preparation in the event of a terrorist attack.

The government's first task is to protect the security of its territory and the safety of its citizens. The current Liberal government, however, is too preoccupied by the scandals to assume this responsibility.

I will join my Conservative colleagues in supporting this legislation because it is a small step in the right direction, but I hope my colleagues opposite do not take that to mean we support their overall approach to border security, which continues to be a frightful failure. We on this side of the House will continue to push the government for real action to plug the gaping holes in our border security system.

Sponsorship Program June 8th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the minister can refer all he wants to the quantity of documentation produced, but only a small part of this information came from the government. The documents are primarily from agencies that are accomplices of the government, and from the Liberal Party of Canada itself.

Will we finally know which law firms were retained to coach witnesses and how much they got out of the $40 million?