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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

Financial Administration Act October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, yes, there is a culture. For the last five years of my career as a manager, we were called agents of change. The member is correct in his assumption that it is difficult to change the culture in a huge organization such as the Public Service Commission.

That is why it is so critical that we get this legislation as perfect and flawless as possible. I am convinced, and the public servants are convinced, that if we give them something to work with, they are willing to change. However, they have been let down so many times that we have to show them some integrity and credibility. It is really critical that we get it right.

Financial Administration Act October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague's assessment that Bill C-11 will not work as long as the disclosure is not independent. Right now the way the bill stands, the government could decide to remove whatever agency it wants from the whistleblower legislation on a whim, and that is not healthy.

I believe that a good bill can come out of the House that will actually serve what we are trying to do. It will actually allow a public servant to report wrongdoing and feel comfortable in so doing. Every member in the House has agreed at one time or another that our public servants are our most valued resource. The President of the Treasury Board said that in his speech, and everyone in the House agrees with that.

Here is the perfect opportunity to show that faith in our public servants and to amend this bill so that it will do exactly what it is designed to do, and that is to protect people who report wrongdoing.

Financial Administration Act October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I must admit I do agree with the hon. member. When I was working in Sudbury, there was a great public servant working there, and that was myself. There were many others. I must admit I enjoyed my time in Sudbury very much.

I also worked in Ottawa here as a public servant, and in Cornwall. We have been recognized as having one of the best public service in the world. Our public servants are dedicated, hard working people. This is not about them. This is about maybe making life a little better for the public service, and that is my concern.

I am glad to hear that the government is prepared to do anything possible to that end. I am glad that the member opposite agrees that we should give the public servants the tools that they need to do a good job. One of the ways we can give them that tool, as the hon. member mentioned, is with Bill C-11.

That is a bill that is before committee right now. We on this side are making some constructive changes that are coming actually from public servants, not only retired public servants like myself but active public servants who are doing the job today.

They are saying unequivocally that we need an independent commissioner. The way Bill C-11 is drawn is flawed. I was just talking to another public servant before I came into the House this afternoon and I got exactly the same report, that it will never work unless we have an independent commissioner.

I am really happy to hear the member opposite. Hopefully she will encourage, and make her comments and feelings known to the President of the Treasury Board. The ultimate goal is to end up with the most perfect bill possible.

Financial Administration Act October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say a few words today on Bill C-8, a bill to create and empower the Office of the President of the Public Service Human Resources Management Agency.

As the President of the Treasury Board said, that agency was created last year by the Public Service Modernization Act. Bill C-8 is essentially a housekeeping bill. It is part of the government's effort to implement its reforms of the public service which are laid out in detail in the Public Service Modernization Act. I am sure the Chair will forgive me if I spend much of my time discussing that act and the need for public service reform in general.

As the House knows, I was a public servant for 22 years. I served as the president of a union local and as a manager in four federal government offices in Ottawa, one in Sudbury and one in Cornwall. When I study legislation like Bill C-8 or Bill C-11, which deals with disclosures of wrongdoing, I am able to look at it from the point of view of a public servant. Often that perspective seems to be missing from the government's considerations when it drafts legislation.

Although I recognize the need for more rational and functional structure for the public service, I am somewhat skeptical when I hear about public service modernization. There were many positive steps taken in last year's Public Service Modernization Act which Bill C-8 would supplement. Many of the changes are long overdue improvements to the nation's public service. If carried out properly, they could lead to a much happier, less strike prone and more productive public service. As I said, I am very skeptical.

At the time it was tabled, the Public Service Modernization Act was touted by the government as the first major public service restructuring in 35 years. The government is being more than a little naive if it thinks it can make up for 35 years of neglect all at once.

The reality is other attempts have been made to modernize the public service. I was part of the public service during many of those attempts at modernization. I have lived through them. I have learned that the government is usually a step or two behind the pressures and demands of the public service. Somehow or another the government cannot seem to keep up with the public service. We must never fall into the trap of assuming that our work is done and that a single act of Parliament can instantly reverse the disenchantment in the public service over long-standing issues.

I asked the President of the Treasury Board in committee last week why he would not create an independent, external body to receive and investigate disclosures of wrongdoing and protect those public servants that he spoke so highly of, the ones who make disclosures. His answer was that the Public Service Commission would change and would become more independent and more respected by public servants.

It is fine to give that responsibility to the Public Service Commission. It is always dangerous to assume that the culture of the public service will change that quickly and dramatically because the government makes a few organizational changes. As I said, I was part of that same public service for 22 years. It does not change quite that easily.

The Public Service Modernization Act, and by extension the bill before us today, does make some steps in the right direction, and I am happy to recognize those important steps.

By the government's own admission over the past few decades, the public service has remained structurally and functionally a top-down organization, with too many isolated pillars of communication and accountability. The Public Service Modernization Act provides for more flexibility in staffing and in managing people. It also stresses the need for a cooperative approach to labour management relations, which I fully support and which is long overdue.

The employees who actually deliver end products and services are the ones who know best what works and what does not work. They must have more say in the running of the workplace. If the intent of the Public Service Modernization Act becomes reality, the result will be happier federal workplaces.

The act also overhauls staff training and development and more clearly delineates the roles of key players in the human resources area, in Treasury Board, in the Public Service Commission and in the various deputy ministers and their equivalents. That is where the Public Service Modernization Act connects with Bill C-8.

Bill C-8 would allow Treasury Board to delegate its powers pertaining to human resources management, official languages, employment equity and values and ethics to the President of the Public Service Human Resources Management Agency.

Under Bill C-8, the President of the Public Service Human Resources Management Agency would replace the President of the Public Service Commission, an ex officio governor of the Canada School of Public Service, and would replace the Secretary of Treasury Board as the person providing the Official Languages Commissioner with reports on the monitoring and auditing of the federal institutions with respect to their compliance with official languages rules.

As I mentioned earlier, it is very difficult and dangerous to prejudge the impact of a reorganization like this. It needs to be considered in a broader context, in this case in the context of the Public Service Modernization Act which is very complex. At the end of the day the most important stage of any bureaucratic restructuring process is listening to the front line workers whose effectiveness is at stake.

If serious problems arise, the public servants will let us know, only if we are prepared to listen to them. Unfortunately, the government's track record has been poor when it comes to listening to front line public servants.

We can tell that the government does not listen to public servants just by the way it treats whistleblowers. Bill C-11 is supposed to address this issue, but it will not do the job unless it is amended, because the government has not taken into consideration what public servants had to say about the way the program would be implemented.

I believe that all the technical changes in the world will be for naught unless the government listens to and respects its employees. It will get respect from public servants only if it shows them some respect. Only through a relationship based on mutual respect will the government be able to rely on a modern, flexible and efficient public service.

In closing, I will support Bill C-8 and I will encourage my caucus colleagues to do likewise. However, my support comes with a cautionary note for the government. Do not make the mistake of thinking that mechanical changes will resolve all the country's public service issues in one fell swoop. The government has to be dedicated to working with public servants in a respectful way over the long term. The government has a tough road to hoe if it intends to overcome its record of the past decade.

Supply October 21st, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for a very well thought out and well researched talk on this very important topic.

The member mentioned some things that also caught me in the place where I live. He mentioned that we should have a military that we can take pride in. I agree with those comments. We must have a military that we can have pride in. The member talked about our military losing respect. Unfortunately it has come to that, he said. As he mentioned, our military is losing respect.

My grandfather was in World War I. My deceased brother spent seven years in the navy. They were very proud of their service. I remember when I was just a little guy and my brother would home from the navy, I was proud when that man walked in wearing his uniform. I wonder now in the same situation when a young 22 year old man comes home from the navy and his 12 year old brother is there, whether that 12 year old is as proud of that sailor as I was of my brother.

We have to equip the people in our military properly. My colleague talked about the Auditor General. He talked about what we need to give our troops.

My riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry is the home of the Glengarry Highlanders. This regiment fought in both world wars and did quite well. It is a very proud regiment. These people went to Dieppe to celebrate being there during the Battle of Britain. They took part in the D-Day remembrance ceremonies. I met with them. I have a couple of friends who were there and who actually took part in the D-Day invasion. They told me that it is a shame, “Forget about us, but do something for the troops of today”. I think that is what my worthy colleague has tried to say, to please help the army, the navy and the air force of today.

My colleague has researched the topic much better than I have, but the people in the military tell me that the average age of the equipment they use is older than the average age of the troops. Is it possible that we are sending members of our military to these dangerous situations and the equipment they use is actually on average older than they are? If that is the case we must do something. I would ask my worthy colleague to comment.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the government's position on child care will do very little for people in urban areas and even less for people in rural areas. The whole point of this, the problem, the imperfection from the beginning, is that it does not give parents an option as to what to do with the care of their children.

As members know, children are our most valued resource in this country. We have to make sure that they are brought up with the care and the nurturing they deserve. If parents choose to look after their own children, I think they should be encouraged to do that. I would strongly suggest that amendments be made to the bill so that we do in fact encourage families to raise their children as they see fit, because the best stewards of our young people are of course their parents.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member was in the chamber when our party's leader addressed the emergency debate--and I must say there were very few people in the House from the other side in that emergency debate--and we debated the BSE crisis long into the night. I think our Leader of the Opposition made his position very clear in that he was a strong supporter of supply management, as I am.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I have mixed feelings as I stand to speak on the government address in reply to the throne speech. On the one hand, it is of course an honour to speak on behalf of the people of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry. On the other hand, the speech from the throne offers very little to speak about that has not already been spoken about far too much. It is basically a regurgitation of the same old rhetoric and the vague, unkept promises that have been included in every Liberal throne speech for the last 11 years. Incredibly, the government even had the gall to talk about fiscal discipline, after overseeing a decade of the worst spending scandals this country has ever seen.

We have experienced the HRDC scandal, the 100,000% cost overrun for the useless gun registry, the sponsorship scandal and the unaccountable spending of millions of dollars on Liberal patronage appointees. All this waste took place while our Prime Minister was gutting health care and the military, the two most important fundamental responsibilities of government.

The Prime Minister delights in saying that he has balanced the budget, but anyone can balance a budget by raising taxes and cutting basic services, as he has done. Neither talent nor vision is needed. On the other hand, balancing a budget in a well thought out and responsible manner while contributing to Canadians' quality of life takes real leadership.

Let me give members an example of this government's misplaced priorities that is especially relevant to my riding. The government has done almost nothing to help rural Canadians cope with the devastating circumstances beyond their control, such as drought, floods and BSE. Remember the AIDA program? It failed to deliver. The CAIS program is no better, and the government's response to the BSE crisis is virtually non-existent. Yet the government happily throws good money after bad into a program forcing rural Canadians to register firearms.

Finally, having taken their property rights away and watching their livelihoods die, all the government can offer rural Canadians is better Internet access. I suppose if they have the Internet, farmers will be able to advertise the sale of their farms and look for work in the city.

That is where things are headed as long as the government fails to support our agricultural sector. It is ironic that the government is so fond of talking about high speed communications for rural Canada, when its response to the BSE crisis has been so slow.

In the throne speech the government calls broadband communication one of the fundamentals of rural economic development. What about agriculture? When will the government realize that agriculture is the very essence of our rural economy?

The government has become so arrogant that it thinks it understands the needs and priorities of rural Canada better than rural Canada does itself. Farmers are not alone in being treated in such a paternalistic and ill-advised way by the Liberals. Some of the measures proposed in the Speech from the Throne indicate that families are getting the same treatment.

Rather than enabling all families to make the child care choices that work best for them, the government continues to promise funding for only those families who choose to put their children in day care facilities. There is no mention of any incentive or assistance for parents who choose to stay home to care for their children. There is nothing for those whose children require special care.

Every family has different circumstances and the government should enable families to make the choices that best meet their own needs. This government loves to pay lip service to diversity, yet its cookie-cutter approach toward child care disrespects the diversity of families and removes their freedom of choice.

The approach to the provinces comes from that same paternalistic attitude. The throne speech is filled with fine phrases about respecting regional diversity in Canada, but this government will nevertheless continue to interfere as much as ever in areas of provincial and municipal jurisdiction.

There are good reasons for Canada being a federal state. Where government policy relating to regional interests is concerned, the provinces are the ones in the best position to make decisions.

Just as individuals and families should be able to make their own choices with respect to things like child care, provinces should be able to make decisions in areas such as municipal infrastructure, skills training, education, and other areas that, according to both the Constitution and common sense, are provincial matters.

This government is so busy making policy where it should not that it has failed to make policy where it should. The most obvious example is national defence. The throne speech started with a very appropriate tribute to our men and women in uniform, but I suspect that most of our military personnel and their families and, for that matter, most Canadians will find the tribute more than a little hypocritical coming from this government. The Liberals have mismanaged and neglected our military almost to the point of collapse.

The government has not even reviewed its defence policy in more than a decade. I am talking about the decade since the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, unprecedented nuclear proliferation and regional instability. None of these things have been taken into account in the government's defence policy.

Our military has been systematically dismantled since the Liberals came to power, thanks to this government. The Canadian Forces have no rapid reaction force. Thanks to this government, Canadians paid half a billion dollars not to buy helicopters for the navy, and now we will pay again to buy the cheapest helicopter instead of the best.

This government oversaw the demise of Canada's last submarine fleet, and the replacements, like those for the Sea Kings, are the cheapest instead of the best. The government is eliminating the army's tank force. Our military cannot move its own heavy equipment overseas, either by sea or by air. One of our four destroyers is in mothballs because there is not enough money to put it to sea.

Only the dedication, discipline and quality of our military personnel have allowed them to perform their duties so well up to this point. Our men and women in uniform deserve the safest and most effective equipment available. They deserve our respect and appreciation. The government has asked them to do too much with too little for too long. It must stop.

One of the commitments the government made in the throne speech was to build consensus when it comes to setting the nation's objectives. There is already a consensus in Canada that the military needs better equipment and more funding, but so far there is no evidence that the Liberals are interested in that consensus.

The same is true in many other areas. Canadians of all political persuasions know and agree that there is a need to strengthen our democracy. The official opposition of the House and the governments of all the provinces would almost certainly agree that the people of each province should elect the senators who are supposed to represent them. I suspect that there would also be broad consensus on establishing fixed election dates so that government cannot reserve democracy for an opportune time.

There is also a broad consensus in Canada about criminal justice issues. I think a large majority of Canadians and members of the House would agree that our children should be protected by raising the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16.

If the government really wants to act on the basis of consensus, it should start where the consensus already exists. The government has made no attempt to build consensus on anything it has done so far in its mandate. As Treasury Board critic for the official opposition, I listened with great interest as the Treasury Board president tried to make it sound like the government had consulted stakeholders and the opposition on Bill C-11, which deals with disclosures of wrongdoing by public servants. I know I was never consulted. Opposition critics were told of the changes made to the bill a few days before it was tabled, but we were certainly never consulted during the drafting of the bill and it shows.

The government most definitely did not consult the opposition parties on the throne speech. Even if some of us over here will have to vote in favour of its adoption in order to enable the government to continue, this is an unbelievable show of arrogance on its part.

Let me say in closing that I had hoped this throne speech would herald a Parliament built on cooperation and common sense. This is what a minority government situation calls for. But I was disappointed. The throne speech shows no effort to build bridges and no innovation in the areas that matter to Canadians. That is what the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition is meant to fix, and I sincerely hope that it passes with the support of my hon. colleagues opposite.

Whistleblower Protection October 15th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the minister denies a principle of independence by insisting that public servants report wrongdoing to management, who in turn report directly to a Liberal minister.

Why has the minister failed to allow honest, dedicated and hard-working public servants to report wrongdoing directly to an independent commissioner?

Whistleblower Protection October 15th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, we had a fine example of precisely what we are trying to achieve by allowing public servants to disclose intolerable situations they come across.

How much money does the minister think could have been saved from the Liberals' shenanigans if Ms. Tremblay had been free to disclose these fraudulent practices to an independent commissioner?