House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament September 2016, as Conservative MP for Calgary Midnapore (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 67% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Speech From The Throne October 2nd, 1997

Madam Speaker, I want to comment on some of the remarks by the hon. member, some of which were regrettably partisan, to the Speech from the Throne.

There were some very eloquent remarks from the member from Scarborough Centre on Canadian patriotism and the importance of national unity. I would like to strongly second some of the sentiments he expressed. I and my colleagues have always believed that patriotism, a genuine love for one's country, is better expressed through actions than through mere words.

How does the hon. member believe his government can express that love and passion for Canadian unity through actions of fundamentally reforming the federation so that we do not hear the kind of remarks from Senator Carney and so we no longer have the presence of the secessionists in this great Chamber?

Is this hon. member willing to look at reforming the upper chamber of the House so Canada will no longer be the only major federal government in the developed world which does not have proper regional representation in its halls of power? Is the hon. member willing to look at concrete reforms of federal institutions so that all Canadians feel included and can share in the kind of magnificent patriotism expressed by this member?

Speech From The Throne October 2nd, 1997

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member on his eloquent speech in reply to the Speech from the Throne.

During the member's comments he indicated that he felt the government had restored health to the nation's finances. I wonder if the member could comment on what his definition of economic and fiscal health is.

Does it include 9 percent stagnant unemployment, shrinking family incomes, 17 percent youth unemployment, 100 billion additional dollars in the national debt, the highest personal income tax rates in the industrialized world, a $600 billion Canada pension plan unfunded liability that future Canadians will have to pay for? Is this his idea of giving hope to young Canadians?

I am always entertained to hear members opposite talk with such great passion about the future and youth. This is a caucus that does not have a single member under the age of 30 talking condescendingly about hope for future generations, which it has forever indebted and made poorer because of the choices of the government to add $100 billion to the public debt and the previous government, of which this Prime Minister was an integral member, created the debt to begin with.

Does this minister think that debt and that kind of serious economic problem creates hope for young Canadians?

Customs October 1st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the minister seems to think that his officials are flawless. Evidence has been introduced at a hearing and Mr. Coffey has made the allegations publicly. I would be happy to table them in the House.

We have learned also that the minister has instructed his lawyers to muzzle and intimidate Mr. Coffey to prevent him from making these allegations of fraud, nepotism and abuse public.

What is the minister trying to hide? Rather than trying to gag a 25-year veteran of his department, why does he not fully investigate these allegations today?

Customs October 1st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, Dennis Coffey, a veteran customs inspector, has alleged that the former head of customs at Pearson airport cut secret deals with certain trucking firms to bypass customs clearance. In fact he alleges that the revenue department has knowingly allowed over a million shipments of commercial cargo to escape customs control.

My question is for the Minister of National Revenue. Given that the government has known of these allegations for two months, why has his department missed over a million chances to protect Canadians from illegal drugs, contraband and firearms?

Taxation September 29th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, frankly I am shocked at that answer. This is a simple question. Can this minister not stand up in this House and say that it is not the policy of this government to pursue and chase down severely disabled Canadians in the courts to try to squeeze money out of them? Are they or are they not running businesses by employing personal care givers at home?

I do not see anything in the Income Tax Act about that. Is this minister in charge of his department and its policy or is this minister's department in charge of him?

Taxation September 29th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Revenue.

Last summer the Tax Court of Canada struck down a cruel effort by the minister's department to impose back payroll taxes on Mrs. Janice Collingridge, a severely disabled, low income, non-verbal quadriplegic. The minister's lawyers said that by contracting care givers to help her live at home she was running a business in her home and was therefore assessed nearly $5,000 in back payroll and CPP taxes and penalties.

Is it the policy of this minister and government that severely disabled Canadians who contract home care services are in fact running businesses and will be dragged through the courts and encounter personal financial hardship to satisfy this government's insatiable desire for tax dollars?

Speech From The Throne September 25th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his kind words and extend some of my own.

I have enormous respect for the hon. member for Broadview—Greenwood's long and principled crusade for tax reform in this country. He has been against the stream in his party and his government in calling for a single tax that would ultimately give Canadians what I advocate as well.

Would I support the elimination of all the so-called tax expenditures? Of course not because the single largest tax expenditure is the RRSP which most Canadians rely on for their retirement savings.

There are of course tax preferences that some large companies have which I think are unreasonable in terms of creating a hugely complex tax system and which require tens of thousands of tax lawyers, accountants and bureaucrats at Revenue Canada at untold public expense to administer.

However I think the solution is not to eliminate those things while keeping the same tax rates thereby squeezing more revenue out of the economy. If we are going to eliminate exemptions and deductions and credits for individuals and for companies, we need to do it within the context of overall radical tax reform which results in overall lower tax levels for Canadians. On that condition I would support it.

Speech From The Throne September 25th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, talk about Orwellian rhetoric. My goodness, that is quite a question. I am not sure whether the member is from the Liberal or Tory party seated to my right and I am not sure that it matters.

The simple answer is yes, we did call for the elimination of the deficit and the reduction of the debt, not as an end in itself but as a means to an end. That end is greater prosperity, hope, growth and opportunity for Canadians through tax relief. You cannot provide Canadians with tax relief if you are spending the money instead of reducing it. It is a simple mathematical thing.

Perhaps you have never balanced a family budget. Heaven knows this Liberal government has never balanced a government budget. But when you cut your spending, you get a surplus and that means that you can reduce people's taxes. That is why we have been pushing successive governments in this country since the Reform Party was founded a decade ago to get our finances under control so we could let Canadians keep more of their own money. It is not money that belongs to this Parliament or this government or the Liberal Party of Canada. It is money that belongs to Canadians and they ought to be able to keep it.

Speech From The Throne September 25th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I would hate to point out to the member that they won a majority government but with the smallest percentage of popular vote in Canadian history for a majority government. If that is not chastisement with a divided opposition, I do not know what is. We still see the Liberal arrogance creeping into that member's comments.

We were very clear in our fresh start platform document about precisely which programs we thought were priorities and those that we thought could be cut. Let us talk about some of this. How about eliminating grants and handouts to special interest groups whose sole purpose is to demand more government spending? How about paring back some of the giveaway programs of the hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage, like her $23 million flag giveaway? How about starting with the hon. members pension plan?

Mr. Speaker, 51 of 52 of my colleagues in the last Parliament gave up their pensions as a sign of sacrifice, as have many provincial legislators engaged in the same deficit cutting exercise. Why don't my hon. friends start with the same kind of leadership by example?

Speech From The Throne September 25th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to congratulate you on your appointment. We are very confident that you will be an impartial Speaker. It is a great thing to see you there. It is a great thing for your constituents as well.

I would also like at the beginning of my maiden speech in the House of Commons to thank my constituents for this great privilege. It is a humbling experience to stand in this great Chamber of democratic deliberation for the first time and experience what the veterans are familiar with. I only hope that I can, in whatever modest way, meet the aspirations and expectations of my constituents of Calgary Southeast.

I have been asked to speak in reply to the Speech from the Throne. The Speech from the Throne is remarkable. It occurred to me that it was simply a more stilted and formal version of the 56 page red book II, the one that we released ahead of the Prime Minister. It was a book filled with congratulations. The government congratulated itself on what it sees somehow as a brilliant record. But let us take a closer look at that fiscal and economic record.

The Liberals talk about job creation and prosperity. What we have today is 1.4 million Canadians out of work. We are now in the 98th straight month of unemployment over 9 percent, the longest string of high unemployment since the great depression. That is the economic record of this government. Youth unemployment is over 17 percent. In some regions it exceeds 25 percent. Young people, people of my generation, are without hope. They have lost economic opportunity because of the policies of this government.

We have seen a 7 percent decline in the after tax family income of the average family since the beginning of this decade because of the tax increases of the Liberal government and its Tory predecessor.

A quarter of Canadians tell us that they go to bed worried about job security, worried about whether the next day they are going to have enough money to put bread on the table and take care of their families. We see anaemic economic growth of under 3 p. cent. While we have 9 percent unemployment, our largest trading partner, the United States, has an unemployment rate of almost half that. Our second largest trading partner, Japan, has an unemployment rate at a third of that level. The government calls this an economic record to be proud of.

The Liberals tell us that they have managed nearly to balance the budget which they helped to create over the last 25 years with their Conservative friends. How did they do that? By acting responsibly as so many of the provincial governments did? By acting in the same way a small business or family would by paring back the non-essentials, by cutting? No, it was done by increasing the tax burden on Canadian families, by killing jobs, by increasing payroll taxes. It has income tax hikes riding on top of the de-indexation of the tax system imposed by the Tories in 1986. That grosses $23 billion in new government revenues through 36 tax increases on top of the 72 tax increases introduced by the Mulroney Tories. That is the shameful fiscal record of this government. And what has it done?

It has added $100 billion of debt and called it responsible fiscal management. That $100 billion brings our total indebtedness to just under $600 billion which, of course, does not include another $600 billion in the Canada pension plan Ponzi scheme for which my generation is going to have to pay. That is the fiscal record of this government which has led to $47 billion a year in annual interest payments, a sum large enough to be the operating budgets of five of the the smaller provincial governments. That is a shameful record and one it ought not to applaud.

So what is the answer? One would think that here in this last Parliament of this century, in this throne speech which sets the agenda for the new millennium that there would be a great vision, a new departure, a new direction for Canada. It might take the advice of the overwhelming majority of the people in the business communities who know how to create wealth because they do it every day.

Instead, the government has gone back to the traditional, old 1970s Liberal policies of bigger government, chequebook politics, trying to buy the votes of its special interest friends by opening up the treasury yet once more for all its pet projects. The throne speech is filled with page after page of new spending programs. There was only one mention of tax decreases and debt reduction while we are sitting in the midst of an economic crisis in the country. There is no imagination, no vision in this throne speech.

Why can the government not think about the kind of real economic distress that real Canadians are feeling? For instance, what about providing Canadian families with tax fairness? The government's throne speech is filled with talk about children who do not seem to have families, children who seem to be the worthy recipients of government programs designed by the Liberal government's social engineers. It does not talk about traditional families who choose to have a parent stay at home to raise their children receiving tax fairness, even though this House with all party support in the last Parliament passed Motion No. 30 sponsored by the member for Mississauga South, calling for tax fairness in the tax code. The government has done nothing to act on that. It seems to be satisfied with penalizing families who make the sacrifice of giving up a second income to get by. They really believe that Liberal politicians and big government bureaucrats know better how to spend a dollar raised from the taxpayers than does a family or small business person or someone who is struggling to get a foot up in the labour market.

I want the government to listen to the message it got from the last election. It came within a whisker of losing power. We know that the Liberal Party exists to take and maintain power. The government ought to listen to the message that was sent by the voters. The message was, let us not go back to the future. Let us try a different approach.

What about tax fairness for families? Heaven forbid, what about cutting capital gains taxes to increase investment and productivity, to reward people for taking risks in our economy? What about cutting payroll taxes so that we are not penalizing people for creating jobs and small businesses? What about cutting income taxes and doing it now so that people can see the light at the end of the tunnel and not just another big government spending program? Why can it not see that there is a different solution.

In closing I invite my colleagues on the opposite side of the House to take a serious look at the kind of economic record that 30 years of Liberal and Tory big government spending has brought us. Governments around the world are doing that.

The government's ideological friend in Washington, President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, said last year that the era of big government is over. The Labour Prime Minister in the United Kingdom said that the end of the welfare state has come. Yet this government is the only Liberal government in the developed world which seems to think that the old policies of the welfare state are the ones that can sustain a healthy and prosperous economy.

Their allies overseas and outside this country know differently. Governments like the New Democratic one in Saskatchewan know differently. Provincial governments that have made the hard decisions know differently. It is time that this government finally came down on the side of fiscal responsibility, growth, hope and opportunity for Canadians by providing them with real meaningful tax relief.