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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was fact.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Conservative MP for Kootenay—Columbia (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 60% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply June 7th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments of the hon. member.

When we are dealing with issues like water and air, we are dealing with absolutes. When we are dealing with issues relating to multiculturalism, biculturalism and those other issues, we are talking about interaction among human beings. While I respect the fact he has made that linkage, I suggest they are slightly different. When we are dealing with the absolutes of water and air, water and air proceed over political boundaries and that is the absolute place where we must have national standards.

Supply June 7th, 1994

Madam Speaker, in Canada, indeed around the world, the common element that joins all human beings is that of our environment. We cannot avoid consuming air and water as we sustain our lives. All elements of our environment impact positively or negatively on these two essential ingredients of life.

As I travel throughout my constituency, the people who are most interested in the issue of the environment are young people. Going from school to school I can count on the fact that

they will be bringing up the issue, not just with academic interest but with serious concern.

I say time and time again in the House and in public speeches that the future of Canada is our young people. Their future is surely on my mind as I am delivering this speech today. We owe it to the young people of our great nation Canada to be deadly serious about protecting their future.

I have been involved with both the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development and the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, especially on forestry issues, since the commencement of this Parliament. In that time I have become very aware of our environment which impacts the flow of air and water. It does not have anything to do with man-made political boundaries. These lines that have been arbitrarily drawn on a map do more to fragment or impair our ability to control our elements within our environment than any other force.

In Canada competing provincial jurisdictions create an imbalance for industry and influence investment decisions being made by business. By way of example, as an alternate member on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage I have looked at national park boundaries. Unique ecological realities are frequently dissected by those national park boundaries.

Environmental events inside a park reflect what is happening outside a park simply because they are part of the same unique local ecology. Insects and disease that destroy our forests while developing within the national park boundaries can spread across that man-made line and destroy commercial forests. Of course the opposite may also be true. For example, river pollution from industry on the upstream side of a park can have severe consequences for wildlife and ecological balance within a national park.

I cite these examples to underline current Canadian examples of the potential negative environmental results in fragmenting Canada by creating a sovereign state of Quebec. The arbitrary man-made boundaries, lines drawn on a map to carve the province of Quebec out of our great nation, cannot possibly give us any comfort from an environmental perspective. Political activists in Quebec want to develop control over their own geographic jurisdiction, including generation of their own environmental protection regulations.

The point of my speech today is to talk about the environmental concerns facing our nation and show how a separate Quebec jurisdiction could have a harmful effect on that province and the remainder of Canada.

I am not raising this point on the environment to tell tall tales of dark horses and earth shattering catastrophes but simply to outline all of the consequences a separate Quebec will have on our nation and that province.

Here is a small sample of what has happened since the beginning of this parliamentary session. I say with the greatest respect to the Bloc Quebecois members on both the Standing Committee on Natural Resources and the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development that I have viewed their intercessions as being somewhat narrow and oriented only to Quebec.

For example, our natural resources committee is studying responsible forestry management especially where so-called clear cut logging is used to answer the question: Is clear cut a legitimate tool that can be used by responsible professional foresters?

We are trying to assist the Canadian forest service and the ministry of natural resources as they bring forward a Canada-wide position on sustainable forest practices in international meetings. Those meetings will be attempting to establish international standards for sustainable forest management. The standards will lead to ecological labelling for forest products world-wide.

Placing a new international boundary between Canada and a new state of Quebec would simply complicate an already complex problem and divide our collective voice on the world stage. Will the province of Quebec, for example, as an independent state be prepared to utilize identical standards in international discussions on eco-labelling or would it be a competing voice to Canada?

Healthy forests generate oxygen. It is the air we breathe. Creating a new political jurisdiction will do nothing to make me breathe any easier.

The Liberals in their red book wanted to work toward the position of an environmental auditor general for Canada.

Following exhaustive hearings, the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development produced a detailed report on the position of a commissioner of the environment and sustainable development. The Liberal election promise called for an environmental auditor general. The decision to proceed with the position of the commissioner instead of an auditor general was a consensus decision that came from serious discussion following exhaustive hearings.

The Bloc Quebecois committee members offered a dissenting opinion. While this dissenting opinion is a legitimate part of our national Canadian process, I know that if the Bloc Quebecois were representing an independent Quebec today we would not be proceeding with this very important function.

My party supports one window environmental review for all provinces and our country as a whole. Could the Bloc possibly argue that the concept it represents is not myopic and unique to Quebec?

It states in its conclusion: "We feel, however, that the committee is paving the way for an organization that will only add to the jumble and confusion now prevalent in environmental matters".

The Bloc is concerned about a national Canadian government representing the second largest land mass on our globe having precedence over its smaller provincial jurisdiction. The danger is that smaller jurisdictions invariably lead to narrower approaches, never ending discussions and negotiations. This would ultimately lead to a compromise of independent nations that would do nothing but magnify the confusion which currently exists between the individual provinces and the Government of Canada on environmental issues.

The Reform Party supports the principle of sustainable environment which balances the need for a healthy environment with the continued progress and growth of Canada's economy. The Reform Party believes that environmental considerations must carry equal weight with the economic, social and technical considerations of any projects.

In the same report I have been referring to on the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, page 25, Reform committee members expressed the concern that Canadian industry might in the short term be put at a competitive disadvantage if Canada adopts the principles of green accounting ahead of other countries.

When I refer to greening and green accounting, I am referring to new imaginative accounting practices and business practices that give specific dollar values to previously undefined environmental costs. These real costs appear on a business or a country's formal balance sheet. Premature independent greening of the Canadian system of national accounts could alter our gross national product and have the effect of discouraging domestic and foreign investors.

In order for Canadian business to remain internationally competitive, the Reform Party believes it would be advisable that Canada not get too far ahead of its major trading partners in issues like greening of national accounts or imposition of green or carbon taxes.

In the context of this speech today, this example relates to the potential fracturing of Canada with the separation of the province of Quebec. Obviously the separatist leader had the autonomy and control of Quebec as an objective. A separate political and economic jurisdiction that would be competing for international trade with what was left of Canada would open the very real possibility of competition at the lowest common denominator of environmental standards. Progressive concepts like green accounting would most likely be set aside due to the new competitive pressures.

If the Bloc Quebecois cannot even agree with other environment committee members to arrive at a consensus on an environmental report as benign as the establishment of the office of commissioner of environment and sustainable development, what does that tell us of the potential for co-operation between a sovereign country of Quebec and the rest of Canada?

The common element that joins all human beings is our environment. Fracturing the nation of Canada with man-made lines on a map can only serve to weaken our will, even our ability, to protect our ecologically balanced resources.

As a leading middle power in the world, we can lead the way. We have within the nation of Canada a large critical mass that can bring responsible environmental practices to a new high standard. The fragmentation of Canada will dilute our ability to impact the world. Our globe is desperate for leadership in the development and establishment of responsible environmental practices that ignore political boundaries.

We must not build political walls. We must break them down for our environment, for our children, for our future.

Supply June 2nd, 1994

Madam Speaker, I was about to say that the people of Alberta can recall very clearly, very vividly, the confiscation of $67 billion from one province to central Canada under the Liberal government's national energy plan. The point therefore I want to make is that the people in western Canada have contributed very much.

With the greatest respect to the people in Atlantic Canada, I do not think they have an edge on contributions to Canada.

Supply June 2nd, 1994

Madam Speaker, I would be very interested in receiving some documentation of the fact the member has put forward. My understanding of the oil industry in Alberta is that it was financed fundamentally from the U.S. That was where most of the dollars came from.

However, I suggest as part of the price the people in Alberta have paid in order to be in Canada under the wonderful-

Supply June 2nd, 1994

Madam Speaker, the member raises the interesting point of bringing 1800 solutions to 1994 problems.

In 1800, when the CPR was being put together, we did not have the gigantic welfare state we presently have. We did not have unemployment insurance. We did not have 53 per cent of all government spending going to individuals in a giant welfare state like the Liberals in particular pioneered through the seventies.

With the greatest respect, I must agree with the member about the Canadian Pacific. Clearly it is a fact of history that it tied Canada together; it is a done deal. How much did it really cost Canada by coming out west when we take a look at the amount of property that was given to the corporation, or by coming out west when we take a look at the fact that we are still basically paying for the line?

That is fine. That is history. I am proud of Canada. I am proud to be a Canadian. I am happy the CPR was brought in. However I suggest with the greatest respect that he is bringing an 1800 solution to a 1994 problem.

Supply June 2nd, 1994

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Edmonton Southwest.

One of the most interesting things about human beings is that we very frequently do not learn from history. If we do not learn from history the one thing that we can count on is the fact that we will be doomed to repeat it.

When I was first involved in business, going back a few years to the very early seventies, I became aware of a government regional grant program under the acronym of DREE. Somehow under this DREE program the decision was made that the West Kootenays would be a have not portion of my particular part of the country whereas the East Kootenays had a lot of funds and could do its own thing.

As a result of the DREE program, there was a decision to go ahead with a chainsaw manufacturing process at Waneta, just outside of Trail in British Columbia. This chainsaw manufacturing was really spot on in terms of its time in coming to the market. Rather than just manufacturing chainsaws it was manufacturing a small personal portable chainsaw. For those of

us who are familiar with what was happening in that particular marketplace, it was very timely. Between 1972 and 1976 DREE put $200,000 into that chainsaw manufacturing company.

In Castlegar at about the same time there was another venture that went forward to generate light weight travel trailers. If we go back 21 or 22 years in our minds, we realize that there was a market for a light weight travel trailer. DREE had this light weight travel trailer manufacturer set up in Castlegar and put in $220,000.

Unfortunately, I am forced to report that neither of these ventures are still in place. As a matter of fact, they disappeared from the business scene. They are gone.

Working a little bit in this direction, in the early eighties in Cranbrook, which is where my home constituency is, there was a printing company. I am not really sure of the figures, but it was put into place with between $496,000 and $750,000 of government grants. That business went for about 24 months, ran into cash flow problems and the business was shut down. There was no way the government could ever recover its over half million dollar investment. Because it had run into the cash flow problems it had let its insurance lapse. The building was vandalized and hence there were no assets for the government to reclaim.

Coming even further forward into the mid to late 1980s I am very familiar with an operation in Langley. This one, instead of being unfortunate, unfortunately was a scam. A company decided to develop a communication development laboratory. The principals of that firm actually disguised antiquated equipment. People in smocks were running around and this fooled the government inspectors. The venture lasted one year. It was not quite enough of a scam to catch the attention of the police. As a result Canadians are out half a million dollars.

My thesis is if the marketplace will not support a business start up it likely will not support the business. That is the fundamental flaw, the fundamental problem of regional development grants.

Let me give some specific examples. The federal government wants to forgive $5.3 million it lent to the Sydney Steel Corporation of Nova Scotia which is owned by the Nova Scotia government. The Cape Breton company borrowed the money in the early 1970s to build a wharf. The government also wants to forgive the $20.4 million in interest payments the corporation now owes on that loan.

The government wants to forgive a $4.6 million loan to the International Tin Association, an organization set up to help stabilize the tin process. Since the association was disbanded in 1985 the government has determined the chances for repayment are rather slim.

We have an absolute hole as it were that we seem to be constantly pouring money into with good intentions. I sincerely applaud the motive, the background, and the desire of the government. Unfortunately, it has not learned from history.

In doing some research on this speech I had my assistant make some telephone calls and he reports this:

"Government's best intentions whether it be to assist small business or to employ people or train people would be best left to the people who know how to develop and manage company's employees, which means small business people in every community.

The best way government could do that according to the people I have talked to would be for the government to demand less from each small businessman in the way of red tape, completing forms, GST returns, in other words the services he is required to fulfil for the federal government. This would allow him more time to do what he does best which is to effectively run his company so as to produce some real dollars and provide real lasting jobs for people in his community and Canada as a whole.

Government by trying to control the labour market that interferes with supply and demand whether it be printers or cows only interferes with free enterprise and the people who really know the marketplace".

My point is that when the government gets involved with throwing around taxpayer's money unfortunately that almost invariably interferes with the normal marketplace.

The very best result that we can expect from the funds the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the Western Diversification Fund are throwing into the marketplace is that it will simply distort the marketplace. The difficulty is when it distorts the ordinary marketplace it makes it difficult for successful tax paying businesses to be able to continue in business. They find that all of a sudden their taxpayers' dollars are being used to subsidize businesses that are in competition with them.

I have been hearing a little bit of yapping from the other side of the House. Perhaps if they were to talk to some of their business people they would get exactly the same story as I am relating here.

I have explained the best result. The worst result is probably best explained when western economic diversification fund officials on January 16, 1990 lent $526,990 to Myrias Research Corporation. On April 17 they gave it another $1.4 million. On May 30, 1990 they gave it another $686 million. On August 9, 1990 they gave it another $775,000. On October 5, 1990 they gave it another $517,000. On October 26 the corporation was placed in receivership.

If the government, which has the best of intentions, granted, is not prepared to take lessons from history and learn from history then we have the difficulty of repeating history.

Softwood Lumber May 30th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's answer.

I was wondering if the minister was thinking of trying to take the dispute settlement that is currently being used against us, where Canada is being harassed, and actually making it a separate part, almost like an auto pact; in other words, taking the softwood lumber out from under.

I can tell the minister that I had a discussion with Congressman Sam Gibbons, a senior congressman, who thought that was a good idea. Would the minister support that?

Softwood Lumber May 30th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for International Trade.

The minister was quoted recently as saying that perhaps the dispute between Canada and the U.S. over softwood lumber could be taken away from the present dispute settlement panel procedures, which have ruled in Canada's favour in the past, and moved into some broader based discussions that could lead to resolution.

Can the minister ensure the Canadian softwood lumber industry and all of the workers that this will be an improvement particularly considering that Canada has won just about every round in this ongoing dispute over the existing procedures?

Canada Student Financial Assistance Act May 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Student Loans Act and the activity of it has an impact on five basic segments in our society: the students, obviously; the parents and family members; the university or college boards; the teaching staff and administration of those institutions; and of course society at large, all Canadians through our economy.

I would like to speak today specifically to the issue of the income sensitive repayment loans in this proposed legislation. Another title for that might be an income contingent loan repayment program.

The reason I address this specifically is that the government has started to take a positive step and will form an element of where we must be going in terms of reforming our institutions for higher learning.

What is an income sensitive repayment loan or income contingent loan repayment program? Simply put, it is a scheme for post-secondary education and it is designed to allow students to pay back their student loans over a period of time based on their annual income.

Upon graduation, the student would begin to repay his or her student loan. The repayment of the loan, however, would link the repayment plan to a student's earnings or ability to pay.

Exactly how it would work has been described earlier in the House, but in summary the income tax machinery could be used in monitoring and collecting student loans and in the implementation of an income contingency principle whereby students would pay back a set percentage of their income.

I mentioned that a number of elements within society are impacted. Let us talk briefly about students. Our students are the future of Canada. It is their training that will be pulling our economy forward. Indeed the strength of our economy lies in society at large and within the education that society gains.

However in doing some research for this presentation I took the time to contact some people at the East Kootenay Community College in my constituency. They wrote to me and gave an idea of some problems students are facing as they go through the present system. Perhaps I could make a very brief summary of some problems that faced the students on September 17 last year.

Of the 300 loans that had been submitted to Victoria it is estimated that 100 students had not received the loans as at September 17, obviously the start of the calendar year. It is estimated that 25 per cent of the students who had received loans had the calculations of their awards done incorrectly. Many students were in the process of appealing or reassessing their loans because of application errors. The financial aid office of the community college had been issuing emergency loans and tuition and book deferrals to students who were waiting for their loan documents to arrive or had pending applications. At the end of the month, and they were looking forward, they expected that emergency moneys would have to be made available to the students. I have three children who are now in their mid-twenties and have been through this process with them. I know,

particularly at the start of a college or a university year, this could be very disconcerting. They had to look for emergency moneys.

Approximately 25 per cent of those students who had not received the loans, believe it or not, had been referred to social services. The report says that because of uncertainties produced by the system, that is their applications went missing or they could not get access to information, many students were actually in panic. The report goes on and on. Clearly this is not acceptable to our future society and to the people who are there for training. That is the present situation.

The second group of people currently impacted by the student loans are the supporters, the parents and the families of the students. Having been through the experience I can report that some calculations occur because the existing formula is absolutely bizarre and would create a financial drain the average family could simply not afford.

The third would be university and college boards. They are dealing with the reality: as there is more and more of a squeeze on resources in Canada and our financial ability to pay, there is more and more of a shrinking of their ability to be able to fund these institutions. They have a strong sense of responsibility.

The fourth area is the staff, be they teaching staff or the staff who support the functions that are happening in the college. It is rather interesting that the vast majority of people involved in the training and teaching of our children, our young people, are very dedicated. There seems to me to be something of an unreal level of expectation on the part of some staff in terms of funding; in other words the bottomless pit or the attitude that we have the ability in Canada to keep on digging the hole deeper and deeper.

I believe in the concept of an income sensitive repayment loan because of its inherent fairness to students. First off I believe that students should know it is society's responsibility to create opportunity. They should know that in our society there is no free lunch, that the money must come from somewhere, and that the government is simply redistributing funds it has taken from someone else. They should also know that as they gain their education it obviously opens more jobs for life. On the other hand it is not fair to saddle the students with an inability to be able to repay the loans as our present Canada Student Loans Act has done.

Under income sensitive repayment loans the second segment is the people who are supporting these students. They would also be freed from the responsibilities or freed from the pressure that many of them are feeling at this time. In other words it would be the students' responsibility to negotiate and to repay. They would have the responsibility for these loans, thereby freeing up the families to the greatest extent possible. As I have indicated, in many situations as it presently stands families are saddled with responsibilities they simply cannot follow through on.

For those people involved with the university and college boards there would be the ability to know what is coming, in other words to be able to deliver services. All Canadians will end up benefiting. The entire economy will end up benefiting as we gain a handle on the whole area of funding student loans and the ability to be able to train all Canadians.

I believe in the income sensitive repayment loans and in the idea the Reform Party has put forward on the education voucher system. Basically the purpose of both these things is to accomplish what we need to accomplish, that is to train our young people but to lighten the necessity for further deficit spending. It has the potential to eliminate deficit spending. The Reform Party is noted for its commitment to reducing the deficit and ultimately getting the deficit to zero so we can start to work on the debt. At the same time the Reform Party is committed to student training.

In summary I say that students do not want a handout; they want a hand up. Income sensitive repayment loans are an important part of the hand up process for students. Therefore I strongly encourage the government to move quickly to expand the proposed section in the new Canada Student Loans Act.

High-Speed Train May 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, this debate has been quite interesting. I suppose many of us come to this Chamber with somewhat different points of view.

I listened to the first speaker from the Bloc. He was talking about combating uncertainty with this project. With a wide open cheque book and having absolutely no idea how many cheques we are going to have to write, to say that this would be a project which would combat uncertainty is probably 180 degrees from the reality. I do not see this project as being a solution to combating uncertainty whatsoever.

The member spoke of it in terms of economic viability. As my colleague from North Vancouver has said, if it truly is economically viable why is private industry not stepping up to bat? Why are they not the people who are asking for the okay from the people of Canada?

In doing a little research for this I came across a presentation made in writing from the TGV Canada consortium which is led by Bombardier and GEC Alsthom. They are the people who are attempting to pull this together, at least the concept, for Canadians to buy into. It sounds absolutely terrific.

On page 17 of their report they say:

The TGV is the job creation project for the 1990s. For the construction phase alone, TGV Canada will provide a major boost to job creation in all parts of Canada.

They go on about the fact that we are going to have engineering, construction equipment, construction, cement and concrete products, metal products, steel rails, structural steel, transportation equipment, rolling stock, electrical and electronic industries, signalling and communications. It goes on and on. It just sounds wonderful.

Who is going to pay for it? Who is going to pay for all of these wonderful things in this project?

One of the other members in his speech mentioned the channel tunnel. To the best of my knowledge, according to the information I have received, the tunnel underneath the English Channel will never be paid for. It will never pay for itself because it went double its budget.

I suggest with the greatest of respect to our friends in the civil service that because there is not a profit motive involved in the kind of work they do, without that discipline that is exactly what would happen on this project.

In additional research, I took a look at what the member for Québec-Est said in Hansard on December 11, 1991, March 12, 1992, March 19, 1992, and what the member for Drummond said on March 20, 1992. It goes on and on. This project has been a favourite of people from that area and I can understand why.

If we had any experience where private enterprise had come in and done something like this on a massive scale without government support, without getting their hands in the pockets of ordinary Canadians, certainly the majority of people in this Chamber would be in favour of it.

I see a statement under Standing Order 31 on March 20, 1992 by the former member for Drummond where it states in part:

In addition to the many industrial benefits, the socioeconomic advantages, and the potential for exports, setting up a high-speed railway line could very well make Canada a centre of excellence for high-speed railway transportation.

He goes on:

Mr. Speaker, building a high-speed line at an estimated cost of $5 billion to $8 billion-

That seems to me not necessarily knowing what a million is. With a billion being a thousand of those and the spread being between $5 billion to $8 billion, well it is only taxpayers' money.

-will represent the biggest private investment this country has ever known. This genuine revolution in transportation could generate the construction of 23 corridors in North America, with economic spin-offs and investments totalling $200 billion.

That scares me a lot. It really scares me when we have people like myself, not an engineer, not a financier-I would suspect that the former member was probably like myself, not necessarily even understanding what $1 billion is-throwing out figures, saying it will cost $5 billion or it will cost $8 billion and it will spin off $200 billion. These are not crackers we are throwing out. These are billions and billions of Canadian taxpayers' dollars.

We have so many unknowns with it as well. We have not tried a smaller high speed line as a test. We do not know it will operate in our climate, in our specific situation. I have travelled by railway in Switzerland with its concrete ties and the whole business and while I know that much of its climate is like ours, we have not done a small enough test in Canada to even know if we have the technology and the technological ability to be able to do this at this point.

With the first speaker this afternoon talking about leaving the people of Canada something, I suggest with the greatest respect that what we would be leaving them would be a sinkhole of public debt. That is what we would be leaving them with in this project. The timing is wrong.

I would further suggest, again with the greatest respect, that if we really want to combat uncertainty, we have to get down to the business of working out a united Canada. We need to get away from this business of blowing this country up and separating it and pulling it apart. If we want real certainty in Canada, we have to focus on solving problems together. That is what is going to make Canada great, not some mythical fantasy land high speed rail line between Windsor and Quebec.