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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

Petitions May 3rd, 1994

Madam Speaker, it is my privilege to present a petition signed by 50 of my constituents with respect to section 241 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which has to do with euthanasia.

In part the petition reads: "The Supreme Court of Canada recently upheld section 241 of the Criminal Code of Canada in the Rodriguez decision recognizing that section 241 was enacted to protect all individuals, including the disabled, the terminally ill, the depressed, the chronically ill, the elderly. If section 241 were to be struck down or amended such protection would no longer exist and our most vulnerable members of society would feel an implied pressure to end their lives".

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 May 2nd, 1994

I am very pleased today to stand and say that the Reform Party is in support of Bill C-23 at second reading. It is an act to protect migratory birds. Of course, we think of birds and wildlife together.

I have the good fortune of coming from a very wonderful constituency. Of course all members in the House say that, but my constituency is so wonderful that it happens to contain three of Canada's national parks. My riding has Kootenay National Park, Yoho National Park and Glacier National Park, which gives you an idea of the grandeur of the area I represent.

In addition, we also have an area called the Columbia River wetlands. The Columbia River wetlands are 180 kilometres long. They are comprised of a 26,000 hectare flood plain. I would like to read a short section from a brochure by B.C. Wildlife with respect to the Columbia River's hydrological cycle.

The habitats within the Columbia River flood plain provide food, shelter and cover for an exceptionally large number of birds and mammals. Waterfowl comprising the most abundant and observable species group utilize the wetlands for breeding and brood rearing, for refuge during the flightless periods of the moult, and for feeding and resting during spring and fall migrations. Single counts have revealed more than 15,000 ducks in the autumn, more than 1,000 whistling swans in the spring.

I should say that I also have the good fortune of living just south of this area. I have seen these whistling swans in the lake in front of my home. They are absolutely beautiful birds.

The rare trumpeter swan also appears in migration. Breeding Canada geese number some 1,200 pairs. Other birds sharing the wetlands are loons, gulls, terns, rails, bitterns, hawks, bald eagles, ospreys and 100 or so species of songbirds. Colonies of great blue herons comprising some 300 pairs constitute the second largest concentration in western Canada.

Up to 90 per cent of the elk, 70 per cent of the white tail deer and 15 per cent of the moose in the upper Columbia basin depend on these wetlands for their survival.

This gives us an idea of how magnificent and pristine this area is. Therefore I have a personal vested interest in Bill C-23.

At the conclusion of what I just read I mentioned the fact that there are also big game. We actually have about 25 per cent of the hunting in British Columbia for big game within my Kootenay East constituency.

I should mention it is not just an environmental issue although that is important enough, but it is also an economic issue. We have guide outfitters, taxidermists, sports shops, camera stores, saddle and outdoor equipment makers. In addition there are campgrounds, restaurants, motels, gas stations, automobile dealers, tire shops, grocery stores. All benefit from these wildlife resources, particularly during the fall hunting season when business would otherwise be slow.

We happen to be on one of the three western flyways. Depending on what happens with respect to the amount of water on the prairies, we may have up to tens of thousands of birds migrating overhead in the fall and again in the spring. It is indeed an absolutely magnificent area.

The major reason I stand in support of Bill C-23 is because it is the foundation and cornerstone of being able to co-ordinate the regulators and the regulation.

Members should know that the British Columbia conservation data centre which is a section of the wildlife branch of the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks in British Columbia has an exhaustive list of birds that are actually protected within our area. There are the western grebe, the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, sharp tailed grouse and long billed curlew. I could go and on with the number of birds that we are very, very proud of in our area.

I can report there is a tremendous level of co-operation between the regulators and the industrial users in my constituency. All of the forest companies are working in co-operation with the B.C. fish and wildlife branch. They are involved in doing cut blocks in co-ordination with that branch. In some cases they are taking as little as 30 per cent of the standing timber to come up with a particular kind of configuration for certain birds or animals. In other instances they are doing other things.

Often when thinking of the word environmentalist, speaking for myself I think of placards, protests, arrests, or civil disobedience. If we really want to see environmentalists anywhere in Canada, we should turn up at the rod and gun organizations in our constituencies. These are people who are going out of their way, putting their own blood, sweat, tears and money into preserving and improving the environment. In preparing for this presentation I took time to speak to four such groups.

One was the Kimberley Wildlife and Wilderness Club. It pointed out that with respect to migratory birds the biggest single item that has worked against them has been the inclusion of hydro power. I must admit I had always been a great fan of hydro power up until the time I started to look at this. The impact hydro power has had on migratory birds has been singularly devastating.

I mentioned blood, sweat and tears. The Golden and District Rod and Gun Club notes it has a gander lander. A gander lander is simply a manmade place where the geese can land, so it is called a gander lander. Over the past 15 years the Golden Rod and Gun Club has been involved in constructing between 100 and 105 gander landers. Five or six times during the winter months members go out and spend the whole day upkeeping and maintaining those.

In addition I spoke to members of the Elkford Rod and Gun Club. One of their concerns was with respect to snags. These are tall dead trees which are required for nesting for certain kinds of birds. I am happy to report that although a lot of them have been destroyed in logging operations for the protection of the people who are actually doing the logging, the B.C. forest service has just implemented a snag program. It is going out to the bush and identifying these snags and is taking steps to leave them standing so that they can be nesting places for birds. This is done in such a way that it is a safe process under workers compensation.

Members of the Sparwood and District Fish and Wildlife Association had two issues of concern. One issue of concern which I am sure all Canadians share is that whatever we are doing with Bill C-23 or any other bill, because this has the potential of overlapping on native issues, we take some time and see how those things relate.

The final thing they pointed out, which may come as a surprise to some people, is that they are actually having a population explosion of grizzly bears. There is an area down in the far southeast corner of my constituency, in the bottom corner of British Columbia, that is a remote area with a certain amount of logging and basically there are very few humans in that particular concentration. As a result the grizzlies have actually reached a point at which they may become a problem.

These rod and gun club members are law-abiding citizens. They are committed to the wildlife, they are committed to the environment. Something that I do not understand, because I am not a hunter, is that they are also committed to hunting. Last time I looked hunters used guns.

These people as law-abiding citizens believe in safe storage. These people as law-abiding citizens follow all of the rules for

responsible use. These people expect me and other people in this House to stand up against the imposition of certain city values that seem to be pushing them into a corner.

Unfortunately the imposition of city values may come from the fact that many birds arrive in the city dead, packaged and in freezers and there is no recognition of what went into that dead bird arriving in the freezer, much less the enjoyment that these people have in a responsible way of enjoying hunting during the fall season.

We support Bill C-23 because it supports the migratory bird protection and finally we support it because it reflects the values of responsible, active, participating environmentalists, law-abiding Canadians.

Young Offenders Act May 2nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to support Bill C-217. I support it in principle as has been explained by another member of my party. There are some aspects on which we would like to see some fine tuning.

Any move in this direction is a move that will work in favour of our most valuable asset in Canada, our young people. Our young people are the ones who are the most disadvantaged by the current Young Offenders Act.

I agree with the member for York South-Weston totally that the bill should have been votable. It really shows something wrong with the system when we can have a votable bill on whether hockey should be Canada's national sport but for something like this that works directly against the young people, the greatest asset of Canada, we are not going to vote on it. I find that really outstanding.

Young people come to me quite frequently. They say: "As a high school student my biggest problem is that I recognize that I am under a cloud". I suspect that for many members and their constituents, when they see young people on a bus or gathered somewhere they assume the worst because there are some bad apples.

We must make changes to the Young Offenders Act not only for property values or violence but primarily to support Canada's greatest asset, our young people. Many of those young people are involved in things like science fairs. They are very exciting events to attend. I commend them to all members and to the public.

Many of them belong to school clubs and organizations. They belong to sports teams. Many are involved in cadets, scouts or guides. Many belong to churches, young people's groups or counsel at summer camp as counsellors. They are involved in marching bands, 4-H clubs, forestry camps, computer clubs, sports clubs and camps. Those who are actively involved are the people who are the most disadvantaged by this law.

We as adults have to get our priorities straight. Let us protect our greatest asset. Many of our young people are involved in summer work. Often we think of summer work as kind of a make work kind of a thing. As members know, without the inclusion in the work force of our young people, many of the things that get cleaned up in the summertime would not get cleaned up. They help with tourist and recreation facilities. They act as information for business.

I say that parents have to be involved in education of the young people. They have to be involved in guidance of the young people. They have to be involved-

Gun Control April 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, with the greatest of respect to the Minister of Justice, I suggest that he is continuing to target those who choose to obey the law, the law-abiding gun owners.

The minister should be focusing his concerns on those who are breaking the law. The focus should not be on the gun owners but on the criminals who are misusing them.

Why does the minister not enforce the law, stop the illegal gun trade, get guns out of the hands of criminals and stop harassing legal gun owners?

Gun Control April 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice.

There are many law-abiding, decent Canadians who choose to own guns. They comply with the letter of the law respecting handguns. Yet the government is considering taking away their choice of responsible ownership of those guns.

Does the minister respect Canadians who have acted responsibly? If so, why is he considering a ban on handgun ownership?

Excise Act April 19th, 1994

Madam Speaker, this is an excellent opportunity for me to develop an issue in this House. I attempted to do this when the government was talking about rolling back the taxes or in fact went ahead with the whole business of rolling back the taxes on cigarettes.

Subsequent to that time it has been interesting to interview the interviewers, the people actually responsible for bringing the news to Canadians. Basically they have told me if you cannot say something and put your point over in 10 seconds it probably will not be news. It probably will not get on television. This is an opportunity then with a little bit more time than that to actually raise an issue I attempted to raise previously.

My issue is that of corporate responsibility. It is the responsibility the cigarette manufacturers and distillers have to the people of Canada. I have some questions about the way in which they are carrying out their responsibility.

During the time this whole issue was boiling another member of the House approached me with two empty Export A cigarette packages. Both of them had been purchased illegally. One was purchased three weeks prior to the government taking its action in bringing forward its measure on export taxes. The other was purchased one week before.

Both packages appeared to me to be exactly the same, until I studied them a little more closely. The first package given to me had on it "25 Class A Finest Canadian Filter Cigarettes" and very proudly "Product of Canada". The package that was purchased one week later, approximately one week prior to the government announcing its export tax, had on it "R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Winston Salem, NC, Under Licence from R.J.R.-MacDonald, Inc., Canada".

It appears what was going on here was that the company expected there was going to be some form of export tax. Rather than manufacture the product in Canada and selling it to the U.S. where it would then be taken to a point where it could be brought back into Canada, the company's concern was why would it pay that export tax. It appears the company decided to manufacture the product, which appears for all purposes by its packaging to be exactly the same product, in Winston Salem, North Carolina

thereby avoiding the action the government took about one week later.

My point is Corporations in Canada should be responsible. Corporations in Canada should not do things that will feed into a situation such as we had prior to the government taking action.

We had terror, particularly in the area where the majority of this product was coming through. We had fear and we had murders going on and it was all surrounding the whole issue of illegally smuggling cigarettes back into Canada.

Yet I suggest with greatest respect that it appeared to me that none of these companies was taking any substantial action, they were not contributing to this problem of terror, this problem of fear, this problem of murder that was happening over these things.

Furthermore, I found absolutely unfortunate the fact that at exactly the same time the taxes were rolled back on the cigarettes the distillers sent to all members of this Chamber a plastic 750 millilitre bottle explaining that 83 cents out of every dollar that is paid for that bottle one way or another go to taxes.

It might be instructive, granted this is only by my personal recollection, to think for a second about how the taxes on cigarettes and the taxes on alcohol were raised to the level they were. As a youngster, as a young man and through my adult life I can recall many times that people were saying they could get away with adding more tax to cigarettes, adding more tax to alcohol because people want these products and therefore are going to pay it, therefore it is a good revenue source.

Granted this is only by my personal recollection but I do not imagine too many of the members here or the Canadian public would contest that. It was something that happened.

We do end up with the fact that on alcohol we have 83 cents out of every dollar going to the tax man. This obviously works against the corporate agenda. So it is that the Canadian public naturally becomes cynical. It says obviously that if things are working contrary to the corporate agenda what is going to happen is that companies are going to take whatever action required in order to protect their position.

We have now discovered through a process of market studies and things of that nature that higher taxes do lead to lower consumption, particularly on the part of young people. I suggest it is the height of cynicism that it would appear as though these manufacturers were not only feeding the product into the system that included within itself the terror, the fear and the murder, they actually took action to try to get around the fact that this government, attempting to act responsibly on behalf of Canadian people, brought an export tax in as was assumed.

If there is low public respect for politicians I suggest equally that in Canada on the part of many Canadians there is low public respect for corporations. I suggest to these and other corporations that maybe within the sound of my voice, within the sound of this speech, they examine their motives, take a look at the whole issue of corporate responsibility. Rather than trying to circumvent Canadian law, rather than trying to get around the well intentioned actions of this and other governments, they work with them and act in a socially responsible manner.

If we do not have respect on the part of ordinary citizens for those corporations that put forward the capital to bring forward the jobs, if we do not have respect on the part of ordinary citizens toward politicians, the next step is not very far away and that step is one of anarchy. I would hate to see that happen in this nation.

I appreciate the opportunity to develop this story. As one postscript, however, I suggest this story which I have just narrated in this House was available to the Canadian news media. I went around to many reporters and attempted to sell this as something they could be bringing forward and none of them paid any attention. It has been suggested to me the reason for that is that it could not be explained in ten seconds on television. If our newscasting has reached that point then maybe the newscasters of today have to also be prepared to take a more responsible attitude, as I am suggesting.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Process April 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I stand here today as a very proud member of the House of Commons representing the province of British Columbia. The reason I say it that way is because with all due respect to my Liberal counterparts from our province, they have remained silent on this issue. It is an issue of great concern to the people of British Columbia.

We received by fax a copy of a letter that our premier sent to the Prime Minister. I will read part of it:

I am appalled that your government, with the support of six B.C. Liberal MPs, has betrayed the best interests of British Columbia in introducing this measure with closure. Your actions will deny B.C. its fair representation in the House of Commons.

He goes on to point out:

As you know, with the defeat of the Charlottetown accord, B.C. lost gains it made in that agreement which would have given this province five more seats before the 2001 census. That was to build on scheduled redistribution for 1996 when B.C.'s representation in the House of Commons was to increase by two seats. This was a clear recognition of B.C.'s severe under-representation in the House of Commons.

At the risk of being branded one of those crazy BCers, here we go all over again, let me also state that I am a proud Canadian citizen. I stand for a united Canada as I believe the vast majority of people in B.C. do.

However, why is it that every time we turn around in British Columbia measures are taken in this place, even when we have representatives on the government side, that we do not consider to be rational and fair representation? We feel we are almost being abandoned.

The leader of the opposition, Mr. Gordon Campbell, also wrote to the Prime Minister. He states:

Mr. Minister, the bill makes no sense.

He is referring to Bill C-18.

Parliament does not strengthen the country by disenfranchising its fastest growing region nor does Parliament strengthen its bond to the people it serves by further weakening the principle of one person, one vote.

One of the interesting things I have found since coming to Ottawa is that the amount of news that flows in this direction into the awareness of people in central Canada about the concerns of the people of British Columbia seems to be minuscule. If I did not have my constituency office in Cranbrook constantly feeding me information from the western press I

would think that it did not even exist. For the interest of the House I might mention that Mr. Mel Smith, former constitutional adviser to the province of British Columbia, in the lead paragraph in an article he has just written says: "British Columbians of every political stripe should be up in arms over the current scheme by the government to subvert the most fundamental principle of democratic society, representation by population and in the process deprive British Columbia of seats it is entitled to in the next House of Commons".

What can we do to get proper representation for the province of British Columbia? We recognize that we do have one particular anomaly with respect to representation by population and that is Prince Edward Island where the average population per seat ranges between 30,000 and 34,000. So be it. It is a fact of history. It is an anomaly.

What about the province of Ontario? Under distribution as we currently have it, seats range in population from 63,000 to 209,000. I would suspect that the constituents that are represented by the member for Mississauga West must be wondering why the Liberal government in absolute union stood up en masse and said that was fine. For Mississauga West we can have 209,000 population versus 63,000 population. It is all right.

It is fair and good to say we are going to redistribute the seats in Parliament. We are going to do things differently. We are going to go into the process. However someone has suggested that many of the processes in Ottawa resemble glacial time. An ice age will come and go. We are going to be fighting the next election based on 1981 census figures.

What has happened in metropolitan Toronto? What has happened in Alberta? What has happened in Vancouver? In these areas we have had an absolute explosion of population and now these people are under-represented.

Let me also state that another problem is one of geography. Coming from an area that is bounded by mountains I recognize the difficulty in representing the number of people that I represent versus the number of people that are represented in constituencies in greater Vancouver. Again we have anomalies or variances. It is something we will have to discuss when we are talking about geography because of travel and distances. As a consequence substantial dollars are spent. If I, as a member of Parliament, am going to be representing more people we are going to be into more costs.

The Reform Party stands for representation by population in the lower House. We suggest that this motion is a tactic, it is a fait accompli because the Liberal government used closure to inflict on us these anomalies. Perhaps we even have to take a closer look at the other place. We are currently represented by people appointed there.

Canadians should be aware of the fact that Premier Filmon, as I understand it, is presently taking a look at the possibility of putting a ballot forward at the next provincial election in Manitoba in the same way that the province of Alberta did concerning the election of a senator.

I would suggest to all Canadians watching this broadcast that they give serious consideration to writing the premier and supporting him in the hope of getting proper representation within Canada. In the lower House we would have representation by population, if indeed we ever get around to it, and in the upper House we would have at least one more of the E s which would be an elected member in that Chamber.

I listened with interest to the Secretary of State when he mentioned that the results of redistribution were published without input. Perhaps some people would find it amusing that he is bringing up the point just at a time when we will be having public input. At the time when ordinary Canadians were going to have the opportunity to have input to this most fundamental part of our democratic process, the Liberals shut down the process. That is rather interesting.

However, to make something good of something bad, we recognize there is a strong desire on the part of all Canadians to see a cap on the number of members of Parliament. The secretary stated that earlier in the debate. He said that Canadians are tired of the continual increase. Canadians want to see a change.

Therefore, I would like to move an amendment to the motion. I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting paragraph (a) and substituting the following:

"(a) a formula to cap or reduce the number of seats in the House of Commons:"

Gun Control April 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, does the Minister of Justice really feel there is any point in spending $60 million on the Auditor General's department which said that an evaluation should take place and then possibly, as he has done here, come to the House and say it is fine to do the evaluation within the Department of Justice?

Should these evaluations not be made public, should they not be made transparent so that the people of Canada know whether the laws are presently working?

Gun Control April 15th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice said that for the next few weeks the Minister of Justice and the department will be studying very closely the possibility of making changes to gun control laws. We know that in the 1993 Auditor General's report it was said that we must have evaluation of the existing laws before we even know if they are currently being effective.

When is this evaluation going to take place, for surely it must before we proceed with any changes to the existing laws?

Gun Control April 13th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, on Monday of this week the Minister of Justice told reporters he was going to bring in further restrictions of handgun ownership in response to the tragic events in Ottawa and Toronto.

He will recall that the Auditor General this year stated that Canada's present gun control program is controversial and complex, and an evaluation is essential. The Auditor General is saying there is no clear indication that existing gun control legislation is working.

Yesterday the Minister of Justice stated we should not be making knee-jerk reactions and yet he is demanding tougher legislation without evaluation, an obvious knee-jerk reaction.

When will he start to come down hard on criminals, the cause of concern, and not law-abiding gun owners? Does he have any idea of the level of concern he raises with his present statements?