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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

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation March 17th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, last evening the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on its Canadian Newsworld Service broke into regular programming for an emergency half-hour telecast. It showed us the interior of a courtoom in Portland, Oregon, in the United States.

The emergency telecast was the entry of a guilty plea by Tonya Harding in a made-for-America television soap opera of Tonya and Nancy "As the Skate Turns". The Tonya-Nancy show distorted television coverage of the recent Olympics, dominating American television for weeks.

Why are Canadians paying $1.1 billion per year to support the CBC in its role of protector of all that is good and Canadian when it does quick knee-jerk reactions and follows the lead of the made-for-TV news of the U.S. commercial networks?

Canadians expect better from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and demand value for taxes.

International Water Day March 16th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I compliment the Minister of the Environment on the initiatives announced today.

The Reform Party looks forward to assisting the minister and Canadians in achieving her well intentioned objectives. I compliment the minister on asking advice from the standing committee because it is a non-partisan manner of consulting with members of Parliament and through them, Canadians.

She has spoken about her government's commitment to budgetary restraint. I applaud her efforts to avoid overlap and duplication of environmental standards and enforcement between jurisdictions. Completing the process by May 31 will minimize the costs and frustration of a long drawn-out process.

The Reform Party supports ensuring that all Canadians and their descendants dwell in a clean and healthy environment. The party supports sustainable development because without economic development and the income generated therefrom the environment will not be protected or enjoyed.

The Reform Party supports the view that environmental considerations must carry equal weight with economic, social and technical considerations in the development of a project.

The Liberal Party's red book statement on the environment closely parallels ours. On page 64 of the red book it states: "It is past time for the federal government to act on this understanding by adopting economic and environmental agendas that converge". However in appointing an auditor general the red book also states: "Individuals could petition the environmental auditor general to conduct special investigations when they see environmental policies or laws being ignored or violated".

I acknowledge that in the minister's statement she said she wants the standing committee to look at the focus of an environmental auditor general. I believe this is exceptionally important because as a result of over eager activities of some extreme protectionists, some businesses are beginning to express concern about the potential of what I call green tape. Green tape is rules and regulations that could unnecessarily tie up reasonable, productive economic activity. They have expressed concern that the office of an environmental auditor general could easily become the captive of narrow interest groups.

Members of the Reform Party will be active participants in the process of examining the role of an environmental auditor general. As stated, we support sustainable development, recognizing that without economic development and the income generated therefrom the environment will not be protected or enjoyed.

I agree with the statement the minister made about two months ago in this House that we all want to guarantee a prosperous economy, a healthy environment and a bright future for Canada.

Supply March 14th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I suggest that the youth of the country may very well hold this government accountable for the fact that it is passing on the spending of today to Canadian citizens to be paid for out of their income at some future point in time.

Constant deficit spending absolutely ties down and chains up the present youth of Canada.

Supply March 14th, 1994

Thank you, Madam Speaker, I will dispense with the balance of my speech in deference to your advice save to conclude if I may.

Canadians rightfully are looking for parliamentarians to lead by example. At the end of the day, unless there are substantial changes on the part of the majority of members of Parliament and members of the cabinet in the next four years, Canadians will rise up and say in a very loud voice: You can lead or you can follow, but if you are not going to lead get out of the way.

Supply March 14th, 1994

Madam Speaker, the media entrepreneur, Ted Turner of CNN fame, has a plaque on his desk which reads: "You can lead or you can follow, but if you are not going to lead, get out of the way".

I want to speak about leadership. There is a leadership vacuum in this country on the issue of compliance with taxation rules. Canadians have lost confidence in the ability of their governments to get spending under control. Therefore they have increasingly turned their backs on tax compliance and instead have become involved in aggressive tax avoidance. Tax avoidance takes place illegally and legally, but why would Canadians have reached the point of being prepared to break the law and potentially suffer the consequences?

Let me make my position very clear. I am not in any way condoning or excusing tax avoidance. If the government does not have the income then providing services to people and even the servicing of our national debt will become impossible. Furthermore, if we do not have respect for the laws of Canada, including taxation laws then we have anarchy. Therefore the epidemic of tax avoidance is an issue far larger than the issue of missing revenue.

We need to have leadership by example. We must show ordinary Canadians that people involved in the political process, members of Parliament, members of the government, cabinet ministers, are prepared to lead by example.

Many of us in this House are aware of single income families where the homemaker babysits one or two of the neighbour's kids but does not declare the income. There are housekeepers who clean the homes and toilets of others but again are not declaring the income. We are also aware of tradesmen who are avoiding the GST, in fact any taxation, simply by not declaring the value of their work. These people need to be shown sacrifice and leadership by members of the House of Commons, including the cabinet.

That is all part of the so-called underground economy. It is growing at a phenomenal rate. Yet the vast majority of these people desire to be law abiding citizens. In all other areas of their lives they obey the laws of Canada. So I ask: Who is going to lead them?

Many businesses have a friendly, approachable and helpful demeanour toward their customers and clients. This helpfulness is carried out by the staff. Can you imagine that the president of the company is not also friendly, approachable and helpful? In other words, the staff takes the lead from the example set by the chief executive officer. If a firm is open, honest and straightforward in its dealings with suppliers, the government and its customers, we can safely assume the leadership of the firm will also be honest and straightforward.

The bottom line is that Canadians are prepared to comply with reasonable tax laws, reasonable laws respecting taxation. When members of this House and the government lead by example, Canadians will follow. This is the reason the Reform Party has the unrelenting objective of straightening up the MPs pension plan.

The Liberal red book specifically states:

The most important asset of government is the confidence it enjoys of the citizens to whom it is accountable. If government is to play a positive role in society, as it must, honesty and integrity in our political institutions must be restored.

Whether by accident or design, politicians from the House have historically told Canadians that the MPs pension plan did not cost the Canadian taxpayer any money, that it was self-funding.

Any reasonable individual looking at the numbers concluded that members were mistaken in their assertions. It would be impossible to support the luxury of the MPs plan solely from the members' contributions. Only two weeks ago it was revealed that in 1992 Canadians forked over $158 million to top up the MPs pension plan and a further $12 million in 1993. The Canadian public is rightfully outraged at this excessiveness but are beyond outrage when they understand they have been duped.

As recently as the election the former member for Kootenay East was protesting loud and long that his pension plan was fair and reasonable. Yet the Prime Minister has said in the House he would correct the situation sometime before the next election. That is some time in the next four years. Is it only during elections that members of Parliament are answerable to Canadians or listen to them?

If Canadians are looking for leadership by example why will the Prime Minister not immediately alter the MPs pension plan to reflect a pension plan that would be available to any other member of the public? There must be leadership by example. Members of Parliament who choose to stonewall this issue in my judgment are doing a major disservice to this parliamentary institution.

We have spoken today about illegal tax avoidance. I would like to raise the issue of legal tax avoidance as shown in a newspaper article by Tim Naumetz of Sterling News Service. This very solidly falls under the issue of leadership by example.

In documents filed under the conflict of interest and post-employment code for public office holders a cabinet minister has revealed he has six companies registered in Liberia among his many holdings.

Let me make my position crystal clear on this issue. I am not stating nor suggesting or even implying there is any legal wrongdoing on the part of this cabinet minister. I also recognize the practices illustrated here may very well be standard practices in the shipping business. However within the shipping business I ask why ships are registered in Bermuda and Liberia rather than in Canada.

That is just one example of legal tax avoidance which brings into question the whole issue of fairness in our tax system.

Forestry February 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, last week I had the privilege of taking part in a series of meetings in Vancouver with the Canadian European Parliamentary Association. We had an extensive field trip in the air and on the ground at Clayoquot Sound.

As the House may know, the Europeans had brought forward a resolution to the European Parliament which would have seen a boycott of up to $2 billion worth of Canadians softwood lumber products. They had based their tentative decision to boycott on the basis of information and representations made by certain B.C. protectionist forces and they are to be applauded for taking the time to view first hand the practices which are so soundly denounced by those certain protectionist groups.

I am pleased to report that after thorough discussion and observation we have arrived at a reasonable approach to the resolution of their concerns. The environmentalists should consider the progress that has been made in sustainable forestry management practices. I suggest they consider compromise instead of confrontation and co-operation instead of controversy.

supply February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, with all kindness intended before I ask a question I must express to the House the tremendous amount of difficulty I have sitting here day after day listening to the reference to Quebecers and Canadians. Until such time as that situation should change, I suggest it might be helpful certainly for me, but I say that I am a Canadian from British Columbia, and probably the majority of members in this House would refer to themselves in a like manner. The exception seems to be with some of my friends to my right and I am having some difficulty with that.

That having been said I am interested in the position of members of the Bloc Quebecois. On one side of the coin they, like ourselves, would not support tax increases. On the other side of the coin when we talk about targeting there seems to be some misunderstanding by Bloc members where they believe that the Reform Party is calling for cuts evenly distributed across the board.

We talk about targeting to make sure that people who require the support of social programs will be protected and that the funding for those social programs for those who are in the most need will be there. That is why we are talking about targeting the support of social programs thereby creating decreases in the amount going out.

I wonder if the member could help us understand. I believe the member is talking about eliminating waste in government programs. We could shut down all of the federal apparatus, fire every single solitary person in the federal civil service, close down this institution and indeed stop paying rent on all of the buildings. Does the hon. member realize that even in doing that we would still have a deficit and still be adding to the problem of an increasing amount of debt?

If over 50 per cent of the current expenditures by the federal government are in the form of transfers to individuals either through the provinces or in direct payments in social assistance and his party is unwilling to touch that, but cannot possibly balance the budget without touching it, how would his party propose to balance the budget? I do not understand that kind of thinking.

Yes there is waste and yes waste must be eliminated. I agree with the comments of some of the Liberal Party members who have said that they too want to cut down on that waste. However, that is not where it is going to come from.

If the member cannot possibly balance the budget without cutting into or directing the payments to individuals under social programs, how would he propose we balance the budget?

supply February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to preface my question with a broad statement so that we can set the agenda.

It seems that whenever a Reform Party member asks a question about aboriginal issues that Reform Party member must be racist according to certain people within this House. That is exceptionally unfortunate. This is not question period and not widely shown on television but I would like to enter into a very honest, candid and searching dialogue with the minister. I thank him for being in the House.

One of the concerns expressed about the aboriginal economic program, and I suggest not just in ridings that have members from the Reform Party but perhaps in some of the other ridings as well, is the issue of competitiveness.

This is a very sincere question. It is not a trick question. I would like the minister to assure the people in my constituency and perhaps many other Canadians. We are attempting to correct what has gone on previously, particularly with the aboriginal community, by investing $230 million, to use the minister's figures, into a business program. That program has the potential of pitting those businesses against non-aboriginal businesses. The non-aboriginal businesses are under very severe taxation. Some are actually at the point of failure because of severe taxation. There seems to be some hostility and some concern that $230 million of these businessmen's tax money is being put into something which is based on a situation because of race, and that those people then have a $230 million advantage.

I wonder if the minister could help me and perhaps help Canadians get around the feeling that this is not setting the non-aboriginal community at a disadvantage.

supply February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, again in no way did I intend to imply that all regulations are bad. Of course there have to be regulations. What I was suggesting in my response a minute ago is the fact that very frequently people who are opposed to an approved project will find some other way of thwarting it by using regulations.

With respect I ask members of the House is it responsible, is it rational, is it reasonable? I quote the Auditor General when he says there were $4.1 billion invested by industry in regulations that were duplications, in regulations that were changing and regulations that were suspect.

I cite as an example, not necessarily federal regulations although they relate to provincial regulations, in the province of British Columbia some bright light decided we were going to be having zero as the level we had to achieve on a particular contaminant that was coming out of the pulping process. This figure was arrived at from the blue sky as it were.

Industry has invested countless hundreds of millions of dollars trying to achieve this and we now discover it is not necessary to achieve it. Should we now be paying back the industry? We do not have the resources to do that.

supply February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments of my colleague on the other side of the House. I in no way intended to imply there was anything less just because they unfortunately happen to be Liberals as opposed to Reformers.

What I am really trying to say is there is a creeping agenda, not necessarily within the Liberal Party or the Bloc Quebecois or any other party, but there seems to be a creeping agenda in Canada. I cite as an example the one my colleague from Wild Rose has raised where an ongoing process keeps on being stymied by environmental concerns. It is as though a group of people simply will not take yes for an answer.

The difficulty I am having in understanding this is that we can keep on using environmental considerations as a road block rather than an effective way to control all of the areas of concern that we have. Environmental considerations are frequently put up as road blocks to be able to proceed with responsible and reasonable industrial objectives.