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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 February 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to repeat the supply motion of the Reform Party:

That this House call on the government to demonstrate its commitment to accountability and to the efficient and effective use of public funds by reporting to the House, no later than the first week of June each year, what measures have been taken by the government to address unresolved problems identified by the Auditor General in his report such as-

I go to our subclause (f):

that the Minister of the Environment address the duplication of regulations between the federal government and the provincial governments regarding the pulp and paper industry-

I believe many observers of the House of Commons agree that Reform Party members have brought a constructive approach to all matters before the House. We have led the way in the establishment of a very direct formula. We look at the good and compliment; we review areas of concern and define them; and finally we work to create a positive response with an attitude to making the process work.

First let me commend the Minister of the Environment for her exhibition of an attitude of co-operation and her expression of a desire that all members of the House of Commons have access to relevant information and the ability to dialogue with officials in her department.

I also wish to compliment the deputy minister and the assistant deputy minister on their recent interview with the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. As one of the two Reform MPs on the standing committee I was very impressed with their very forthright and business-like attitude and look forward to working with both the minister and her officials.

As the member for Kootenay East I am acutely aware of the environment. I have in my constituency Glacier National Park, Yoho National Park and Kootenay National Park. My home on Wasa Lake is only five miles from Crestbrook Forest Industries pulp mill at Skookumchuk and as a consequence I have a great sensitivity to sharing a pristine wilderness with a large industrial production facility.

I am pleased to report that in total Crestbrook Forest Industries has exhibited a very responsible attitude toward its potential liability to the environment. In fact it has just completed a $200 million project which responds directly to concerns about pollution.

Crestbrook, along with other members of the pulp and paper industry, come under regulations put forward by both the federal and provincial governments. I know from casual conversations with various people in the industry that the duplication of regulations between the two levels of government regarding the pulp and paper industry has been frustrating at times. I refer specifically to the Auditor General's report on the duplication of regulations.

We are concerned about attracting international investment and creating a climate of confidence for the domestic investor. There is nothing that scares capital more than the unknown. Investors must have the security of knowing what the rules of the game are going to be.

Learning from history I note in paragraph 26.37 of the Auditor General's report that:

The January 1993 report of the Sub-committee on Regulations and Competitiveness of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance criticized the Department for not assessing the benefits of regulations.

It continues:

-a commitment of $4.1 billion in resources, with no apparent sense of the magnitude of the benefits, was not reasonable.

That is a commitment of $4.1 billion in resources being thrown into the unknown.

The Auditor General continues:

The data to assess the effectiveness of the regulations, including long-term impacts, are expected to come eventually from the Environmental Effects Monitoring Program.

I ask that members to note the words: "are expected to come eventually". In the next paragraph the Auditor General states:

The Environmental Effects Monitoring guidelines and program continued to be developed after the regulations were passed.

I draw to the attention of members the words: "continued to be developed". He continues:

In early 1993, the industry expressed concern that the program was still evolving and that its final scope and costs to all were not yet fully defined.

I note there again the word evolving. From this instructive lesson we can see why the investor in Canadian business has some serious concerns about the application and impact our laws and regulations bring to our desired direction.

The Reform Party believes there must be a balance in which environmental considerations carry equal weight, that they do not overpower economic, social and technical considerations in the development of any project. We believe that without any economic development and the income generated therefrom the environment will not be protected nor enjoyed.

Overlap of enforcement is an additional problem. For example, I am aware of two recent cases in British Columbia, one involving Weyerhaeuser's Pulp Mill at Kamloops and the other at Howe Sound Pulp and Paper on the coast. As a result of effluent spills, both federal and provincial agencies felt obliged to take legal samples. A couple of days after the provincial government regulators turned up, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans felt obliged to use a search warrant to obtain information and repeated the process already completed by the provincial government.

There are also redundant regulations. As an example, at the federal level there are two regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act affecting the pulp industry which deal with the use of defoaming agents and pentachlorophenol contaminated wood chips. Both these regulations were introduced to control potential sources of dioxins and furans in the pulping process. Pentachlorophenol is no longer used by the sawmilling industry and therefore this regulation is redundant. The petrochemical agency has cleaned up the oil based defoaming agents, making the second regulation also redundant.

New initiatives under federal fishery regulations require pulp mills to do environmental effects monitoring at a cost of $150,000 to $200,000 a year per mill and there is little or no confidence that the results will be scientifically meaningful. It is a case of collecting information for the sake of having the information, with no apparent value but at very high cost to the industry.

In the spirit of co-operation, I know the environment minister is aware there are federal-provincial environmental agreements that have been drafted and reviewed by senior level bureaucrats at the federal level in co-operation with the provincial ministries of environment in B.C. and Quebec. I understand early drafts have also been developed for Ontario and Nova Scotia. They are very close to conclusion.

In light of the government's much quoted red book position on the elimination of duplication and overlap of federal-provincial services, I ask the minister to push the various buttons required to get the agreements completed. The minister today acknowledged these agreements are pending. I am asking for priority to expedite completion.

I will be sending a copy of this speech to the chairman of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development to indicate that I will be raising this issue with a view to having the committee encourage the early completion of these agreements. This is a no cost way of enhancing efficiencies in the application and enforcement of regulations, thereby reducing the cost to industry.

In addition, I will be circulating copies of my speech to all interested parties in a spirit of co-operation to assist in the creation of a positive working relationship with an attitude of making the process work. I invite constructive criticism and input, especially from industry, to the suggestions I have made today.

As stated, Reform Party members are striving to bring a constructive approach to all matters before the House. However, as indicated in our supply motion, it is imperative that the Minister of the Environment, not later than the first week of June each year, deliver to the House a report outlining what measures have been taken to address the unresolved problems identified by the Auditor General. As he chose to focus on the issue of pulp and paper regulations, identifying specific deficiencies, we anticipate that the minister will respond positively to this most reasonable position put forward by the Reform Party.

That kind of response will clearly demonstrate the government's commitment to accountability to the House and, through it, to the people of Canada.

Indian Affairs February 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I suggest to the minister that we might be able to cool this fire if he could give us the government's position on this.

Does the government, representing all the people of Canada have ultimate, exclusive, supreme power and authority over all Canadian soil including territory claimed by all identifiable groups including those people described as aboriginal?

Indian Affairs February 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. The Globe and Mail quotes a spokesperson for the Mohawk warriors as stating that any RCMP incursion into his reserve would be treated as an invasion by a hostile government.

As the civilian police forces are not presently enforcing the law in the Mohawk's self-declared sovereign lands, would the minister of Indian affairs agree the Canadian government appears to have accepted the Indian self-declared sovereignty?

Social Security System February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting in the dialogue between political parties that we always seem to end up at the same point.

During the course of this election it was very interesting to me that the Liberal candidate in my riding went out of his way to make sure that people in our constituency felt comfortable with the fact that the Liberal government would not do anything, or had no plans with respect to social programs. We may recall very briefly that during the course of the election the former Prime Minister with the summer job also was really taken on in the area when she suggested that there might be some look at or revision of social programs.

I wonder if the member might not agree that it would have been helpful to the Canadian public if they had been made aware that in fact the Liberals when they became government were going to be doing a complete review; if it might not have been helpful for them to make a judgment based on what appears to have been a predetermined plan.

I suggest that there has been a situation in Canada during this election process where our party told the Canadian people about our plans, though they may be open to question, and that the social program had to be looked at if it was going to be maintained.

Social Security System February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, through our taxation system frequently there are situations where it is beneficial for our citizens to take particular actions. I cite as an example the situation I mentioned in my speech where right now under our taxation it works to a net benefit to a family to have two income earners at

$30,000 rather than one income earner at $60,000 and yet the gross income before taxation is equal.

I suggest that kind of policy forces the situation where people make choices. I am not suggesting for a second that the choice a family may make when two people determine it is in their best interests and the best interests of their family that there should be two wage earners, that that is an inferior decision, not for a minute. What I am suggesting is that by the taxation act as it presently exists it works in a prejudicial manner against those who choose to have one income earner.

Social Security System February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in response to the hon. member's question I offer a qualified yes. I say that there must be a balance so that there is the ability for parents to choose what is best for their children. If in fact a child tax credit is the best way to go about doing it or the measure that he had suggested is the best way of going about doing it, I would support it but it is a qualified yes.

My qualification is that at this point I do not believe nor do any of the members of our party believe that the country is in a position to actually take an action like that. If it was revenue neutral I would suspect it would find support within our party.

Social Security System February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, as a new member of Parliament it has been very interesting to uncover many of the ideas and directions that seem to permeate politically correct thinking on Parliament Hill and within the news media. Yesterday was a classic example when the minister of immigration stood in the House and told Canadians we were going to be receiving an additional quarter million immigrants in the next 12 months.

I suggest the expressions of concern around coffee tables or living rooms last evening in the homes of many Canadians were not reflected in the minister's quota. It was particularly instructive yesterday when the immigration critic for the Reform Party stood in the House. There were expressions of humour and derision from some of the Liberal Party members when he made the statement that the Reform Party was not opposed to immigration.

We stand for a balanced approach to immigration based on economic need and benefits to Canada. Clearly some of the Liberal members have prejudged that the Reform Party is anti-immigration and therefore found his statement humourous. Of course the concept of prejudging is the root of the word prejudice.

We all judge statements and actions by other individuals in the light of our own experience or sometimes unfounded assumptions. Perhaps an old line party like the Liberals should take instruction from the fate of the other old line party which was decimated in the most recent election.

I make these statements as a preamble to suggest that the old, tired, worn out concepts which have led to a crisis in many Canadian families relating to child care clearly have not been successful. Perhaps government members would be well advised to assume Reform Party MPs and the ordinary Canadians who they represent share the same concerns that they do.

We want what is in the best interest of Canada, for Canadians and especially our nation's children. Do not prejudge our ideas that may be interpreted in so-called code words, because I choose to speak in clear, concise, simple English. There is no other meaning that is contained in these clear, concise words.

The Reform Party supports child care programs that subsidize financial need, not the method of child care chosen and that subsidize children and parents, not institutions and professionals. The Reform Party supports government regulation of day care standards. The Reform Party opposes state run day care.

Reform Party policy is generated through a bottom up, grassroots approach where hundreds of thousands plus of our members have an opportunity, indeed a responsibility, to give direction to their representatives in the House.

There are many Canadians who feel any government subsidies or expenditures by government in support of child care must be balanced and do away with a system that is complex, inequitable and inadequate.

The Prime Minister in a year end interview with Maclean's magazine stated:

Day care is an economic program as much as a social program, because if you have a good system of day care you create more jobs. The people who want to work will be able to do so and the people who take care of the children will have new jobs.

The Prime Minister acknowledges the element of social engineering that drives the economic considerations.

What about those parents who choose to stay home and excel in the job of homemaker? Should we have a taxation and benefit system in Canada that fundamentally forces parents out of their homes? We support parents and those responsible for bringing up children who choose to work outside the home. However I submit we are the only party that equally supports parents who choose the worthy vocation of working within the home as the homemaker.

Following a thorough study I would visualize the Reform Party supporting an increase in the per child personal tax exemption and amending tax rates so that a single income family earning $60,000 annually pays no more tax than a two income family where each parent earns $30,000. This would work to use the tax code to be fair to families that choose to have one income earner rather than two.

Let me express some of the concerns to the House that some Canadians have with respect to institutionalized child care. They cite studies that show children put into day care at an early age having difficulty forming affectionate and trusting relationships later on. I am not stating that there is any conclusive evidence of this, but I am stating it is a concern for many Canadians. My own personal sentiment is that in the vast majority of cases day care is, after all, a poor substitute for a child's own mother or father.

To subsidize state run day care and not give equal subsidy to families that choose alternatives is prejudicial and has the potential of forcing children into a situation that many parents in Canada reject.

We want to promote policies in which single parents who are either forced to work or choose to work outside the home have the option of entrusting the well-being of their children to other family members or close friends. Should their situation not

receive equal subsidy? With government subsidy of only state run day care Canada closes the option of parents exercising their responsibility to choose what they judge best for themselves and for their family.

We are very conscious of the tragic situations such as the situation which has led to the Martensville trial in Saskatchewan. We are aware that there are many other circumstances wherein children are not being properly cared for in unlicensed day care facilities. This is why I restate that the Reform Party supports government regulation of day care standards.

We are also concerned with the impact that unlicensed day care has on the so-called underground economy where there is a reward for not declaring income derived from what is essentially an in-home business. We view with concern the changes that the Conservative government brought to child benefits and other social programs through what has been described as a skilful exercise in the politics of stealth.

Without an informed and open public debate Canadian social policy especially in the area of child care is wandering aimlessly without thorough discussion, study or input from concerned Canadians. It is important that members of the House go out of their way to inform their constituents of details and background on this and many other issues so that concerned Canadians will be empowered to give meaningful input to the political process and indeed to the direction of the government with respect to family issues.

We must listen to our constituents because I believe that the answers to these problems lie outside this Chamber and reside in the homes of our citizens. Discussions in restaurants, coffee shops, living rooms and around kitchen tables should be the source of intelligent direction for this House.

In the government's order for today's debate it requested broad consultation to analyse and make recommendations regarding the modernization and structuring of Canada's social security system with particular reference to the needs of families with children.

As a Reform Party member I am speaking for the ordinary Canadian whose voice is not normally heard in this Chamber or indeed in front of standing committees. I believe there are countless millions of Canadians who are not represented by the vocal special interest groups. They reject the vision of child care that includes state intrusion into the family. Social responsibility, yes; social engineering, no.

Those voices are calling for a balanced system of taxation, regulation and direction from the government which will treat all Canadians, all families, all parents equally. They want social engineering by the government terminated. It has been said, and I agree, that a nation is no stronger than its most basic unit: the family.

Speech From The Throne January 28th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I too would like to congratulate the member on her speech, particular-

ly on the passion she brings to it. I think her constituents obviously are going to be served well.

I am interested primarily because I have some very wonderful friends from Newfoundland living in my constituency and I am looking forward to the opportunity to travel to Newfoundland. I have had the opportunity to be in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island but have not travelled to your island. I am very much looking forward to that.

The hon. member mentioned an income support program. I think I would support the concept of an income support program depending on its definition. I would support that by contrast to what seems to have been going on in terms of the unemployment insurance program.

In recent programs on television, I have noted that there are times when one day is considered to be a week and we get into the so-called 10-42 program where people can work for 10 days and get 42 weeks of unemployment insurance.

I wonder if the member would agree that it would be better to come up with some kind of specific income support program for the people who are particularly disadvantaged by the collapse of the fishery rather than continuing to work with a band-aid approach with respect to unemployment insurance.

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question because it gives me an opportunity to speak to some of the confusion that the member refers to.

There seems to be a lack of ability of being able to get hold of our documents from the election campaign. I would be very happy to provide them to any member in the House. We are not talking about uniform cuts of 10, 12 or 15 per cent. We are not talking about lateral cuts.

We are talking about selectively making sure that we have the ability to be able to fund exactly the people at the end of the member's question to which he was referring. They are the most disadvantaged within our society.

If we do not have the resources or the funds, truly it will be those who cannot take care of themselves who will be disadvantaged. Therefore we have a very specific program that I would be very happy to share.

Let us take a look at the overall principle that has been very clearly put out by other members of the Reform Party in this debate. It is that 25 cents out of every dollar put out by the government goes out as an interest payment for overspending we have already done. That money is gone. There is no way of recovering that money.

Even if we were to take all of the cost of running the government, fire every member of Parliament, let every civil servant go and shut down the entire government we would still not be able to balance the overspending by the government.

With respect to the members of the BQ, when the party is talking about protecting social programs, I suggest that they also give consideration to how they are going to protect the social programs unless they are going to be prepared to selectively make sure that people who have the most needs are protected.

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am proud today to stand as the member for Kootenay East constituency.

In the October 25 election the constituents expressed their confidence in the agenda that I and the Reform Party were to bring to the Parliament of Canada. The topic of my speech today is really directed to my constituents. My topic would be entitled demand less.

It is critical in my constituency, indeed in Canada, that citizens give clear direction to their politicians at all levels of government.

Political decisions are not made in a vacuum. Decisions to spend money and deliver services and social entitlements to citizens are made as ordinary citizens make their demands known to the politicians. Any politician who wants to get elected or re-elected must respond to those demands and so I say to my constituents we must demand less.

Following my election I made two immediate activities my priority. One was to open lines of communication and accessibility to my constituents. The second was to grapple with the issues surrounding mining-especially coal mining-and how it relates to my constituents in the Elk Valley.

The Elk Valley which is east of Cranbrook is a magnificent area of my constituency with beautiful mountains, the Snow Valley ski area in Fernie and the districts of Sparwood and Elkford. There is no area in Canada which has been more

adversely affected by ill advised taxation, blatant tax revenue grabs and overregulation than the Elk Valley.

The area suffers with a 30 per cent unemployment rate. In the last couple of years there have been significant mine failures with as a many as 2,000 people out of work severely depressing the commercial community.

It was interesting that in a recent news article in the Kimberley Bulletin a headline read: Cominco irked at city tax rate''. The complaint of the mining company was that the major industrial tax rate in Kimberley is 69 per cent higher than the tax rate in Cranbrook. In justifying the position of the city, the mayor of Kimberley agreed that Cominco taxes are high but said the tax rate is justified. He said the mining company has had it easy on taxes because it did not start paying taxes until 1968 when Cominco was incorporated into the city limits. The mayor said:That is when Cominco started shutting down plants and laying off people''.

I am not criticizing the mayor of Kimberley for his comments. I simply cite that quotation as an accurate representation of what happens when an industry is taxed. The fact is that when taxes go up then jobs and an industry decrease.

Capital for mining is fleeing Canada. The country of Chile is one of the greatest beneficiaries of this flight. It has an effective tax rate of 15 per cent. The countries of Mexico and Papua New Guinea have a mining tax rate of 35 per cent. The Philippines and even the United States has a tax rate on mining companies of 38 per cent whereas the mining companies in the province of British Columbia suffer under a mining income tax rate of 50 per cent. That is hard rock mining.

In coal mining, although it is hard to believe, in four years between 1987 and 1991 the B.C. coal industry paid $454 million dollars, almost half a billion dollars, in direct taxes while net returns to the industry believe it or not were only $8 million.

Citizens must demand less from the federal government, provincial government, regional district, cities, towns and even the school boards because I say that taxes kill jobs.

For example property tax rates charged on coal mines are three times higher than residential rates. These taxes pay for municipal services. The ministry of environment of the province of B.C. has made a decision to require the East Kootenay region to implement a solid waste disposal program. To put solid waste disposal into normal terms, it is simply people's garbage.

The annual cost of this program is $3.2 million. The share of the costs of Sparwood and Elkford combined would be about $940,000 annually. The coal mines in these municipalities would pay $717,000 of that $900,000.

Yesterday Fording Coal announced that following a 4 per cent decrease in the selling price of their top grade of coal in Japan in 1993, they are suffering a further 8 per cent decrease in their selling price in 1994. This solid waste management program as desirable as it may be will remove an additional $700,000 from coal producers' cash flow while prices in the world market are dropping.

Citizens must demand less or we will continue to see bankruptcies, job losses and potentially the total disintegration of B.C.'s export coal industry.

The problem is not confined to the East Kootenay area. The coal must move from the mines in my constituency to port.

We have a world class facility with our transportation services to the coast. The coal car repair shop in Golden is state of the art. The railway company and its workers just as with the workers in the coal mining producing plants are going flat out to be efficient. However, we are going to tax them out of existence at every level of taxation.

In 1981 the selling price of coal was around $67 a tonne. In 1991 it had dropped to $60 a tonne. However, in real dollars, that is converting 1981 dollars into 1991 dollars, the $67 a tonne revenue in 1981 became $35 a tonne revenue in 1991.

The companies responded and the workers and the companies have driven their operating expense from $41 a tonne to $22 a tonne or, again in real costs, to $13 a tonne.

In other words operating costs have been reduced through diligence and hard work and significant capital investment driven down by 70 per cent since 1981. The workers in the coal industry and transportation have shown extreme dedication in this quest to reduce costs while at the same time demands for additional services and social entitlements by Canadians has pushed politicians to increase taxes and outright revenue grabs at an alarming rate.

As weird as it may seem some of the bridges on the rail line over the canyons and through the mountains between the Elk Valley and Roberts Bank attract tax levels of tens of thousands of dollars each. One bridge classified as an improvement costs the railway over $100,000 annually in taxes simply because the canyon exists and we want to get the coal over the canyon.

At the federal level fuel taxes on diesel use by the railway stand in the way of our coal producers in British Columbia being able to ship clean burning coal from B.C. to Ontario. The fuel taxes on the diesel used by the railway locomotives are for the purpose of building highways. This is totally unrealistic and unfair in the application of taxes. It is taxing one method of transportation to subsidize another.

On the coast at the Roberts Bank terminal, charges to put coal into the ships for export have tripled over the last ten years and the Vancouver port authority, a part of the federal government, has direct responsibility for the fees which are continuing to rise at a rate of 10 per cent a year. This is at a time when coal prices are crashing.

Yet I read in the newspaper yesterday a headline which said: "Our finance minister says Canada can stand more tax". Canada cannot stand more tax. Taxes kill jobs.

If the Liberals wonder why western Canadians are uptight about the potential imposition of a carbon tax they need only look at the results of the national energy plan which was only a thinly disguised revenue grab from western Canada to central Canada. We still suffer from the residue.

Coal mines are subject to higher mineral taxes than hard rock mines in British Columbia. It is unclear but it appears as though this is simply a leftover from the bad old days of the era of the national energy plan that was imposed by the former Liberal government.

The fact is that our coal mines supply world markets and the Japanese steel industry will lose $3 billion U.S. in the current fiscal year. There is a continued oversupply of coking coal in the world market. That is world reality. We Canadians have to face reality and so again I say to my constituents that we Canadians must demand less service and entitlements from our politicians or we will tax our jobs out of existence.

I say to the trustees of the schools boards, the mayors and councillors of our towns and cities, the regional district directors, the MLAs Corky Evans and Jim Doyle and the hon. minister of mines Ann Edwards that we must be prepared to lead cutting government costs so that we will not tax our jobs out of existence.

I challenge members of the House of Commons to follow the example shown by the Reform Party members and take a 10 per cent cut in their pay not because they are not earning it but clearly to show leadership by example. It is only by demanding less that we will have more jobs, more security and more future for ourselves and for our children.