House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was procedure.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Elgin—Middlesex—London (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 58% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code October 17th, 2005

The pizza is getting cold. That is a great one.

The gentleman opposite said he looked into it. I would ask him then to please table for me the information he looked up on the number of times the answer was no and the number of times the answer was yes, and all the circumstances surrounding those. That would be just fantastic for us to hear. We do not have the same luxury as he has, and he certainly knows that the average Canadian taxpayer does not have the same luxury as he has stated.

Criminal Code October 17th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I wish that the facts were all the gentleman had wrong. It was great that he was able to listen to the guidelines. Maybe now they are ingrained.

Let us talk a little about the going home emergency. In the examples that we have read here, why are so many of the abuses of the $11,000 an hour Challengers—and please correct me if they are not abuses—for the minister to return home? Where is the emergency back at home?

Criminal Code October 17th, 2005

Madam Speaker, the government each day and every day continues to show the Canadian taxpayer that it does not care. It believes it is entitled to a level of spending, a level of lavish living that just does not exist in the real world of hard-working Canadians.

One of the most recent examples of this is the use of the Challenger jets as flying limos, as party taxis, as a way of not having to sit with the regular folk.

It is reported to cost $11,000 per hour to fuel, operate and staff one of these jets. In just a few hours of travel the government has spent the annual earnings of a family in Canada. That is an average Canadian, the same average Canadian the government would rather spend thousands not to have to sit beside.

Let us discuss the guidelines for the use of these Challenger jets. The guidelines are that they only to be used for government business and only under the following circumstances.

Guideline one: “Flights to a point where there is no commercial service available”. Air Canada, WestJet and others still strive to fly across this nation and with some pretty good schedules.

Guideline two: “When there is no space available on commercial service”. Although I have seen some crowded planes, people can usually get on one.

Guideline three: “Because of difficulties in routings or timetables”. On whose authority? Who decides what difficulty is? That is a great guideline.

Guideline four: “Substantial savings of time can be made by using the aircraft in place of commercial airlines”. Again, whose definition is it of “substantial”? Hopefully it is not the person making the request to use the aircraft.

Guideline five: “When sudden changes in plans require emergency air transportation and no commercial air service is available”. Again, who defines the term “sudden”? Is that today, is it 48 hours ago or a week ago? Where is the suddenness?

Guideline six: “When official parties of some size need to travel together and significant advantage can be gained by using a government aircraft”. Again, remember the first restriction is it must be for government business.

The Department of National Defence is the sole approving authority for flights conducted under the government guidelines. I wonder how often it says no.

If, as stated in the guidelines, and the first clearly states “used only for government business”, it is extremely challenging, pardon the pun, to think that many flights back to a minister's riding are for government business.

An emergency flight from the home riding at a time of a national crisis I could understand. However, I find it unbelievable that just by coincidence many ministers find government business that meets all these other restrictions and yet gets them home in time for dinner.

I am sure Canadians are astounded by this coincidence also. This is one of the most common flights, the going home emergency flight.

Ministers of the government may feel they are entitled to this level of pampering, but let us ask the average Canadian, who cringes each times he or she fills the car just to get back and forth to work, if a year's salary spent on these flights home is okay. Let us ask seniors or farmers who just had the oil tank filled for the winter if these flights are okay.

I think I know the answer, but those ministers never fly with the real Canadians and so they may not hear it.

Government Aircraft October 5th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I hope he gets a little bag of nuts with that.

After revelations of abuse of the flying limos by Liberal ministers, it was stated that the luxury jets were only for pressing government business. Unfortunately for Canadian taxpayers, the pressing business of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness occurs most often in her home town of Edmonton. As Challenger jet logs show, she has used the jet to fly home at a cost of $382,000 for five flights.

Could the minister explain the pressing emergencies requiring her to leave Ottawa and return home at taxpayer expense?

Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act October 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member across for his statement and I would like to say that I am up to tenderize some more turtles, as he put it. He talked about the Conservative Party using little bits of information or using lack of information. I would like to help him with a few of the statements he made.

Certainly, under clause 55, the anonymous protection against reprisal, that is exactly what the clause says and it is there to do that, to protect the privacy of the person making the allegation of wrongdoing. All we are trying to state is that it also points out a very convenient place to hide wrongdoing if indeed that is what we wanted to do. Because it can be hidden for five years, that clause will allow it to be done. It is not that we do not trust the government to be forthcoming with wrongdoing when it discovers it, but it has proven itself not to be able to do so.

Under schedule 1, the list of the crown corporations and departments of government that are in the bill, he states that it is only there simply for housekeeping, simply to allow them to opt out if someone was to change the name of a crown corporation or if a crown corporation went private, it would be cleaned up that way. I hope that is truly the only reason for that clause. It certainly could have been handled by simply saying all government and crown corporation employees do not need to have a schedule. Perhaps then we would not have the opportunity in the background where people could make a decision on order in council to opt out of a crown corporation or a government body simply because wrongdoing was found there. We are not saying that is the purpose of the clause; we are saying the opportunity is there for it.

On the last little bit there was talk of the commitment to quality, the commitment to a good bill, and the commitment by the government to bring forward whistleblowing legislation as promised in 1993. In talking about quality, all of the witnesses who we saw on Bill C-11 also talked about Bill C-25. They asked for the same types of changes including an independent office on whistleblowing and yet protecting public servants was completely ignored in this version until it was massaged in committee. I would like him to comment on that.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act October 3rd, 2005

Madam Speaker, this goes back far enough to 1993, in either a red book, blue book or green book promise, when whistleblower was first mentioned by the government. We see that it only took 12 years to get it here.

However it is still my interpretation that the governor in council or cabinet can opt in and out crown corporations and government bodies and their employees from this whistleblowing legislation. We will wait for the five year review to see whether it happens or whether that is the truth but I believe that is one of the flaws that is still in this legislation.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act October 3rd, 2005

Madam Speaker, the simple answer is yes, flawed legislation was given back to us again, Bill C-25 in the last House and Bill C-11 this time. Not much has changed between the two. Witnesses were heard on Bill C-25 and, as I and the previous member stated, they said almost the same thing, which was that the legislation was fatally flawed and that there was enough wrong with it that we would be better off without the legislation than with legislation that had those flaws in it.

However what came back when this 38th Parliament came to work? It was Bill C-11 which said almost exactly the same things over again, things that had been testified about by the public sector employee unions and other whistleblowers from the past. It came forward with almost exactly the same recommendations in it.

Is that the government's answer? The government shows itself as a white knight after ad scam. It says that it will put forward whistleblowing legislation so that it will look like it is trying to clean up government. If the way to become a white knight is by putting forward flawed legislation that would put whistleblowers in more danger when they come forward, then the government wins the prize.

The government brought forward legislation that took the opposition groups to put it to together as a plausible piece of legislation and here we are today.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act October 3rd, 2005

Madam Speaker, I would like to speak to Bill C-11 and talk about some of the work it took to get this bill where it is today. The previous speaker talked about the number of witnesses that came before the committee. Some of them had been before the previous session's committee on Bill C-25, which was also whistleblowing legislation.

Bill C-11 is an act to establish a procedure for the disclosure of wrongdoings in the public sector, including the protection of persons who disclose the wrongdoings. If we could turn that into normal talk for people who are not in the public sector or work in the government, it simply means that when someone sees something wrong in their workplace, they can come forward and report it, and fear no reprisal for having done so.

In a perfect world, there would be no reason for this type of legislation. Public sector employees and all employees would come forward with suggestions and point out areas where their workplace could be a better place to work. Employers would always be open to those suggestions, open to the points being made by their employees that maybe a better way was there, a more legal way was there. In a perfect world there would never be a need for whistleblowing legislation. Welcome to a non-perfect world.

We do not live in a perfect world. We have had some examples of scandal in this government and in our public sector workplace that calls for the need for legislation such as Bill C-11. We need to have the ability to protect workers who come forward. I guess the granddaddy of them all are the brave employees who brought to the light of day the current advertising scandal that we are dealing with, the wrongdoing that was done, the money that was paid to advertising firms for no work being done, and the money then being in fact kickbacked to a governing party to use in elections.

These brave employees that came forward, so that this could be brought to the light of day today, are protected by Bill C-11. If we look back to the testimony given by public servants such as Mr. Cutler, one of the persons who brought forward the sponsorship scandal, he was being subjected to a reign of terror in his workplace after only doing what he thought was right. Employees should not be punished for doing what they think is right in their workplace.

We also have examples of mismanagement and scandal going back to the HRDC situation. The previous speaker mentioned problems at Health Canada, where employees hoping to protect the health and safety of Canadians came forward and said that they did not think this was right. They thought that they could protect Canadians if things were done differently. Were they given medals? Were they given certificates? Were they given any sort of accolades? No. They were sacked and sent home.

This is what we are trying to protect with Bill C-11. We are trying to make it so that it is an open place for an employee to come forward and yet not be reprised against or punished for doing so.

We have examples of the previous privacy commissioner's spending and travel habits coming to light through employees coming forward. We have examples of crown corporation executives with big spending habits, some of them being even very recent, that most Canadians find appalling. This spending was brought to light because employees are willing to come forward and say something.

With a background of the types of scandals that I have mentioned, it is not a wonder that Bill C-11 is needed. Bill C-11 was badly needed to help protect our public service workforce.

In committee many whistleblowers testified that they came forward not for reward. They did not come forward for spite. They came forward because it was the right thing to do. They felt someone should know what they saw occurring in their workplace. After the fact, almost every individual regretted doing it because of how they were dealt with. Initially, they came forward because it was the right thing to do.

We need Bill C-11 to protect employees from a government that believes behaviours of this type are acceptable. Our employees deserve better than that and this is why Bill C-11 can help. We as the Conservatives have always called for effective protection for public servants who expose corruption and we will continue to do so.

As was stated earlier today, this bill in its original form could have done more harm than good. It was fatally flawed when brought forward to the committee to work on. With the number of amendments that are now in place, the fatal flaws are out of it. Is it flawless? No, it is not, but the fatal flaws are gone.

There were some major reversals by the government. I believe the President of the Treasury Board admitted today that he had to listen to the committee about the structure of who whistleblowers would answer to. It was not an easy fight. He started off not wanting to listen, sure enough, but was forced at the end of the day, by unanimous representation by the witnesses, other than one, that it was the right thing to do, and so it was.

The bill still has some flaws, one being, what we have been calling today, the cover-up clause. We still see that departments can refuse to release information about internal disclosures of wrongdoing for up to five years. In our amendments, we moved that from 20 years to 5 years but nonetheless a department could still hold that information secret. The Conservative Party would like to see this provision completely removed, not just reduced from 20 years.

As was said earlier, it is very important that we protect the privacy of the people coming forward to disclose, and if in fact that is what this clause is for then I ask that we work harder to do so. If the protection of the identity of the discloser also protects the person who is committing the wrongdoing, then it is wrong and it needs to be fixed.

Another flaw, as I see it, is that cabinet or a governor in council can still add or remove government organizations and crown corporations from the list of employees who are covered by Bill C-11. We have been told that is not the case but I read the bill again today and it is still in there. They are saying that it would not be used for that, to trust them, that it would not be used to remove a crown corporation or a body of government from Bill C-11. They say that it is just there so that if they ever close down an organization, they could take that organization off the list.

It comes to mind that if that is the only reason that that clause is there and we end up having redundant organizations somewhere on a list, I would rather take that than risk the non-protection of an employee just because there seems to be a bit of a scandal brewing at crown corporation A and it could be put on the exclusion list so they would never have to deal with it. I would like the government not to have the opportunity for that out. I believe it is still there and the Conservative Party would like to see it removed. It is one of the flaws still left in this bill.

There are other areas of concern. We had witnesses before committee on Bill C-11 who talked about whether there should be rewards or some way of helping employees who have gone through the struggle of coming forward with whistleblowing. It could still be there but it is not yet in there. It also is not stated yet in the legislation what the punishments or further punishments may be for committing a reprisal against a whistleblower.

As I said, most of the whistleblowers we had before committee came forward just through the goodness of their hearts. They came forward because they felt it was the right thing to do and then there were reprisals against them. Certainly the ultimate punishment for someone who commits a reprisal is termination but there are even times when simply terminating the supervisor or manager who committed the reprisal against the employee may not be enough. There may need to be some more punishment besides that. The commissioner should have the power to do this.

In conclusion, we would like to celebrate Bill C-11 in the areas in which it shines. Because of pressure from opposition parties and the Conservative Party, the bill now includes an independent commissioner reporting to Parliament. It is something everybody asked for, except for one witness. It is great to have it in there. Of course, we had to convince the President of the Treasury Board that it was the right thing to do.

The inclusion in the bill of the RCMP for coverage was something we in the Conservative Party had to fight for very hard. We think there are people missing from protection but the RCMP are still in there.

The last one is that there would be a review of the bill in five years. That is positive if in five years we find it has been working and people have been coming forward to disclose wrongdoing in the workplace. Let us hope that in five years we have not found other flaws in the bill.

Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act October 3rd, 2005

Madam Speaker, the member did go at length into some of the testimony that was heard before the committee on Bill C-11. There was almost a year's worth of testimony to get us to the number of amendments we have today. If we look back to the last session of Parliament, Bill C-25 was there and almost word for word the same testimony was given by the same health department officials or the same representative organizations that the member spoke of early in her remarks. Those witnesses gave almost exactly the same type of testimony about what they would be looking for in whistleblowing legislation and yet the legislation that was brought forward was called by them, during some of their testimony at committee for Bill C-11, as fatally flawed, as being worse than not having it.

The government brought forward legislation that had to be amended. I agree that we have some very good amendments now. Does the member believe that if we were not sitting in a minority Parliament right now, that Bill C-11 would not look anything like it does?

Parliament of Canada Act June 17th, 2005

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-408, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (change of political affiliation).

Mr. Speaker, this bill was written and co-sponsored by the member for Simcoe--Grey. I wish to thank her for her hard work and dedication on this issue.

Canadians speak of democratic reform and the failings of the democratic deficit. This private member's bill ensures that voters' wishes do not get ignored. All members of Parliament must honour the wishes of their constituents and not achieve personal gain. We as members are and must be accountable to the people. Voters must be listened to. If passed, this bill will ensure that happens.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)