House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was farmers.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Vegreville—Wainwright (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 80% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Agriculture April 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for the answer.

What specific guarantees could the government give to assure grain farmers that the government will not cave in to the United States and that grain farmers will not be sacrificed in order to achieve a favourable outcome for supply management?

Agriculture April 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister of trade, the minister of agriculture, or in this case a substitute.

Today's Report on Business states that the Liberal agriculture and trade ministers will sign an agreement today. It will allow an import quota on durum wheat of two million tonnes in exchange for the United States dropping its challenge about the protection of the supply management sector in Canada.

Are the ministers going to cave in to the United States by allowing a quota where none is warranted? Furthermore, are the ministers pitting one sector against another by caving in on durum wheat in order to protect supply management as the report said?

Budget Implementation Act, 1994 April 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am speaking today to oppose implementation of the Liberal budget which has and will continue to cause hardship for Canadians and damage to the Canadian economy.

The budget will lead to a deficit of almost $40 billion added to the over $500 billion debt the federal government has already accumulated. The prognosis for ever dealing with this financial mess we are in is becoming increasingly difficult to even comprehend.

It has now reached a critical point. It is not too late. The problem can be dealt with but it has to be done now by making substantial cuts in federal government spending.

Before the federal budget was released, the finance minister travelled across Canada in an attempt to discover how Canadians wanted government overspending to be dealt with in this year's budget. He received excellent advice from Canadians at these conferences. However, in their budget documents the Liberals merely acknowledge the direction that Canadians said they would like the government to follow. Unfortunately they failed to act on this advice.

In the budget debates, Reform MPs clearly laid out their proposals for cuts in federal government spending. These have also been ignored.

One of the first motions that Reformers put forward was for a cap to be placed on federal government spending. This spending cap would at least have given the Liberals a chance to meet their own deficit target of 3 per cent of GDP in three years as outlined

in the red book. This motion was voted down by the Liberal and Bloc members.

During the pre-budget debate Reformers tabled a document that outlines $20 billion in federal government cuts. There has been no indication that any of these proposals were ever examined by the government.

Before, during and after the pre-budget debate Reform MPs have elaborated on our proposals for spending cuts which include approximately $6 billion in cuts to government itself, approximately $4 billion in cuts to business subsidies and about $9 billion in cuts to social program spending.

The government completely ignored the message received from Canadians and Reformers during the budget debate. The early symptoms of the Liberal lack of action are now appearing, for example, the rapidly dropping Canadian dollar and increasing interest rates.

These symptoms alone would not be a cause for great concern. However, what concerns us is the underlying problem of the lack of confidence in the Canadian economy. This lack of confidence has been illustrated clearly by Canadian banks in their hesitation to lend to small business.

Lack of confidence has also been shown by private investors who are taking their capital out of Canada at an ever increasing rate. This is further illustrated by Canadian consumers who, with good reason, are not convinced their jobs are secure enough to spend freely.

A further problem is the reality of the huge government debt which is increasing at an incredibly fast rate. It is quite possible, and many feel even probable, that Canada will hit the wall just like New Zealand did. If that happens the Reform's zero in three plan will be replaced by the Liberal's zero in three plan, but it will not be zero deficit in three years. It will be zero deficit in three months, three weeks, three days.

This kind of concern is no longer just coming from Reform members of Parliament and from the general Canadian population. It is also coming from financial experts across the country. Warren Jestin, chief economist with the Bank of Nova Scotia, states: "The finance department has to revisit its deficit projections and interest rate assumptions before the economy is a mess".

Sherry Cooper, chief economist of Burns Fry Limited, shares this sentiment. "We need a mini budget outlining explicitly the cuts in government spending that will significantly reduce the budget deficit. The financial markets are demanding the cuts. We are talking about averting a currency crisis", said Sherry Cooper. These sentiments reflect clearly what Reformers were saying following the finance minister's feeble attempt at a budget.

The weakness could be due in part to the fact that the Liberals simply did not have time since the election to come up with a real budget. I encourage the finance minister in the strongest way possible to bring forward a mini budget in the next few months. Joshua Mendelsohn of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce stated: "If the rates keep rising, Martin will have no choice but to bring in a minibudget".

In the meantime it is essential that the Prime Minister and each cabinet minister give Canadians at least a hint as to where they will be making further cuts as promised by the Prime Minister. These actions will instil enough confidence in the Canadian economy, in Canadians and in foreign investors to hold off a pending financial crisis.

To allow the Liberal government to make the changes necessary to balance the budget changes must also be made in Liberal philosophy. The Canadian mindset toward government has been changing but government has failed to recognize it. The Liberal philosophy of big government which was fostered in the sixties has changed. The Liberals must recognize this change and deal with the new political and economic realities we are now facing.

This outdated mindset was clearly illustrated to me in a meeting I had yesterday with a Liberal member of Parliament. During the meeting he referred to the relationship between the Canadian government and farmers as a partnership. This is not what Canadian farmers want or expect. This is not a concept Canadians can afford.

The Liberal concept of government so heavily involved with business is not working. Something else has to give. Canadians want government to provide the basic infrastructure that business cannot and the basic social programs and to foster changes which will allow a market economy to work well, nothing more.

Mr. Albert Friedberg, author of Friedberg's Commodity and Currency , agrees that government involvement in the Canadian economy is stunting economic growth. He stated: ``The major problem is the rising size of the state and in the economy that chases an enormous amount of capital away''.

If the government is afraid of making substantial government cuts, take a look at Alberta's current situation. Changes in Alberta did not happen because Ralph Klein and his Conservatives wanted them so desperately. They occurred because Albertans were pushing for these changes. Klein's government recognized that in order to get elected again it would have to make substantial cuts. The people forced their wishes on the Alberta government.

The Klein government would not have been elected in Alberta if it had not promised substantial government cuts. The Liberals will not be re-elected if they do not make substantial spending cuts.

The Alberta experience has demonstrated this move is not only a move that is good for Canadians and is good for the country, but it is also good for the government politically. Recent polls in Alberta verify that Albertans strongly support the Klein government because of tough spending cuts it has made. I certainly have heard this loud and clear in my constituency.

I know the Prime Minister feels that his great political savvy can accomplish almost anything on its own, but I believe the Prime Minister and the Liberal cabinet could learn a lot from Alberta in a political sense.

Alberta is poised to reap the benefits in terms of jobs and in terms of a buoyant economy which will lead it and Canada economically in the future. Alberta's unemployment rate instead of rising during these times of cuts is actually dropping. Its economic growth rate is expected to increase by a full 2 per cent for a projected rate of 5.3 per cent which will lead the country.

Agriculture March 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary question for the minister.

Canadian grain farmers have been demanding for years that the wheat board be democratized and that the board monopoly be brought to an end.

In a recent poll only 29 per cent of grain farmers want the wheat board to remain the sole marketer of barley to the United States.

When will the government stop resisting farmers' requests for more choices in marketing their barley and hold a plebiscite on this issue?

Agriculture March 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister of agriculture.

Many Canadian farmers say they would like to choose between marketing their product through the Canadian Wheat Board, other grain companies or directly with buyers in the United States or other countries.

What steps is the minister taking to give farmers the choice they want and allow farmers and others to compete with the Canadian Wheat Board?

Canadian Foreign Policy March 15th, 1994

Madam Speaker, the hon. member referred to the input by the people of Canada into this process of developing international affairs policy. The member also referred to Canadians influencing people from other countries through this policy.

Our country has a tremendous debt. Do we have the money to try to influence others outside this country? In my constituency and across the country Canadians have been saying we should spend less on external affairs and on foreign aid in particular. Over the last couple of years polls have shown people across the country believe this.

If we are going to ask Canadians for their opinions in terms of foreign aid, is the hon. member willing to vote the way his constituents tell him to vote and reduce the amount of money Canada spends on foreign aid?

Canadian Foreign Policy March 15th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I have one question for the hon. member.

During the election campaign I heard from people in my constituency, and I think others did across Canada, that Canadians want this country to take care of Canadians first. They said we have to cut down substantially on the amount of money spent on foreign aid. That is what recent polls have shown as well.

I want to know how the member would answer these people when they ask if that is what this government will do.

The Reform Party March 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, charges of racism have been used all too often as a means of attempting to undermine the Reform Party. These allegations of course are completely false and contribute nothing to the daily operations of the House.

These allegations are based on the fact that Reformers speak openly and honestly on issues such as Indian affairs and immigration. The members opposite sometimes seem more concerned about choosing politically correct words in a speech or question than with the actual content.

Members should be able to express themselves without looking over their shoulder for that politically correct watchdog every time they speak. A return to basic values, including respect and consideration regardless of gender, race or religion, is a much needed improvement in the House.

The Budget February 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the member is specifically asking about what level subsidies should be at in terms of grain exports. Talking about grain exports specifically, the level has to be reduced over time. My goal and the goal farmers have told me they would like achieved some time down the road-and I cannot say exactly whether it might be six years or ten years-would be as close to zero as possible.

The Budget February 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate those questions. They are both excellent questions.

In terms of the last question first on whether unemployment insurance will increase or decrease premiums, we are saying that as a self-directed plan the decisions will be made by employers and employees on whether premiums are raised, benefits are reduced, or who in fact is eligible under the plan. It is up to the employers and employees to make the decisions on the plan, as they should, because they are the ones who are funding the plan and we say it should be strictly them funding the plan.

On the question respecting how much the cuts would affect unemployment, I believe the cuts we have laid out may affect unemployment over a very short term. I believe very strongly that as these cuts are made and as Canadians see that the government is finally dealing with its overspending problem, unemployment will be reduced within a year and a half to two years. Economics is not an exact science but that is my belief.