House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Mississauga South (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Pre-Budget Consultations February 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the $100,000 lifetime capital gain exemption was introduced two Parliaments ago by the previous government. It was sold to Canadians on the basis that it was going to stimulate investment and job creation in Canada. I think that Canadians embraced those principles as being honourable.

However, the government in its implementation made two fundamental errors in that exemption. First of all, it did not establish a V-day value for investments and so allowed investments which were already made and had holding capital gains on them which were eligible for that exemption. It forewent the opportunity to direct this exemption to new investment.

Second, the government did not specify or restrict the nature of investments that could be made under this program. As such, investments even such as Florida vacation properties became eligible for that exemption. Under the circumstances I think the hon. member would agree that this particular exemption, although honourable in its roots, was very poorly implemented. The optics are very bad to the Canadian taxpayers and the dollars that the government is foregoing by permitting that exemption would be much better spent by investing in job creation initiatives.

Pre-Budget Consultations February 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Yukon for her kind words of congratulations.

I do not think I can do justice to her question in the brief moments that we have here but let me comment with regard to at least the concept of no new taxes vis-à-vis corporations, offshore companies and family trusts.

The concepts of fairness and equity would say that government has to revisit all of the provisions. There are no more sacred cows. To the extent that businesses are indeed draining capital or sheltering business income through offshore instruments, this government, if it is to be true to its value system of fairness and equity in our tax system, must investigate, analyse and work toward reasonable solutions to ensure that the income derived from Canadian soil is invested to the greatest amount in Canadian opportunities.

Pre-Budget Consultations February 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, on the occasion of my first speech to the House of Commons in the 35th Parliament of Canada let me first express my sincere gratitude to the residents of my riding of Mississauga South. I am honoured to represent their interests in Ottawa and to serve their needs.

I also wish to thank my wife Linda, and my children Aaron, Reagan and Whitney. All members of Parliament know the great personal sacrifice that our families have made so that we can pursue our goals. In this, the International Year of the Family, we say to you: "We miss you, we love you and we thank you".

We also thank the Prime Minister for his vote of confidence and the historic decision to allow all members to speak freely and openly on important issues such as this pre-budget debate.

Canadians are well aware of the complex and troubling problems we face today such as chronic deficits, high unemployment, poor economic performance and the lack of credibility of government.

In 20 years of corporate life and as a chartered accountant I learned quickly that for every complex problem there is a simple solution, and it is wrong. To focus solely on deficit reduction is too simplistic. We need a balanced approach to fiscal and monetary policy to promote economic growth and job creation. This, coupled with expenditure rationalization, will lead to deficit reduction.

Financial performance can be improved in two ways: increasing revenues or decreasing expenses. On the revenue side, tax increases are not an option in this budget. Canadians are already over-taxed. Alternatively, we need to broaden the tax base by expanding the economy.

On the expense side, cutting and slashing to lower the deficit would be destructive. Moreover it does not take into account the value of an integrated expenditure plan which can create synergies and opportunities in support of economic growth.

Government must redefine its philosophy on expenditures, viewing them not as spending but rather as investing in people, programs and assets. We are investment managers of the taxpayers' funds, and when we invest, not only must we set returns and performance requirements but we must also become accountable to the people of Canada. When these returns and performance requirements are not being achieved government has a duty to take corrective action.

Annually the Auditor General has reported on countless examples of waste and mismanagement. We must respond to these reports and demonstrate that we have learned from our mistakes.

Our social programs were initially designed to provide a social safety net for those in most need. Although the system served Canada well in the past, we must overhaul and renew these programs to fit the realities of the 1990s and into the 21st century.

We must simplify our tax system and restore equity and fairness both in the personal and the corporate sectors. We must streamline government operations at all levels to improve productivity and efficiency. We must provide incentives for new investments, particularly in small and medium sized businesses to create lasting jobs for Canadians.

For every one dollar investment in Canada the multiplier effect is five times in terms of the contribution to our economy. This creates new jobs and a broader tax base which is essential to the meaningful reduction of the deficit.

At this point I would like to make a few specific suggestions for budget consideration. We must aggressively deal with the underground economy to ensure that more are paying their share so that all are paying less. With an estimated 20 per cent of our economy underground the government has a duty to conduct more network audits and to introduce more comprehensive

forensic auditing techniques to address this most serious problem.

In regard to RRSPs, contribution limits should be set at levels that will allow all Canadians who are not members of pension plans to adequately provide for their retirement income. These levels should be comparable to those afforded to members of registered pension plans.

With regard to the $100,000 lifetime capital gains exemption, it has not met its objectives of stimulating investment in Canada. The exemption should be discontinued and the savings be reinvested in job creation initiatives.

Old age security for our seniors should not be affected by this budget. The present tax law already claws back a portion of the benefit where the taxpayer has other income. The Prime Minister told seniors during the election campaign that old age security was a dividend, recognizing their lifetime of contribution as taxpayers and we should honour that position.

The rising level of foreign-owned debt is draining capital out of Canada. As such, consideration should be given to incentives for Canadians to invest in our country, such as tax exempt bonds.

On unemployment insurance, benefits should be paid only to those Canadians who are unemployed and looking for work.

The current practice of paying benefits where there is only a disruption of earnings should be reviewed and a threshold of earnings should be considered as a basis for increasing the rate of clawback on these social benefits.

On immigration, the federal government must enforce its immigration sponsorship agreements where the sponsor is able to meet their obligation. In 1993 the region of Peel alone had some 11,000 welfare claims from immigrants who were already covered by a sponsorship agreement. Thirty-eight per cent of those agreements broke down in the first year, rising to 62 per cent before the end of the second year of the 10-year sponsorship. In addition, 59 per cent of those sponsors were children sponsoring their families. In a large number of cases they did not have the financial ability to do so.

The rise in defaults has been dramatic and the burden is falling squarely on the shoulders of the Canadian taxpayer. Fiscal responsibility requires that we must address this situation.

On health care, the federal government contributes 24 per cent of the cost through transfer payments to the provinces and, as such, should ensure that the funds are being appropriately spent. However, Ontario has over two million unauthorized health cards in circulation, costing that province as much as $900 million per year in fraudulent claims.

Although this is under provincial jurisdiction, there is only one taxpayer and this type of savings opportunity cannot be ignored.

With regard to economic growth, new partnerships must be built with the business sector which will be responsible for the creation of 85 per cent of all new jobs. That means that the government must provide meaningful incentives, such as job creation tax credits, training subsidies, UIC premium exemptions and wage subsidies as its partnership contribution.

We must also provide a supportive environment by streamlining government services and creating one stop shopping for those services, especially as it relates to small and medium sized businesses and to export opportunities.

In conclusion, the pursuit of economic growth coupled with sound financial management and wise investing will allow us to deal effectively with the challenges before us. To quote from the government red book, a strong economy is the essence of a strong society and therefore jobs and economic growth must be our top objectives.

Political credibility requires fiscal responsibility. The people of Canada have given this government the mandate to make the tough decisions necessary to restore our economic strength and to create opportunity, hope and jobs for all.

Canadians also understand that all who are able will be called upon to contribute their fair share. We need a tough but fair budget. We need it now for the long term benefit of all Canadians.

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member on his first speech. I know this is a productive House that we are working in.

I want to make the general comment that continued cruise missile testing in Canada will contribute neither to the prevention of nuclear war nor to the further limitation of nuclear arsenals. Those were the reasons why this agreement was renewed in February 1993 by the previous government. In fact, this continued testing will instead serve only to undermine Canada's nuclear non-proliferation efforts.

Under our present policy for nuclear proliferation, the Canadian government supports negative security assurances which means that we have international commitments not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states.

On December 16, 1993 this government, of which I am a member, reaffirmed its support for negative security assurances when it voted to support the UN General Assembly resolution 4873.

Would the member care to consider whether or not this agreement, which in fact is a 10-year agreement and requires 12 months notice to cancel, should continue to be supported given the developments over the last few years? Ten years seems to be an inordinate amount of time for this government to have an agreement. Would the member consider amending this agreement or shortening its terms by direction of this House now?

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to read for the hon. member for Beaver River an argument the defence minister of the day made in April 1993 in a letter to Project Ploughshares. As an extract it states:

If collective security is to work. . ..the international community must have effective. . ..military means at its disposal in order to dissuade potential aggressors and, should the use of force be necessary, to ensure that it is effective and that the risks to allied military personnel are minimal. Over the past three years, our support for collective security has taken Canadian forces personnel into harm's way. It is likely that they will continue to be deployed in dangerous situations which cannot always be predicted in advance and, due to the spread of sophisticated weaponry, our personnel will continue to be at risk as they try to prevent war or restore peace to unstable parts of the world-.Given these circumstances, the renewal of the Canada-United States Test and Evaluation Agreement serves Canadian interests. Cruise missile testing, part of our long-standing tradition of defence co-operation with the United States, is a contribution that Canada can make towards ensuring that the international community has at its disposal the military means to support collective security. Testing in Canada provides a unique set of conditions and will help to ensure that these weapons are effective and reliable.

I suggest to the member that this is an extraordinary statement which clearly implied that the Canadian government was willing to envisage the possible use or at least the threat of use of nuclear weapons against states that in most cases do not even possess nuclear weapons. This would be a blatant contradiction of Canada's official nuclear non-proliferation policy which includes support for negative security assurances, that is, international commitments not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states.

I wonder if the member for Beaver River would care to comment on that position.