House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was debate.

Last in Parliament September 2018, as Conservative MP for York—Simcoe (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 50% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Justice October 25th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, it seems that as drug crime is on the rise, grow ops and crystal meth spread, and gun murders escalate, the government has lost any ability to keep our streets and communities safe.

The Toronto Board of Health is supporting the Liberal government's direction to encourage drug use. The board is now proposing to hand out crack pipes and potentially set up municipally run crack houses. Residents are understandably upset at this proposal to promote the drug culture in their neighbourhoods.

How does the government propose to respond? Or will it be the same response as on gun crimes: stand dithering on the sidelines?

Justice October 24th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about the government's legislation. Police tell us that much of this violent crime in Toronto is related to a growing drug culture, yet this government is still advancing legislation to decriminalize the use and some production of marijuana. A Liberal senator has even called for legalization of hard drugs.

Is it any wonder that criminal activity is rising when this Liberal government tells young Canadians that drug use is okay? Parents already have enough challenges trying to raise children without this government telling their youngsters that drug use is all right. Will the minister commit to withdrawing his reckless and dangerous plan to decriminalize the drug use that is fuelling the escalation in violent crime today?

Justice October 24th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend three young people were brutally murdered in the Toronto area. The citizens of the city are feeling increasingly fearful and helpless. In one incident, a drive-by shooting, stray bullets flew. We are lucky that this time innocent bystanders escaped injury or death.

According to one resident, “this place is like a shooting gallery”. He is right. This weekend's gunfire brings Toronto's murder toll for the year to 64. Forty-four of those deaths were from gun crime, a record number. Toronto is on pace for a 400% increase in gun deaths since 1998.

Why has this government done nothing for years as violent crime grew out of control?

Lake Simcoe September 30th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the environment of Lake Simcoe is a precious jewel treasured by the residents of York--Simcoe, but its ecosystem is fragile and we need to work hard to protect it.

Local residents are doing their part, including reducing or eliminating the use of fertilizers and pesticides that run off to harm the lake, and disposing of toxic liquids through proper depots.

Local organizations, such as Rescue Lake Simcoe, The Wave, Alliance for a Better Georgina and others, are working to raise awareness and educate people on how to protect the lake.

Local governments are doing their share, investing in expanded water treatment and improved storm water management, but the federal Liberal government is missing in action.

For 12 years we have been waiting for action to prevent the introduction of invasive species that harm the delicate ecosystem of the lake, but we still do not have mandatory rules.

Lake Simcoe needs access to the same environmental funding available to the other lakes in the Great Lakes basin, but the Liberals will not make it available.

The residents of York--Simcoe are working to protect Lake Simcoe's environment for the benefit of generations to come. It is time the federal government stepped up to do its part.

Gasoline Prices September 26th, 2005

Madam Speaker, for working families in the riding of York—Simcoe the rising gas prices pose very real challenges. If we think of some of the communities there, Keswick, Alcona, Bradford, Holland Landing, Mount Albert, many people travel great distances to work every day and they have to depend on the automobile. If we think of the rural parts of that constituency, the farmers who rely on gas for their input, the people who have to transport goods, cattle and so on, there is a real impact and it is hurting their lives. Typically those families, the husband and wife both travelling and commuting to work, are budgeted tight. They are trying hard to get ahead, pay the mortgage, make a brighter life for their families, and they cannot accommodate this unexpected giant jump in gas prices. It is a big part of their budget and they cannot afford it.

There are no public transit alternatives open to most of them and thanks to the NDP-Liberal budget deal, there will not be, because in that NDP-Liberal budget deal the transit money was based on ridership. Toronto, where the riders already are and the infrastructure is, got all the money. York region or Simcoe County, where the population is growing and they need the public transit investment, got shortchanged because the formula was skewed against them getting the public transit money.

When we talk about, as the Liberal member before me did, having money from the excise tax for the municipalities, if the rising prices go up and consumption goes down, we know that portion of the revenue that is available for municipalities will actually go down as well. The municipalities will lose out as well from the higher gas prices.

It is hurting families, it is hurting municipalities, it is hurting everyone, but we do not hear any answers from the government on the simple things it could do. We have a tax on a tax. It is the excise tax that has the GST charged on top of it. There is an excise tax on gasoline and then the government charges GST on the tax. It would be as if we sent in our property tax and we had to add on 7% for the federal government, or if when we filled out our income tax and we had to send in $12,000 to the government and then we had to add another 7%, another chunk of money, close to $1,000, just for the GST on our income tax. That is an offensive form of double taxation. The government could do something about it. I would like to hear from the member what he intends to do about it as part of that government.

There is a temporary excise tax that was introduced to deal with the deficit. The deficit was wiped out years ago. That temporary tax was introduced in 1995. It has not been removed. That, too, is an offensive form of taxation on gasoline that could be wiped out.

The fact is that the government is addicted to taxes and any solution that involves reducing taxes is one it rejects.

The Liberal member for Mississauga South just spoke. His concern about tax is to think of all the money the government would lose. That is how the government thinks about taxes, not as money coming from constituents, but as money that goes to the government. It does not realize that people work hard to earn that money.

Finally, we need to see some real competition in the industry. I would like to hear the proposals from the government. It has had a decade to work on that. It has not delivered any solutions. We need to see real solutions for the constituents in York--Simcoe, such as wiping out the tax on the tax and eliminating the temporary excise tax that should have been eliminated years ago and seeing some real competition. I have yet to hear that. I would like to hear that now, a commitment from the government to do those things.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments June 20th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to do that. What is being done through Bill C-48 and the associated transit funding, which is supposed to be to help the environment, is it is being directed on the basis of where there is public transit already, not where there is growth, not where we need to create transit systems and not where the investment is required. It is being done on the basis of where the transit is already.

It is unbelievably paradoxical. If the purpose of government is to bring about constructive change, to help society to adapt, if we want to encourage more people to take transit, one would think that is where the investment would be put.

The concern is that sprawl is a bad thing. We want to encourage compact, urban form and development. We want to get people out of their cars and onto public transit. Where do we send the money? Not to the places where we are trying to change behaviour, but to the places where people already are riding the transit.

It is unthinkable and it is staggering. As a policy, it is utterly and completely bankrupt. It will not bring about any change whatsoever. In fact it will reinforce exactly the existing disparities in transit between the city of Toronto and all the surrounding 905 areas.

The critics and those in the Liberal government will continue to look glibly toward those who are not riding the transit which does not exist because their governments cannot afford it. Why? Because the taxpayers in that 905 area, where the member for Mississauga South is from, are forced to pay enormous taxes to the federal government. Their average family income has been falling from 2003. In that time the taxes have gone up 16% and average family income has dropped. They are being asked to pay those tax dollars yet they are not getting any money back for investment in their transit system. We are trying to make changes and they are trying to build transit.

From a perspective of anybody who is serious about changing the urban form of our communities and cities, the government is doing the investment backwards. It is particularly ironic when we consider that at the provincial level, policies have been brought in place through greenbelt legislation and otherwise which are designed to do exactly the reverse of that in order to try to put a halt to sprawl and development and to try to encourage greater transit usage. Yet the dollars that are flowing from the federal government will not do that.

To me and to anybody who is an observer of what is needed to make our cities and communities more liveable and to help the economic growth and development of that economic engine of the greater Toronto area, we see a government policy that is perverse, distorted and that will not help to achieve its results.

On the gas tax, fortunately the right thing is happening. The money is being distributed in a fair and equitable way. It is something we have called for on this side of the House for a long time. It has been three and a half years since the Prime Minister first announced he would make it happen. Finally it is beginning to happen. Is there anybody in the House who thinks that if we were not in a minority government, money would be flowing right now? I will bet there is nobody because things like child care were promised 12 years ago--

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments June 20th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I thank the previous speaker for his kind words about me as a former president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. It is a good starting point for what I want to talk about, which is the stark choice that the bill gives to the people of Canada. It clearly illuminates for them, as responsible Canadians, the difference between the Liberal-NDP alliance and the Conservative Party.

In the Liberal-NDP alliance we see out of control spending. We see the elimination through this bill of any hope of any tax relief. We also see a track record of corruption and phony promises from a Prime Minister who is essentially one who likes to make phony promises.

From the Conservative Party, we see a party that is on the side of hard-working families, where fiscal responsibility counts, where we want to pay down the debt and where we want to see real results, not phony promises. We are trying to create hope for those families who are trying to achieve their dreams.

Responsible Canadians want a party that will stand up for their interests, not the interests of big governments, big bureaucrats and big programs, but for the interests of hard-working, law-abiding, tax paying, ordinary families.

The Liberal-NDP alliance has produced a budget that is not on the side of ordinary hard-working Canadians but is on the side of big government. This $4.6 billion budget is part of a larger package of spending released in three weeks after April 21 of $26 billion in promises designed to keep the government in office for another few months.

What does that mean for the typical family of four in my constituency? It means $3,030. That is what they are being asked to pay to prop up the government through this budget. Even before this proposal came along, government spending was out of control. It was going up at a rate of 10% a year on the program side. Can anyone name any constituent who will tell us he or she is getting 10% more back from the government every year for his or her tax dollars? No one in my constituency is telling me that when I am in my constituency on the weekend. They are telling me that they cannot survive because the government is taking every penny and they cannot afford any more.

This is a bill where we talk about trying to work on issues such as housing and education. Let us think about what $3,030 could do in the pockets of a family to help them pay down their mortgage or pay the rent for a few months. If we really want to help people with housing we give them the money to pay their mortgage or pay their rent. We should not be taking it from them for a big brother government program.

Let us think what it could do for post-secondary education, another alleged priority in the bill. Can any member name one family that would not benefit from being able to set aside $3,030 for their children's education. If we want to see people achieve their dreams and build a brighter future, that is how they will be able to do it. It is not by having a big brother program that takes that $3,030 away from them.

Responsible Canadians know who is on their side in this struggle for the future of this country, for their finances and for their tax dollars that they want to keep.

Let us look at the other things in the bill. Funding for transit is a very good example to look at because the transit funding in the bill is flawed. My constituency of York—Simcoe is a very good example. It is in the greater Toronto area. Many Liberal members here are from the greater Toronto area. I do not hear them speaking up for their constituents for how this bill shortchanges transit in the greater Toronto area. The municipalities of the greater Toronto area, according to the last census, has experienced growth of between 10% and 23% but the city of Toronto has experienced only a 4% growth.

The population in the four regional municipalities around Toronto is greater but they are receiving a small fraction of the transit funding that Toronto already gets. Guess what? The subway transit system is well established in Toronto. Where we are trying to create a new transit system, where we are trying to encourage public transit use and where we are trying to change people's habits, the government is putting forward virtually no money. The money is sent to the wrong places if we really want to change behaviour.

Where is it sent? I guess to the places where people vote reliably Liberal, rather than to where the real interests are for society for the future if we really are serious about improving the environment and if we really are serious about encouraging transit use.

I see the member for Halton here. He represents one of those constituencies in the greater Toronto area that is being shortchanged on transit. I am waiting to hear him stand to speak on behalf of his constituents. I do not imagine it would happen.

Then we see foreign aid, another one of these areas. What do we see? We see dollars that go to China and we see lip service on human rights. It is a perfect illustration of how the government operates: phoney words, phoney promises, no real deeds, no real results.

Hundreds of millions continue to suffer under the tyranny of a government in China that we are propping up with our foreign aid dollars, a major competitor to us economically. We have been told that we are under siege by 1,000 spies. I have heard stories myself from people in business who have been on the receiving end of that industrial economic espionage. However, we are helping to fund it while people who are looking for our support for their human rights and freedom go by undefended with little more than mere lip service.

Responsible Canadians are tired of that phoney, two-faced approach to government. They want to see an approach from a party that is willing to give them real results. Responsible Canadians want real results. Responsible Canadians want a government that will stand up for freedom and human rights around the world, in a principled way, where words are matched by deeds. Is that not what it is all about, matching words with deeds? We do not see that here. What we see are more phoney promises.

We see that even in the original budget. Of all those promises that were made, the great things that were said would happen, only 5% of them were in this budget year. It has not stopped the government from taking credit for all those other things that will not come until subsequent budget years. That is another example of the disingenuousness, the phoney promises, that I think hurt the credibility of politics and government in the country and certainly of the Liberal Party.

We can take a look at some of the things that observers have said about this specific bill. I look at one from the Montreal Gazette . It states:

[The] deal to add $4.6 billion to social spending... have made it clear that those who really pay income tax are now politically powerless...The taxpayers getting soaked this way have no champions or lobbyists.

That is essentially what is going on right now when we talk about those ordinary families, the ones who are being asked to pony up $3,030 each to keep the government in power. They do not have anybody speaking for them in the government, apparently. They do not have organized special interest lobby groups. They are counting on their democratically elected representatives to speak up for them, to help them try and eke out the living, to build a better future, by being able to hang onto those dollars for their education, to pay a mortgage and to buy a house for the first time.

That is what we in the Conservative Party are seeking to do through our position on Bill C-48. That is why we have to put a stop and call to account the government for this irresponsible spending.

Here is another one from a journalist named Bruce Garvey. He is speaking of the Prime Minister. He said, “The man's shamelessness is evident as he ladles out billions in fiscal bribery; as he guts his budget”. That is what this is. It is a gutting of a budget that we were told previously could not be changed one letter, one chip or one jot or it would lead to fiscal destruction.

We had witnesses at the committee, the human resources committee, say that they could not return the $46 billion EI surplus the government stole from workers and employers over the 10 years. They could not return it over 10 years because $4.6 billion taken out of the budget for that purpose, to return it to people who paid it in the first place, would do unspeakable damage to the fiscal situation of the government.

That kind of thing was done on the back of an envelope, in a hotel room, between the leader of the NDP and the Prime Minister in order to put this bill into place. That is what the government's own representatives from the Department of Finance and Human Resources told us was fiscally reckless. We will not stand by and allow that to happen, not if we want to look out for the interest of taxpayers.

Then we can hear from the people who create jobs, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business that said

Never in our worst nightmares could we have envisioned the steady stream of ad hoc multi-billion dollar spending announcements of these past days. Such reckless, and irresponsible pre-election spending is an abrupt departure from the commitment to prudent spending, debt reduction and fiscal control...

That is exactly our concern

We have a government now that is leading us on a path to fiscal destruction. Responsible Canadians want better. Responsible Canadians want to see a government that stands up for them. Responsible Canadians want someone to help them survive, build their dreams and have a few dollars in their pockets. They do not want to pay $3,030 to prop up the government for another half dozen months.

Fisheries Act June 13th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the member for Wellington—Halton Hills has put his finger on something that I know in my past life as a lawyer and in my academic studies in law school we spent a lot of time on. It is the concern about discretion in the administrative process.

By that we mean when we take the power to make decisions away from those who are accountable, meaning Parliament, a provincial legislature or a municipal council, and put that decision making power into the hands of unaccountable bureaucrats and officials and those against whom there is no right to appeal the decisions, those who we do not have a right to see true accountability for the decisions that are made, that is a slippery path.

When society becomes increasingly sophisticated, which, unfortunately, is all too common, it is something that becomes very common when government becomes big.

The government has been growing at a rate of 10% a year. Is it any surprise that as the public service grows and the cost of program spending grows that we see the spread of unaccountable discretion in the process where unaccountable, faceless, nameless bureaucrats make decisions, such as in the area for which I am the critic, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada where every day the lives of thousands of people are affected by decisions made by civil servants acting entirely on their own discretion and applying their own judgments?

What happens is that when the process occurs it is not just inequity and unfairness. It is also an invitation to political interference. We saw that happen in the sponsorship scandal and with the former HRDC scandal because then people could plead their case for special treatment. If they were well connected politically and if they knew the right people, suddenly the special treatment came forward.

When that is all hidden by depositing it at a level beyond the scrutiny of the public, the voters, and it is put in the hands of faceless, nameless officials who do it quietly with a phone call from the minister's office, or in their own discretion and judgment based on their own biases, prejudices or personal appeals, who knows what, then bad things happen.

If we think about the places in the world that have a lot of corruption, countries that we like to think of as banana republics or third world dictatorships, that is what is happening. That is when officials take to themselves the power to make decisions, to give out licences and to impose conditions on licences and in the process extract favours from those who are seeking the licences and permissions.

Anyone who has ever tried to do business in a place like Russia today will say that that is the kind of thing they encounter from officials at every step of the way. Why? It is because those officials have the ability to make decisions in their judgment and with their discretion that affect the livelihoods and day to day well-being and survival of people trying to start businesses or trying to get by, trying to do the things they want to do in a society that they otherwise thought would be free.

It is important that this decision making power not be vested in those who are unaccountable but rather that there remain parliamentary oversight, that there is responsibility, that there is accountability and that when decisions are made people are responsible for them.

We have had countless scandals in the time that the Liberal Party has been in government and yet no minister has ever resigned or taken responsibility. It is always the work of somebody else, some nameless, faceless parallel organization, some officials acting unaccountably.

We had the parliamentary secretary come to us today and say that was a good thing, that was the way things should work and that everyone thinks it is all right for regulations to be made unaccountably and without authority because that is what is needed to make things work.

I do not think that is the way we need to have things to make them work. I think things work best when people are responsible and there is accountability. We do not get that out of this legislation.

Fisheries Act June 13th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, with the way North American waterways work, we do not even need to have that kind of diversion for the species to spread. They can be spread simply through recreational boats that get transported from one lake or waterway to another. They can be spread by those who travel on those boats or through other pleasure craft or other ways of travelling about.

The bigger problem is the fact that those species come from overseas. Once they are here, a small measure like that, while it may be significant, will not be sufficient to protect against the spread of invasive species. They have to be stopped at the most critical and most significant vectors and points of entry. We have had continual evidence from every authority that the major source of the invasive species is the introduction of ballast water from overseas, where the species are indeed genuinely non-native.

The red goby is a perfect example. It was perhaps only introduced on one occasion in one spot in the Great Lakes, yet it has spread all over North America, without water diversion. Water diversion is not necessary. Whatever impact that may have, the spread of invasive species is far more aggressive and far more dangerous than that. That is why we have to look to address it right at the root of the problem with serious, enforceable and mandatory ballast water management rules.

Fisheries Act June 13th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, this is a debate on a bill that is intended to give the government new powers to act in a way that is essentially unaccountable. This is a matter of great concern to us.

The issue that is being addressed is the Ontario freshwater fishery and that is of course a matter of great interest to my constituents in York—Simcoe which surrounds Lake Simcoe. What is interesting is that this issue only came to light and became a serious problem on May 5 of this year.

The government responded immediately with legislation that is quite dramatic and quite draconian to deal with that. Yet, there are other issues that have been affecting the freshwater fishery in Ontario for years and years. The government has had at its disposal the power to act by regulation for years to resolve those issues but it has not done so.

Why is the government so hasty to accumulate unaccountable powers while failing to exercise those very powers already at its disposal that would address the serious problems in the freshwater fishery? By that I mean the impact of alien invasive aquatic species on the aquatic environment and the freshwater fishery, all of which are suffering because the government will not act and exercise those powers that it already has.

A perfect example of that, the very fishery the bill purports to assist, can be found not just in the Great Lakes but in the Great Lakes basin including Lake Simcoe with regard to those invasive species. In fact, the failure of the government to act has become so serious and so drawn out that I have taken the step of submitting a private member's bill to protect our aquatic environment against invasive species named the Canadian ballast water management act.

Invasive species are a problem for the fishery, but they are also a problem for the ecosystem and the balance in the ecosystem in general. Related to both of those things, there are economic problems resulting from both the impact on the fishery and the environment. It is a major problem in the constituency of York--Simcoe, particularly because of the fact that it is a horseshoe around Lake Simcoe.

One can go from communities at one end of the constituency at Port Bolster, through Petrolia, Jackson's Point, Roach Point around to Keswick, over to the other side of Cooks Bay to Lefroy and Bell Ewart and to Alcona, and around Big Bay Point all the way along the shore of Kempenfelt Bay. This is the coastline, including the coastlines of a series of islands as well, that we have on that freshwater fishery of Lake Simcoe and that freshwater resource.

Much has changed with Lake Simcoe and the surrounding watershed since I was a young boy. I remember playing on the farm in the streams flowing into Lake Simcoe and playing at Willow Beach not too far away from where I live. A lot of what has happened in those changes has been the introduction of those invasive species. As I have said, the government could have acted on that front through regulations that are already available to it, but it has failed to do so.

Since the failure of the government to act, we have seen the introduction of numerous invasive species, far too many to list, but the media stars among those invasive species are well known. The zebra mussel and more recently the quagga mussel have made their way into Lake Simcoe and the round goby is right around the edges of the lake including the surrounding waterways such as the Pefferlaw Brook. Those are species which started in the Great Lakes and have spread directly through various vectors into Lake Simcoe.

Those invasive species upset the balance of the ecosystem. Because they are not native to the area, they do not have any natural predators. That allows them in many cases to be extraordinarily successful in their competition for resources with native species. In fact, in some cases they are predators on those native species. As a result of that competition and predation, the introduction of the non-native species can effectively squeeze out the native species that have been part of that ecosystem, in some cases for tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of years, and alter it forever.

Where does a lot of it come from? The primary source, authorities agree, is through the ballast water of ocean going vessels that will end up in the Caspian Sea or the Black Sea, in freshwater ports or brackish water ports and they will take on ballast water there. In the process of taking on ballast water they will take on numerous aquatic life, whether it be animal, plant or other kinds of lower forms of life.

Those life forms can survive a trip across the ocean. When those vessels arrive in our shores, in the Great Lakes and elsewhere, and ballast water is discharged, they get introduced into that environment. There is the potential to regulate and act on this, but in Canada our rules on that remain only voluntary.

I know that the Liberal government likes to pretend that the track record of the government is good on the environment, but the fact is we fall far short of what even the Americans do. There are not too many members on that side of the House who hold out that the Americans are a sound example of environmental leadership.

On the issue of invasive species and on so many other issues, in fact, the American regulations and rules are stricter than those we have in Canada. Canada is failing the environment under this government.

On aquatic invasive species, not only do the Americans already have stricter ballast water rules, there is currently legislation in front of the U.S. senate and the house of representatives to provide for even stricter and more advanced regulations. All along this government dithers and fails to act.

I ask why in that context is it suddenly seeking to acquire other new powers that are unaccountable and in many cases extraordinary, involving discretion that could be exercised by officials and by the minister? Yet it will not exercise ones to address problems that we really know about, that are right there today.

What is the history? It is a problem that has been raised. It has been known as a serious problem since 1986 when the zebra mussel first arrived. It has been raised regularly by the International Joint Commission and by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission since 1988. When they put out a joint report in 1988, that is when we first began to see real action take place. Those two commissions called upon the United States and Canada to act.

The then Conservative government, in retrospect, had a very well earned reputation on the environment. In fact, a recent report done by a group of Canadian environmentalists rated that Conservative government, from 1984 to 1993, as the most environmentally protective and progressive government in Canada's history.

That Conservative government acted on that issue and introduced almost immediately, less than a year later in 1989, the first voluntary ballast water management guidelines in the world. It was unprecedented. That is what we call leadership and it was leadership on the environment. Guess what? That was the end of leadership because it was not too long before there was a change of government and we have seen for the past 12 years no action since that 1989 initiative.

As I said, in the interim, the Americans acted in 1990 with legislation, in 1996 with legislation, and now they have mandatory enforceable ballast water regulations, but in Canada there is no action.

That is why we need to have changes brought in. That is why I have submitted a private member's bill that hopefully will address that. However, the government could act right now. It does not have to wait for that bill to become law. It has the powers right now through the regulations in which it is failing to act even as it is seeking another new power grab for regulations.

I mentioned that the International Joint Commission, which governs the Great Lakes and the boundary waters between the United States and Canada, was the first to call for ballast water guidelines. It has called for it repeatedly, it should be added, and so has the environmental commissioner. The government has the power to act but has not.

If I look at the environmental commissioner's report of 2002, what did the commissioner find? The commissioner found that the federal government was ill-prepared to counter the threat of invasive aquatic species despite its commitments. There was no federal policy, no recognition in the department, and no plan to coordinate federal action to counter the environmental economic and social impacts of invasive species. The government was doing little to prevent the arrival of additional invasive species. It has a record of inaction.

When we talk about Liberals in action, it really means Liberal inaction. That is what we have seen for 12 years.

In 2002 the environmental commissioner repeated her call:

The federal government has not responded effectively to invasive species that threaten Canada's ecosystems, habitats, and other species. It has not identified the invasive species with the greatest potential to become established in Canada's ecosystems--

Nor has it determined the pathways by which they arrive, said the commissioner. The government has had that call made again and again. In fact, I believe the fisheries committee has just once again reported on the failure of the government to act on this and has again called on the government to act, but it still has not happened.

The environment is crucially important. Our ecosystems are crucially important yet we are not seeing them given the priority they need. Instead, the government is looking for new ways to penalize, in effect, the rights of those who seek to enjoy that environment, who seek to enjoy the fisheries. It is doing that rather than worrying about protecting the fisheries to make sure they are actually there for the long term, to make sure there is something to regulate. I know of course that it is the government's preference to regulate and penalize rather than actually preserve the resource and make sure it is there, but that is what it should be doing.

Let us take the example of the round goby. It is one of these invasive species. It is one of those species native to the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. Now it has arrived in North America and has spread throughout the Great Lakes and the waterways.

The round goby is a highly adaptive invasive species and very aggressive. It increases in numbers very quickly and spreads geographically very quickly. It will compete for food and for habitat with the native species, in particular, in Lake Simcoe, species like the perch, the smallmouth bass and the walleye. It will actually prey upon the eggs and the young of those other native species and further enhance the competition and squeeze them out.

Unlike a lot of the native species, it will spawn not once a season but several times per season. Of particular import is the fact that it thrives in bad or poor quality water. It can survive in those harsh conditions. At a time when the environment is in decline because of the failure of the government to act, and in a whole bunch of ways, that creates even more opportunities for the spread of these invasive species.

We have seen it now on the shores of Lake Simcoe in the creeks leading right up to its edge. It will soon be there. In fact, there was a derby this weekend that was under a special scientific permit, a goby derby, whereby folks were encouraged to actually go out and fish to see if they could capture them, the hope of course being that they would not find them. Unfortunately, many were captured in the surrounding waterways. Fortunately, there were not any in the lake yet but that is perhaps only a matter of time.

As we know, in Lake Simcoe the fishery is important, but it is based on the environment. The environment is important for the people there because there are thousands who draw their drinking water from Lake Simcoe. There are thousands for whom it represents their recreational playground and their very own backyard, figuratively but in many cases even literally. It plays a role in recreational fishing during the summers and ice fishing for recreation in the winters, but more important than those economic reasons and those reasons that are anthropomorphic or important for people is the fundamental importance of the environment, the balance in the ecosystem that has to be maintained.

As these invasive species multiply and begin to take up the room that has been previously enjoyed and lived in by the native species, we also risk seeing a biodiversity loss. It is not just a question of balance. There is actually the very real risk of the loss of species, forever changing what we have seen and what we have enjoyed in that local environment.

When I look at a bill like this one that is being put forward by the government, I can only say this. Why the dithering for a decade on the things that really matter yet the instant action on the things that, from my perspective, look more like they were designed to protect the rights of bureaucrats to act unaccountably rather than to actually protect the environment?

For years and years this government has been asked to act by every credible environmental organization, by non-partisan organizations, by the International Joint Commission, by the environmental commissioner, by Parliament and by the House of Commons fisheries committee. It has failed to take any steps to do so. The government races off within days or weeks to address other issues while the issue of aquatic invasive species continues to languish.

I cannot understand this failure to take into account the importance of our environment. I cannot understand the deliberate and wilful ignorance and the damage being done to our environment.

For me and for my constituents, the priorities are clear. My constituents want to see a real commitment to protecting that local ecosystem in Lake Simcoe and to ensuring that it is treated as part of that Great Lakes basin.

That is another issue. There has been funding to worry about the environment of the Great Lakes, but for some reason the government has failed to apply that same kind of funding to Lake Simcoe even though it is at the centre of the Great Lakes basin. Even though those are waters that are part of the watershed and discharge into the Great Lakes and represent a very significant source that is at environmental risk, the money is not there.

That is a decision made by this government. It treats Lake Simcoe differently. It ignores the fact that it is a critical part of that Great Lakes water basin. The government ignores the potential it represents. Properly husbanded it is a positive asset, but also, if allowed to deteriorate and decline any further, it has the potential to destabilize and damage the health of the rest of the Great Lakes into which it flows.

I look at the record of the government on the issue of the freshwater fishery and the state of the health of the Great Lakes basin, in particular that of Lake Simcoe, and I look only with sadness.

I encourage the government to respond to the private member's bill I put forward as quickly as it has responded to this particular issue in the freshwater fishery and to actually do something after a decade of dithering to exercise the powers that are already there to protect our freshwater lakes from further damage by the regular introduction of new invasive species.