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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was report.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Charlottetown (P.E.I.)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 50% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply February 28th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question. First, the government has followed a balanced approach. It has undertaken a massive $100 billion tax cut. As well, 50% of the surplus has gone to tax cuts and 50% has gone to increased social spending.

The hon. member mentioned B.C. The province just had an election. It had an NDP government for seven years. I assume that government adopted, agreed with and embraced the 12 principles. At the end of the day did the NDP government save B.C.? If it saved B.C. why did the electors almost unanimously throw it out? Either they did not want to be saved or they could see through the principles and knew they were not workable. They did not work in B.C. and they would not work in Canada.

Supply February 28th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak against the motion and urge all members on both sides to vote against it.

The first question on everyone's mind is why. Why would a person be against all the principles of the motion? It talks about full employment; a clean environment; lower taxes; and more money for our cities, health care and post-secondary education. The list goes on.

With all due respect to the mover of the motion, I am against it because I do not think it would work. All the principles are utopian. There are none, with the possible exception of numbers 3 and 12, with which I do not agree.

I will expand on that. We are living in Canada. Whether we like it or not Canada is part of the real world. In governing, whether it be a country like Canada, a province, a city or a business, priorities must be set. Objectives must be determined. We must determine when to undertake activities, on what timetable and how to pay for them. A government cannot do everything. A government cannot please every citizen every day. Governments have tried and they have failed.

As I have said, the principles are all laudable. I agree with most of them. If we were not in the House of Commons I would have thought they were written by Aldous Huxley. The only missing principle is that at the end of each day our mothers should give us a piece of apple pie and a hug.

This is not a perfect world. We have conflicts in Afghanistan. We deal in a competitive international trading arena. We have international interest rates. We have inflation. We have an economy. We have international movements of capital. Most importantly, governments, whether they be federal, provincial or municipal, do not have a bottomless pit of money to fund every conceivable program known to citizens.

One item is missing, and I invite all members who speak to the motion today to address it: How would we pay for all these programs, principles and points, of which there are many? The government must be responsible. We have a duty in the House of Commons to speak and act responsibly. We must clearly enunciate to the Canadian people how we would pay for new programs or enhancements to existing programs. I may be wrong and I stand to be corrected, but it is my understanding that there are only two ways to pay for such programs. First, we could increase taxes. Second, we could cut expenditures to existing programs.

I throw a challenge to all members who speak to the motion: We should not spend the rest of the day talking about its principles. Most of us in the House would probably agree with them except for perhaps number 12. Rather, the debate should be clear, specific and focused. It should state clearly the manner in which the programs would be paid for. I invite my hon. colleagues who support the motion to address the issue.

Point number 8 says we should:

Strengthen Canadian communities, large and small, by reversing the deterioration of our municipalities with stable funding and strategic infrastructure investments.

I support that principle. Since 1993 the government has done a lot with respect to the issue. It has announced at least three and possibly four major infrastructure programs. I agree with the NDP's position that more could be done. We have major issues with respect to urban transportation, water and sewers. They are issues every Canadian citizen and the House should be concerned about. However there is not a bottomless pit of money.

Two points must be made. First, I ask everyone speaking to the motion to figure out what the programs would cost. That is the easy part. With help even I could probably could do it.

Second, and this is much more difficult, in the debate today we must identify to the House where the money would come from. I am repeating myself, but there would be only two sources: raising taxes or cutting programs.

I invite my hon. colleagues to clearly and specifically identify to the House the taxes they would raise. One of the principles calls for a fair tax program. I assume that means lowering taxes. I invite my colleagues in the NDP to clearly and specifically identify the programs that would be cut to finance the programs in their motion. It would not be long before they met themselves coming around the corner.

I will give the House an example. It is easy to say we would raise taxes. Point number 10 of the plan says we would have full employment. All economists if not the vast majority support the principle that there is a correlation between lower taxes and job creation. It is easy as long as we do not have to explain it. I support lower taxes and I support full employment.

I hope my colleagues will accept my invitation to change the whole focus of the debate to two issues: First, how much would the principles cost? Second, how would they be paid for? It is incumbent on us today to have an informed and intelligent debate.

I am totally in favour of point number 7. It says we should:

Enable primary producers and Canadian farm families to compete with foreign subsidies, and reject continental energy and water policies that endanger Canadian control over our natural resources.

I come from a province where the main industry is agriculture. I support point number 7. I believe everyone in the House and in the country supports it. There is no question the government could do more. More should be done. I have met with the Minister of Finance and the minister of agriculture. Their response was that there is not enough money in the treasury to go dollar for dollar with the subsidies granted by the American government and the governments of Europe, mainly France, to their producers. We must do more with what we have.

If any government were to adopt the 12 principles holus-bolus Canada would not be saved. It would be destroyed.

I ask everyone to vote against the motion. The balanced approach being followed by the government is the correct approach. It has responded correctly to the terrorist acts of September 11. It has a sound, prudent and correct financial approach to dealing with the economy of the country. I am pleased with the way it is dealing with the troubled world and the conflict in Afghanistan. I am pleased with the balanced agenda it has set out. I urge everyone to reject the motion.

Education February 19th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize the University of Prince Edward Island for its commitment to literacy.

UPEI along with the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta is currently hosting an electronic lecture series with nine internationally renowned scholars in the field of literacy. Beginning in February UPEI will host three of the nine presentations with speakers from New Zealand and Sweden.

This electronic lecture series will allow people in the literacy sector to benefit from the experience of literacy educators and researchers from across the world. The conference will play an important role in global efforts to understand illiteracy.

I commend the University of Prince Edward Island for its part in the organization of the conference, and applaud all three universities involved for their efforts in furthering international education about this worthy cause.

William Hancox February 4th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the late William James Hancox of Stratford, Prince Edward Island who passed away on December 7 of last year and was posthumously named to the Order of Canada in January of this year.

Mr. Hancox was the former managing director of the Confederation Centre of the Arts. Under his direction this national institution expanded and enhanced its programs, carried out national tours and developed stronger ties with the community.

Along with the late E. Frank Acorn, Mr. Hancox was the founding organizer of two of Prince Edward Island's most popular events: the Gold Cup and Saucer Harness Race, and the Gold Cup Parade.

William Hancox also used his talents for a number of fundraising campaigns and other community organizations. He was in every sense of the word a real community leader, a gentleman and a friend of many.

On behalf of all residents of the district of Hillsborough I extend my respect and praise to William Hancox's family and friends for his remarkable achievements and dedication to community service.

The Budget December 11th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is quite correct. There are a number of initiatives and suggestions in the report of the finance committee. I supported it, signed on to it and agreed to it. The suggestions include the YBE or yearly basic exemption and the reduction or elimination of capital taxes. These are good programs. I will not stand here today and say I do not support them.

However we must take everything in context. Everything cannot be done immediately. There is a certain issue of affordability and balance. The finance minister is dealing with challenging economic times. He must take all Canadians into consideration. He has done an excellent job. The balance is there. The initiatives are in the report. I hope our finance minister and our government will see fit to implement them at some point in the future.

The Budget December 11th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I want to advise the House that I will be sharing my time with the member for Etobicoke--Lakeshore. I congratulate the Minister of Finance on the budget tabled in the House yesterday.

I had the privilege of serving on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance as part of the budget process. The committee had in excess of 70 meetings and we heard from over 500 groups and organizations. I attended many other meetings leading up to yesterday's budget, including at least two caucus consultative meetings and one consultative meeting in my riding of Hillsborough.

The budget is the most important document that the government tables in the House in a given year. It sets out the policies, programs and priorities of the government.

Last Monday I spoke to a Canadian Alliance motion on the budget. At that time I urged the Minister of Finance, first, to allocate sufficient resources to deal with the security of the nation. I am talking about security from an economic sense and from a physical sense.

Second, I urged the Minister of Finance not to go back into a deficit under any circumstances. We had large deficits under previous Conservative governments. Canadians have been there. They have seen the destruction they cause to the economic and social fabric of our nation. One message that resonated from the mouths of Canadians from coast to coast was that the government was to avoid a deficit. That message came out loud and clear during all those hearings.

Third, I spoke about Canadians who told us it was imperative that the government maintain the $100 billion in tax cuts and the $23.4 billion in transfers to the provinces which would be used for health care and child care services. That was agreed to by our Minister of Finance in September 2000. These tax cuts, together with the many interest rate cuts announced by the Governor of the Bank of Canada over the past number of months, would continue to provide the necessary monetary stimulus to lead the country out of the downturn we are presently in.

Fourth, I spoke of confidence. That is an important issue during this downturn. We must have the confidence of consumers, investors and business people. We must have confidence in the financial future and that the minister knows how to deal with the economic downturn we are presently in, that he has a plan, that he is prepared to act and that he will act.

I am pleased and proud that the budget tabled in the House yesterday addressed those four concerns. I am pleased the government would allocate the necessary resources to deal with the issues facing the nation's security. National security is a complex issue and an issue which cannot be solved immediately. The finance minister has dealt with security in all its facets.

Money would be allocated to increase funding for the RCMP, CSIS and other security related departments, as well as for general government emergency preparation. There would be funding for air travel security. There would be $1.6 billion over the next five years for screening of immigrants and refugees. There would be a considerable amount of money, $646 million, allocated to enhance border operations. There would also be an additional sum of money for border infrastructure.

I am pleased our finance minister chose not to lead us back into a deficit. That would have been the easy solution. That would have been the course followed by a weaker government and a weaker minister. However that was not the course followed yesterday.

The expenditure of the assets of future generations is a path that Canadians do not want to walk down. It is a path that the government will not travel. I am pleased that the Minister of Finance has not in any way altered the massive tax cuts initiative he announced in September of last year. I am pleased the $23.4 billion package that was subject to the health care agreement made among the Government of Canada, the 10 provinces and the three territories last September was untouched by the government.

Last, I am pleased that our finance minister has taken a balanced approach from a fiscal and monetary point of view. It conveys a strong message to all Canadians that the government has the finances of the country under control. It is prepared to make tough decisions to govern the nation. It understands the tough economic circumstances of not only this country but every country of the world. It is prepared to act on the circumstances.

The issue of confidence is important in all its facets. Confidence will be shown by business and investors as we go forward from this day onward. That confidence, if seen, would be supported by tax cuts; by increased health care expenditures; by the absence of a deficit; by lower interest rates which are very important; by security spending which is needed; by border enforcement initiatives that would allow goods and services to flow freely across our borders, specifically between Canada and the United States; by support for the innovation agenda; and by a certain level of monetary stimulus into the economy.

We are governing in challenging economic times. Our GDP growth is down and will continue to be down for the short term anyway. The government's revenues are down and unemployment is up slightly.

The government has two instruments at its disposal in dealing with such circumstances. It has the fiscal policy which entails a massive investment of public funding, and some parties in the House want the government to embark upon a massive program of public spending.

The second tool is monetary policy. That is probably more important. We have a good combination of monetary policy with the tax cuts and through the interest rate relief provided to us by the Governor of the Bank of Canada. Whether it was good luck or good management, the $100 billion tax cuts announced by our finance minister last September are coming into play right now. That is the medicine that is needed for this downturn.

On the issue of monetary policy I want to address briefly the effect that the combination of tax reductions and lower interest rate policies would have on the average family. According to the calculations that were in the budget document there would be an approximate $2,200 reduction, assuming a family had a $100,000 mortgage. That is about $1,100 of tax relief. This depends on the circumstances but it is over $3,000 and could be as high as $4,000 in tax relief for that family.

I am pleased that our Minister of Finance has followed the course that he outlined yesterday. He listened to Canadians from coast to coast. He listened to colleagues on both sides of the House. He has drawn up a very positive plan to secure the progress of the nation in a very uncertain world.

Supply December 4th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, in response to the member for Acadie—Bathurst, I admit that there was a problem in the EI rules and regulations and it dealt with the intensity rule.

The rule was changed last year. The people in my province are satisfied with that change. I remind the member for Acadie--Bathurst that for eight straight years we have had reductions in EI premiums, reductions to employees and reductions to employers. As the hon. member for Markham has indicated, it results in a net cumulative saving of $6.8 billion to the employees and employers right across Canada.

Supply December 4th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in my speech, the trouble with the motion is that it deals with moving resources from low and falling priorities to other areas. My question, which was simple and straightforward, was, whose priorities are we talking about?

I heard the member for Calgary Southeast speak. I have to assume the member agrees that the priorities being called for in the motion are the priorities of the Canadian Alliance.

My response to the member's question is that these priorities have been rejected by Canadians from coast to coast. They should not be considered by the Minister of Finance.

Second, dealing with the sale of non-core assets, I remind the member that the government went through a very extensive and exhaustive review back in the mid 1990s. Every program, service and asset was reviewed. As the member for Markham has already indicated, the size of the government is less than it was in 1993. Assets were privatized and assets were sold. What non-core assets are we talking about? I suggest they are the non-core assets as determined by the Canadian Alliance which is the reason I am speaking against the motion.

Supply December 4th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak against the motion. Like the hon. member for Markham, I find the content of the motion of the official opposition to be somewhat interesting.

The first position calls for moving resources “from low and falling priorities”. My question to the House is straightforward, strikes to the very heart of why I am opposed to the motion and is why I want everyone to reject the motion. My question is simple: Whose priorities are we talking about? Since the motion was tabled by the member for Calgary Southeast and seconded by the member for Edmonton--Strathcona, I assume we are talking about the priorities of the Canadian Alliance Party.

If the motion were to be accepted here today, here is a sample of some of the priorities, some of the programs, that would be headed for the chopping block: our government's programs to assist all aboriginal Canadians; many of the initiatives recently announced by the Minister of the Environment; many of the programs tabled to assist low income families; programs to increase the economic growth and economic diversification of our regions; programs to increase R and D spending by businesses and the application by businesses to innovation; and yes, programs that assist rural Canadians. These are only a sample of the programs that may be of low priority for the Canadian Alliance Party and would be at risk if the motion were allowed to pass.

My response, Mr. Speaker, is to assure you that unquestionably these issues are high priorities for the government, high priorities for the people in my riding, high priorities in the province I come from and high priorities for Canadians from coast to coast.

Regarding the statement in the motion calling for the sale of “non-core assets”, I want to remind the House that in the mid-1990s the government went through an extensive and exhaustive program to review and rationalize government services and programs. This was necessitated by the policies and mismanagement of the previous Conservative government. What was and is left are the core programs, core assets and core services that are required by all Canadians. Under the leadership of our Prime Minister and our Minister of Finance, the government has done an excellent job of managing the finances of the country.

If we forget the mistakes of the past, we are bound to repeat them. The mistakes I am talking about are the fiscal and economic policies that were practised prior to this government being elected in 1993. At that time, as everyone in this House is aware, the annual deficit was reaching $42 billion. Unemployment was approximately 11%. Our debt to GDP ratio was 73% and interest rates were substantially higher than they are today.

Over the past seven or eight years, all Canadians from coast to coast have benefited from the policies, the programs and the tough decisions made by the government. We have now, as everyone is aware, had three years of consecutive surpluses, $35 billion has been paid toward our debt, unemployment has been reduced to approximately 7% and our debt to GDP ratio, if we accept recently reported figures in the media, is now less than 50%.

As has been said here today, there is no question that we are in an economic slowdown. This slowdown started as early as May of this year. Not only is it being experienced here in Canada, but throughout the world. We must be mindful that we will always be subject to the business cycle. We can no more stop the business cycle than we can stop the tides from coming in and going out, but because of the sound policies of the government our economic and financial fundamentals are strong. Because of the strength of our economic fundamentals, we are in a much better position to deal with the economic slowdown.

What the country needs now, and I am talking about consumers, businesses and investors, is confidence, the confidence that the government has a plan, is prepared to act and will act. The market rejects uncertainty and punishes governments that convey the message they do not know what to do under the circumstances or do know what to do but are not prepared to do it.

If there has been any time in the history of our country when we needed a steady hand on the throttle, that time is now. To retain and enhance the level of confidence that is now needed, I urge the finance minister to of course reject the motion and stay the course that he is on right now; deal with the security issues that have to be dealt with; try to avoid a deficit; provide all Canadians with the level of security that is required; retain the consistency that the minister has shown in the past eight years in pursuing sound fiscal and monetary policies; keep spending under control; and, as he has done since being appointed to the ministry, let prudence be his guide.

In the strongest of terms, I urge the Minister of Finance to disregard the wording of the motion, to disregard the policies and programs of the Canadian Alliance Party and to continue on the very same path he is on right now.

Specifically, I urge the Minister of Finance to allocate sufficient funds to be used for the security of our nation. I am talking about security in a physical and economic sense. Second, I urge the minister to provide funding so as to enable the government to properly manage the country's borders so that these borders are secure while at the same time allowing for the free flow of goods and services.

I urge the Minister of Finance to continue the $100 billion in tax cuts announced last year. These tax cuts, coupled with the interest rate reductions announced by the Governor of the Bank of Canada, will provide the necessary fiscal stimulus to get us over the slowdown.

I urge the Minister of Finance to continue with the increased health care funding that he also announced last year. This is the number one issue on the minds of all Canadians and it must be continued.

I urge the Minister of Finance to continue with the innovation agenda of the government. I realize that some programs may have to be postponed, given current circumstances. Nevertheless, the message has to be conveyed that these initiatives are still very high on the agenda of the government.

In closing, let me say that the motion contains policies of the Canadian Alliance that have been rejected many times by the people of this country. I urge, in the strongest of terms, the Minister of Finance and everyone in the House to reject the motion.

Broadcasting Act November 28th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill S-7. I support the passage of the bill. During the first debate on October 19 the House debated the wording of Bill S-7 which would amend the Broadcasting Act to allow the CRTC to award costs with respect to broadcasting proceedings.

We have learned that sections 56 and 57 of the current Telecommunications Act already authorize the CRTC to award various costs to organizations and individuals who take part in telecommunications proceedings.

This unfortunately is not the case for Canadian interveners who wish to contribute to other democratic processes, namely broadcasting proceedings. It is about time the CRTC and the Canadian broadcasting system enjoyed the same prerogatives and guaranteed access to all interveners who wish to take part in the process.

It is essential to remind the House that the principles of justice and balanced legislative powers for all Canadians which underlie Bill S-7 are fully supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage. Harmonizing the two acts would not only allow Canadian consumers and interest groups to present relevant research and significant elements to the CRTC. It would give Canadians the opportunity to be represented and, most important, to be heard by the commission when it makes broadcasting decisions that affect all Canadians directly.

As members have already heard this is not a new issue. A number of public interest groups such as the Consumers' Association of Canada and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre have on many occasions raised the issue of the imbalance between the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act.

It is important to draw to the attention of the House the fact that Canadians have the impression there is a striking contrast between the almost boundless financial resources of large media companies and the limited resources of individuals and public interest groups.

Such a situation must not be tolerated in a democratic society. It is completely logical to encourage all Canadians to take part in CRTC decisions since the broadcasting system makes use of public resources. Clearly neither the CRTC nor Canadians benefit from the inability of interveners to present well documented briefs.

If adopted, Bill S-7 would allow individuals and public interest groups that are or could be directly affected by the results of broadcasting proceedings to apply for costs to help them participate in the proceedings in a meaningful way.

Another reality that must be kept in mind when considering the need to pass Bill S-7 is the increasing convergence of telecommunications and broadcasting. This is an ever present communications phenomenon and a key element of the issue being considered by the House. Convergence of technologies and the information highway are erasing the differences between telecommunications and broadcasting.

The industries were once quite separate. When the CRTC held public hearings on new media the inequity of the current acts ensured the commission awarded costs only to interveners involved in the telecommunications aspect. As technologies became more integrated and differences between the communications industries became more blurred it grew increasingly difficult to evaluate the contribution of interventions in terms of their relevance to telecommunications as opposed to broadcasting.

During hearings at the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications the CRTC spoke in favour of harmonizing the rules with respect to awarding intervener costs. It indicated it was prepared to make the required changes through a public hearing.

Defining the criteria for a system to award costs for broadcasting will not be an easy task for the CRTC. There are many differences between the proceedings for these two industries. Telecommunications proceedings focus essentially on rate structures while broadcasting proceedings usually deal with a wide variety of issues. The latter occur much more frequently and involve many more participants, for example, radio and television stations, pay and specialized services, cable TV, satellite services, wireless systems and networks. These proceedings often involve political and social issues.

If Bill S-7 is passed, the challenge facing the CRTC will be to determine the eligibility criteria for awarding costs.

In conclusion I wish to mention once again that the Department of Canadian Heritage supports the underlying principles of Bill S-7, given the well-founded notion of giving equitable financial support to interveners, the growing convergence of telecommunications and broadcasting, and the increasing complexity of broadcasting issues.

If passed, Bill S-7 will amend the Broadcasting Act to the advantage of Canadians and the public interest, not only in the short term but in the years to come, by allowing complete and useful participation in the broadcasting decision making process.