House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was liberal.

Last in Parliament August 2016, as Conservative MP for Calgary Heritage (Alberta)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 64% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Speech From The Throne January 20th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question and for his congratulations. I have known the hon. member for some time and it is a delight to be able to sit with him in this Chamber.

Of course there was not time in my speech to address all of the concerns that the hon. member would like me to address. If in future the rules of the House are altered so that I can speak at greater length, I would be delighted to do so.

The member raises the question of small and medium sized business and their access to capital. My supporters, particularly my association, are predominantly people who work in small and medium sized business and they voted for our party I suspect precisely because they share our concerns.

I would suggest to the government that certainly there are problems with access to capital in the banking sector. However, I would suggest that what the government should do before it starts figuring out how to run the banks and how to run small and medium sized businesses and all kinds of other institutions that it run itself so that small and medium sized businesses have access to capital.

According to the projections of the Minister of Finance, in this financial year we will be borrowing up to $45 billion in the financial markets. Certainly some of this money, if not a large part of it, would be available to small and medium sized businesses if the government would undertake the credible program of deficit reduction that is being advanced through our subamendment. If we do not do that, it would be ridiculous to try to alter the rules of the banking system if the capital itself is being tied up by the Government of Canada which is more than absorbing our domestic savings. That is all in the book his own government has put out.

I would suggest that the way to deal with the problem of capital access for small and medium sized businesses-and the message from the people in my constituency-is to deal first with releasing those funds through deficit reduction and only then should we deal with the problems in other institutional arrangements.

Speech From The Throne January 20th, 1994

Madam Speaker, this is my first opportunity to address the House at length. I am sure you are getting tired of hearing that but two-thirds of us are new members. Many of us who have been here in the past are in new roles, as are you. I congratulate you on your appointment to that role.

At the beginning of these new roles or the beginning of our careers we have the opportunity to think longer term about the problems of our country than perhaps parliamentarians have done in the past.

Many people in my constituency have built successful careers, homes and families by thinking longer term in their affairs. Now they have taken a brave step this time in electing a new MP from a new political party to represent them for the next four or five years.

I want to take a moment to say I am greatly honoured by that election. It is an overwhelming honour and I plan to do my best to fulfil their expectations. We certainly know what happens when you forget who sent you here. The Prime Minister alluded to that yesterday. I hope that I and this Parliament do not let the people of Canada down, as I feel the last Parliament did.

In my particular case I was elected from an urban riding, a riding entirely within the city of Calgary that has 100,000 people. It is in the western suburbs of Calgary. We have a large military base. We have two post-secondary institutions.

In spite of that, my riding and our city reflect largely a private sector character. We do not have a federal or provincial government. We are one of the larger cities that does not.

Of course we have experienced the ups and downs that Alberta has had in the past decade largely through and because of our dependence on the oil industry. In spite of that there is a broadening of our industry in Calgary historically from agriculture to energy, now to services. This broadening reflects our entrepreneurial spirit in the west, in Alberta and in Calgary in particular.

This growth in the view of most Calgarians, I think I am safe to say, has been not so much with the help of government as in spite of it and in spite of the federal government in particular.

I was a newcomer to Alberta when a distant government imposed policies that brought an end to the boom times that brought me to Alberta to begin with. Of course I am referring to the national energy program. No Canadian can live through an experience like that without it influencing greatly his or her thinking about government and about our country. In spite of that thinking and in spite of the drain the federal government has often imposed on Albertans, Albertans have never wavered in their patriotism or in their optimism about the future.

Today the federal government presents not hopes but obstacles to economic recovery. The obstacles are most clearly represented by the national debt and the deficits adding to it which we are experiencing and have experienced in the past number of years. I am not going to recount the statistics. I am an economist and that would be economics and that is a dangerous

combination. Let me talk instead about what these numbers mean.

In the election campaign my colleagues and I in the Reform Party argued strongly about the need to understand the long-term link between fiscal mismanagement and economic recession and decline. We argued against the view that we should create jobs rather than fix the financial problem, not because we oppose creating jobs but because these are not conflicting objectives. They are the same objective.

Countries like companies or households that mismanage their financial affairs do not create jobs. They destroy them. Households, businesses, families and governments that mismanage their affairs do not fulfil dreams. Those who mismanage their affairs watch their dreams slowly slip away.

Many of my generation, young professionals, the backbone of the future of Canada, have left Canada, are leaving Canada or are thinking of leaving Canada because they fear the high taxes and the declining services that this mismanagement has brought about and may worsen in the future.

Let me not preach from the Reform Party policy manual. Let me quote the government itself. For members who have not read it, Canada's Economic Challenges contains a very good summary of our economic and financial situation. It lays out better than I could all the relevant numbers on the deficit and debt and the impact on our economy, such as the fact that it absorbs our domestic savings, increases our foreign indebtedness, worsening our current account, lowering national income, our potential growth, reducing our fiscal flexibility, threatening our social programs, increasing our tax burden, raising real interest costs and decreasing our competitiveness. It is all there.

Those are not short-term problems. They are not caused by the recession. A short spurt in growth or activity will not resolve them. The chapter is illustrated with dozens of statistics.

Why then would the same government that released this book also release the throne speech this week and turn its attention instead to spending priorities and in particular to the much ballyhooed infrastructure program. That is a $6 billion commitment, $2 billion sought from this Parliament to kick start the Canadian economy, as if it is possible to do such a thing as kick-start an economy.

On reading the briefing notes for the program it will be noticed there are no fewer than four program objectives and nine related criteria. There are in fact lots of objectives. There are no clear priorities. None of these objectives is new to the program spending that parliaments have passed before. We are therefore led to ask why the government believes that another $2 billion would kick start an economy in a way the first $160 billion of spending this year has been unable to do.

Let us be clear about the magnitudes involved. In the case of Alberta we are talking about $88 million against an economy of $70 billion and an infrastructure investment of at least $1 billion a year. These are hardly kick start kinds of numbers. That is the magnitude and context of the program.

I do not want to quarrel with infrastructure as a priority or even a higher priority than it has been in the past. What I want to do is simply suggest that it will not fulfil the objectives stated by the government and the raised expectations of consumers, taxpayers and investors. It is short-term thinking about jobs and activities that has long-term consequences in terms of employment and output and that has been the past generation as we have seen it.

I ask members, especially government members, to give strong consideration to this before they cast their votes on this matter and on the legislative program that will flow from the throne speech. Members opposite will be held responsible by the public for the performance of the Canadian economy in the next four years.

Possibly the infrastructure program will deliver some short-term benefits and some short-term visibility. But in the long term, by the next election-that at least we will talk about as our long term-the infrastructure program will long be passed and we will be stuck with the bills for it.

I suggest that until the government has contemplated a way to credibly finance these things and to fit these within the $153 billion spending cap that we suggest it should re-examine these priorities.

I ask government members to give strong consideration to this aspect of fiscal discipline, the subamendment we propose, to support and vote for it and to include it in the speech from the throne. On that basis we would be building a more successful government program, not just from our standpoint but also for the potential of their own re-election in four years.

Infrastructure Program January 19th, 1994

I have a supplementary question, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the minister for his clarification. Obviously this was a case of a political announcement occurring before this House was consulted and before criteria were publicly known. It creates the impression that we have another pork-barrel program. What action is the minister going to take to ensure that this type of situation does not occur in the future and what precisely did he do about the fact that the announcement was as ill timed as it was?

Infrastructure Program January 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for the infrastructure program.

At the beginning of this month the government announced the program's first project, a convention centre in Quebec City. Since then many Canadians have wondered how this project was approved prior to the government's announcement on the criteria for qualification.

I would like the minister to explain to this House by what criteria and by what process the project in Quebec City was approved.

Members Of Parliament January 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in response to the Reform caucus report on parliamentary pay, perks and pensions, the government has advanced a plan to reduce certain benefits on Parliament Hill. The Gagliano report is a commendable first step that will save the taxpayers of Canada some significant dollars and will be supported on this side of the House.

However there are significant actions that still must be taken. Let me indicate two. Each member of Parliament continues to receive a tax-free, non-receiptable expense allowance starting at $21,300 a year. This must be reformed. Also taxpayers are insisting on real, comprehensive reform to MPs' and senators' pensions, not tinkering.

Canadians are demanding reductions to taxpayers' contributions that are at least $10 million in excess per year by private sector standards and a benefit structure that has created actuarial liabilities of nearly $200 million.

The taxpayers will be watching and we will be watching.