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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was opposition.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Conservative MP for Moose Jaw—Lake Centre—Lanigan (Saskatchewan)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 71% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Equalization Program March 9th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week the finance minister declared that he had delivered $710 million to the province of Saskatchewan. What the finance minister fails to understand is that this was not his money to deliver. This was not the government's money to deliver. This money belonged to the people of Saskatchewan. Simply put, the failure of the government to eliminate the clawback provisions on non-renewable natural resources is a betrayal to the people of Saskatchewan.

Will the minister stand today, stop betraying the people of Saskatchewan and commit to the elimination of the clawback provision?

The Budget March 8th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question of the hon. member. It may be a little off topic from what he was just speaking of, but being an Atlantic Canadian he may be in a unique position to answer the question. Frankly, I would like to ask several members of the party opposite the same question. It deals with equalization.

I have seen no mention of equalization in the budget, but coming from Atlantic Canada the member opposite would have an opinion, I suppose. We from Saskatchewan have been arguing that Saskatchewan should receive the same deal that was offered to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador with respect to the elimination of the clawback provisions for non-renewable natural resources.

We see no evidence of any mention of this in the budget, but quite clearly this could be one of the biggest financial benefits to Saskatchewan that we have seen in decades. We have calculated that if Saskatchewan had received the same deal that is now afforded Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, my province, would have received over $4 billion in additional revenues over the last decade.

I wonder if the member opposite could comment on whether or not he believes that the same formula, the same deal afforded Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, should be afforded Saskatchewan.

Let me finish by saying that I know the Minister of Finance has said there is an independent panel being set up to establish and discuss the possibility of a new equalization formula, but my point is that regardless of whether the formula comes into effect, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia were given a separate deal prior to any new formula coming into place. Is that the same sort of situation the member would see for Saskatchewan?

Supply February 22nd, 2005

Madam Speaker, the short answer to a long question is that no performance audits are being done. How can one truly ensure that the money is being well spent without performance audits? I am quite sure that in certain instances the money is being very well spent on very worthwhile projects and institutions but we do not have any performance audits.

We have already heard some examples of where money was, in our opinion, in my opinion and in the opinion of others in the House, very inappropriately spent.

To have a blanket statement saying that all money spent by these foundations is done so in a very worthwhile manner, I cannot agree with that. We need performance audits to determine that.

Supply February 22nd, 2005

Madam Speaker, I believe the member opposite said that I believe all but two of the foundations are subject to outside audits. All I am suggesting is that the government follow through with the Auditor General's recommendations. Why are these foundations not subject to the Auditor General's audit? It is a simple question.

The hon. member said that the Auditor General cannot do them all. I must point out that in the last election campaign the Conservative Party was the only party, I believe, that said we would increase the level of funding for the Auditor General's department to allow her and her department to hire more staff to go into all departments, agencies and foundations like this. Why do we not spend more money where it should be spent, in the Auditor General's department to allow her and her staff to audit all of these foundations?

Supply February 22nd, 2005

Madam Speaker, if I may clarify, I was referring to what my constituents were telling me. If I have misspoken and called the government corrupt, then I unreservedly withdraw that comment. My constituents were telling me that they believed that there was corruption in this government with particular emphasis on the ad scam program.

I am not suggesting that the foundations are another ad scam, but there are earmarks and some very striking similarities to the problems that occurred within the sponsorship program. There is no real accountability to taxpayers. These foundations were set up at arm's-length to the government. They are not attached to any minister and do not report directly to any minister.

That is a grave concern and we have heard that said many times by other speakers in the House today. The government does not have any authority over many of these foundations unless a foundation does not act within its mandate or within its funding agreement. Other than that, the government cannot hold these foundations accountable. Any foundation that receives taxpayers' dollars should not work that way.

Parliament has been around for hundreds of years, and one of its basic premises is to ensure that taxpayers' dollars are protected. When voters across this country elect members of Parliament, they do so trusting in their parliamentarians to protect their hard earned dollars. The way the foundation system is structured today does nothing of that. It does not protect taxpayers' dollars. It does not ensure that taxpayers' dollars are appropriately spent because there is no accountability back to Parliament.

I recall during the last campaign when the Prime Minister was speaking of the sponsorship scandal he said that he was mad as hell and would get to the bottom of it. He would ensure nothing like that occurred again. He spoke of things like government transparency and accountability. What I find most amazing is the fact that the very person uttering those words was the finance minister at the time when the foundations were established.

How can the Prime Minister on one hand say that he is outraged at what happened with the sponsorship scandal, and yet on the other hand he was the very finance minister who approved setting up these foundations which could result in very similar actions with respect to the sponsorship scandal that we are all outraged about?

My colleague from Edmonton--St. Albert made several references to grants given to individuals or organizations through foundations that appeared to have direct connections to high officials within the Liberal Party and Liberal supporters. That is eerily similar to what happened with the sponsorship scandal. These types of things must be stopped.

Canadians across this great land distrust governments in general. One of the reasons they lack trust in politicians and government is because of situations like this. They see their hard earned dollars being turned over to a foundation that has no responsibility to report back to the Parliament of the day. They feel that parliamentarians are not protecting their dollars.

We must resolve this. We need to have parliamentary oversight. Parliament needs to have more direct control over these foundations and their spending, or lack of it. It is wrong for Parliament to turn over $9 billion to a series of 17 foundations and tell them they can do what they wish with the money, that they will not be audited by the Auditor General, that they will not have to report back to any minister of the Crown regarding spending, and that they can determine how this money should be spent with no interference from the government. That is wrong.

A private business could never be run with that lack of accountability and yet the government has decided to put over $9 billion into foundations and ask Canadians to basically trust it and trust the foundations. Taxpayers are not being told how the money is being spent. No performance audits are being done. The Auditor General will be prevented from auditing these foundations and the taxpayers are being asked to trust the government.

We now find out that over $7.7 billion have been left in the foundations and have been sitting there unreported for many years. To my understanding, the government of the day when it transferred money considered this but put this down on its books as an expense item. It is not an expense because the $7.7 billion is still sitting there. It was a transfer of funds.

A couple of things come to mind, which have been mentioned before but bears repeating. When the government was projecting modest surpluses, the reality was that there was a far larger surplus. The money sitting in these foundations, which was not spent, could have been used by the government for a variety of other purposes but, more important, had Canadians known about this money they would have been able to express their desire for what to do with this additional money.

To put things in a term of reference with which I am familiar, $7.7 billion is larger than the provincial budget of my home province of Saskatchewan. We have $7.7 billion sitting in a foundation or a series of foundations with no parliamentary oversight and no control by the government as to how that money will and could be spent.

I honestly hope that those who administer and control these foundations and who make the decisions on where the money should be spent, such as grants to universities, hospitals or other worthy projects, are working on behalf of Canadian taxpayers. However we do not know that. We must ensure that there are proper accountability practices put in place to protect Canadian taxpayers.

My fear is that if this is left unchecked there is a possibility that the money could be used strictly for political purposes. Some of the members opposite groan and moan. My colleague from Edmonton—St. Albert has already pointed out a number of examples of where some of this money went to firms that seemed to have direct Liberal connections.

What would stop that from happening? Where is the accountability? We thought the sponsorship scandal could never happen. There are laws against that too, if I am not mistaken. It seems that laws were broken with respect to sponsorship. Could they not have the same effect here?

The Auditor General has made a series of recommendations on how to clean this up. All we are asking is that the government listen to the Auditor General and follow through with her recommendations.

Supply February 22nd, 2005

Madam Speaker, during the last election campaign, I heard time and again from people in my riding that if they were to send me to Ottawa, they wanted to ensure when I got to Ottawa that I would do a couple of very important things. They wanted me to ensure that I would protect taxpayers' dollars, that the government would be accountable to the taxpayers, and that I would stop, as best as I could, government corruption and government waste.

The particular situation we have here today, when we are speaking of these foundations, is all that is wrong in government. The concern that my riding constituents expressed to me about their fears that this government is wasting taxpayers' dollars, that this government is corrupt, and they gave specific examples of things like ad scam--

Civil Marriage Act February 21st, 2005

Madam Speaker, I must inform the House that it is a bit of a surprise for me to be speaking tonight. I was going to present my observations and views on this very important subject a little later in the month, but I have been asked to speak tonight. For those who may think that we have a party policy of vetting speeches, I can assure hon. members that is not quite correct. I will be speaking from the heart as I normally do in these situations. Since I am somewhat unprepared, I hope to structure my thoughts in such a manner that it makes some sense and I hope we can have a good dialogue.

I honestly agree with the approach taken in this important debate by all the speakers before me and hopefully the speakers after. All members of the House are conducting themselves in a respectful manner. If there has been no other subject debated in the House over the past two decades, this subject demands and deserves the respect of all Canadians and all parliamentarians. This is far too important an issue for anyone to make it into a political football. We have to speak our beliefs. We have to speak from our hearts. We have to speak to the issue at hand and some of the approaches that we have seen taken by the government.

I am disappointed in the approach the government has taken. I believe the government is abdicating its moral responsibility to speak to the issue from a moral and a personal standpoint. I believe that the government is hiding behind the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I am not suggesting for a moment that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is something to be ashamed of or something to be stricken from the Canadian Constitution or the Canadian mindset. I believe in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; however, I do not believe that anyone should hide behind it as an excuse to bring down legislation. I think that is exactly what is happening in this case.

We have a number of examples. Hansard records that a number of people from across the House have spoken to this issue in years past. There are comments on record from the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister. Both have stated without equivocation that they would support the traditional definition of marriage.

What has changed in the years since they made those statements? Have they had a change of heart? Have they come to see the light? Have they been persuaded by someone else's compelling argument that they should change their point of view? I see no evidence of that whatsoever. What I see is the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and many other hon. members stating, “We have in effect no choice. Our hands are tied. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms dictates that we must do this. The Supreme Court has ruled that we must do that”.

That is reprehensible. I have a great deal of respect for all of the members in the House. I see one hon. member across the floor who has been an eloquent speaker advocating the rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry, and advocating the proper development of his belief that same sex marriage is something that should not only be accepted within Canadian standards, but also be promoted.

I have a lot of respect for a member like that because he is speaking from his heart for what he believes are his values. While I might disagree with the hon. member, I cannot help but respect his point of view, and I will respect his point of view. What I will not respect is any member in the House who stands and says, “We have no choice. Our hands are tied”, to give an implication to Canadians that the member does not really believe in this but he or she cannot do anything about it. That is disingenuous at best and I have no respect for members opposite who take that approach.

Let us talk about the charter. Let us talk about legalities. Let us talk about human rights. The government is stating that it must take this course of action, that it must introduce this legislation because the charter states that it must.

We all know the story. We know the four questions that were given to the Supreme Court for its consideration. This was the first step in the government's master plan for its members to abdicate their responsibilities as parliamentarians to turn the question over to the Supreme Court. They hoped the court would rule accordingly, in their view, to further hamstring the government and to state unequivocally that they must bring down this legislation.

There was one slight problem, one little bump in the road. That was question number four. The Supreme Court did not rule on the final question, whether or not the traditional definition of marriage was unconstitutional. That assembly, that august body of law makers--I should not say law makers because too many people tend to think that the Supreme Court makes the laws. It does not. No judge does. The court interprets and administers. Parliamentarians make the law.

The first problem was that the government decided to turn this entire question over to the Supreme Court. Much to its surprise, question number four came back from the Supreme Court. The court said that it would not rule on whether or not the traditional definition of marriage was unconstitutional. It left it for parliamentarians to decide. That might be the first hint that the government was off track, yet even though the Supreme Court ruled as it did on that question, the government still refuses to admit that this body should have been the body to determine the question of definition of marriage.

The Supreme Court also said a couple of other things. It said it is constitutionally correct, that we cannot rule against same sex marriages and that would be a constitutional provision. One could probably interpret by consequence that the traditional definition of marriage would be unconstitutional, but the court did not rule that.

My point is that there is room for honest and reasonable debate. I believe there is room for some interpretation not only of the Supreme Court's ruling but of the charter. We have heard from many speakers before me that other international bodies made decisions. I think it was the Doha resolution which stated that marriage is not a human right. Some may disagree with that, but if it was a human right, then as many speakers before me have stated, there would be countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands and others that would be viewed perhaps as human rights violators. I do not think that was the intent of any charter or any discussion concerning human rights. I do not think that those countries should be considered violators of human rights.

What we have here is a situation where we have to determine what is right and reasonable, legally, constitutionally and morally. I firmly believe that the approach taken by the Conservative Party of Canada addresses all of those issues in a manner with which obviously not all Canadians, but most Canadians would be happy.

I firmly believe that all Canadians should receive the same benefits in terms of equality when it comes to things like benefits and privileges. We have brought forward a compromise. The moderate position we have taken is to suggest that while we support the traditional definition of marriage, all the ancillary benefits and privileges that go with marriage should be afforded to same sex couples. Same sex couple should not be penalized. Survivor benefits and pension benefits should be given to same sex couples who choose to live together and spend their lives together in a loving and caring relationship.

What we are suggesting, however, is that this could be accommodated in forms of civil unions or other relationships such as those that are protected by law. The benefits and privileges of those individuals are protected by law, but not under the definition of marriage.

I know this is difficult for many members to appreciate and to understand. As a member opposite pointed out very eloquently on several occasions, to him and his partner marriage is something they feel strongly about. They want to be considered in the definition of law to be married.

I have to tell the House where I am coming from and how I was brought up. To me marriage is a religious ceremony. Marriage is, has been and always will be a religious act. I was married in a church. I believe that all married couples that I know at least feel strongly about the sanctity of marriage and the ability to swear their vows to their loved ones in a church.

While we talk about civil marriage, the opponents of our position and the proponents of same sex marriage say that this will not affect religious marriage because it is civil marriage.

To me marriage is a religious act. That is just my feeling. To me it is a very personal, a very heartfelt, and a very moral approach that I take to this equation. To me marriage and religion go hand in hand. For those who do not agree with that position, I respect their opinion, but I cannot agree with it.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Equalization Program February 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, last Friday several Conservative MPs, myself included, met with Premier Lorne Calvert and other political leaders from Saskatchewan.

During that meeting we were all united in calling for the elimination of oil and gas revenues from the equalization formula, but the government, and the finance minister continue to ignore and betray the people of Saskatchewan.

Would the Minister of Finance stand today, do what is right and fair, and commit to ending the non-renewable resources in the equalization program?

Equalization Program February 14th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I feel that we should start calling this hon. member the Maytag member because he tends to spin the truth more than my washing machine.

The truth of the matter is that in Saskatchewan the only elected official who is not demanding the same deal as was afforded Premiers Hamm and Williams is the Minister of Finance. That is shameful.

Will the minister or his designate stand in the House today and do what is right, do what is fair, and simply commit to the elimination of the clawback provisions and give Saskatchewan people the same deal as afforded to Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia?

Equalization Program February 14th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance is not being up front with the people of Saskatchewan with respect to the clawback of oil and gas revenues for the province.

Had Saskatchewan received the same equalization deal as Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, it would have received over $4 billion in additional revenue over the past decade. Last year alone this government clawed back $223 million from the province. That money does not belong to the government. That money belongs to the people of Saskatchewan.

Will the minister or his designate stand today and commit to the elimination of the clawback provision for Saskatchewan?