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  • His favourite word is conference.

Liberal MP for Malpeque (P.E.I.)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 62% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Department Of Public Works And Government Services Act October 18th, 1994

I rise on a point of order, Madam Speaker. I would wish that my vote be applied in the reverse to what it was on the amendment to Bill C-49, in other words with the government.

Department Of Public Works And Government Services Act October 18th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I just want to be sure that this vote is opposite to the report stage motion, or is it the same as the report stage motion and not the recorded amendment?

Department Of Agriculture Act October 17th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have moved this amendment to Bill C-49 because I believe there is a need for direct accountability by the line department to the House of Commons and MPs by legislation. I do not believe that guidelines established under another act, in this case the Financial Administration Act, are enough. There must be direct responsibility from the line department itself.

There is involved here the principle of accountability and the principle that departments know they are directly, via legislation, responsible and accountable to MPs in the Chamber, not only in some roundabout way through the minister of a department, then to the minister of another department which may be Treasury Board, and then to the House. That is not a direct line of accountability.

When questioned by myself before the standing committee on agriculture Mr. Loken, special adviser to the assistant deputy minister, policy branch, had the following to say:

The estimates are governed by specific Treasury Board guidelines, not legislation, that each department has to adhere to in deciding exactly what goes into the main estimates.

As I have indicated, I believe guidelines are not enough because guidelines can be changed easily. There has to be direct responsibility from the line department.

Another problem with the procedure is that without presenting an annual report the focus is on the estimates. Estimates are an intent to spend. I have seen it happen this year before the standing committee in terms of the estimates, part III. The report of the past spending of the department is there, but as members we tend to focus on where the future expenditures are to be. As a result there has not been enough discussion on the actual expenditures as compared to previous estimates.

As a former farm leader I have extensively used annual reports of departments and of agencies of departments. It is a good way for people in the community to find out what is going on, to see the structure of the department and basically to understand how things work. They were accessible.

People in the community relate to annual reports more so than estimates. As a result of that experience they ask for and receive annual reports and therefore can get into discussions on recommended changes in terms of policy surrounding the department based on the annual report.

There were one or two arguments put to the committee when it was dealing with the issue. The recommendation by the department to remove annual reports was based on the premise that they cost money and were irrelevant. If annual reports are irrelevant it is because we in the Chamber do not make them relevant. I believe we should make them so.

The other point put forward was that the information was already contained in the estimates, part III. I agree with that point to an extent. The department has argued that if they are in part III the department will be saved money by not requiring annual reports.

My amendment will not cost the department or the treasury of Canada any more money. My amendment ensures by legislation that the department through the minister is directly responsible to the House. The estimates now established in guidelines will be tabled before members of the House so that we can assume our responsibilities as good members of Parliament and ensure the departments we are in charge of administering in a roundabout way are accountable and responsible directly through us to the people of the country.

The purpose of my amendment to this clause is to ensure the line department is directly responsible to members of the House as a result. It should not cost any more money. It can be accomplished through the estimates in that way but it includes in this way the principle of direct accountability to the House.

Department Of Agriculture Act October 17th, 1994


Motion No. 1

That Bill C-49, in clause 7, be amended by replacing line 19, on page 2, with the following:

"before it are replaced by the following:


  1. The minister shall cause to be prepared a report showing the operation of the department for every fiscal year and shall include it with the Estimates for the Department for the second fiscal year following the fiscal year covered by the report, when the Estimates are laid before Parliament".

Department Of Agriculture Act October 17th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order, of which I believe you are aware, to draw to your attention a matter which has prevented an amendment to Bill C-49 from appearing on today's Order Paper as it should have.

According to the rules of the House it was required that if an amendment to Bill C-49 was to have appeared on today's Order Paper, thus giving all members the appropriate advance knowledge of the amendment, the amendment was to have been delivered to the Journals branch no later than 2 p.m. on October 7, the last sitting day of the House.

On Thursday, October 13, my office was notified that the amendment I had submitted on time would not be appearing on the Order Paper for today due to the fact that it was not received by the Journals branch until Tuesday, October 11.

Realizing an error had been made, my office contacted the messenger service to seek verification of the time the amendment was picked up and delivered to the Journals branch. According to the messenger service-and I can table that as evidence if you require it, Mr. Speaker-our amendment was picked up by messenger at 10.26 a.m. on Friday, October 7, and was in fact delivered at 10.55 a.m.

I believe I complied as best I could with the conditions set out in the rules to ensure an amendment is provided to the Journals branch within the prescribed timeframe. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I would respectfully request that given the unusual situation I have found myself in, you would consider accepting the amendment put forward as having met the requirements of the rules and that the House proceed with debating the amendment to Bill C-49 as if it had in fact appeared on today's Order Paper.

Canada Grain Act October 4th, 1994

My apologies, Madam Speaker. I believe the figures by the hon. member are correct. Members opposite often talk about user pay on that side of the House. Canadian society as a whole gains from many of these institutions, the Canadian Grain Commission, some of our inspection standards in the meat and horticultural industries as well. I do not believe producers should pay the full shot.

To the member opposite, in terms of farmers having a say in the Canadian Grain Commission, they do through their primary producers as well as through the Canadian Wheat Board Advisory Committee which is an elected body in 11 districts in western Canada. They advise the wheat board, they should advise and I am certain they do, at least the ones I talk to, advise the minister in all matters related to grain including this issue in terms of grades, standards and regulatory controls.

There is input at the moment through the Canadian Wheat Board Advisory Committee and through members elected in this House directly to the minister who is responsible for the Canadian Grain Commission.

Canada Grain Act October 4th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I did have some figures. I believe you are correct, Mr. Hoeppner, in the figure you indicate in terms of how much-

Canada Grain Act October 4th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak on Bill C-51, amendments to the Canada Grain Act.

It is important at the beginning to put into perspective the role that the Canadian Grain Commission has played in terms of Canada being seen as the reliable supplier of high quality grains in the world.

The combination of the Canadian Wheat Board as the single desk selling agency for export wheat and barley and the quality control and inspection system and watchdog capacity of the Canadian Grain Commission has worked extremely well in Canada's interests and in the interests of Canada's primary grain producers.

The key selling point for grains out of Canada in the international marketplace has been certainly our quality control system. Millers around the world know that when they buy Canadian wheat they are going to get high quality grains that they can blend in with other countries' products and still have a reasonable quality of bread.

The Americans, on the other hand, the system that some of our colleagues in this House on the other side want to emulate, are looked upon by the world as a residual supplier of grain. They are used in terms of setting the price worldwide but they are a residual supplier, a supplier of last resort because they do not have the quality control system that we have in this country that is made possible because of some of the regulations of the Canadian Grain Commission that we have in this country.

This bill's objective is to maintain that support for quality grades and inspection. However, we have to be constantly aware

of the danger in terms of our legislative processes of knuckling under to those who believe that cost cutting should be all that matters.

The principal concern of the federal government on this issue of inspection and quality control are two elements key to the security of our export markets, quality and inspection.

When appearing before the agricultural committee, Dennis Wallace, executive director of the commission made the following comment: "We are looking at streamlining, weighing and inspection that will move at the pace the industry sets and our comfort that we can sustain the standard of quality in the process. In our view quality has not been affected by the steps we have taken to this point". That is an important point.

We must ensure on this side of the House and as the government that we maintain those standards that have been so true and beneficial to the Canadian grain industry.

I had hoped that I would have time to indicate to the House some of the dangers within the system because several of the groups that have come before the Standing Committee on Agriculture, the Public Service Alliance of Canada for one, outlined some of the problems that have happened at Thunder Bay. They provide a good example of the dangers that can happen to quality control in the grain system if we do not have a strong, dedicated agency like the Canadian Grain Commission with strong regulations behind it to protect the interests of producers and the interests of the grain industry.

I do not have time to quote that evidence but I would refer members of the House to the April 26, 1994 submission of the Public Service Alliance outlining some of the dangers of quality control.

We must ensure as a government that the security of a regulatory and inspection system is maintained, that the future of either downsizing or efforts to promote competitiveness do not result in a loss of our competitive position which is based upon production and exports of the highest quality standards of grain in the world.

There has been a lot of talk by members on both sides of this House on the questions regarding clause 14. Under clause 14 the Canadian Grain Commission will no longer be required to set maximum tariffs charged by grain elevators.

This is a point that, to be honest, is open to question for me. We will certainly have an interesting debate at the agricultural committee on this point. There are a number of questions that need to be raised.

I do not believe for a moment that we can depend on the co-operative movement or the pools to protect producers' interests. I have been involved in that industry out west for a number of years and the co-operative movement, the pools, when they are making decisions in the kind of international arena we now face have to weigh in their own minds whether they are making a decision in terms of their corporate business interests and the bottom line as a corporation or making a decision in their membership's interests as a co-operative. Therefore, I believe there need to be some government safeguards in terms of protecting primary producers' interests, and certainly we will debate that at committee level.

Other questions need to be raised. Some clarification is needed of the ombudsman like role the commission will perform. Under what circumstances will it be able to intervene, what powers will the commission have to act upon complaints, and under what authority? Under what circumstances will the commission be able to set maximum tariffs by regulation if needed?

An important point in the bill and one I strongly support is that if there is a danger there the Canadian Grain Commission can step in and impose maximum tariffs if the grain industries, the companies or the trade is abusing the system set in place.

I raise those points because I think this is the place, the House of Commons, in this arena and at the committee level, for good, strong, informed debate on the facts so that we can come up with better decisions in the end.

I recognize that my time is getting short. I have heard from members opposite talking about competition. We have to look at that infrastructure in western Canada where the Canadian Grain Commission operates and recognize that more and more in those small community towns with elevators that there is less and less competition between grain companies.

Grain companies are now consolidating their system. Because you are going to gain a lower tariff rate at one elevator does not necessarily mean that you are going to haul to that elevator because it may be 50 or 100 miles away and you would lose all you had saved or more by hauling that distance.

We have to be very careful in making these decisions to ensure the kind of international arena we are entering into, the kind of consolidation that is happening, especially in western Canada, and the impact that may have on primary producers if there is not a very strong Canadian Grain Commission in place to protect the interests of primary producers and the interests of the country in terms of the grains we sell.

Let me conclude by saying that the Canadian Wheat Board and the Canadian Grain Commission have served this country well in the past. I believe they can in the future. I look forward to maintaining those kinds of standards and see that Canada remains the kind of reliable supplier of grains that we have been in the past.

Income Tax Act October 3rd, 1994

Madam Speaker, I rise to speak on private member's Motion No. M-256. I question the advisability of moving in this direction at this time.

I am extremely concerned about further complicating the tax system and setting up a situation whereby those with money and in the higher income brackets have the ability to manipulate the tax system to their advantage.

When I talked to Revenue Canada about the issue I was informed its previous experiences with income averaging has shown that such averaging may result in unfair tax advantages to those taxpayers who are able to arrange their affairs so as to control the amount and timing of their income and in turn their tax liabilities.

By checking the retirement savings system we will find that in extremely good years some individuals may make significant tax deductible registered retirement savings plan contributions based on income. Where an allowable contribution is not made for a year, it may be carried forward for seven years. RRSP contributions may be made in a year or within 60 days after the year ends.

This system can help individuals to lessen any increased tax burden that might arise as a result of an increase in income, while at the same time fulfil its primary goal of encouraging Canadians to save for retirement. It is a very important point that we have within our tax system the ability for people in their years of good income, when they do not have to draw down on their funds for cost of living and so on, to contribute dollars into retirement savings. It helps them and society as a whole.

Averaging provisions generally introduce a great degree of complexity into the tax system. If the government and Revenue Canada have time to look at the various issues, rather than spending a lot of time looking at block averaging over the years I would certainly favour spending time looking at ways to make those with larger incomes pay their fair share.

I am surprised that greater emphasis is not placed in the motion on those who are somehow dodging the tax system in some way. We should be making those individuals pay their fair share. In fact I am worried about the motion opening up the possibility for wealthy individuals to manipulate the tax system again to their advantage.

Talking about the complexity in the tax system, any income averaging formula entails detailed and often complex calculations in addition to very specific rules designed among other things to prevent its use for an unintended objective. That is what I am speaking about. Will the motion and its possibilities allow greater manipulation of the tax system? I am very worried about that.

A formula would have to take into account and recalculate benefits and means tested tax credits in low income years, such as child tax benefits, goods and services tax credits and various provincial tax credits, and additional taxes and credit reductions, for example, minimum tax, reduction in age tax credits, and old age security clawbacks in high income years included in the averaging period.

As well, where other supporting individuals have claimed tax benefits based on the income of a particular taxpayer, for example, spousal tax credits, their tax liability would also be adjusted based on the averaged income of the taxpayer.

Those kinds of problems really open up the possibility of manipulating the tax system further to an individual taxpayer's advantage and cause a considerable number of administrative problems in terms of the government department's ability to administer these taxes to see that they are paid fairly and administered by the rules of the act.

Averaging provisions would interact adversely with the alternative minimum tax. The purpose of that tax is to ensure all Canadians with significant incomes in a given year pay at least some level of income tax. Providing income averaging could increase the number of higher income Canadians who pay no income tax for a particular year. This is generally perceived to be manifestly unfair.

I do not have anything more than that to say on the issue. However I want to underline one point. I do not believe we should now be opening up the tax system to the possibility of further manipulations by individuals who have extreme amounts of income. We should be looking at other ways of improving the tax system by ensuring that the very wealthy in society pay their fair share. I do not believe the motion deals with that problem.

Canadian Wheat Board Act September 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I will try to keep my answer short. In response to the first question I may have misinterpreted the Reform Party. I hope that one of its members will get up on a point of order later today and ask that the government charge those people violating the laws of the land. Maybe that would clarify it specifically.

These members have tried to talk about inefficiencies. I just want to make one point before I sit down. The Canadian Wheat Board has reduced its staff substantially over the last number of years. In fact, with a staff of 430 the wheat board transacts $4.5 billion to $5 billion worth of business annually which translates into an administrative cost of less than 3.5 cents per bushel for wheat and 2.8 cents per bushel for barley. That is amazing efficiency on the part of the wheat board in terms of operating for producers.

As the member knows full well, the democracy is in the election of the Canadian Wheat Board advisory committee which advises the board on matters. Democracy also exists in terms of this party campaigning in the last election that it would strengthen and maintain the wheat board and stand by it. We intend to do that. We have been elected to do that and I stand by that commitment.