BONWICK, The Hon. Paul, P.C.

Personal Data

Simcoe--Grey (Ontario)
Birth Date
October 24, 1964
businessman, sales and marketing consultant

Parliamentary Career

June 2, 1997 - October 22, 2000
  Simcoe--Grey (Ontario)
November 27, 2000 - May 23, 2004
  Simcoe--Grey (Ontario)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development with special emphasis on Student Loans (December 12, 2003 - July 19, 2004)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 5 of 37)

October 7, 2003

Mr. Paul Bonwick (Simcoe—Grey, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for CCRA. Since becoming an agency, Revenue Canada has effectively become judge, jury and executioner, with virtually no accountability to the Government of Canada.

In the last three years, we have witnessed CCRA officials aggressively pursue outstanding penalties on elderly widows, terminally ill people and large families.

The collection tactics used in any other realm would be inappropriate and unfair. What is the minister going to do to correct this totally unacceptable action before more families are ruined?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
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June 12, 2003

Mr. Paul Bonwick (Simcoe—Grey, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe if you seek it you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That this House pass at all stages my private member's bill, Bill C-411, an act to establish Merchant Navy Veterans Day, by way of unanimous consent.

As members are aware, I brought this forward about four weeks ago and I had the consent of all parties except one. I have had negotiations with the critic for that party and that critic has assured me there is agreement to go forward at this point in time.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Merchant Navy Veterans Day
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June 10, 2003

Mr. Paul Bonwick (Simcoe—Grey, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, this is one of those rare occasions in Parliament when we have an opportunity to debate proposed legislation that is somewhat radical in nature, somewhat of a reform, somewhat far reaching. I think the vast majority of Canadians would agree it is for the very betterment of our political system and this House.

I cannot express in words the level of support I have for this piece of legislation. It provides for greater transparency. It provides an opportunity to address any perceived conflicts that may come in the future. It provides a clean slate for this Parliament and for future parliaments for generations to come. For those reasons, I suggest that this is one of those rare occasions when Parliament should be united. Parliament should be united behind a vision and a principle which Canadians by and large all across the country support.

There has been some disinformation brought out about this piece of legislation. I would like to take an opportunity to address that disinformation.

Suggestions have been made by people outside Parliament as well as by some people inside that this is creating a mechanism whereby the taxpayer will simply be subsidizing the political system, the democratic system in this great land of ours. While that is true, it has been true for generations.

Most people do not realize that in our federal political system we issue substantial tax receipts, tax credits if I may, for significant donations or contributions from individual citizens, unions and corporations. What that does on a contribution of up to $500 for example, is it effectively subsidizes that contribution to the tune of $350.

That subsidy by way of lack of revenue is the same as a direct subsidy. Whether we are effecting the revenue in the form of giving more, or cutting off the revenue that we have coming in, either way it equates to the same thing. The taxpayers in this country subsidize our political system, and I think rightly so.

The situation in this country is somewhat unique to the rest of the world. We have a good system in this country right now and this will only make it better, and I would suggest much better.

Canadians do not expect, they deserve to have an independent Parliament. They deserve to have a Parliament that is independent from corporate influence. One of the ways to establish corporate or union influence is by having massive contributions. Certainly there is a perceived conflict at the very least and over the years and decades, we have seen those types of perceived conflicts hit the floor of this House and have had significant debates over them.

That is why I suggest that this is not only a good piece of legislation for today's Parliament. It is a good piece of legislation for tomorrow's parliament and for the next generation's parliament and the parliament for the generation beyond that.

When I talk about perceived conflicts, when I look at large corporations that are able to deliver significant funding to individual members of Parliament and parties, I suggest that the system is not so bad that there is conflict. I am suggesting that there is the potential for conflict.

One only needs to look to our neighbours to the south to see why this is such a critical piece of legislation. When one looks at the system in the United States, effectively what has been created is the ability for large corporations to have massive influence within congress and the senate. I would suggest that we never want to get into a situation where we allow that to take place in this country. This piece of legislation would eliminate that possibility once and for all.

I read in the newspaper today that Senator Clinton has released her book. It was interesting to note that in her senate district, when what she spent in U.S. dollars is converted to Canadian dollars, she spent the same, if not more, for one senate seat than all 301 of us in the House spent in the last federal election. That was for one senate district.

We do not want to see our country move into that domain. We want a system that is clear and transparent. We want a system that is independent of corporate and union influence. We want a system that is driven by Canadians. That is exactly what this legislation will do.

There will be an opportunity, as I understand it based on the amendment brought forward by the government House leader, for a review to see what impact this has had within our political system. The review will be mandatory. It will be a statutory review. Parliament can count on the fact that the Chief Electoral Officer will do an in-depth and detailed review of this legislation after the next election to determine the impact not only on individual members of Parliament but on the parties as well.

That is an absolutely brilliant move. I say that because I believe with some of these far-reaching pieces of legislation we have an obligation not only to ourselves, but to future parliaments and to Canadians to make sure that we review how these things impact. This will provide us with that opportunity.

I was in the U.S. in 1999 for a bilateral negotiation with the standing committee on agriculture from congress. Back in 1999 we were having a pork crisis in Canada. Hence there was the need for parliamentarians to travel down to Washington to meet with their counterparts in the U.S.

It was interesting to note at that time the level of contribution made by, I believe it was, the Pork Producers Association of America. The level of funding that organization gave to members of the committee, more specifically the chairperson, was unimaginable, something that the majority party in the House could even dream about by way of a contribution. I could be wrong, but I believe the figure was $300,000. Imagine, and that was one contribution. When I told them the maximum spending in my riding was $67,000, they kind of chuckled and suggested that would be considered a mediocre fundraiser for them.

When I sit here in the House and I see that the maximum spending is approximately $67,000 and that the bill is moving in the direction of eliminating any perceived or real outside influence by corporations or larger unions, I say it is a good thing. It is not simply a good thing for me. It is a good thing for my children and my children's children. It is a good thing for this Parliament and it is a good thing for parliaments to come. If Canadians deserve anything out of this political system, it is to make sure we are representing the people of the country and not simply some large corporation or large financial institution that is able to make a whopping contribution as is done in the U.S. and in many other countries for that matter.

I am not saying that our system is perfect and that the U.S. one is broken. The Americans have some models within their democratic system that we could certainly borrow, not only in the House of Commons but by way of our parliamentary system.

In closing, this legislation deserves the support of every member in the House because Canadians deserve it and future parliaments deserve it.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada Elections Act
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June 5, 2003

Mr. Paul Bonwick

Mr. Speaker, under no circumstances am I debating the hon. member's position. In fact, I agree wholeheartedly with almost his entire remarks.

In my humble opinion, as a member of the House of Commons, a majority of members of a committee are the protectors of my rights. A majority of the members of a committee should not be able to restrict my access anymore so than they should be able to restrict theirs. Mr. Speaker, if you create one rule everybody must abide by it. You cannot be selective in saying that we will accept opposition reports, but we will not accept reports submitted by members of the governing party.

Mr. Speaker, you are the protector of my rights as a parliamentarian. You are the protector of my privileges, and not simply mine, but the hundred and twenty odd thousand people back in my riding, and for that matter, the 30 million Canadians in our country. I believe most of them would be insulted if I cannot be treated by the same rules and conditions as people across the floor.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Privilege
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June 5, 2003

Mr. Paul Bonwick (Simcoe—Grey, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, what I am rising on today, with somewhat of a heavy heart, is a question of privilege on which I would ask you to rule.

After a two year review of the state of the Canadian broadcasting industry, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has just finalized a report that will be presented to the House shortly. At the conclusion of our hearings, I determined that although I agreed with much of the report and certainly recognized the incredible efforts on behalf of the members of that committee, there were a few specific areas that I felt needed to be expanded upon.

Despite my efforts at committee to incorporate those perspectives within the report, I was not successful. Having spent a year and a half sitting at that table, I felt it was important that those views, which I have collected by way of witnesses and people who have met with me, be presented as part of the overall report. I therefore explored what other options were available to me.

I was informed that as a parliamentarian and a member of the committee, I was entitled to submit a supplementary opinion if I wished to do so. I did. I did so in such a way that I believe it was actually complementary to the committee report. It expanded on some of the issues.

From a timeline perspective, the committee determined that the last day to file the supplementary opinions was on May 12, 2003. Due to extenuating circumstances, two of the opposition parties informed the clerk that they were having challenges finishing their supplementary dissenting opinions by the May 12 deadline and asked if they could explore an extension of time. The clerk, as I understand it, then contacted the printing department, because timeliness is an issue here, to find out if there would be an opportunity to extend the time and not impact the production timelines of the report itself. It is my understanding that she was informed that May 16 would be an acceptable date.

The clerk then informed members of the committee that the date was going to be extended until May 16. Therefore, like my colleagues in the opposition, I worked under the timelines provided by the clerk of the committee. I met those timelines. My report is recognized by the clerk of the committee as being received on May 16 at approximately 10:45 a.m., not indifferent to the opposition reports.

The chair realized that the extension had been granted by the clerk without the authority of the committee and, after hearing that I was putting forward a supplementary opinion, recognized that the clerk did not have the authority to grant that extension without the consent or support of the committee and asked the opposition members to bring forward a notice of motion to extend, sort of retroactively if I may, the filing dates.

It is going to take me a couple of minutes and I apologize, but this is absolutely critical for Parliament. This hits on the very basic rights and privileges as a parliamentarian.

The chair then realized that the clerk did not have the authority and asked for a retroactive notice of motion to come from the opposition members to extend the date by four days. They did so. Sadly enough, I was notified, and in fairness to the chair due to challenges of him travelling and leaving messages on my cell phone, I was notified 24 hours before the committee was meeting, so clearly it would be difficult to give 48 hours notice.

I asked for unanimous consent to present my supplementary motion along with the two from the opposition and was not successful in securing that. I then notified the clerk in writing on Tuesday that it was my intention to bring forward a motion on Thursday, being this morning, asking that my report be included in the same way as the opposition members' reports were included. Sadly enough, although I cannot give details of an in camera meeting, obviously by virtue of the fact that I am here, I was not successful in securing the support.

The reason I ran for Parliament, the reason people have fought and died for this country, is so that we can express our opinions. Just because some people at committee failed to agree with those opinions, or think I am going beyond my purview as a member of the governing party or the Liberals, too bad.

Mr. Speaker, what I am asking you to do, not only on behalf of myself and the 300 other people who sit in the House, but on behalf of 30-odd million Canadians, is to protect my rights as a parliamentarian, give me the same rights as those people across the aisle have. To do otherwise, in my opinion, would be nothing more than putting a gag order on backbench Liberal members of Parliament.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for your timely and wise ruling on this issue. I certainly ask for your positive consideration. To do otherwise, would be, in my opinion, a slight on democracy.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Privilege
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