Robert Lloyd WENMAN

WENMAN, Robert Lloyd

Personal Data

Progressive Conservative
Fraser Valley West (British Columbia)
Birth Date
June 19, 1940
Deceased Date
June 14, 1995
businessman, investment counsellor, teacher

Parliamentary Career

July 8, 1974 - March 26, 1979
  Fraser Valley West (British Columbia)
May 22, 1979 - December 14, 1979
  Fraser Valley West (British Columbia)
February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
  Fraser Valley West (British Columbia)
September 4, 1984 - October 1, 1988
  Fraser Valley West (British Columbia)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence (November 1, 1984 - October 14, 1986)
November 21, 1988 - September 8, 1993
  Fraser Valley West (British Columbia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 3 of 158)

February 3, 1993

Mr. Robert Wenman (Fraser Valley West):

Mr. Speaker, the globe is our house and our home. From it and within it we seek shelter, nourishment, refuge and security. The globe is a vast storehouse of rich diversity interlinking and interconnecting the chains of man's and nature's existence and very survival.

The earth summit looked to protect and preserve our home through atmospheric and biodiversity treaties. The new challenge is to find ways to live together in that global home to find shelter and protection within cities where traditional country values of clean air and water, green open space, product efficiency and productivity and transit can find a sustainable development balance and quality of life.

Faster than ever before the world is becoming an urban one. Near the end of this decade it is expected that more people will live in and around cities than in rural areas. In fact today 80 per cent of Canada's people live in or around cities. Explosive population growth and a flood of migration from the countryside are creating cities that dwarf the capitals of an earlier world.

By the turn of the century it is expected there will be 21 mega-cities with populations of 10 million or more around the world. It is necessary that all developing and developed countries keep this in mind. Infrastructure systems around the world must begin to adapt to meet the increased needs of the world's population explosion moving faster and faster into the major cities of the world.

The motion makes two basic points. One is about infrastructure, the other about co-operation between federal and provincial governments. Infrastructure implies appropriate structure. Before one can build infrastructure one needs the appropriate basic structures which are no longer really available for the next generation in the next century in the way our people live together.

February 3, 1993

Before we throw more money and ideas at infrastructure we need to recognize this is not just a problem for the Government of Canada. This is a global problem. In fact we in turn need to relate both our problems and our solutions to that global reality.

Old structures invented in 1867 to serve a rural nation are outmoded and outdated. These structures must now relate not to spanning Canada in the case of transportation but in fact to interlinking the world. Each of our major mega-cities are but terminals in that process.

We must work together with the United Nations and with other national governments to find these solutions. This newly emerging reality was clearly identified at the earth summit in Rio and more particularly when local governments met in Curitiba, Brazil. Canada again showed top leadership.

Mayor Dore of Montreal brought the mayors of all of the world organizations together and they in common, city by city, country by country, recognized the commonality of all outmoded government structures trying to deliver into the next century into a society totally different from the one we have built so far.

I am very pleased that sustainable cities programs are emerging. Local government authorities provided focus on that just last week by gathering at the United Nations. Sustainable cities programs are emerging at the World Bank, the UNDP and the UN Human Settlements Commission.

At the last session of the United Nations it was decided to follow up the earth summit with Habitat II in Ibrkey in 1996. It will examine the success of programs, such as human settlements programs, initiated at Habitat I in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The thrust of Canada's initiatives at the conferences last year in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and the recent appointment of Canada's Elizabeth Dowdeswell as the under-secretary for UNEP assures further Canadian leadership on these issues. As we move to Habitat II we need to learn the lessons that the members of this

Private Members' Business

House have mentioned about the state of structures and infrastructures in Canada. We need to move co-operatively toward Habitat II and bring Canada's leadership from Habitat I into the world. We must bring our technology and our capacity, our human services and so forth, to the international community.

The motion needs to be expanded somewhat in its thought process. It must call for this global linkage of infrastructure resulting from new structural approaches in the relationship between international, national and local governments attempting to deliver, sustain and improve the quality of life for the burgeoning world populations pouring into our major cities.

The maintenance and upgrading of infrastructure is such a large problem, not just for Canada but for the world, that it cannot be financed under our current and existing structures. That is the reason that we must not only make our structures more efficient and more effective but also must make these structures more relevant to the electronic highways of the world and the interconnection of our mega-cities.

We also need to relate this global interest, need and demand back to where it counts, to those who are homeless in developed and developing countries, in the streets of New York, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal or Bombay. In the new world we must work for the Shelter 2000 program and try to find basic shelter for the people of the world that is adequate and appropriate. We must relate this to homelessness, poverty and so forth.

In Vancouver we passed a charter outlining some of these problems. We presented it again to global parliamentarians on human settlements and development at the earth summit in Rio and we look forward to presenting it next month at the United Nations as we move toward the preparations for Habitat II.

This is the right kind of motion. It says:

-including improvements to sewage and water treatment

facilities, road and bridge repair, and the construction of grade

separations at railway crossings.

These are significant problems but they are a small part of the larger problems of structure and infrastructure.

February 3, 1993

Private Members' Business

Certainly the intent of this motion is worth while and appropriate in this House of Commons. We should certainly study it further in our committees and work with governments through our committees to recognize the problems of local governments and international infrastructures and structures as we move into and demonstrate continuing leadership in the world.

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December 7, 1992

Mr. Robert Wenman (Fraser Valley West):

Mr. Speaker, since I was a child I can remember pictures of Ethiopia and Somalia, the two poorest countries of the world. I can remember those terrible pictures and those images. This is not a new problem. It did not start with this particular round.

In 1980 I was made aware by the Somali community of the crisis at that time. I got together with a non-governmental organization and we raised $200,000. We got some milk powder and we headed over to Somalia. We landed in Mogadishu and then we drove for eight hours

Special Debate

out through the camels and out over the desert. We bumped along until we came to 60,000 people huddled in little bush shacks. They had denuded the sparse desert to put these together around a little mud hut that was not higher than four or five feet tall. In these little huts were largely mothers and children.

We took them the food that we had, the powdered milk, and they started pouring out of these little mud huts. They lined up 10,000 mothers and children but we only had two trucks. That is all there was. So they weighed each child as the mother stood there hoping that her child would make the weight per age according to the standard, and the child was given back to the mother again, again and again. She took them back to die.

When I see these things on television day after day I have to turn away because that reality is so intense for me. I came back to Canada and said we must do something about it. I talked to CIDA and was told that it was not a program country. I talked in the committee and I questioned all the then ministers at the time.

I have to say that there were one or two compassionate ones on the immigration side sitting across from me who did their best to help but it was not a country program. We could not add another country. It was not French. It was not British. It was just the poorest country in the world. We could not add it to the country program. We have not added it since.

They were dying then and they are dying today, and they have died by the thousands ever since then. They will keep on dying.

What do we have to bring to them? We bring them weapons and soldiers. Probably we have to do this to make the peace now, when we should have made the development funds available 20 years ago.

It is a tiny little country. There are only five or six million people. It has some mining resources. It has some fishing resources. It had an opportunity. Sure it has a repressive government so nobody wanted to touch it with a ten-foot pole back then. I met that supposedly repressive president, President Barre. At 2 a.m. he scheduled his appointments. Corrupt as he may or may not have been at least there was a semblance of order

that could have started the process and could have meant some hope.

Maybe this is hope that we offer today in the form of trying to make peace.

If we move all of this big equipment in there, and all of these people from all over the world, if we make the peace and then move out what have we done? What have we done? I urge that this House think of the vision that I have, it is so indelible in my mind and I have never felt this way before, of dying children, of mothers carrying their children who have to die. This is the beginning of an enlightenment, a recognition of the future of Somalia, and the beginning of the planning for the development programs, the free market system and so forth, and even democracy, that can give hope to Somalia.

I thank the House for this debate. I thank the members for their participation. Now let us have a comprehensive look at Somalia in its present and its future.

Subtopic:   SOMALIA
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December 2, 1992

Mr. Wenman:

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for those comments very sincerely. I sense that the minister heard what I said.

I know that the Government of British Columbia is very anxious to talk about their needs on infrastructure. They are not mentioned here in particular, but remember that you said they should be focused on something that relates to making us more competitive.

I am an advocate for parks and tourism and so forth. It is very important, but really we might look at the airport system in Vancouver. That is going to increase our competitiveness. The bridge in P.E.I. is important politically and I am sure it is economical. I am not sure how it will improve our competitiveness, but I can think of three or four other bridges in three major cities of Canada with which we might improve competitiveness.

I certainly want to be for the maritimes and for all of Canada, so wherever we are spending this money on infrastructure, I am in favour of it. I am just saying that we have to watch the priorities.

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December 2, 1992

Mr. Wenman:

Mr. Speaker, in order to be competitive, some rail lines are going to become redundant and they should be cut. Some highways will become redundant and we may not need them in the same way. Infrastructure changes continually. This is a review of infrastructure.

It might be more important to put a rail link between Seattle and Vancouver. That is two hours there. You are right. Take the cars off the highways there. What is 4.5 million people now is going to be 10 million in 2010.

Certainly we have to readjust the priorities. They may need an intermodal rail yard in Surrey. There is a very heavy demand for infrastructure. Let us look at any place that can use rail, which is clean, efficient and appropriate. It is particularly good for freight and that kind of thing.

Yes, I would support the improvements for infrastructures on rail, but we have to do it in the context of urbanization and in terms of the context of global interconnection between ports and those kinds of things.

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December 2, 1992

Mr. Robert Wenman (Fraser Valley West):

Mr. Speaker, there are parts of the statement I might agree with and parts I might disagree with. However I would like to repeat at the beginning a couple of the strongest parts of this particular economic statement that need to be heard certainly in my riding of Fraser Valley West and throughout Canada.

"Trade is our lifeblood". It is a generality but it is the truth: 30 per cent of Canada's economic activity and one job in four. My constituents are concerned about jobs. If trade is the place to find those jobs, we want to see that continue to expand and grow.

"The Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement has proved a success", $16 billion. Now $16 billion is a lot of jobs, a lot of taxes and is a lot of hope for Canada. That bears repeating at this time when Canadians are looking for hope.

North American free trade will give us 85 million new consumers, whose lifestyle and life quality are going up already, even without the agreement, and provide more opportunities for Canadians. There are hopes from the GATT and other opportunities.

It is very important that we should see Canada in its global context and its global interconnection around the world as a major issue of this Parliament and the next Parliament of Canada. In particular I would like to see a new Canada in a newly urbanizing global world. The pace of change continues to accelerate exponentially. Canada must see itself and find its place in this new globe. Among the global megatrends that are of concern

December 2, 1992

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are population growth, rapid industrialization and urbanization.

It took the world over 2,000 years to get to 1650 and a population of about 500 million people, over 2,000 years from the beginning of our history. But it only took 200 years to double that population, from 1650 to 1850. It took only 100 years to double that, population again, from 1850 to 1950. It took only 40 years, from 1950 to 1990, to double that population again. The next doubling of the world's population of 5.3 billion people may be in 20 years. That is a new world. It is a new world for Canada to find its place and its opportunities in.

However there is another amazing trend. Within the massive population explosion of the world, another major trend is that in 1980, 1.8 billion of the world's people lived in major cities of the world, but by the year 2000 that will have increased from 1.8 billion to 3.2 billion. Over 60 per cent of the world's population is going to live in the large cities of the world.

Canada is no exception. Back in 1851 only 13 per cent of Canadians lived in cities. In 1981 76 per cent, and now over 80 per cent of Canada's population is living in cities. What does this 80 per cent of the population mean? It means that 80 per cent of the people we represent are living in cities. I am wondering if we are giving them 50 per cent, 40 per cent or even 20 per cent of the attention that the rapid growth of cities needs, not just in Canada but throughout the world.

I know what it means to people in the Fraser Valley where I live. It means that 30 years ago when I settled in the Fraser Valley every morning I would get up and see Mount Baker glistening in the sun or across it Golden Ears. If I was driving into town I could drive into Vancouver comfortably in half an hour. Vancouver did not get farther away, but now it is an hour and a half away. It is getting worse and worse.

This means that people who dreamed of this higher quality of life in our cities moved there, as I did and as most people in this Parliament did. They hoped for this better way of life. For the average commuter from my area-the average person commutes into Vancouver and out each day-it is getting longer and it is getting harder. Every time he commutes back and forth he is driving in his car and his car is pumping carbon monoxide into the

air. Now by noon we often cannot even see the mountains. It is another kind of Los Angeles.

Our air is getting harder and harder to breathe. The quality of our water and water supplies is threatened. I am embarrassed to say that Victoria is still dumping raw sewage into Puget Sound that floats down to Seattle, the other part of our megacity of 4.5 million people. Whether it is the disposal of waste, the quality of air or the lack of rapid transit, these kinds of things are taking the choice of Canadians for lifestyle and denigrating it.

Have we seen any kind of an emphasis from senior governments in this area? I regret to say in most cases it is a matter of downloading. I am not just speaking about Canada. I am talking about the world. The mayors of the cities of the world met in Curitiba and agreed it was a problem all over. They are getting all the population, all the people, all the growth, without the tax base to improve the infrastructure.

I am very pleased to see in this speech the issue of infrastructure. As a Canadian I certainly want to support infrastructure building wherever it can be done in Canada. I am very pleased to support Prince Edward Island for $800 million where we will connect 130,000 people to the mainland, connect an island to the mainland or an island province to the mainland of Canada.

When we look at priorities there are more people travelling in the morning to work over the Port Mann Bridge than there are in all of P.E.I. There are 1.7 million people on the lower mainland and another

400,000 in the Victoria area. We would like to have a land bridge to connect that too but we do not even ask for it because we see other priorities.

I am pleased that there is a thought of infrastructure here, but I wonder if it might better be spent, or some of it might be better spent, on infrastructure like rapid transit in our cities. That is the kind of thing we have to think about.

I was talking to the Minister of Finance the other day. He grew up in Vegreville, Alberta, and I grew up down the road in Maidstone on the Yellowhead Highway. They were wonderful places to grow up, great towns, great cities-Vegreville is a small city-and good places to live. I have not seen any traffic jams there for a long time, but

December 2, 1992

I live in one every day in my riding and so does everybody else. We need a little help.

The Port Mann Bridge is across the Fraser River. Maybe we need another bridge across there too. There is so much need that I am not even sure that is the correct need. Rapid transit is probably a more important need and a more important use than another bridge because we need to get people out of their cars to sustain the quality of life that we choose in Vancouver and to make sure that pollution does not just keep roaring out the valley. Not only is it coming from that valley but now it is coming from Seattle. It is all one big city. We must work and plan. That area is the fastest growing area of North America, in both Canada and the United States.

We need to work to accept that we cannot stop the doubling of the population over the next 20 years or 30 years. I do not know where it is going to go because we have mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. We have to plan how to sustain that city and that city will be sustained through improvements in infrastructure, communications, transportation, light rapid transit and these kinds of things. But how will it be financed?

We cannot finance every city in Canada but we have to recognize that most people in Canada live in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. These issues are big issues there and we cannot just keep downloading on those systems as do both levels of government not only in Canada but throughout the world.

We will need to find in the Speech from the Throne following this economic statement new ideas and thinking in new ways. We have this fuzzy warm feeling that Canada is a rural nation. Yes, agriculture is terribly important and some people in Canada still live in the rural areas but 80 per cent live in the cities. If we want to keep this warm fuzzy image of rural Canada with rural values which are great values and my values, that is fine; but let us live with the reality that 80 per cent of our people live in cities and let us get on with developing sustainable city programs.

Our Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment showed great leadership at the earth summit in Rio. They recognized in agenda 21 the human settlement problem of cities. They had ideas. They said: "Let us establish a sustainable development commission". While

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the rest of the world is going to proceed with these kinds of things, where will Canada be in the follow-up to Rio, in the follow-up to how we will sustain these megacities because the world is becoming a series of city states? Just as we must connect the cities of Canada we must connect the city states of the world.

How do we change this thought from rural Canada to urban Canada and then how do we help our Minister of Finance see those needs, recognize them and turn them into programs? I think Canada should demonstrate this to the world. If we have the highest quality of life in the world, and that highest quality of life is found for our people who are living in cities, obviously, then how do we sustain that high quality of life? Can we lead and show the world that Canada knows how to sustain its cities?

Our cities are among the most magnificent. Mayor Dore of Montreal showed great leadership at the United Nations and had a great world conference in his city. Toronto had a similar conference and showed the way. Vancouver had the global parliamentarians conference that so many of us attended, and where a resolution was passed that said: "Urbanization is a world problem. Let us do something about it".

In British Columbia Mike Harcourt talks about his Georgia Basin project. He saw this coming for a long time. We have to take the city in the context of its bioregion. They are working together with Seattle and with the U.S. Congress.

These are the kinds of visionary programs where we look to the way we are and almost all of us are urban dwellers-and then we try to find ways to sustain and improve that quality of life.

I appreciate this economic statement and the need, as I have said, to connect to the world through GATT. We are having successes there. I applaud the government on those things. I applaud it on Rio and the earth summit on the environment.

However, if we cannot breathe the air, drink the water and dispose of wastes in these types of megalopolises and if we cannot move comfortably around them then what are we working for? We need to hold new values and bring them forward as we work toward the Speech from the Throne and toward the next generation of urbanizing ideas.

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In addition, we also need to recognize that the power of the world and the power of the world's relationship with Canada is where the power is. The power is in Pacific Asia. In 1984 we looked at Pacific Asia and we gave it a good push. We are developing economic relationships. Japan is the number two trading partner for Canada now. If we look at the top five or six we will find China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea and the ASEAN groups. This is the future of Canada. That future is building upon the ideas that are in this statement.

We have a North American free trade agreement. Through APEC this can be expanded to cover the entire Pacific region. It is important that we should not see another bloc in the Pacific, as is being proposed by Malaysia. It would be an Asia-only trade bloc, similar to an Europe only trade bloc. I hope our minister will take the innovations of the North American free trade agreement and expand very soon, perhaps, to South America. However, let us keep going around the rim and keep this concept of one free-trading world.

I quoted the minister's 30 per cent figure, which means one in four jobs and $16 billion in the free trade agreement already. This is where our future lies. Let us not run from crisis to crisis. Let us help in Europe and Somalia. Let us help build the critical, tough areas of the world. I have always supported that and participated in that. Let us not be diverted from the future of Canada in the Pacific Asia region.

I have my concerns that this has diminished in its importance. I urge members to think, between now and the throne speech, once again about the Pacific and the reality of Canada as an urban nation.

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