Douglas Glenn FISHER

FISHER, Douglas Glenn, B.A.

Personal Data

Mississauga North (Ontario)
Birth Date
November 28, 1942
businessman, publisher

Parliamentary Career

February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
  Mississauga North (Ontario)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance (March 1, 1982 - February 29, 1984)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 218 of 219)

June 27, 1980

Mr. Douglas Fisher (for Mr. Deniger) moved

for leave to introduce Bill C-609, to change the name of the electoral district of Laprairie.

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June 20, 1980

Mr. Douglas Fisher (Mississauga North):

Mr. Speaker, 1 am not going to take very long, but I want to place on the record the fact that 1 dislike very much the conditions of this bill. I listened to the hon. member for Athabasca (Mr. Shields), and as he spoke I had the impression that he had considered his arguments seriously and developed them well, but I think he missed the point.

I do not like the underlying suspicion of voters which rests behind this bill, and 1 do not like the underlying attack on the freedom of our press.

I would like to express my opinions a little more positively, if I may. I believe that voters form their opinions logically and that voters have their reasons for forming their opinions, and 1 believe that polls tell us the score. They are not the score itself. The hon. member for Vegreville (Mr. Mazankowski) spent a little time talking about the accuracy of these devices and about their reliability, and I toss back at him the idea that, if the scoreboard is wrong, that does not change the score.

1 would like to quote, if 1 may, from the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix of April 1, 1980. I think the paper put the issue into some perspective. It said:

That issue is the control of information-

The issue in this kind of bill.

-which should be shunned by Parliament as an invasion of citizens' rights. The public is entitled to have all information possible about public affairs and, if a difference can be made, it is above all entitled to that information at election time ... What is the issue here is an attempt to have Parliament decide what is accurate and what is inaccurate in the field of public information. The taking of this step would be very dangerous interference with the norma! flow of such information. The decision as to accuracy can properly only belong to the public.

A leading Montreal pollster, Yvon Corbeil, has said that studies have shown time after time that polls have almost no net effect on voting patterns, and I agree with that.

I would like to try to put this bill into a little bit of perspective. Please note that it does not try to stop polls, simply their publication. If polls are so pernicious, why would we want them to continue in the midst of an election when our party planners and our leading politicians would have access to the information and would be forming decisions, but the public would be denied that information? Allan Frizzell of Carleton University raised an interesting point along this line. 1 will quote him directly:

What they are saying is "We want to know what is going on but we don't want you to know what is going on."

Stifling polls limits our freedom to take a look at ourselves and to understand how we collectively make a decision. It curtails the proper process of an election. It does not help the understanding of an election; it clouds it. The assumption that we are operating on with this bill is that polls change the vote totals through some kind of bandwagon effect instead of simply reflecting popular sentiment.

Any pollster will tell us that his poll is an historic document. It takes one dot in time and measures public opinion at that

June 20, 1980

time. It does not try to project or, as was stated earlier, to massage unreasonably. I think elections are decided by very different forces-by tradition and party loyalty, by region, by leadership and, above all, by the issues of the day. 1 think these are the real motivations.

I think 1980 was a typical election in that respect. In my riding opinion polls did not change the dislike of my voters for the 18-cent oil excise tax. It did not change the dislike of the voters in my riding for the failure of the government of the day to provide the mortgage tax credit scheme or the failure of the government of the day to provide some kind of new economic order. It was the government of the day that failed, not the opinion polls.

I suggest to the author of the bill that he has thought out his ideas carefully, but he should go back to them. If he does not like polls, perhaps he does not like their results. The simple answer for all of us is that perhaps we should do a better job and change the results. If the author of the bill considers this an abuse of the system, perhaps he should reconsider and examine whether we are afraid of a technique which tells us about ourselves and because of that fear he is ready to stifle a more fundamental liberty. In my judgment the best road to follow is to expand our information, to let this bill disappear without any further discussion, and to keep on with our efforts to broaden our understanding of ourselves instead of trying to stifle our understanding of ourselves.

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June 19, 1980

Mr. Douglas Fisher (Mississauga North):

Mr. Speaker, I support the move to Charlottetown.

I would like to take a few moments now to speak about some of the benefits and particularly some of our preparations for the relocation of the headquarters of veterans affairs to Charlottetown. Every effort has been made at every stage to make this relocation as smooth as possible. The planning has been designed to accomplish the move to Charlottetown without affecting the quality of service and at the same time avoiding serious disruptive effects on the people of Charlottetown.

The relocation is already well under way. Plans call for a phased relocation spread out over several years. There are now 50 veterans affairs employees operating in Charlottetown. Included in this group are 11 war veterans allowance board employees who will soon be joined by the other board employees. This is a milestone in the relocation program. This board will be the first complete unit relocated to the island. By September, 1980 a total of 160 jobs will have relocated to Charlottetown and an additional 30 will have relocated by September, 1981. The remainder of the portfolio will relocate in 1982-83.

June 19, 1980

This plan for a phased move to Charlottetown was developed to ensure that service provided to the veterans and their dependants would not suffer. A phased move is the most practical method. It guarantees the continuity and quality of our service to our veterans and it spreads out the effects of the move on Charlottetown over a longer period of time. The community can absorb significant numbers of new residents if given enough time to increase the supply of housing and community facilities available.

Numerous studies have been undertaken into such areas as communication facilities, housing, education, industry, labour markets and the social and economic impact of the relocation. Veterans affairs is now using these results to everyone's benefit. They can anticipate situations, they can gain insight into the possible effects of the relocation and they can assess what is needed and what is available before proceeding in any given direction.

Several programs have been established within the Department of the Veterans Affairs to monitor and facilitate the relocation. There are key positions in which it is imperative to have a fully trained person upon relocation to Charlottetown. These positions have been identified and are now being staffed in Ottawa by employees willing to move to Prince Edward Island. In fact, only recently the department appointed a new assistant deputy minister of finance, personnel and administration, a new assistant deputy minister of veterans services and a new director of financial management, all of whom will be moving to the island in 1982-83.

Another fairly recent appointment, that of director of policy, planning and evaluation, is being double-banked and the newly-appointed director will be working very closely with his Ottawa counterpart until he moves to the island to assume his duties there on August 1, 1980.

A comprehensive training package provides the necessary training to new employees before they assume the full responsibilities of their positions. To assist trainees in new positions, all systems and procedures are being documented to ensure that the most up-to-date manuals are used by these employees while training.

All these new employees and their families will all have a certain impact on Charlottetown, its economy, its educational, cultural and social facilities. These employees have diverse backgrounds, age, education, family status. They will comprise a variety of occupations-doctors, lawyers, senior administrators, accountants, secretaries, clerical workers, finance officers, personnel officers. These people will bring with them not only their work expertise but a variety of interests.

Veterans affairs is determined that the last thing that should happen is that the relocation should have a disruptive effect on the social fabric of the city or the island or that the present way of life be affected to any great degree. The relocation could potentially add another thousand residents to Charlottetown-an immigration of professional people moving with

Veterans Affairs

their jobs and families, people who will be taking their place in the new community, starting a new life.

A key element to the integration of the Department of Veterans Affairs employees into Charlottetown is communication and information. It is important that the people of Charlottetown and Prince Edward Island know something about the type of people who are considering moving to their community. Equally important, however, is the need on the part of our employees to be aware of what they can expect to find in Charlottetown-the lifestyle of the island, the type of community they will be moving into, the type of people who will be their neighbours.

In Charlottetown a tri-level co-ordinating group has been established and meets on a regular basis to deal with all matters pertaining to the relocation. This committee has representation from the provincial, municipal and federal governments. Five subcommittees have been formed to deal with such things as housing, education, economic impact, social impact, and the new veterans affairs facility. In particular, great strides have been made in the housing area as a result of the housing subcommittee's attempts to stimulate the housing industry to meet the needs of our employees, while at the same time ensuring that this does not cause a drastic upward trend in housing prices.

In Ottawa all employees have been provided with a comprehensive information package on Charlottetown telling them about the island climate, education, linguistic make-up, housing, health services, cost of living, recreational and commercial facilities, transportation and municipal services. Relocation advisers are available to assist any employees seeking advice on relocation. The portfolio has a relocation resource room where employees have access to Charlottetown newspapers, real estate listings, university and community college calendars, local magazines and other publications provided by groups from Prince Edward Island.

Assistance is also being provided to employees who do not wish to relocate. They can have counselling and information about securing alternate employment within the national capital region. A resource room has also been established specifically for these employees where they can find publications to assist them as prospective job hunters.

In the fall of 1979, DVA held nine days of activities, called "Operation Information", to inform employees of the facilities, services, life on Prince Edward Island and also to provide information on the employment situation in Ottawa and various means of seeking and finding reassignment. "Operation Information" was organized to give all employees information to assist them in their relocation decision and to prepare them for whatever course of action they might choose.

These programs and activities are all intended to make for a smooth transition into Charlottetown for the portfolio and its employees. Certainly with the magnitude of this relocation there will be eventualities which have not been anticipated and problems may develop. But with the support of people in Ottawa and Charlottetown, these problems can be resolved


June 19, 1980

Veterans Affairs

and DVA will successfully and smoothly relocate in Prince Edward Island.

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June 6, 1980

Mr. Douglas Fisher (Mississauga North):

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to be talking on this bill today and on the other bill which we are currently dealing with in committee, the transportation of dangerous goods bill. Coming as 1 do from Mississauga, these are topics which affect us and with which we have had some experience. I am quite interested in the passage of these bills and very encouraged by their provisions.

I have had the opportunity of listening to the officials of the department in committee. This particular bill deals with the standards concerning containers as they affect the transport of goods across international boundaries. I am pleased that we have been able to increase the quality of our standards through the ratification of this international convention.

In Mississauga we found that the containers themselves were a vital part of the accident. Double-walled train cars did not explode, despite the fact that they were subject to enormous stress and enormous heat in that accident.

It would probably help hon. members present if they knew exactly what went on in that accident. As the train began to go off the track, an explosion occurred instantaneously. Within a minute, a second explosion occurred sending a ball of fire 40 storeys high. A similar explosion occurred within an hour. The end of one of the train cars blew off and the car travelled along the ground 2,200 feet, shooting fire out of its back. Throughout the following week as the propane and chlorine burned, one tank car sat in the middle of the debris and the heat without exploding or leaking. At the end of the week a truck emptied out the liquid inside the car, and the fire department determined that it was a double-walled tanker car. Other double-walled cars experienced fractures and slow leaks, but none exploded.

I was most encouraged to hear from the minister's officials while in committee that railroads are now phasing in the use of this type of car. I am further encouraged by the fact that the railroads, truck carriers and air carriers will be forced to face increased responsibility for inspection. They will be required to justify much more firmly their behaviour when such accidents occur.

I am concerned over the fact that the Canadian Pacific Railway does not want to take on that kind of responsibility, as was stated by its representatives before the Grange inquiry in Mississauga. Basically, the railroad is running the same train

through Mississauga every night as it was running last fall. The railroad's officials have said repeatedly to Mr. Justice Grange that they have not changed their procedures and that they do not intend to do so.

I asked the fire chief of Mississauga about the ramifications of the decision of CPR. He indicated that any individual living within 2,500 feet of either side of the CPR line was vulnerable in the event of another accident. In Mississauga 40,000 people live that close to that track. I encourage the CPR to take its responsibilities more seriously and to begin to introduce some fundamental and inexpensive safety procedures in the operations of its trains. I refer to such procedures as hot-box detectors, rear view mirrors and slower inspection procedures.

I am encouraged to see in this new legislation that more responsibility is being placed on the carrier in the area of inspection. I hope that the railroad in Mississauga will not wait until this legislation is passed before it takes up its responsibility.

Those are the points which I wanted to raise with regard to this legislation. We were very fortunate in Mississauga. We went through not one miracle but two miracles. The first miracle happened in the first minute of the accident when the train went off the track into an empty field. There were only industrial buildings within 2,500 feet of that field. There were no homes nor congested construction going on. There were plenty of fire hydrants and open roads for access by the rescrue and prevention equipment. That was the first miracle.

The second miracle was that out of the 250,000 people evacuated, nobody was hurt. The crime rate in the area actually dropped. We owe a great deal to many local officials, such as the mayor, the fire department and the police department, for their diligent efforts during that week. Had they been armed with some of the provisions in the new regulations under this legislation, they would have been able to perform their duties even more easily.

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May 15, 1980

Mr. Fisher:

Mr. Chairman, I will add a couple more questions. If it is not possible for the minister to answer at the moment, I will be happy to wait until he is able to do so.

I am obviously concerned about the addition of the fourth runway at that airport. I should like to stress to the minister that a commitment was made, subdivisions and homes were built, local planners responded in trust to the federal commitment and home owners have purchased homes there in response. The addition of a fourth runway would be an intrusion on those subdivisions and in a sense would be a violation of trust with the home owners who accepted our commitment. It is the addition of the fourth runway that concerns me most.

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