Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Tobique—Mactaquac (New Brunswick)
Lost his last election, in 2006, with 42.86% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Softwood Lumber October 25th, 2005
Mr. Chair, as I said, the first step in this process is to receive the $3.5 billion back in contested anti-dumping duties and countervailing duties.
After that is completed, we must move into negotiations. As we know, the negotiations in the past did not work. We should not fool ourselves. We have had 20 years of this. We had 19 months of those 20 years where there has been no trade solution, no trade dispute, if you will, some type of quota or countervailing duties. In 20 years we have had 19 months.
This time around we need a durable solution that will recognize Atlantic Canada's traditional exemption and will recognize the root of these previous subsidy allegations and the root of these previous problems.
As we move forward we need to look at the root of the previous subsidy allegations. We need to look at the traditional exemption for Atlantic Canada and come up with a durable solution.
Softwood Lumber October 25th, 2005
Mr. Chair, the member knows that this process has been going on in some form or another for 20 years.
Since the beginning of this last transfer, the fourth launch of this situation, we have been pursuing a two track process initially, which is litigation continuing with negotiations along the same track. We have won on the litigation side and we are asking the Americans to respect that under NAFTA.
By the same token we are carrying on with political advocacy and we are carrying on with the political lobby, a lobby from all Canadians who would like to come to the table and lobby. It is very important on the ambassador side, on the government side and I assume on the opposition benches as well that we should all be agreed on one thing, that we should be advocating for the U.S. to follow NAFTA.
Once that is followed and the disputed duties of $3.5 billion are paid out, we can look at a negotiated settlement, but a durable solution, not a negotiated settlement that will result in another round, the fifth round of this process, a fifth launch of litigation by the United States. We need to find a durable solution that will address the root cause of the last four of these subsidy allegations.
It is critical that we look at a durable solution that will address the root cause of these subsidy allegations after we have talked about and received the $3.5 billion back in CVD and ADD.
Softwood Lumber October 25th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, I thank my Bloc Québécois colleague for his question.
One of the options the member mentioned is loan guarantees. It is being considered by the forestry caucus and the member who is chairing it, whom I must commend, the member for Kenora—Rainy River, is looking at this issue. There are some aspects of loan guarantees which must be examined. For example, the issue of countervailability of loan guarantees is an issue that we know is very important in this dispute and that issue has to be examined.
The key issue is also that after the return of $3.5 billion, the disputed ADD and CVD duties, we have to negotiate a long term durable solution that addresses the root of these subsidy allegations. It has to be addressed and considered. As we know, this has been a long process. We have seen this process in place with some type of litigation against Canada since 1986. For 20 years we have seen this action.
The Maritimes have been exempt in the majority of those situations, but I think this speaks to the issue of a long term durable solution that addresses the root of a lot of these subsidy allegations.
Softwood Lumber October 25th, 2005
Mr. Chair, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak on the Government of Canada's strategies and maritime perspective on the challenges faced by maritime lumber producers.
I come to this debate from a fairly strong background in softwood lumber and the forestry sector in general having owned a woodlot. I still own a woodlot and I worked in softwood lumber. It is something that is certainly very important to the economy in my constituency. I have many friends and neighbours who work in the industry, so the sector that is critical to not only my friends and neighbours but the economy employs about one in six people in my riding.
The Government of Canada places the highest priority on resolving the softwood lumber dispute, and so it should. Our government, as I do, recognizes the vital economic importance of the forest products sector to Canada with sales of $59 billion a year and a total of 1,200 communities across Canada entirely or heavily dependent on this sector. Forestry contributes more to our nation's surplus than the automotive, metals and fisheries industries combined.
In Atlantic Canada alone there are over 785 lumber producers and 72,000 woodlot owners. I am proud to say that I am one. They owe their livelihoods to the lumber business. In my native province of New Brunswick, it is a $670 million a year business that provides 28,000 jobs or one in eight New Brunswickers with employment. It accounts for more than half of New Brunswick's exports making our province more dependent on softwood shipments than any other province in Canada.
Underpinning the success of this industry are free, open and competitive markets for Atlantic Canada's forest products, especially in the United States, where 90% of our New Brunswick products are sold. Although Atlantic Canada was spared the one-two punch of countervailing and anti-dumping duties in the last round of U.S. trade tariffs, the anti-dumping penalty alone has had very serious consequences for our region's forestry industry and our economy.
Until this shortsighted protectionist trade action, Atlantic Canada had enjoyed free and unrestricted commerce in logs and lumber with the U.S. These duties were clearly based on politics, not proof. The U.S. has always regarded our region as a free and fair trader, acknowledging that 75% of the timber cut in the Maritimes is cut on private land. Yet, even though the region had never been accused of being unfairly subsidized by stumpage fees, our producers were still slapped with an anti-dumping penalty. The consequences have been devastating.
Everyone loses in a trade war and in my riding we have lost big. On Monday two Fraser owned company mills shut down in my riding forcing 400 people out of work. That was the same lumber mill where I started my engineering career. While working there in 1988 and 1989 in the refurbishment of that sad lumber mill, it increased production on an eight-hour shift from about 80,000 board feet to about 260,000 board feet and subsequently it has gone up to 360,000 board feet. It employs a couple of hundred people, people who I grew up with, people I worked with and people I call friends.
This has had a very devastating impact and the softwood lumber dispute was one of the reasons cited for the layoffs. These shutdowns have occurred in communities not just in New Brunswick, not just in Atlantic Canada but all across Canada. We know that. They have also occurred in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, where the softwood dispute really dealt a blow. We need action by the U.S. and we need it now.
As the MP for Tobique—Mactaquac, where one in six jobs depends on the forestry industry, I fully support the government in its efforts to find a long term, durable solution to the problem. I must stress durable solution to the problem in order to protect our nation's lumber interests. These efforts that the government is taking are focusing on litigation, political intervention and advocacy.
On October 14, the Prime Minister raised the softwood lumber dispute with President Bush, stressing its importance to Canadians. The Prime Minister spoke out forcefully about the importance of all of the NAFTA partners living up to their obligations. This was amplified, as we all know, by his speech at the Economic Club of New York on October 6, and he will continue to do so as long as the U.S. imposed duties remain.
The Minister of International Trade has spoken with his U.S. counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, on several occasions to express Canada's strong concern over U.S. intransigence on the lumber file and the need for the U.S. to comply with its NAFTA obligations. Canada will continue to raise the softwood lumber issue at the highest level of the U.S. administration.
In regard to Canada's advocacy efforts, our main goal is to foster American support for Canada's position and to remind key U.S. decision-makers that this dispute has negative implications for U.S. as well as Canadian interests.
I had the pleasure and honour of travelling to Washington on four occasions now. On each occasion I met with those interest groups to explain to them the damage that this was having not only to Canadians, to my constituents, to Atlantic Canadians, but to people in the United States as well. I explained the big impact it was having to people in the home construction industry, for example, people who are working in Home Depots across the United States and people who are being severely taxed by this dispute. By some estimates there is a $1,000 increase in the average price of a home. We have played a strong advocacy role on that front.
We are taking advantage of every opportunity to put our message and our position before American decision-makers and those who will influence the lumber file. Ambassador McKenna has been sending Canada's message loud and clear to key groups and individuals in the United States. He is saying that U.S.-imposed duty on Canadian softwood imports hurts American businesses and consumers. Countervailing and anti-dumping duties on Canadian lumber negatively affect many other American industries and workers whose businesses use lumber. These advocacy efforts inform Americans that they are paying the price in order to benefit very narrow protectionist interests.
On March 2 the Minister of International Trade headed a delegation of federal, provincial and industry officials to Washington to promote Canadian-U.S. trade and to raise awareness of this issue. As I said, Ambassador McKenna and other officials have and will continue to meet with members of Congress to press Canada's position in Washington.
Canada has been working with U.S. organizations that share our view that these duties are detrimental to Americans. We are working with the major U.S. corporations, consumer advocates including Home Depot, American Consumers for Affordable Housing, the National Association of Home Builders to name just a few. I had the pleasure of meeting with some and they truly understand Canada's position and the impact this is having in the United States.
We will continue to seek new allies as well to make Canada's view known to influential U.S. policy-makers. We are getting the message out to key American audiences who must be made aware that jobs in America's lumber-consuming industries outnumber jobs in the U.S. lumber-producing industries by 25 to 1. The restrictions on Canadian lumber imports put American value added jobs at risk.
Key American audiences must be made aware that the U.S. industry cannot, on its own, meet U.S. demand for quality structural lumber. The U.S. duties on Canadian lumber disrupt a stable supply of high quality lumber. The American public must be made aware of that $1,000 increase to the price of a new home. The government's enhanced advocacy efforts ensure we get Canada's message across to our southern neighbours that the import tax on Canadian softwood hurts Americans.
The softwood lumber dispute also threatens to undermine North America's reputation as being one of the most predictable and transparent places in the world in which to conduct business. U.S. actions damage the large and integrated North American market by compromising the rules-based framework that governs it, NAFTA.
The NAFTA dispute settlement rules must work the way they were intended. Our advocacy efforts will raise the importance of NAFTA to the United States. Ambassador McKenna will make it known to audiences that the U.S. position threatens to undermine NAFTA.
The government's advocacy efforts also include a wide range of activities that many people in this House deserve credit for, including the Canada-U.S. interparliamentary group. This group hosted in St. Andrews, New Brunswick other members of Congress to discuss softwood lumber and other issues, and they should be commended for that.
We need an agreement that respects NAFTA and then further negotiations that respect Atlantic Canada's historical exemption to U.S. trade penalties. We need a durable solution. The sooner that agreement is reached the better for companies and consumers on both sides of the border.
Charity Barbecue September 28th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to thank the hundreds of volunteers and my colleagues in the House who helped raise more than $125,000 at the Hands Across the Border charity barbecue held here today on Parliament Hill.
In less than 10 days, volunteers and corporate sponsors made burgers appear and helped bring more than 4,000 people together to show our support for our American neighbours.
The Prime Minister and all party leaders made this event a great success by flipping burgers alongside the volunteers.
Canadians have now raised over $15 million for hurricane relief. Today all parliamentarians helped carry on Canada's tradition of caring and sharing.
Back in 1996, Madam Speaker, the party opposite, as the Reform Party, criticized us for making deep spending cuts, which we felt had to be done because of our inheritance of a $43 billion deficit. We made those very deep cuts. What did the present Leader of the Opposition say at the time in the House? He said the cuts were not deep enough. Now they have the audacity to stand here and criticize us for what we did. They said the cuts were not deep enough. Now they are talking about spending more money than we are.
They are proposing to spend more money than we are. Based on our deal with the NDP, we are making agreements on all of our promises. What does not make sense there in terms of common sense? We cannot ask people to cut, then say we are going to spend more than they are, but then say that they are spending too much.
I would ask the member to resolve that in our minds and tell us what in fact they are making sense about in this whole conversation, this whole debate, when they say that they would in fact spend more than we would. I ask the member to please explain that to me.
Madam Speaker, I should note first that the hon. member talks about partnerships and the partnerships her party has. I would much rather our partnership with the party to my right, to build Canada, than a partnership with the party to her party's left, which will tear Canada apart.
In terms of Bill C-48, we must look at partnerships and the partnership that party has formed versus our partnership. I will take our partnership any day of the year.
I find it quite ironic. Let us talk about the common sense in that famous common sense revolution, I believe it was called. My colleague did not mention the common sense revolution, which left us with a $5.6 billion deficit in Ontario. That is a lot of common sense, is it not? It was passed on to the Liberal government of Ontario. Let us talk about 1996--
National Defence May 19th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, budget 2005 makes very substantial new commitments to our armed forces and is important to communities like Oromocto, New Brunswick, North Bay, Ontario, Val-Cartier, Quebec and Cold Lake, Alberta.
I understand now that the Conservatives are planning to vote for one part of the budget and then shortly thereafter, in partnership with our friends the separatists, attempt to bring down the government.
Could the Minister of National Defence tell us what would happen to planned defence spending if the House does not pass all budget votes today?
Craig Manufacturing May 18th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, on Saturday May 7 one of Hartland, New Brunswick's oldest businesses and largest employers burned to the ground. Craig Manufacturing, a plant which builds industrial attachments for heavy equipment, employs approximately 90 people in my riding.
Having that many people out of work could have had a considerable economic impact on the entire riding, but instead, John Craig, Betty Lou and their team began immediate plans to resume business. A temporary office was set up less than 48 hours after the fire to continue serving customers, employing office staff and organizing the rebuilding.
I commend everyone at Craig Manufacturing for staying positive and looking to the future in spite of this disaster. But even more so, I commend the bravery and selflessness of the volunteer firefighters in Carleton County. They worked together and risked their lives to prevent what could have been an enormous tragedy. Several blocks of downtown Hartland were at risk of being blown up by giant propane, argon and oxygen tanks. Thanks to the skill and courage of the volunteer firefighters, such a catastrophe was fortunately avoided.
I thank the volunteer firefighters for their indispensable service and I wish everyone at Craig Manufacturing the best of luck.