House of Commons photo

Last in Parliament September 2002, as Liberal MP for Saint Boniface (Manitoba)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 52.17% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Veterans Affairs December 11th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, adding to the book of remembrance the names of these 23 soldiers is a fair and just testament to their service and their sacrifice. It exhibits our gratitude toward what it is they have done.

The 23 soldiers from all regions of Canada volunteered to defend the rights and freedoms of our nation. As such, today we gave these soldiers the dignity which is their due and hopefully provided some closure to their families. I believe it is right.

World War I December 11th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, hon. colleagues, I rise in the Chamber to speak about the first world war and the fate of some Canadian soldiers, a fate that has been essentially forgotten in the pages of history.

For the young nation of Canada, the promise and optimism that infused the dawning 20th century was abruptly cut short by the first world war. No one anticipated such carnage, or that we would soon be sending young citizens into a war that would see 65 million people from 30 nations take up arms, where 10 million people would lose their lives and 29 million more would be wounded, captured or missing.

Never before had there been such a war, neither in the number of lives taken, nor in the manner of their taking. New weapons would turn fields of battle into slaughter grounds, while the rigours of life in the trenches would kill many of those who escaped bullet or bayonet.

This “war to end all wars” challenged our small country of 8 million to its limits. Almost 650,000 served in the Canadian Forces in the Great War. Over 68,000—more than one in ten who fought—did not return. Total casualties amounted to more than one third of those who were in uniform. Thousands came home broken in body, mind, and spirit.

The service of Canadians in uniform was as remarkable as it was distinguished. History records their sacrifice in places whose names resonate even to the present day. Battle names such as Ypres, The Somme, Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele and Amiens.

Those who lived then and the historians who followed would declare that Canada came of age because of its actions and ingenuity during World War I.

But where history speaks of national sacrifice and achievement, it is too often silent on the individual stories of triumph, tragedy and terror of those who fought and died on the terrible killing fields of France and Belgium.

Those who went to war at the request of their nation could not know the fate that lay in store for them. This was a war of such overwhelming sound, fury and unrelenting horror that few combatants could remain unaffected.

For the majority of the Canadians who took up arms and paid the ultimate sacrifice, we know little of their final moments, except that they died in defence of freedom.

Today I want to talk about 23 of our fallen. I would like to tell the House about these soldiers because these circumstances were quite extraordinary. These 23 soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force occupy an unusual position in our military history. They were lawfully executed for military offences such as desertion and, in one case, cowardice.

We can revisit the past but we cannot recreate it. We cannot relive those awful years of a nation at peril in total war, and the culture of that time is subsequently too distant for us to comprehend fully.

We can, however, do something in the present, in a solemn way, aware now, better than before, that people may lose control of their emotions, have a breakdown for reasons over which they have little control. For some it would have been known today perhaps as post-traumatic stress disorder.

To give these 23 soldiers a dignity that is their due and to provide a closure for their families, as the Minister of Veterans Affairs on behalf of the Government of Canada, I wish to express my deep sorrow at their loss of life, not because of what they did or did not do but because they too lie in foreign fields where poppies blow amid the crosses row on row.

While they came from different regions of Canada, they all volunteered to serve their country in its citizen-army, and that service and the hardships they endured prior to their offences will be recorded and unremembered no more.

Allow me to enter their names into the record of the House: Quartermaster Sergeant William Alexander, Bombadier Frederick Arnold, Private Fortunat Auger, Private Harold Carter, Private Gustave Comte, Private Arthur Dagesse, Private Leopold Délisle, Private Edward Fairburn, Private Stephen Fowles, Private John Higgins, Private Henry Kerr, Private Joseph La Lalancette, Private Come Laliberté, Private W. Norman Ling, Private Harold Lodge, Private Thomas Moles, Private Eugene Perry, Private Edward Reynolds, Private John Roberts, Private Dimitro Sinizki, Private Charles Welsh, Private James Wilson and Private Elsworth Young.

We remember those who have been largely forgotten. For over 80 years, they have laid side by side with their fallen comrades in the cemeteries of France and Belgium.

I am announcing today in the Chamber that the names of these 23 volunteers will be entered into The First World War Book of Remembrance along with those of their colleagues. Adding the names of these citizen soldiers to the pages of this sacred book, which lies in the Memorial Chamber not far from here, will be a fair and just testament to their service, their sacrifice and our gratitude forevermore.

Lest we forget.

Veterans Affairs November 8th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the government chose to contest the decision and it is doing so now. It will continue to do so because it feels as if it intrudes into an area of decision making of government. The process is happening. We will await the results.

Veterans Affairs November 8th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the government will follow the process as outlined in the law. That is what we are doing now and that is what we will continue to do.

Veterans Affairs November 6th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, Canadians recently witnessed the images of Canadian servicemen and women boarding ships on both coasts, joining the coalition and the fight against terrorism. There were tearful Canadian families saying goodbye. For all Canadian men and women in uniform, no matter where they are serving on this day, let us pray for a safe return home.

The theme of Veterans Week is in the service of peace. While simple to say, and an admirable ambition for nations, it is complex in its application.

In the last century Canada and its allied partners fought two world wars to win back peace for a world in turmoil.

During the first world war, nearly 69,000 Canadians perished on the blood drenched battlefields. There were very young soldiers, some 16, 17 or 18 years old and many in their twenties and thirties.

Twenty years later, we were again called upon to fight because peace was threatened when European and Pacific nations came under the attack of a tyrannical enemy who dreamed of conquest.

Once again, Canadians answered the call and the images came back.

Canadians answered that call and we lost another 47,000 young citizens. Just a few years later in Korea more of our young people died; 536 if my memory serves me correctly.

Over the past half century Canada has become synonymous with peacekeeping. The United Nations has called on us to help preserve peace among nations that have been at war, usually civil war. Our veterans have stood in the line of fire and they have stood their ground.

The number of people who they have saved is too great to estimate. They have earned the gratitude of citizens and nations, gratitude shown in the smile of a child, the tears of a mother and the extended hand of a father, grandparent or elder.

Our citizens answered the call of duty not to defend our own freedom and peace, but to fight for the freedom of others, for the peace of others.

We are extremely proud of the legacy of our veterans. For more than a century, they have shown determination, courage, and honour and they have served with distinction.

Our citizens have answered the call to duty for the peace of others and I am proud of the legacy of our veterans. Courageous and honourable, they have served with distinction. Their legacy will not be forgotten. It continues with the brave young men and women serving today in our armed forces.

Let us all pledge to continue remembering their service and sacrifice. I encourage all Canadians to honour these heroes in the spirit of peace and freedom during Veterans Week, on Remembrance Day and throughout the year.

Lest we forget.

Veterans Affairs October 24th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we issued an announcement saying that these 15 airmen will be compensated by the German government as a result of the law that addresses the whole issue of slave labour. This is great news.

There will be 15 airmen who will be compensated. As well, there were four airmen who died before the legislation came into effect. The Canadian government will give the same amount of money to their spouses. That is $5,400--

Francophone Summit October 17th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, that summit was a very important one in the current context. The Prime Minister and myself were very disappointed, because we were all set to go to Beirut.

Unfortunately, we did not go. A decision was made, which we accept; we understand the reasons, but we will nevertheless continue to pursue the Canadian government's objectives, such as that of combatting terrorism.

I might add that the summit was merely delayed. Another Francophone Summit will be held in the fall of 2002, in the same country where it was to be held this year.

National Defence June 11th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, my department has had concerns about these personnel. It continues to examine the situation, and we are going to go still further in order to ensure them of the best possible treatment.

It is absolutely false to claim that the Canadian government is not concerned about all these people. It is absolutely false to claim that we are not there for them, and will not be doing anything further for them.

Infrastructure June 4th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I have never heard so much nonsense from a member in the House of Commons.

We made announcements with respect to flood litigation. We made announcements with respect to Haywood, Cormorant and a number of other communities for safe water. We have a number of others being requested. In the whole of western Canada there are roughly 2,000 applications, of which roughly 50% are water related.

We are spending and spending wisely. The member does not get it.

Veterans Affairs May 15th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, that request has now been honoured. It was brought to my attention just a short while ago. I asked Veterans Affairs Canada officials to address it immediately. They did.

Letters have already gone out with adjusted cheques, or are about to do so, with the appropriate economic adjustments therein.