Last in Parliament May 2004, as Progressive Conservative MP for Saint John (New Brunswick)
Won her last election, in 2000, with 50.92% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Supply April 27th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, Watergate was a scandal but I do not think that has anything to do with our fixed election dates here in Canada.
As far as I am concerned, I have no worries whatsoever. If I were running again for a four year term I would put my name up and take my chances. Members do that in every election, whether it is three years when an election is called or whether it is four years. What we are saying is that we need stability here. We need to work together and we need to find a way in which we can operate.
We do not have to do this just for the sake of the Prime Minister when he feels he is up in the polls. When he is down in the polls he does not want to have an election, and everybody knows that. Everybody on the government side knows that is exactly what is happening.
Supply April 27th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure what the member was asking. His questions had absolutely nothing to do with the statement I made or with what we are debating today, which is a fixed-term election.
I know the number of members that different provinces have has been mentioned in the House before. Ontario, the western provinces, Quebec and others have a lot more than we have back east. However that has nothing to do with us having a fixed date for elections. As well, the treaties have absolutely nothing to do with it.
We are talking about whether we should have a fixed election date every four years. If the hon. member were not afraid of losing his seat he would be very much in favour of this. If he is doing what is right for all Canadians then he does not have a thing to worry about in terms of being re-elected. It is when one is not doing what is right for the people of Canada that there is something to worry about.
The member spoke today on the subject of Her Majesty. He has no idea. Some day when he visits Saint John, New Brunswick, he will be visiting Canada's first incorporated city.
Supply April 27th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, earlier today one of our colleagues from the government side referred to the fact that here on our side of the House we more or less want to break ties with the monarchy because we want fixed election dates.
I represent Canada's first city to be incorporated by royal charter. I represent the Queen here in this House probably more than anyone else, because of the position that I held in that city, and I am in favour of fixed term elections. And I am sure that if we were to agree to this, Her Majesty would have no problem with it whatsoever. I really think she is in favour of it also.
I have to say that when I look at the situation as it is today, I know that half of my colleagues on the government side are wondering if we are going to have an election in June or an election this summer or an election late in the fall. That is what they are wondering about: when we are going to have an election. And that should not be what one person can decide.
Earlier this morning, I asked a question because of the statement that was made by Tom Kent, the icon of the Liberal Party, who, in the The Globe and Mail on January 29, came out very strongly in favour of the motion that we have put forth with regard to fixed term elections.
He has worked for a number of the prime ministers. He is saying that it is time for this. He is saying that this is the democratic way. He is saying that not just one person who sits in the seat over there rules everybody in this House. We were elected by the people across this nation. The people across this nation want us to represent them.
So in preparing to speak today, I was reminded of the old saying that there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. The time has come for us to take a look at this. For far too long, we have given an awesome power to the Office of the Prime Minister. For far too long, we have put our fate in those hands. Never before has that been more obvious than in the past decade and in recent weeks.
At the local level across this nation, every municipality--and I was mayor for four terms in Saint John, New Brunswick--has elections. When I was mayor, they were held every three years. The province changed that and has extended it to four years now, but elections will be held every four years.
People ask me, “Elsie, how do you feel about being in Parliament up in Ottawa?” I always say, after having been here since 1993, that local government is the government of the people, because I feel very strongly that the government, the parties, are at the other two levels. I think it is time we changed that around. We should have our local people representing us, no matter whether it is federally, provincially or locally. Right now it is locally, and I have to say that it has to be turned around, and that is because one person's office controls everything.
I remember a time when there were just two of us from our party here. Someone called me and asked, “Elsie, did you know that the government is going to break their ties with the monarchy?” I said, “They're what?” They said, “They're breaking their ties with the monarchy”. I stood in the House of Commons to ask the prime minister of the day why he wanted to break his ties with the monarchy. Then the deputy prime minister, who was seated beside him, she started screaming at the prime minister. I had never seen it happen before in all the time the prime minister was here in his lengthy service as prime minister, but he sat down, and then he stood and said, “Mr. Speaker, could the hon. member for Saint John repeat her question? I could not hear it”. Then he looked at the deputy prime minister.
I repeated my question. I asked why we were breaking our ties with the monarchy. He said, “We are not going to break our ties with the monarchy. We send a secretary over every three years to work with the Queen and I would like to know if the hon. member for Saint John would like to go. I will fly her out tomorrow”.
Our ties to the monarchy are very strong. We want to keep our ties. I think everyone in the House wants to keep our ties. Nevertheless, that does not change the fact that we should have an election date and we should have fixed term elections. I think everyone in the House knows that. I do not think that the majority of those on the government side want to have another election right now and go through that. Let us look at the costs.
Let us look at the cost of having an election whenever the Prime Minister feels he is up in the polls. I can tell hon. members right now, that being the case, we will not have an election for another year, for heaven's sake, because he is not up in the polls right now, he certainly is not.
However, polls should not determine when we have an election. It should be a fixed date. It should be an election on what we are doing, whether it is right or wrong, and the people of Canada will determine it, as they do at the local level.
The Constitution of this country was not written for the benefit of one party alone. The Constitution gives the power to the Governor General, God love her, but she only gets that power when the Prime Minister goes to her and says he will have an election and she will call it. That is not the way it should be either.
Our system has evolved to the point where the Governor General only uses that power when directed, as I have stated, by the Prime Minister. The Constitution provided this power so the government could go to the people when its time had passed or to seek their judgment on an issue of great importance. Sadly, it has now become just another card up the government's sleeve.
There are some people who oppose these measures, but the majority of people want a fixed time, like they have at the local level, as I have stated. I have to say that when we do this at the local level, the people do not elect or reject a candidate based on whether or not he or she has done something in a sponsorship program or whatever. The people look at the four years and ask what the candidate has done to build their municipality, to make it grow.
That is exactly what should be done in Canada: What has the government done that is right for the people of Canada? We do not have to worry if it is two years or three years. It is a fixed date. If the government is doing what is right, it does not have to worry about being here for that length of time.
Really and truly, I have to say that I will not get into what the government side has or has not done. I know that people in Canada are getting fed up with politicians who do not listen and who only care about the people they feel will vote for them. That is not the way it should be.
Here is what we should be doing. When I look at these young people we have here today and I look at our country, I ask what can we do for them, because they are the foundation, they are the future, and they are the ones who will probably be sitting in the House some day. I would like them to have a fixed date whereby they can get elected and be here for four years and then be elected again.
I would like to see the whole system change. I am in my eleventh year here. I have to say that when I go home and listen to my people--and believe me, they still come to me to get their roads paved and for the provincial problems they have, and I am honoured by that, I truly am-- it makes me feel good because I feel that I am representing my people.
On behalf of all of these young people here today and on behalf of those who are not here today, I have to say that it is time for us to have fixed term elections and it is time for us to vote on what is right for this country. It is not a matter of party. It is not a matter of opposition taking on the government. What it is about is what is right for this country. It is right for us to have fixed election dates and get some stability here.
Supply April 27th, 2004
Madam Speaker, the hon. member should have looked at the Globe and Mail on January 29 of this year when an icon Liberal Party gentleman, Tom Kent, stated:
The fount of authority is the prime minister's power to dissolve Parliament when he chooses--a fearsome discipline over his own party. The even greater offence to democracy is that other parties are put at a serious disadvantage, as they cannot be sure when and on what issue or pretext an election will be called. Will [the Prime Minister] free Parliament from arbitrary dissolution? That would indeed shift the balance of power away from the “command-and-control systems of central authority” and toward a representative democracy that better reflects “the views of citizens and communities”.
That was from an icon Liberal. Tom Kent is well known. The hon. member should recognize that Tom Kent is also saying that it is time for change.
When the hon. member talks about our Queen, the head of state, let me say that the hon. member forgets that I got up and had words with the previous prime minister. The deputy leader at that time wanted to break all ties from the Liberal Party from Canada with our Queen. I was able to say them and I do not want to hear that from him any more. Apparently he does not listen to anything.
Points of Order April 20th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, during question period, the Prime Minister referred to some of the hon. female members of this chamber as baying like hounds in heat. I do not bay like a hound. A baying hound is a bitch, and I am not a bitch.
Veterans Affairs April 1st, 2004
Mr. Speaker, in reply to my question last week, the Minister of Veterans Affairs indicated that there were “other groups in society who could benefit from the VIP”. In fact, he even said that his department was looking into other groups which might wish to have access to this program.
The VIP was designed to help aging veterans and their wives. Yet at the present time, widows of veterans who died prior to September 1990 have been excluded from the program.
Why would the minister extend VIP benefits to other groups before the grieving widows of fallen veterans? Does he not understand that these widows are struggling to remain in their homes as we speak? How could the government even consider expanding the program to other groups while at the same time denying the benefits to the widows who need them most? Just who exactly are those other groups?
This is one of the great injustices I have seen in my 10 years in Parliament. I demand that the minister fix it before it is too late.
Petitions March 31st, 2004
Mr. Speaker, I have five petitions to present today with regard to the definition of marriage as being the lasting union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others and that it cannot and should not be modified by a legislative act or a court of law.
The first petition is signed by 116 residents of Saskatchewan.
The second petition is signed by 326 residents of Calgary, Alberta, and it is also in favour of marriage as being between one man and one woman.
The third petition, which contains 313 signatures of residents of Saskatchewan, once again is asking that we do not change the definition of marriage.
The fourth petition is signed by 228 residents of Pictou, Nova Scotia, who state that marriage is the lasting union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others and cannot and should not be modified by a legislative act or a court of law.
The fifth petition has 314 signatures of residents of Ontario, who are also asking that marriage be the union between one man and one woman.
Veterans Affairs March 24th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, this government lost more than $100 million in the sponsorship scandal, then $160 million from DND, and has put over a billion dollars in that boondoggle useless gun registry.
Yet, at the same time, it says that it cannot afford to give much needed help to Canadian war widows whose hero husbands died before 1990.
I want to know and the Prime Minister should be telling us, why does his government always have the money for waste, but never the money for war widows.
Veterans Affairs March 24th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, since taking office, the Prime Minister has promised to do more for Canada's military, but I guess actions speak louder than words.
When faced with the opportunity to help deserving veterans' widows with the VIP, the Prime Minister has turned a blind eye.
When will the Prime Minister follow-through on his promises and help these brave women and give them the VIP?