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
National Defence March 11th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, in response to a question about the disappearance of the $160 million from the DND budget, the Minister of National Defence said yesterday that an employee had already been fired.
Can the minister explain how a single individual could personally authorize the expenditure of $160 million in departmental funds? Why were the necessary safeguards not in place in that department to ensure that this type of thing did not happen in the first place?
National Defence March 11th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, when 10 soldiers were given $50 for daily food allowances, the government was quick to pounce on them and get every nickel back. Let me say this. At the same time, $160 million was walking right out the back door in a phony invoice scheme that reminds us all of the sponsorship scandal.
How could DND lose $160 million without anyone on that side of the House noticing it?
Veterans Affairs March 11th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, despite countless desperate pleas for help, Veterans Affairs refuses to change its policy on the veterans independence program, VIP. Because of a simple administrative decision, veterans' widows whose husbands died before September 1990 are excluded from this vital program.
That double standard creates two classes of widows: one group of widows that receives the full benefit of the VIP and another that is left with nothing. Worse still, this decision creates two classes of veterans: those whose families are cared for and those whose families are forgotten.
These brave women were the backbone of the war effort here at home. Many took care of their ailing husbands for 30 years or more. When these widows are denied the benefits they rightly deserve, the government dishonours the memory of their hero husbands.
When the government ties benefits to something as cruel as the date on which a loved one dies, it betrays the values for which those veterans fought. When the government stands to defend this kind of brutal injustice, it is a disgrace--
Haiti March 10th, 2004
Mr. Chair, it is an honour and a privilege to rise tonight to address the very serious situation of the current state of affairs in Haiti.
Let me begin by saying that the thoughts and prayers of all Canadians are with the brave people of that embattled country. We wish for them the same peace, security and stability that we have always enjoyed here at home. To that end, we have dispatched our most courageous citizens to safeguard them in their hour of need.
At the first of this week, I had the honour and the privilege to speak at Camp Gagetown. While I was at Camp Gagetown I also had the honour to see some of our men who were getting ready to go to Haiti. I want people to know that our men from Petawawa were also in Camp Gagetown, for we did not have enough there to send to Haiti.
When I was mayor of Saint John, New Brunswick, the president of Dominica came to my council meeting one night. She asked if I would come to Dominica to see if I could set up a local democratic type of government. I was honoured to have been asked that privilege. When I hear what is happening in Haiti, it was like Dominica.
I was flown into Dominica along with my city manager. We met with the mayor at that time. Young people were not educated, like Haiti. There were people with guns on the streets. We were told to stay in the hotel and not to go down the street, not even a block.
I was really dismayed to see the way it was in Dominica. Before we were through--and it took a couple of weeks to work with the local government and some of the churches--we were able to get the children into schools. I was very, very pleased. Today, Dominica is doing quite well, it really and truly is. I am really honoured that I had a role to play.
On television in the past couple of weeks, Secretary-General Kofi Annan was being interviewed about Canada. He was asked if Canada should put more men and money into the military. He smiled and said yes.
I also had the opportunity to go to St. Petersburg, Russia with the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Lord Robertson spoke to us via a large screen. There were approximately 54 countries represented there. He said he wanted to speak to all of us who were representing Canada. He said that at one time we were in the top three of the scale with our military and the funding and now we are at the bottom end of the scale. He told us to go back to Canada and tell our Prime Minister and our government to make the military number one. Those were the words of Lord Robertson.
It was with an open mind and a heavy heart that I listened to the remarks of the United Nations Secretary-General in this chamber this week. He called on Canada to aim higher, to play a larger role on an ever expanding international stage, because he can see what is happening in Haiti. He sees it in other countries as well. He pointed to our rich history of peacekeeping and nation building as proof of the constructive role we can and must play. He asked us to do more because the fate of the world lies in the balance.
The Secretary-General's call did not fall on deaf ears. We in the House know that Canada is never neutral in the conflict between good and evil. We do not turn our backs on injustice. We do not accept the loss of innocent lives. We do not stand idle when people are suffering. It is simply not Canadian.
Canada has always enjoyed a special place in the UN, one that we have earned through generations of tireless effort and great sacrifice. From its very founding, the UN has relied on Canada to represent the best of humanity in the worst of times. That is why Lord Robertson told us to put more money into our military and get ourselves back up into the top three.
In a recent column in the National Post , General Lew MacKenzie argued that the Haiti mission is the very type of mission that Canadians will be asked to undertake in the post-Cold War world. He notes that the massive wars of the 20th century are now thankfully a thing of the past and that the future of conflict will be smaller, more contained warfare, often among the peoples of a specific region or divided nations.
I would bow to the general's expertise and support his findings wholeheartedly, but the reality is that any debate about what Canada should do is necessarily a debate about what Canada can do. For the past decade, I have repeatedly stood in the House to call for better funding for the military.
In the year 1993-94, our defence budget was $12 billion, but four years later that total was down to $9.4 billion, a reduction of 22%, this despite the fact that in the same period our operational tempo of our armed forces, that is to say, that ratio of time spent by our military in deployed missions, rose from 6% to 23%, an increase of almost 400%. We know the effect that has on the families when the dads or the moms have to leave for six months and the children are at home. It has a very negative impact.
In short, for close to 10 years we have asked our military men and women to do significantly more with dramatically less. For the past few years, the government has prepared itself for a foreign policy and defence review, yet one has not really been undertaken.
As the former vice-chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs and the defence critic for the PC Party, I was repeatedly asked to prepare submissions for those reviews. Because of leadership changes and new ministerial appointments, those reviews have never been completed.
Without a comprehensive defence policy, it is impossible for us to prepare our military for the vital role that it will play in foreign policy. Without a comprehensive foreign policy, our military will not have the necessary framework in which to make equipment purchases and develop personnel training.
Canada is simply not in a position to make haphazard commitments to every crisis that emerges. Our soldiers and their families are mentally and physically exhausted. They have been asked to commit themselves to a variety of missions, each more complicated and demanding than the last. They are asked to accept the most dangerous assignments on the planet with equipment that is unreliable or unavailable. They are, in short, asked to do the impossible.
I believe that a joint foreign policy and defence policy review is a vital priority for the government. A comprehensive review is an essential first step toward preparing our military for the 21st century, but it is not the only step or even the largest.
I have already spoken of the need to increase the defence budget. I would add as a third priority the need to increase the size of our military. The burdens of our benevolence have been placed on the shoulders of fewer and fewer soldiers. Consequently, these brave Canadians are being asked to accept more missions on a more frequent basis. They are separated, as I have stated, from their families much longer than they should be. They can be asked to return to the same theatre of operations--or indeed another--within a matter of months after they come home.
The manpower shortages facing our military are just as serious as the equipment shortages and are just as damaging as the budget shortfall. We must commit, each and every one of us on both sides of the House, to a recruitment initiative designed to bring in thousands of new recruits or we risk losing thousands of those in uniform today.
The men and women of the Canadian armed forces swear a duty to us and we all owe a duty to them. We owe them a duty to provide the best equipment possible. We owe them a duty to ensure that they are adequately trained for the missions we undertake in their names. We owe them a duty to ensure that we do not commit their lives to fruitless endeavours where the risks far outweigh any potential benefits.
Our current practice is to wait until a crisis erupts before planning our response. It is ineffective, at best, and irresponsible, at worst.
Even in a rapidly changing world, where new threats to peace and security are emerging, we can predict many of the challenges we will face in the coming years. Now is the time to prepare our military for those challenges. Now is the time to purchase the equipment we will need, to recruit the soldiers we will need, and to forge the alliances we will need for the conflicts of this century.
We have a role to play in the world, one that has clearly defined our history and our values. The mission we undertake in Haiti is not unlike the missions we have undertaken in so many regions of the world. Yet it seems we are forced to scramble to find the people and equipment needed for these missions. We always seem to be moving men and women, and machines around like pieces on a chessboard.
It does not need to be this way. I have outlined here tonight a series of measures that I believe are essential for our future: a comprehensive defence policy; a larger defence budget; a targeted recruitment initiative; and strategic equipment purchases. If we commit ourselves to those actions today, we will be ready for the challenges of tomorrow.
In closing, I would like to extend my heartfelt best wishes to the men and women of the Canadian armed forces serving in Haiti and all across the globe. We pray for their success and their safe return home.
Canadian Forces March 10th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, earlier this week the Canadian Forces ombudsman reported that the government had insisted that 10 soldiers pay back close to $30,000 they had received in meal allowances.
We have now learned that the Department of National Defence was swindled out of $90 million by phony invoices. Although an investigation is currently ongoing, sources suggest the DND paid the money to a computer contract for goods and services it never received.
The $90 million is almost as much as was blown in the $100 million sponsorship scandal uncovered by the Auditor General.
How is it that the government can pinch pennies when it comes to meal allowances for soldiers but it cannot keep track of $90 million worth of computer services? How can $90 million disappear into a black hole, when our military is strapped for cash?
How can this government account for the fact that it is ruthless in seizing $30,000 from soldiers but it cannot seem to get $90 million from contractors who produced nothing for DND?
Point of Order February 26th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, during the debate yesterday with regard to the marijuana bill, it was inappropriate for me to put the question which I did. If any member took offence to the question I asked, I apologize to each and every one of them.
Petitions February 26th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions this morning having to do with protecting the moral good of society which is a natural and serious obligation of elected officials and cannot be left only to religious leaders and institutions.
The defence of traditional marriage as the bond between one man and one woman is a serious moral good. The petitioners state that marriage is the lasting union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others and it cannot and should not be modified by a legislative act or a court of law.
They state that the recent rulings of the appeal courts of Ontario and B.C. redefining marriage to include same sex partners destroys traditional marriage in law and endangers Canada's social stability and future vitality and health.
The petitioners request that Parliament take whatever action is required to maintain the current definition of marriage in law, in perpetuity and to prevent any court from overturning or amending the definition.
Contraventions Act February 25th, 2004
I asked the question. I did not say she was. I asked the question, Mr. Speaker, because of the things she was saying to me.
Contraventions Act February 25th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, I asked the member if she was high because she was screaming and hollering at me because of my comments, and you did not hear her comments either. There was a debate between the two of us, which I do not think anyone likes.