Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Central Nova (Nova Scotia)
Won her last election, in 1993, with 43.61% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Petitions February 13th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I present a second petition with 320 signatures of constituents in my riding.
The petitioners urge all levels of government to demonstrate their commitment to education and literacy by eliminating sales tax on reading materials. They ask Parliament to zero rate books, magazines and newspapers under GST. They ask Parliament and provincial governments to zero rate reading materials under the proposed harmonized sales tax.
Petitions February 13th, 1997
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present to this hon. House today. Pursuant to Standing Order 36, I present a petition from my constituents who pray and call on Parliament to support the immediate initiation and conclusion by the year 2000 of an international convention which will set out a binding timetable for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.
Silver Cross Mother November 7th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, Margaret Langille, a life-long resident of River John, Nova Scotia and a constituent of my riding of Central Nova, has been chosen to be this year's 1996 silver (memorial) cross mother by the Dominion Command of the Royal Canadian Legion.
As this year's silver cross mother, Mrs. Langille is privileged to represent all the mothers across Canada who have sacrificed their beloved sons in the war for our peace and freedom.
Mrs. Langille lost her only son Lawrence in World War II when he died during an assault in Falaise, France on August 16, 1944.
At 95 years of age, Mrs. Langille will make her first ever trip to Ottawa where she will take part in the national Remembrance Day ceremony.
I ask this hon. House to join with me in extending congratulations to Mrs. Langille for being chosen as this year's silver cross mother and a special thanks to our veterans for their sacrifices which have secured for us our current freedoms.
May God bless Mrs. Langille and all the mothers who have lost their sons in war.
Petitions November 6th, 1996
Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the honour to present a petition from Canadian professional photographers in the industry of photography who are concerned that they have no copyright protection founded in Canadian law. The petitioners call upon Parliament to enact legislation to provide the following protection.
They ask that copyright in a photograph come into being automatically as soon as the image is fixed in a tangible medium; that ownership of the copyright in professionally created portrait photographs vests solely in the photographer and not in the person who commissioned or sat for the portrait; that copyright is a form of statutory intellectual property distinct from the photograph and sale of the photograph does not imply any transfer of the copyright interest; any assignment of the copyright must be in writing, signed by the copyright owner; and that duplication in any form of a professionally created photograph without the authorization of the photographer constitutes copyright infringement.
Petitions September 18th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition from my constituents which draws the attention of the House to the following: That there are profound inadequacies in the sentencing practices concerning individuals convicted of impaired driving charges; and that Canada must embrace a philosophy of zero tolerance toward individuals who drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
Therefore, the petitioners pray and request that Parliament proceed immediately with amendments to the Criminal Code that will ensure that the sentence given to anyone convicted of driving while impaired or causing injury or death while impaired does reflect both the severity of the crime and zero tolerance by Canada toward this crime.
Constitution Amendment June 3rd, 1996
Madam Speaker, the primary responsibility of the Parliament of Canada is not to concern itself with the reform of the Newfoundland and Labrador education system. Rather, the fundamental responsibility of the Parliament of Canada is to safeguard and protect the existing terms of the Canadian Constitution and to protect the enshrined rights of minorities as presently set forth in the existing Constitution. This is not merely a Newfoundland and Labrador issue; this is a Canadian issue affecting Canada as a nation.
The adoption of this resolution to amend term 17 by the Parliament of Canada will have far reaching, detrimental consequences for the nation, the Canadian people as a whole. Therefore I do not support this resolution.
This resolution is not properly before this honourable House. Procedurally the Parliament of Canada is relying on section 43 of the Constitution Act, 1982 to provide for an amendment to the Constitution of Canada in relation to any provision that applies to one or more but not all provinces; in this case one province. Section 43 provides that such an amendment can be made bilaterally, between the province affected and the Parliament of Canada, through resolutions passed respectively by the provincial legislature, by Parliament, by both the House of Commons and the Senate.
The Minister of Justice in his address to the House of Commons on May 31, 1996 gave an example of a bilateral change involving the fixed link with Prince Edward Island which required a change in terms of its union with the federation. With the greatest respect to the Minister of Justice, there is absolutely no comparison between the fixed link and the rights of minorities in Canada.
Procedurally Parliament is in error to entertain a section 43 resolution because the issue before the House does not merely affect Newfoundland and Labrador. It affects all of Canada. It affects every Canadian. It goes to the very heart of the basic, fundamental constitutional rights and freedoms set forth in the Canadian Constitution.
When a province and Parliament can bilaterally act pursuant to section 43 to substantially modify without consent the minority rights of the Canadian people, we have to be more than concerned. In this instance the consent of the religious denominations has not been obtained. To act without this consent is inexcusable and unjustifiable.
To appease the provincial conscience a referendum was held in which 52.5 per cent of the eligible voters voted; 54.9 per cent voted in favour, 44.9 per cent voted no, and 422 ballots were rejected.
Although the referendum is not a prerequisite to a section 43 resolution it should be noted that the express consent of the religious denominations must and should be obtained. The constitutional rights of the denominations cannot be waived by the mere passing of a resolution by the Newfoundland government. Therefore unless and until the express consent of all religious denominations are obtained this section 43 resolution is procedurally and substantively not properly before Parliament.
In any event, section 43 cannot be read in isolation of section 93 of the Constitution Act. Section 93 of the Constitution Act, 1867 confers on provincial legislatures the exclusive power to make laws in relation to education. Section 93 restricts provincial power to make laws in relation to education by adding four qualifying sections. Subsection 1 specifically provides that nothing in any such law shall prejudicially affect any right or privilege with respect to denominational schools which any class of persons has by law in the province at the time of union.
Section 93 read in conjunction with section 43 makes it clear that this is not merely a Newfoundland and Labrador issue. This is an issue that affects every province, every Canadian, every religious denomination, every parent in Canada. It affects every minority right with respect to religion, education and language rights.
This section 43 resolution is not properly before the House. In any event, the substantive purpose and effect of this resolution is to undermine the existing and inherent rights of the church, the religious denominations' right to govern and to teach values consistent with the fundamental teachings of their respective religious denominations.
The effect of the proposed amended term 17 will be to permit the Government of Newfoundland to enact legislation which, as itself concedes, would prejudicially affect the existing constitutional rights of the religious denominations and minority classes of persons and thus violate term 17 as it stands.
The effect of that legislation will be to effectively dismantle the existing denominational school system in Newfoundland. The proposed amendment to term 17 will eliminate constitutionally protected rights held by religious denominations, and this will be done without their consent.
The initiative to amend the Constitution and thus to take away their minority rights was taken without agreement. It was also taken notwithstanding former Premier Wells' statement in the House of Assembly on March 12, 1993, when he said just before announcing an election: "Mr. Speaker, in response to the church leaders' concerns that implementing certain recommendations of the royal commission report would jeopardize their traditional rights, government has assured the leaders that it is not seeking change to the Constitution that would remove the constitutionally protected rights of classes of people specifically provided for".
However, present day events show that commitment was not kept. In light of this, this honourable House has a grave responsibility to protect, defend and safeguard the constitutional rights of our denominational schools and the rights of all minorities in Canada.
The House should be alerted to the words of the justice minister on May 31 with respect to the future section 43 resolutions: "We shall make up our minds on the facts of those cases if and when they arise. If they do not meet the standards which we think are appropriate we can decline to give our support".
I ask the honourable House should we leave the constitutional minority rights of Canadians in the hands of the politicians of the day to set the standards and to decide to change the inherent constitutional rights of the Canadian people at their political whim? I think not.
Employment Insurance Act May 14th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, Bill C-12 is not just about modernizing an outdated unemployment insurance system. It is about jobs. It is about creating new opportunities and a climate for job creation. It is about helping
unemployed Canadians find jobs. It is about breaking through the status quo, helping young people, women, displaced workers across the country get back to work quickly and back in control of their lives. It is about the government's number one priority: investing in Canadians.
In the last four months, employment jumped by 91,000 jobs, the largest quarterly growth in two years. Since November 1993, more than half a million jobs, 596,000, have been created in the country. Our job strategy is working. Employment insurance is a key part of this strategy. The cornerstone of employment insurance is set out in part II of Bill C-12, the new employment benefits.
We are making active pro-employment measures an integral part of the insurance program. We are saying that employment insurance should not just be about passive income support for the unemployed. It should help break down the barriers that keep the unemployed from working. It should help to make sure that people who lose their jobs get the help they need as they try to adjust and adapt to a fast changing economy. It should make sure that as our economy grows and changes, people get the type of assistance they need to adjust.
Employment insurance will do this by focusing on what works, the things that really make a difference for people looking for work; by working together, building bridges between different levels of government, business, communities and service organizations; by clarifying the federal government's role in the labour market and creating new flexible arrangements with the provinces and territories to harmonize the delivery of the proposed employment benefits with provincial programs.
Let us look at how these points are addressed in Bill C-12. The bill defines in the clearest and simplest way possible the objective of active employment benefits: helping people find and keep employment.
Employment benefits are focused on results and they will be managed by results. Only one rule really matters: getting people back to work. This rule is enshrined right in the legislation in section 57(1)(f). We are simplifying the maze of federal employment programs into a much simpler, more flexible set of tools that have been tried, tested and proven to get results.
For example, wage subsidies work. They encourage employers to hire an individual who is likely to face long term unemployment or barriers to employment. Under past programs people who received these subsidies were able to get an average of 16 more weeks of work, increase average annual earnings by close to $5,000, eliminate almost four weeks of social assistance, and all this at a cost of just $3,000 per participant.
Targeted earnings supplements work. They help make work for unemployed workers who need help getting re-established in a job. Self-assistance employment works to help unemployed people create their own work and in the process create work for others as well.
Our experience to date shows that these new entrepreneurs earn $142 a week more than non-participants, claim 92 per cent less UI than comparable workers and are 30 per cent less likely to use social assistance. On average, each participant who starts up a new business for themselves also creates another job for someone else.
Job creation partnerships work. Under this benefit, unemployed workers are encouraged to earn income while developing new skills and acquiring valuable work experience. This type of employment benefit not only improves an individual's future job prospects but helps to develop and diversify local economies.
We also know that skills work. The best ticket to a job for any Canadian is having the skills required for today's economy. Where provinces agree, a fifth employment benefit, skill loans and grants, will be offered, allowing unemployed workers to pursue skills training. These grants and loans will be focused on individual choice and responsibility rather than government directed training.
We also recognize that training and education are provincial responsibilities. Therefore, skill loans and grants will only be implemented in a province with the agreement of that province. In fact, one of the strengths of Bill C-12 is that it clarifies, more than ever before, federal and provincial responsibilities in this area. It commits the federal government to working in concert with provinces to help workers find jobs.
The federal government through formal agreements with provinces will ensure that the needs of the unemployed are addressed and that the employment measures allow them to return quickly to the workforce. This is an unprecedented gesture of openness and flexibility that proves federalism is a dynamic, evolving system that can change to meet the needs of real people.
Ultimately Bill C-12 is about building bridges, breaking down the old barriers that stopped us from working together in the past, and breaking down the barriers which keep Canadians from working. Results are what really matter to Canadians, no matter what level of government delivers the employment benefits and measures. Flexibility, accountability, co-operation and partnerships are the key to getting results.
Employment insurance allows new partnerships to develop and evolve for the future. It will lead to more effective labour market programs, better matched to local labour market realities. It will focus all resources and energies on the real challenge at hand; helping Canadians find and keep employment.
We will be investing some $800 million of the savings we will achieve with this legislation into active employment benefits. With the current $1.9 billion already budgeted for employment services, this means a total of $2.7 billion to actively help unemployed people get back to work.
That investment will pay off by helping up to 400,000 Canadians each year and creating more than 100,000 new jobs. In addition a $300 million transitional jobs fund will create thousands more jobs in high unemployment areas. Those are the kinds of results we need. That is what employment insurance should be all about, helping people who lose their jobs get back to work as quickly as possible.
This is a top priority for the government and for all Canadians across this country. Working Canadians want more than rigid, bureaucratic programs and an outdated UI program designed to preserve the status quo. Canadians want jobs. They want a system that gets results, an employment insurance system for the 21st century. They need a modern, active, effective employment insurance system defined in this legislation and I recommend this bill to the House.
Canadian Human Rights Act May 9th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raised the issue of religion in her speech. Therefore, I would like to address that issue.
I draw to the attention of the hon. member that in Hansard on April 30 the Minister of Justice stated:
This bill is fundamentally consistent with the most basic teachings of religion''. He went on to state that he was a Roman Catholic:I developed a deep respect for the tenets of the Catholic faith. I suggest this amendment and the action it constitutes is completely consistent with those tenets''.
It is my position that the Minister of Justice has exceeded his authority by speaking on behalf of the church. I would like to ask the hon. member, was the Minister of Justice speaking on behalf of the church in the province of Quebec?
Westray Mine Disaster May 9th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, in recognition of the grieving families and in commemoration of the 26 deceased miners who were killed in my riding of Central Nova in the Westray coal mine disaster on May 9, 1992, we will remember them:
John Thomas Bates, Larry Arthur Bell, Bennie Joseph Benoit, Wayne Michael Conway, Ferris Todd Dewan, Adonis J. Dollimont, Robert Steven Doyle, Remi Joseph Drolet, Roy Edward Feltmate, Charles Robert Fraser, Myles Gillis, John Philip Halloran, Randolph Brian House, Trevor Jahn, Laurence Elwyn James, Eugene W. Johnson, Stephen Paul Lilley, Michael Frederick MacKay, Angus Joseph MacNeil, Glenn David Martin, Harry A. McCallum, Eric Earl McIssac, George James Munroe, Danny James Poplar, Romeo Andrew Short and Peter Francis Vickers.
We will remember them.