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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was province.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Conservative MP for St. John's South—Mount Pearl (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 45% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Freshwater Exports March 30th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the premier of Newfoundland has reintroduced the bulk export of water issue. He said that even if the governments of Canada and other provincial jurisdictions think that it as not in their best interests he will do it anyway.

The premier has told the ministers of industry and trade to butt out as he has “deserted and abandoned any right to have a direct say”.

Does the government approve of the stand by the only Liberal premier? If not, how does the government plan to stop this man on a mission of self-destruction and protect our valuable water resource?

Employment Insurance Act March 29th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say a few words about this bill, which I look upon as a blackmail bill, to a degree, simply because government is throwing out enough to the people involved to encourage all of us to support the bill, yet is holding back so many other changes that are so necessary we are torn between supporting the bill and voting against it.

However, our party is supporting the bill simply because we in our party know that if we do not accept the changes offered right now, small as they are, those affected may have to wait for prolonged periods, as they did during the fall, of course, when the bill was first introduced. It should have been passed before the election was called but was not and people have suffered decreased incomes throughout this winter.

I congratulate some of the members who spoke this morning. I agree with everything, I think, that was said on this side and I can appreciate exactly where these hon. members are coming from. I especially was impressed with the speech given by my colleague from the NDP who did a magnificent job in outlining some of the concerns his constituents face.

One of the rules that has not been touched at all in this new piece of legislation is the divisor rule. We ask why it has been there from the beginning. If some seasonal employee is fortunate enough to find x number of weeks of work, why should it be divided by a larger number to directly increase his income?

The bill deals with the intensity rule, again a rule that should never have been brought in. It seems the government has been looking at people who are contributing to a fund well in excess of what is required and has been taking money from employers well in excess of what is required, to the extent that we have a surplus of some $32 billion, instead of asking how we could use this money to help the people who were meant to be helped in the beginning, the people who contribute and the employers who contribute on their behalf. We say to the employers that we will not allow their advisory council to have any say in rate setting. That is how we treat them. We say to the employees that we will try to find as many ways as we can to reduce their benefits. We will increase the number of hours of employment needed to qualify. We will bring in the intensity rule which reduces their payment every year. We will bring in the divisor rule which artificially divides their income. Consequently we end up with 50% of nothing being nothing which is what an awful lot of seasonal employees have been getting over the last few years.

The intensity rule change is a positive one, and we agree with it. We also agree with assisting some people to get back into the workforce without having the heavy onus of paying in excessive hours.

In relation to the required hours, if we go back, the original changes were brought in to offset what was always referred to as the 10-42 syndrome. People would work 10 weeks, get 15 or 20 hours of work a week and get stamps, as they used to say then, to draw unemployment for the next 42 weeks. Nobody was happy with that system. However it is like everything else the government does. Once it starts swinging the pendulum, it lets it go from one end to the other and the people who suffer in this case are seasonal employees.

We have regions where the economy has been disastrous during the last few years, in particular, the ground fishery in Atlantic Canada. The bottom has fallen right out of it. This not only affects people involved in the fishery, it affects an awful lot of people who work in the processing industry, the fish plants and associated back up activities.

When there is a shortage of resource, as we have seen in recent years, and when we have demands from the market, especially the Japanese market, looking for product that requires little or no processing, the opportunity for the people working in that industry to obtain employment becomes less and less and the hours are fewer and fewer.

We have made no provision to address times of disaster. Earlier in the year I remember some of my colleagues from the Bloc Party talking about people employed in the forest industry. They were having the same problem. When the work was scarce, they had a problem finding the number of hours required.

We do not want to go back to the old 10-42 syndrome, a handful of hours and a person can draw on the employment insurance all year. That is not the case. However there has to be some special provisions made for individuals who live in areas that have been devastated by lack of resource, or slowdowns in the industry, or lack of construction, or major strikes or whatever the case might be. We do not have that flexibility and people are suffering. Ironically, they are suffering while they themselves have contributed to a fund that was supposed to look them, a fund in the amount of $32 billion which the government lumped in with general revenues.

This is not the way we are supposed to look after the people in our country. This is certainly not the way we are supposed to look after people who really need our help, people who in trying to help themselves get the door slammed in their face.

The bill needs to be amended in several ways and there are amendments on the floor. Certainly, we will be supporting many of them, and perhaps all of them. However amendments should not have been necessary. A government with a conscience, a government that is supposed to know what is going on should have brought in a full bill to deal with all the issues. It is not enough to placate a few and bribe politicians into supporting it so that these people will at least have some benefits, while completely rejecting other benefits that are necessary.

Let us talk about the EI funding and the Department of Human Resources Development. There are provinces which have a lot of seasonal workers. This in itself creates high unemployment in those areas. These people are looking for work and asking government to help out. At the same time we see the end of March approaching, which is the fiscal year end.

Some provinces use the word dump, which in this case means millions of dollars from small, poor provinces are being dumped back into government coffers because of the tight reins the government has on local offices. The flexibility is not there to deliver even the meagre amounts that are assigned to the various regions. It is amazing.

For the first half of this year and part of the previous year, most of the employees of HRDC were busy trying to correct mistakes of the past as a result of the looseness of the government. With the reduction in staff in the department, the manpower was not there to educate people on what was involved in putting forward good, solid proposals which could generate activity in the communities and create employment.

The local offices have been hammered by their own department. What happened? Through no fault of their own, they have not been able to deliver the funds available. Money has been sent back to government. It is unheard of.

It is time the government become aware of what is happening, especially in the rural areas. Somebody mentioned today that small communities adjacent to bigger ones have been lumped together. The small communities are paying the price because they live near areas of high employment.

All of these things have to be looked at. Hopefully we will see changes before the final vote and will be only too glad to see such changes occur.

Questions On The Order Paper March 29th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, on that point of order, I could not help listen to your suggestion to my hon. colleague about putting it on the late show. That in itself presents a problem. When we raise a question on the late show we expect the minister to be there to discuss the details of the question. However we have a parliamentary secretary sometimes—

Education March 28th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, my question earlier was for the minister in relation to a request from Quebec for an allocation of 6,000 metric tonnes of shrimp. I asked the minister at the time to reject the request in light of the implications. The answer I was given by the parliamentary secretary, who will undoubtedly re-answer my question this evening, was that they would look at it in light of their usual policies.

That scares me because when I asked the same minister a question last spring about whether or not he planned to give an allocation of shrimp to P.E.I., he gave me the same type of answer. The next day he gave an allocation of 1,500 metric tonnes to Prince Edward Island.

I have absolutely no problem with giving shrimp to Quebec if there were extra shrimp to give away. I would not mind giving it shrimp if it gave us some of their power. I would not mind giving it shrimp if it gave us back some of our power.

In this case the beneficiaries of any resource, especially the fishery, should be those closest to it and that is the people adjacent to it. That is why we talk about the principle of adjacency.

In this case there are the fish plants. Let us forget about the buildings. There are workers in the riding that the parliamentary secretary represents who, since the collapse of the ground fishery in our province, have been existing on meagre resources. Shrimp could enhance their employment opportunities.

There are participants in the fishery already. The larger boats that involved and that started the shrimp fishery in our province, perhaps the most viable and profitable way of harvesting shrimp in certain areas, could certainly use more of the resource to make their efforts viable.

The 65 and under fleet will tell us it is not getting enough quotas to make it worthwhile gearing up to prosecute the fishery. We have a number of small plants throughout the province that, through the moratorium crisis, kept their doors open without one cent from government. They were the only ones who received no benefit from NCARP and TAGS. These private operators stayed, along with small co-operatives, and kept their operations going on their own backs. These people have been looking for quotas and have been rejected.

There are many needs around the province adjacent to the resource and if there are extra resources that is where they should go.

We know the shrimp stocks are supposedly in good shape. We know that next year or the year after there will be undoubtedly an increased quotas. If that is the case it should go to those who are already involved to make their operations viable, and then to the others who are adjacent to the resource and who will benefit more from it. If there is more above and beyond that then we have no problems with sharing. However we have to look after ourselves first, especially in light of what we have gone through in my province over the last few years.

I hope the member when he stands to answer the question will recognize that the minister has already made a commitment. The minister had made a commitment to the union, to the minister of fisheries in Newfoundland and to the Fisheries Association of Newfoundland and Labrador that we will not see any new entrants into the industry until his present policy review has taken place.

Education March 28th, 2001

The hon. member across the way says sometimes years and maybe he is correct. However, this is very unfortunate, in two ways. It is unfortunate for the professionals coming here and unfortunate for the people in the areas who are waiting for these professionals, especially medical professionals.

It is also unfortunate because, as I think the member from the NDP said, it gives the country a bad name in the sense of not being accommodating to professionals coming here.

I have absolutely no problem in supporting the suggestion, which is all it is, that the House ask the Council of Ministers of Education to look at doing a feasibility study into the standardization of education, not only as it applies to the movement from province to province but as it applies to professional people who come into the country. That is all the motion does. It is an extremely good motion. It is a timely motion. Our party certainly supports it.

Education March 28th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, we too support the motion put forth by the member for Surrey Central. The Bloc spokesperson expressed the concern that we were intruding into provincial jurisdiction. We all know that education is a provincial responsibility. That does not mean the federal government should not have a major concern about what is happening in the country. The provinces know that very well because, after all, the federal government funds a tremendous amount of educational costs.

That is not to say we should intrude and interfere. The resolution is not saying that we should intrude and interfere. The resolution is asking the House to suggest to the Council of Canadian Ministers of Education that it initiate the feasibility study into standardization.

I stress standardization for the right reasons, so that within the country we have free movement and recognition of the certificates or degrees individuals hold. Years ago when we graduated from university we could pick any job at all within our own province. Then it got to the point where we moved to a neighbouring province. Now not only are we moving throughout the country, we are moving around the world.

What really inhibits this movement of educated people is the fact that many of these certificates or degrees we hold are questioned as we move from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. It is bad enough when we move to another continent or another country, but when we move to a neighbouring province and our credentials are questioned, then there are some real concerns.

Canada's Council of Ministers of Education would be an excellent agency to have studying the feasibility of standardization, not only within the country but also as it relates to the standards of other educational institutions, universities, et cetera, around the world.

I was a member of that association for a four year period when I was Minister of Education in Newfoundland. I had the opportunity not only to attend all their meetings but to represent the association and the country at two world conferences, one in Geneva, the UNESCO conference, where we discussed Canada's educational programs in front of nations from all over the world.

I also represented the agency and the country at the meeting of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization, of which Canada is an honorary member. This association has tentacles all over the world. The secretariat of that association is top-notch. The association is well aware of the standards of universities throughout the world. If, and I said if, there are universities turning out people who are not up to acceptable Canadian standards it is known beforehand. We should not have to wait months, or years in some cases, for clarification as to whether an MBA or Ph.D. or BA is acceptable and equivalent to what we would get in any of our Canadian universities.

The association has the power and the professionalism to be able to recommend a general standardization policy, which would certainly expedite, if not solve, some of the problems we face right now.

There is absolutely no need for a student coming out of Memorial University in Newfoundland to be questioned in British Columbia or vice versa. There is absolutely no need for a student coming out of McGill to be questioned by some other university. We should be well aware of the standards. In most cases that is not a problem. There is a fair amount of recognition of credits. However, we still have problems within the country. Some years ago it was a major problem. In my own case, I attended a couple of universities and had some trouble getting credits recognized from one to the other. It takes some time.

People who come into the country are facing a severe disadvantage. Professional people come to Canada, many of whom we seek out, many of whom we beg to come in, especially when we have shortages. I am thinking in particular of the medical field, of doctors, nurses and other professional people, where there is a major shortage. We beg them to come here and when they do we complicate their lives by saying we first have to check their credentials. It takes weeks and months and sometimes even longer to get clarification and acceptance.

I have been personally involved in a few cases where the professionals involved were completely and utterly frustrated. These people come to this new country which is supposed to be one that opens its arms and welcomes people from all over the world and treats them royally. In most cases we do and we are proud of that, but we also have a habit of over-complicating things, and this is certainly one area where we do that. Doctors have come to Canada, and to our province in particular, and have waited for months to get acceptance of their credentials.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act March 28th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member. We talk about equalization and CHST payments, particularly in relation to health care and post-secondary education. One of the main resources we have in the country is our young people. As we see declining payments to the provinces, we see the costs of education becoming a greater burden to students and their families. In the areas where we have failures in the fishery and failures in relation to shipyards et cetera, the people cannot afford to pay for the education of the students.

What does the hon. member think about this lack of investment in our young people and where is this country going if we do not invest in our most precious resource?

Curling March 26th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I think it is very appropriate that I follow the hon. member, because I, on behalf of my colleagues in St. John's East, the people of Newfoundland and all of us here, would like to congratulate Brad Gushue and his team from Newfoundland who yesterday won the world junior men's curling championship.

Brad Gushue and his team of third Mark Nichols, second Brent Hamilton and lead Mike Adam, on a final end last rock hit-and-stick, delivered the world junior championship, not only to Canada but to Newfoundland, where it was really the first official team sport championship that our province has achieved.

We are very proud of them simply because they are great people. Equally proud are the curling club in St. John's, the people of Newfoundland generally and the whole country. They are great Newfoundland champs, great Canadian champions and a great bunch of young men.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act March 22nd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is wrong if he thinks that I or anybody with a degree of common sense would agree with a stand like that. We are the ones who would make sure the country stays the way it is. He might want the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer and for all of us to be subservient to the party opposite.

Nova Scotia, Newfoundland or any other province has no intention of asking to hold on to equalization payments while obtaining revenue from its resources. These provinces are asking for a phase in until they reach the Canadian average where they would then become contributors. They will not require any equalization payments after that because they will live on revenues that come from royalties.

The member is saying that these provinces are benefiting greatly and that the money is pouring in. If we listen to the Minister of Industry talk about how well these provinces are doing with their gross domestic product, everybody would think that Newfoundland is benefiting royally. Most of the profits are going outside the province. Oil is bypassing its shores and being processed elsewhere, as is its shrimp. These make up the two main components that create Newfoundland's GDP.

Newfoundland is not doing well because it is being treated like people on welfare: if they make 50 cents, the government takes it back. It is better for the people to stay home and do nothing than it is for them to work. It is better for Newfoundland and Nova Scotia to leave their resources in the ground or in the sea because then they will always have them. They will not be better off if they are under a government like this one which wants to keep them down. It is time that changed.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act March 22nd, 2001

But they know him, absolutely. They knew him there, and they will know him where he is now. They have known him everywhere he has gone.

The new deal he talked about was a new deal for Newfoundland in regard to equalization and clawback. What do we hear? We hear the Prime Minister say no. We hear the finance minister say he will not change it, even though he told me he will continue to look at it.

We have been looking at it long enough. Let us give provinces that have resources a chance to develop and invest in their own infrastructure so they can create more revenues to help those who cannot help themselves. That is what Confederation is all about, and it is about time we start practising what we preach.