House of Commons photo


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

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act March 22nd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on his thought provoking speech. This is a topic where I am not sure whether the word we are using fits. We are talking about equalization. There is absolutely nothing equal about the issue we are discussing as it relates to the Atlantic provinces. There is an old saying that everyone is equal but some are more equal than others. Certainly in this case we have found out that some across the country are more equal than we are.

When I say I am not sure we are using the right word, I do not know if anyone else is sure we are using the right word. I refer particularly to government.

Some time ago I raised the topic, as I have done on several occasions, with the Minister of Finance. I raised it because it is perhaps the most important issue that could be addressed in the House, since it relates to the economic well-being of the country.

I am not talking just about Newfoundland or Nova Scotia or the Atlantic provinces. I am talking about the country. We have now what we could refer to as federal welfare. We have a Robin Hood system that takes from the rich, particularly in Alberta and Ontario, and helps those who need it. It helps those who, as we say, are not equal.

Are we making them equal, however, with the pittance we give them? No, we certainly are not. We are merely boosting their economies slightly.

When we look at the freezes and cuts that have been made to CHST transfers we realize, as someone already said today, that the federal government now pays something like 13% or 14% of health and post-secondary education costs. At one time it paid 50% of those costs. The provinces, none of whom are being helped by the federal government to bolster their own economies, are trying to manage excessive social costs. Health care in the provinces, because of an aging population and increasing costs, takes up most of the money in the pot.

Post-secondary education is left to try to survive on its own. The level of investment in education in the country is a shame, and our students are the ones who are paying.

In the past few weeks a lot of attention has been paid by provinces to equalization. Perhaps what government members should do, instead of debating the issue and sitting back and doing nothing as they has always done, is visit the areas Premier Hamm visits. They could then listen to his basic, down to earth, factual speeches about the benefit of letting provinces like Newfoundland develop their own resources.

That would not only give provinces like mine a measure of satisfaction, it would enable them to hold on to their revenues until they reached the Canadian average. They could then start contributing to the Canadian economy, and provinces like Alberta and Ontario would not need to give them welfare.

Provinces like Newfoundland could then start contributing to equalization. They could help bolster the economies of provinces that did not have the same resources, encourage those provinces to invest in their own economies and help them create the infrastructure necessary to develop resources and profits that would turn them into have provinces.

It is a very simple process. It was done in Alberta, even though the Minister of Finance told me it was not. When equalization was instituted Alberta's revenue started to be clawed back. The province was given, after a seven or eight year hiatus, a chance to invest its royalties in its infrastructure. It has since become not only self-sufficient but one of the major contributing partners in the country.

That is what Confederation is supposed to be about. Surely we can assist the process with a bit of common sense. That is all Premier Hamm of Nova Scotia is asking. That is all Premier Grimes of Newfoundland asked when he visited the Prime Minister last week. When Premier Grimes returned to Newfoundland from his visit to Ottawa he stated:

The prime minister is clearly committed to the notion that—provinces like Newfoundland and Labrador could keep more of their source revenues. My understanding and my impression from my meeting with the prime minister is that he is of the view that that's the right thing to do—as soon as they can do it, and there's no reason to wait.

Within minutes of the premier saying that, the Prime Minister's Office issued a terse release which said that the premier was wrong and that no commitments had been made.

We have a premier saying the Prime Minister committed to give Newfoundland a fair deal. We have the Prime Minister saying he is wrong and that he did not say such a thing. The Minister of Industry inserted himself, as he always does, and agreed with both of them, as he always does.

Getting back to the Minister of Industry, who was the premier of Newfoundland for years, we might ask if he took up the fight Premier Hamm is now taking up? Absolutely not. Did he take it up when he was a minister in the government opposite for a number of years? Absolutely not.

When did he take it up? He took it up during the last federal election in November, when he decided he was not going anywhere in Newfoundland. He ran in the safest Liberal seat in Newfoundland, the seat held by the former premier. After the first election he did not even have the nerve to stay there. He ran to what was the safest seat in the province, the only seat that had never been represented by anybody except a Liberal.

We saw what happened there after he left. A Tory was elected for the first time in history because of the impressions people had of the person who now wants to be Prime Minister of Canada.

During the election campaign he and his minister of tourism, who ran in my riding of St. John's West, campaigned on the slogan “New Team, New Deal”.

What was the new team? It was not a new team. It was the same old team. I took care of one half. I would have taken care of the other if he had had the nerve to run in that riding, the riding in which he lives. However he did not.

Modernization Of House Of Commons Procedure March 21st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, a number of years ago I came from the government side of a legislature where our leader gave us a fair amount of flexibility. I then spent three years in opposition where I saw premier number one pull the plug on Meech Lake despite the wishes of the majority.

I also came from the same legislature where I saw the same leader lead a vote of non-confidence in the speaker because he was caught short on quorum. I have seen many people try to make good speeches and nobody listened. That was unfortunate. How can we individually react and do anything about the problems in the country or parliamentary reform if we are not even listening or we are not even concerned with what is going on?

I agree with the hon. member that we should always have a large number in the House so that the give and take will lead to positive results.

Modernization Of House Of Commons Procedure March 21st, 2001

We hope they are listening and we hope that they learn. All of us have learned tonight from all those who have participated.

We could ask for many things to be changed. Practically all of them are on the record already. We could talk about ministerial statements that should be made in the House so that there is a chance to respond and people across the country understand what has been announced, particularly if those statements refer to policy and financial items.

We should see ministers here during the late show when we have questions but are not satisfied with the answers we receive. We ask for more deliberation so that they can understand what we are talking about. We should not have their parliamentary secretaries rushing in with a prepared text to slough off members with an answer prepared by someone else. That is not learning about the problems which confront the country and problems which they as government ministers should be doing something about.

We are also looking at the time it takes to pass legislation and comparing it to the time wasted in this honourable Chamber. Tonight I returned from having dinner with a group of young students who are here in a forum of young Canadians. I asked them as they sat at my table what they thought of their visit to the House. They were impressed, as anyone would be who comes here, but they also said that the decorum is certainly not what it should be and that we waste a lot of time.

Prior to the dissolution of the House when the election was called I saw all the bills that died on the order paper, particularly bills like the employment insurance one that left a lot of people in dire straits for the fall and winter. I wonder how many of these bills could have been passed if we did not procrastinate.

I know my time is short but let me say that despite all the suggestions being made by everyone in relation to the work of the committees, the performance of ministers, the methods and mechanisms of pushing through legislation, if we are to attain change in this honourable Chamber it has to come from the heart of each and every one of us.

We need the intelligence and the imagination to envision what this Chamber should be and what it can do. If each and every one of us, elected by our constituents, does what we were elected to do, we will not have to worry about parliamentary change. It will happen automatically.

Modernization Of House Of Commons Procedure March 21st, 2001

It is not because of our whip, with all due respect to my colleague. Some of us who are in the Chamber at this late hour, and some who will stay even later, believe in the institution. We also believe that perhaps tonight we can make some difference.

What concerns us is who is not here. I know we cannot draw attention to individuals but let us draw attention to classes. The people who hold the power may not have the same concerns about what happens in this great Chamber as those who perhaps are abused by the power that some people hold.

Modernization Of House Of Commons Procedure March 21st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to participate in such a discussion this evening. It is a pleasure to partake in such an interesting exercise. Today is a great day to have such a debate because it is international day for the elimination of discrimination.

Many of us are wearing multicoloured ribbons representing the different nations within our country. I wonder, as many of Canadians watch the debate this evening, what they are saying about us? What do they say about us every day when they watch this honourable House? We must remember that people outside the Chamber only see what is portrayed on television and only hear news reports. Quite often it is not very pretty.

It was an honour this evening, Mr. Speaker, to listen to you, to listen to my leader earlier, and to listen to the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle. If my French serves me right, qu'appelle means what calls. The question we might ask is what is calling us to be here tonight? Unfortunately there are not too many of us, but why are we here?

Employment March 20th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the minister is correct. If we have everyone paying 50% we will get more students, but small, medium size and large municipalities cannot afford to pay a cent. They are taking out street lights to balance their budgets. The best organized institution in communities is the council.

Will the minister review her decision to see the negative effect this decision is having on small and medium size communities and even larger ones throughout the country?

Employment March 20th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resource Development. Every year the minister releases her programs for student summer placement programs. These programs are available to not for profit and for profit agencies.

This year the not for profit groups are paying 100% and the for profit are paying 50%. She has lumped the municipalities in with the for profit groups. Why did the minister's department decide to do this?

Supply March 19th, 2001

Yes, and this is improved service. The minister tries to tell us that this is going to improve our service.

Along with that, a certain amount of the maintenance work was done in the yards in Stephenville, an area where work has been reduced significantly over the years. Ever since the closing of the base, that area has been just hammered.

Governments should try to help wherever they can and add to the employment potential in the area such as Stephenville. They are taking away services that are badly needed, and of course other services being provided within St. John's.

We were told by people involved in the whale industry that there were services being provided to help free whales, but they depended upon the back up of the coast guard. If this service is taken away, its services certainly are not going to be enhanced.

To everybody's chagrin across the country, last week three young people fell off ice pans in the town of Pouch Cove in Newfoundland. The coast guard was involved. Along with the co-ordination of the RNC, the RCMP and the local people, the coast guard quickly found one of the bodies. However, for two or three days the coast guard was searching for the others and the local people were asked to stay out of it. Finally, the knowledge that local people know best took over and the fishermen put out their small boats, despite rough seas and stormy weather. They were the ones who found the two bodies that had not been recovered at that time.

It was great to know that the coast guard vessels were there for protection and enhancement. Had one of those vessels been reduced, it might have meant a boat which was badly needed at that time would not have been there.

We are getting to the period of the year when we go into the seal fishery. All around the coast of Newfoundland, particularly the north-northeast coast, we have fisherman prosecuting the seal fishery in small boats. Consequently, it is this time of year that the protection of the coast guard is used quite often and is badly needed.

I can go on all night with examples. However, I fail to see how a cutback in services like this enhances the protection of the people of Newfoundland.

Supply March 19th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans concerning cutbacks to the coast guard services in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The minister's department has announced that it is going to be scaling back coast guard services in the province.

When I raised the question with the minister, he basically said that it was all part of consolidation and consolidation was going to give us better service, so that instead of cutting back on the service to the province, the department was really enhancing coast guard services.

In a province with a coast line such as Newfoundland has, when we reduce an already diminished service by taking away a search and rescue vessel, by taking away one helicopter, I find it very hard to understand how we are going to improve service. Some people may ask “What is one helicopter?” However, by taking away one helicopter, the fleet has been reduced by 50%. We had four. One crashed a while ago. Now they are taking away one other.

The government is also going to take away the manning of 11 lighthouses so we will have another 11 automatic lighthouses in the province. As well, it is going to back away from involvement in the freeing of whales that get caught up in cod traps in particular and in other fishing gear around the province.

Supply March 15th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the hon. member talk about the case as it affects the Atlantic provinces. It is called the maritime agreement but it is understood that it also includes Newfoundland. When we refer to the four provinces, we locally call them the Atlantic provinces, but in this case all four fall under the maritime agreement.

The member talked about perhaps renewing the maritime agreement or that we should have complete free trade. Would the member give us an example of the difference, if there is a difference, between what the maritime agreement provides now for the people in that area and what free trade across the board would do?