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

Finance March 2nd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance recently rejected requests from Atlantic Canada to revisit the equalization process. One of the contributing partners to the equalization process is Alberta.

Alberta in the thirties began its economic transformation because it was allowed to hold on to a lot of its royalties while receiving equalization.

Will the minister follow that already established precedent and let Newfoundland and Nova Scotia hold on to more of their royalties while receiving equalization until they also can be contributing partners in this great confederation?

Fisheries March 2nd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, my question is also to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

The minister will remember quite well last year's shrimp fiasco. He now has a request from Quebec for an allocation of 6,000 tonnes of northern shrimp.

In light of the fact that the stocks could be in danger, in light of the fact that many of the adjacent fleets do not have enough quota to maintain a viable operation and in light of the fact that Newfoundland and Labrador entrants are denied access to the resource, will the minister categorically deny the request? Is it not time that the minister either fished or cut bait?

Supply March 1st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about figures being used on this side of the House as if they came out of comic books. He also talked about the great deal and the amount of savings to the government in the present tender call. I remind the member that a six pack is cheaper than a dozen any day of the week. Let us compare apples and apples when we talk about costs.

When the minister spoke this morning he talked about the different references that would be included in the tender call. He did not mention the word commonality.

A study conducted for the Department of National Defence by one of the minister's associate departments showed that by choosing the helicopter that could do both services, over $257 million in 1990 dollars could be saved.

Could the member table those figures to show that there is no other avenue the government could have explored? Would he tell us if the government considered the commonality factor when assessing the tender call to make sure Canadians got the best bang for their buck? We are not talking about saving money here, we are talking about saving lives. It is not the dollar value that counts, it is the service and equipment we get for the dollars we spend.

Supply March 1st, 2001

Madam Speaker, the answer is very simple. If we are going to send our people to the front lines, we should provide them with the best equipment that is available.

The original undertaking by the Tory government to provide helicopters to the armed forces ended with the decision to buy ones that would cost $4.3 billion. That was opposed, as hon. members know, by the government opposite. The selection was made because the Tory government thought those machines were the best at that time. All we ask now is that the current government, in purchasing equipment for our armed forces, buy what is best for them.

Supply March 1st, 2001

Madam Speaker, when we talk about conflict or wars, one of the words that we always hear is brainwashing. It seems that the members opposite have been very well brainwashed in relation to the procedures that we are dealing with here.

What concerns us and I am sure Canadians is not that we are seeking information in relation to the replacement of the helicopters. It is the matter of the rules and restrictions that are being placed on them to prohibit the best type of helicopter that would replace what we have.

Perhaps we should be asking why some of these restrictions are in place. That might be something we will follow up at another time. The bottom line is that if we are going to have the best, then we should have the opportunity to get the best, not a bargain basement price where we usually get what we pay for.

Supply March 1st, 2001

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to participate in a debate on such a crucial issue. I congratulate my colleague from Saint John for bringing it to the House. This is an issue that has been discussed for years in parliament, and certainly in the country, for a number of reasons. It is mainly because we are proud Canadians. One of the agencies that causes us to be so proud is our armed forces.

When we ask people to defend us we expect that we will provide them with the best possible equipment to do the job. We send hockey teams onto the ice. For many years Canada, as a proud nation, has watched these teams. They have been made up of people from many nationalities who live all over the country. They have worn the Canadian red and white sweater with pride while representing us.

Those of us who are a little older will perhaps remember the 1972 series that finished up in Russia. Undoubtedly each of us can vividly recall the day when Paul Henderson scored the final goal to win the series for Canada. All of us felt very proud because these people were representing our nation. They were representing our nation in combat but it was a sports combat. For those of us who remember the series, we might say it was more than a sports combat, it was an international combat. However, what it did was open the doors for friendlier feelings between us and other nations, especially Russia. We showed that we were well prepared, well equipped and we could do the job.

On the other hand, we send our armed forces into combat where, instead of the high stick that might knock out a tooth or cause a few stitches here and there or the odd concussion that goes with hockey, we are asking them to put their lives on the line. Not only did we do it during the great wars and other international conflicts, but we do it all the time, even in our peacekeeping efforts.

As we send out our forces, our representatives, those who go to the front lines for us, we do not know from day to day what kind of conflict they will be in. It is our duty to make sure that they have the best equipment available.

When we hear stories about our armed forces today, how they are not properly equipped, how the funding provided is so little that they are living on the borders of poverty, how can we expect anyone to give their all, which is what we ask of them, if we treat them in such a manner?

A typical example is the helicopter issue that we are talking about in the motion. What makes Canadians so upset is not the fact that we are debating whether or not we are providing them with the best helicopters. Unfortunately, under the present tender calls, we will probably not get the best and that is a major concern. Canadians are perturbed by the fact that we have been waiting so long for the machines. Canadians are also perturbed by the petty politics that have been played this last seven or eight years over this issue.

One of the key planks in this government's platform, which is now cowering under pressure, is to provide helicopters. The helicopters would have been provided long ago if it had supported the original idea to purchase the Sea Kings. In the 1993 election, the then Tory government was ridiculed for the excessive amount of money it planned to spend on helicopters. It was told that it should be able to provide helicopters at a cheaper cost.

We heard, in a very sneaky manner during the last election, this government talk about the need to provide helicopters and how it could be done much cheaper than the Tory government was going to do. Unfortunately, people sometimes talk in half truths.

If someone today wanted to buy a car for $20,000 and I promised I could sell the person a car for $15,000, what I would not be telling the person is that my car is not as good as the one that he or she intends to buy. If someone wanted buy a fleet of cars for a million dollars and I told that person that I could sell him or her a fleet of cars for three-quarters of a million dollars, what I would not be telling him or her is that the number in his or her fleet is much greater than the number in the fleet that I am talking about. It is very easy to confuse people if we do not look at the minute details. The people of Canada certainly have been confused and deceived for years by this government in relation to the provision of equipment for the armed forces. This goes right back to 1978, when it talked about the need to replace the Sea King. That was 23 years ago. We are talking about replacing equipment needed by the people who serve us, who represent us on the first lines. What an insult to the intelligence of Canadians. What an insult to the people in our armed forces.

In 1992 the Mulroney government approved a replacement of the Labrador search and rescue and Sea King maritime helicopter fleet with a common helicopter EH-101. The new fleet was ordered at a cost of $4.3 billion, which is what started the big opposition: the cost of helicopters.

When we look now at what we are getting, we find we do not know what we are getting. That is the problem. If we knew what we were getting perhaps we could have some intelligent commentary on it. However, it would not be from us in here. I doubt that there are many people in this whole assembly who know very much about the workings of a helicopter. Some might pretend, and perhaps we do have some people who have spent some time in the field as pilots, mechanics or whatever, but I would suggest that very few really know.

However, whether we know anything about it or not, when we find out that the package will come in four different unrelated components, we sort of wonder what we will get when it is all put together. That is a major concern. By the time we do something like that, put it together, take the final product and divide the numbers into the total cost, it will be very interesting to see the unit price compared to the unit price of the original suggestion made by the Tory government back in 1993.

The motion reads:

That this House call upon the government to eliminate the barriers in the Letter of Interest to the aerospace industry, which impede a fair and open Maritime Helicopter Project, and that maritime procurement be conducted on a “best value to the Canadian taxpayers” basis, in accordance with the Treasury Board guidelines.

I do not think the motion is good enough because when we ask government to do something, we never know when it will do it. I suggest we strengthen the motion with another word. Therefore, I move:

That the motion be amended by inserting the word “immediately” before the word “eliminate”.

The motion would then read:

That this House call upon the government to immediately eliminate the barriers in the Letter of Interest to the aerospace industry—

Immigration Act February 26th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, some time ago I asked a question of the Minister of Natural Resources concerning the construction of a transmission line between Labrador and the province of Newfoundland. I was basically asking about the proposed development of the lower Churchill.

The minister talked around the answer, mainly because at the time he could not remember the exact status in relation to the specific question which was more or less on a study undertaken by his department into the feasibility of the construction of such a line.

In March 1998 the then premier of Newfoundland, who is now a minister of everything in the House and the then premier of Quebec, met in Labrador for what turned out to be a photo op to talk about the development of the lower Churchill. Their plans were disrupted by the native people who were extremely upset, and rightly so, because they had not been brought in on the discussions.

As part of all this a commitment was made by the Prime Minister and the then premier of Newfoundland and Labrador to conduct a feasibility study into the construction of a transmission line from the lower Churchill development to the island of Newfoundland.

Many people fail to realize that Newfoundland does not have a lot of clean power left. Nor does perhaps the rest of the country. The lower Churchill is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, supplier of clean power that is left in Canada.

A transmission line to the province would provide the island of Newfoundland and the Labrador section with a tremendous amount of cheap, regular, clean power which is in such demand. Just recently we heard concerns expressed by the United States, specifically in California, when it had a number of power shortages.

Many of the major IT companies made it quite clear that they could not continue to operate in an environment where there was a shortage of power because of the dependency on their industry. They were to look at setting up backup support in areas that could provide cheap, clean, regular power. A place such as Newfoundland could do that.

The Government of Canada has to understand that different regions, whether it be in the west or in the Atlantic provinces, have a tremendous amount to offer when it comes to natural resources but they need help in developing them. The minister, in his response to me, and I thank him for following up on my letter, talks about a deal between Quebec and Newfoundland. There are many other partners besides Quebec to help develop our resources. The study that was requested is extremely important in setting the groundwork for this work.

I hope the minister has dug into this a little bit more and can shed a little more light on the status of the study that was commissioned by the Government of Canada and the government of Newfoundland.

Taxation February 26th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, today the Minister of Finance is meeting his provincial counterparts in Halifax. The main issue on the agenda is equalization.

Newfoundland and the other Atlantic provinces want changes. They want to make sure that the clawback arrangement is changed so that the federal government does not continue to claw back 75% to 90% of the resource revenues that the provinces take in.

We do not want to be the Cinderella of Canada. We do not need to be the Cinderella of Canada. We have found the glass slipper. All we want is the chance to wear it.

Coast Guard February 23rd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the minister should read the auditor general's report. Due to the minister's refusal to let fishermen move to larger boats, more and more smaller boats are forced to go further and further to sea to catch their quota. More marine activity is being generated around the oil and gas offshore activity. The main shipping lanes in the western world are around the coast of Newfoundland.

In light of this, how can the minister even consider cutting back on the safety, service and protection, not only of the marine environment but of lives as well? Why is Newfoundland the only place to be punished? How are we going to free Willy?

Coast Guard February 23rd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

The Canadian Coast Guard in Newfoundland plans to decommission one of its search and rescue vessels, remove staff from 11 lighthouses and pull 50% of its helicopter service. It is also planning to get out of the business of freeing whales trapped in fishing gear, the results of a cutback in the work at the St. John's and Stephenville maintenance yards.

How does this jive with the coast guard vision statement, to lead the way in marine safety, service and protection of the marine environment?