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

Supply February 8th, 2001

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member. There is no doubt that many of us here in the House would agree that there are certain basic rules and principles that we should adhere to.

The member, in his holier than thou attitude, basically set the parameters under which we should all operate. He looked at examples of the past and, perhaps rightly so, pointed out individuals and occasions about which none of us can hold our heads high and say that we agreed with what people did. In saying so, the member himself undoubtedly is saying he does not agree with this either.

Is the member then saying that because he does not agree with this underhanded work, the conflict of interest we have seen in the past, his leader, the Prime Minister, should meet his Waterloo—not to pun the member's district—and perhaps step aside? He is in the same boat as many of the others the member was talking about.

Are you also saying that your leader is wrong? That is the impression you have given the House.

Natural Resources February 2nd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, it is amazing that after three years we have not heard anything of the feasibility study that was supposed to have been completed within a year. I know there was a study done and it should be tabled.

I ask the minister, or perhaps the Deputy Prime Minister, in light of the power shortages in the United States and in light of the need for stable power, if they will now commit to fund or share in the cost of a transmission line from the lower Churchill to the province of Newfoundland?

Natural Resources February 2nd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources.

In March 1998 during the photo op used by the then premier of Newfoundland and the then premier of Quebec in relation to the development of the lower Churchill, a commitment was made by the Prime Minister and the premier of Newfoundland to undertake a feasibility study on the construction of a transmission line from the lower Churchill to the province of Newfoundland.

The results of that study were supposed to be known within a year, and I understand the minister's department was responsible. Could the minister tell us the status of that feasibility study?

Speech From The Throne February 2nd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, would the minister elaborate on his relationship with the environment departments at the provincial level. I am particularly concerned about the Newfoundland government's plan for development on the Main River which is a heritage river in a pristine environment and the home of the pine marten. There is some concern that the government is not being sensitive.

In his concern for species at risk, how does the minister look upon the disagreement?

Petitions October 20th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from several hundred Newfoundlanders all over the province. They are expressing concern about the ungoverned use of Internet in public libraries where the participants in research and so on have access to degrading pornographic material.

They are asking that their tax dollars not be used in this way and that the government bring in legislation to govern the use of such materials in the public libraries of the province.

Canada Health Care, Early Childhood Development And Other Social Services Funding Act October 17th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, during the hon. member's comments he referred to the incoming new minister from Newfoundland and the outgoing minister from Newfoundland. I wonder if he would tell us what he thinks of a government who sends to the far corners of this House a minister who always looked after the people of Newfoundland and brings in somebody who has always looked after himself. What does it say about a government that would do something like that?

Defence Production Act October 17th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I have a question. It was coincidental perhaps that as my colleague was speaking I was reading an excerpt from the press that says “Canada gets duty free zones” and talks about Liberal MPs supporting it.

In the case of my own province of Newfoundland, we are the most easterly point in the country, the nearest point of entry into Europe from the western side. We see what is happening in Ireland because of their geographic location, even though it is not necessarily duty free. Does the member think that the creation of free trade zones would benefit specifically a place so strategically geographically located as the province of Newfoundland?

Emergency Service Volunteers October 4th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, we just heard not what were the comments of a private member but perhaps the official government position on the motion. If there was ever a bureaucratic analysis of a motion we just heard it with every typical government response and every reason in the world why something cannot be done. Instead of finding a way to make sure it can be done, let us find every angle there is to keep a benefit away from people who serve us all and get absolutely nothing.

I would be remiss if I did not speak on this motion because I come from a district that covers large rural sections. Each rural area has a fire brigade. Years ago they had many more fire brigades. When I served in the local fire brigade in my home town each community had a fire brigade. Each community managed to come up with a small fire truck. Each community had a fire pump and enough hose to get to most houses around. Living near the ocean, we always had a supply of water.

However over the last few years, mainly because of government cutbacks in funding to municipalities, federal government cutbacks in infrastructure funding to provinces and provincial cutbacks in funding to municipalities, local fire brigades have found themselves trying to survive on their own merits.

They have done that in two ways. One way is to amalgamate. What that means is the people who volunteer now have to serve areas much larger than their own home region. They cover areas many miles from the base of their current fire station or the fire truck which they might have. These people are on call all hours of the day or night. Many of us are looking at our watches and saying “It has been a long day”. Many of those people are also going home after long day not knowing what hour tonight or tomorrow morning they will be called to go fight a fire.

What do they get paid? The right hon. member who introduced the motion quoted an excerpt from an advertisement in a British Columbia paper which said they get smiles and occasional thanks. That is about what the volunteer firefighter gets.

In the area that I mentioned, the summer is not so bad. In winter, when we have to plough through snowbanks and shovel lanes to get to fires, these people do double duty. Nobody recognizes the amount of effort volunteer firefighters make except the firefighters themselves, their families and the people who they assist.

In many rural areas we hear stories of lives saved, premises saved and losses diminished simply because of the quick and efficient work of fire brigades. These people ask for nothing. They volunteer their time, efforts and energy for for all of us so that we can go to bed knowing that if anything happens somebody will come to our rescue. What do we say to them? We smile and say thanks.

As members of this honourable House can do a little more. We can approve the motion. We can pass the motion introduced in the House to at least show them that we recognize the work they do. The $500 tax credit that we are suggesting is very little. In relation to their time and effort it means absolutely nothing in the monetary sense. However, there is a sense of principle, a sense of recognition and is of some assistance to these people. Many of these people who live in rural areas, and that is where we have our volunteer fire brigades, live in areas where there is very little employment which means that their incomes are exceptionally small. As small as this little gesture might seem, to them it is beneficial.

To hear people talk about how we can connive to prevent the passage of a motion that would deliver this small token of appreciation to people who give their time and effort for our safety and the safety of our families is an insult to the House. Hopefully by the time we vote on the motion the hon. members opposite will see the light. They can listen to one of their colleagues who stood up and volunteered to educate the financiers in the government and to explain to them the reality between dealing with numbers and dealing with people.

We are not talking about saving a few dollars. We are talking about people who save lives. There is quite a difference. In the larger areas of the country we have our fire departments staffed by great firefighters but for them it is a job. It is a trying job, it is a job that not many people would want to have but at least they get paid for it.

The volunteer firefighter in reality does the very same work under adverse and trying circumstances. What does he get? He or she might get our thanks or a smile and sometimes perhaps not even that. We have a chance to do something for them. We have a chance to at least acknowledge the work that they do.

I feel proud to stand as a former volunteer firefighter who has many friends who are volunteer firefighters. I saw their work when they saved the house of a family member of mine. I saw lives saved because of their efforts. I saw volunteer firefighters push their way through snowstorms, through hailstorms and through all kinds of adverse situations in order to be where they were needed. Perhaps now it is time for us to stand up when we are needed and be there for them.

With that, I congratulate the right hon. member for introducing the motion on behalf of one of our colleagues who previously proposed the motion and who will be here again to do a repeat after the next election. I ask hon. members on the other side of the House to reconsider their stance, to listen to their colleagues who have agreed to educate them, to listen to the members of the NDP who have supported this motion and to vote accordingly when the time comes.

Employment Insurance October 4th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development. The premium rate is much higher than necessary, even according to HRDC's own actuary. Will the government take decisive action on this hidden tax on employment and reduce the premium to at least $2 right now?

Eldorado Nuclear Limited Reorganization And Divestiture Act September 28th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, before I get to the heart of the matter, I would be remiss not to make a few comments on the speech by my colleague in the NDP. For a change, I have to say that I agree with some of what he said.

As it pertains to the cost of oil, gas and fuel at the present time and the effect it is having on a lot of people in our country, the hon. parliamentary secretary mentioned that we could not control the price of oil. What the government can control is the effect it is having on the poor of the country and on the people who are living on fixed incomes and suffering drastically because of escalating prices.

If the government cannot control or lower the price of oil, it can certainly lower the taxes. As the price of fuel goes up, the amount of money that governments make, both provincially and federally, increases dramatically. If they were satisfied with a certain fixed income, then the balance of the amount of taxation which is now being charged could revert to the user and that would be substantial. There are all kinds of other ways that the government can help the poor people of the country.

One of the other items that the hon. member mentioned, which is an extremely important to people of Labrador, is the effect this is has on the people who depend on fuel in Labrador. The fuel is brought in during the summer months. Earlier this year, of course, fuel was at a relatively low price. Prices escalated and are those people paying the earlier price at which the owners of the shipping companies bought the fuel? No, they are paying the higher price which is now being charged. That is extremely unfair to the users.

However, that is probably where my agreement with my colleague in the NDP ends. My feeling on the divestiture of Petro-Canada as such is entirely different from what the hon. member feels. Even though we appreciate, perhaps more in Newfoundland than anywhere else in the country, what Petro-Canada has done for oil and gas development in our province, we also must realize that to grow companies need investment. We cannot restrict that investment or we are putting companies at a disadvantage.

Any legislation respecting ownership of Petro-Canada is bound to draw considerable attention in my home province of Newfoundland. Petro-Canada, as a crown corporation and a private company, was and remains a key player in the Atlantic oil and gas industry. Petro-Canada was a partner in the Hibernia oil discovery off Newfoundland in 1979, as well as in gas discoveries off Nova Scotia. It now shares in substantial revenues from the very successful development of the Hibernia field.

When the Tory government bought shares in Hibernia and invested heavily in Hibernia development, many naysayers condemned it for throwing money into such a development. The Canadian Alliance talked about throwing money into a sinkhole. Today, the Government of Canada benefits greatly from the development of Hibernia and will continue to profit for years to come from the developments off the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador.

A year later, in 1980, Petro-Canada was the operator of an oil and gas exploration off Labrador. While it may be some time before the oil and gas from the Labrador fields hits the market, there is no doubt that the Petro-Canada shareholders will reap substantial benefits from their investment in that first class property.

In 1984 Canada Petro-Canada made its first large offshore oil discovery as an operator at the Terra Nova oil field and is now just a few months away from getting first oil from that property. Petro-Canada is also a significant partner in the White Rose oil field which will likely follow Terra Nova as the third producing oil property in offshore Newfoundland.

Along the way the company became a key investor and owner in building an oil transshipment terminal port at Whiffen Head which will be the storage and distribution centre for all the Newfoundland offshore oil. I doubt very much that there would be an offshore oil industry today in Newfoundland without the initiative, the drive, the risk, the faith and the determination of Petro-Canada and its only shareholder for most of that time, the Government of Canada.

Today, oil exploration, development and production in offshore Newfoundland is one of Petro-Canada's four core businesses. The others are the oil sands production and development in Alberta and other developments in northern Alberta, natural gas exploration and production in western Canada generally and refining and marketing of petroleum products including lubricants.

Petro-Canada's mandate is obvious in its core businesses. It was formed by the Government of Canada in 1975 to do what private investors were unwilling to do. That perhaps is the greatest legacy that Petro-Canada leaves the country. The public investment in Petro-Canada was the catalyst for drawing other private sector investors at that time who, perhaps because of exorbitant costs of development of oil fields in rough and rugged areas or unchartered areas in the country and perhaps because of the uncertainty of such developments, could not take the risk on its own. It was the Government of Canada, through Petro-Canada, that was the catalyst to start some of the major developments in the country which have proven to be extremely successful and rewarding to the country.

Private companies were reluctant to take the risks or to invest in new technologies that would be needed to explore and develop these frontiers. Petro-Canada gave Canada a presence and a voice in the corporate culture where attitudes were formed and decisions were made about potential for private sector investments in these areas.

It provided the government with a corporate investment that it could use to form partnerships with the private sector, companies to undertake projects such as Hibernia, which would never have been undertaken without the incentive that the government provided through Petro-Canada.

I am not normally a fan of public sector competition in the private sector but Petro-Canada is different. It is a case where the public sector attracted private sector investment in projects that might not have been developed.

Petro-Canada is a success story. It demonstrates how the public sector can open the door to new areas of investment. Thanks in large measure to Petro-Canada and the former PC government, the Newfoundland offshore is highly profitable, although still a difficult area for private investment solely.

Everything changes. Petro-Canada is now a private company, although the federal government retains 18% ownership. It has to look to private investors for the capital it needs to operate and to expand its core business. It must find the capital in the global financial markets that are increasingly attracted to the size of the profits that we see happening.

I can understand that the present level of ownership restrictions on Petro-Canada may have a negative impact on its ability to raise new capital. We had an example of that with a former public company in Newfoundland, Fishery Products Limited, which was privatized under great restrictions. The company now readily admits that the limit on these restrictions have to be changed because in order to draw the investment that will make the company grow, prosper and be competitive it must be able to encourage investment.

Now that the private sector has experienced firsthand that the energy frontier in Canada is a good place to invest, it may not be necessary to insist that Petro-Canada be majority owned by Canadians.

It is important to avoid a reign takeover of Petro-Canada and the 20% restriction on individual ownership might help do that. If Canadian investors continue to put their money into Petro-Canada so that we continue to have a primarily Canadian owned company playing in the major leagues of global energy exploration, development and production, it is worthwhile to keep the requirement that a majority of directors be Canadian citizens, but it may be more window dressing than substantial.

We have an old saying that says, “he who pays the piper calls the tune”. Undoubtedly, the investors or shareholders in any new company will be the ones who will direct the board of directors. By having that clause in the bill, which says that everything will be okay because the directors will be mainly Canadian, it will probably be just window dressing.

We are not against the bill. It is something that had to come. Petro-Canada has played an extremely important role in the oil and gas development, particularly in my own area of Newfoundland and Labrador. However, times change and new outside interested investment is required to make companies grow, prosper and be competitive in this global market.

We will be supporting the bill. However, just because we are opening up the country to investment, I hope it does not mean that we ourselves will be bought or owned by anybody else. The remarks of my hon. NDP friend that one day we will see the American flag flying over the country, surely we as representatives in this great Chamber and as Canadians generally, know we will never let such a thing happen. We are Canadians and we stand for Canada first. Any decisions we make in this Chamber will be for the betterment of the country and not to weaken it or give it away.