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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

Fisheries and Oceans March 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, in the last two years the hon. member has seen us clean up overfishing on the east and west coasts, ensure that we have a solid owner-operator policy, put millions of extra dollars into infrastructure and open up the north. Does he think, for one minute, that we would stand by and let anything like that happen to our inshore fishermen? Not a chance.

Fisheries March 5th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his assistance and support in relation to dealing with foreign overfishing.

In relation to the west coast, let me also assure him we are taking the same action over there. Just recently, during our Operation Driftnet patrol, six Chinese vessels were sighted using illegal driftnets. After reporting them to the U.S. coast guard, six were apprehended.

The Chinese government has confiscated each vessel, sold five of them, and the owners have had their international fishing licences cancelled. Heavy fines were also imposed.

Fisheries March 4th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, again, one of the ways the hon. member can help is give me the tools to do the job.

I told him to pass Bill C-32 so that I can help fishermen.

Fisheries March 4th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows much better than that. It is fearmongering at its finest.

The draft text is not only a draft text put forth by the chair, but it has bracketed all these suggestions. It will never see the light of day. If they ever make it to any kind of serious round of negotiations, Canada will be firmly against them.

Fisheries and Oceans March 3rd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, let me assure the member that the draft text recently put forth in relation to this issue is inappropriate and it is controversial. We certainly will stand up. Not only Canada but every fishing nation in the WTO would never go along with that stuff.

The problem is that it has not been on the go since last week or last month. It has been on the go since 2001.

The Budget February 28th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, very briefly to my friend, when I made those remarks, I talked about the groups in my own province that I had heard from. I listed several of them. I listed some groups that were against the budget. Nationally, it might be a different story.

I would suggest to the member that because he is in opposition, and I understand that because I was there myself, he has picked the negatives. We collectively have to start looking at the glass as not being half empty, but as being half full and in fact, it is starting to move toward the top. In another 10, 15 or 20 years with this government in power, we are going to have a great country, despite what we had to deal with when we took over.

The Budget February 28th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I assure my hon. colleague and friend that small craft harbours are certainly not neglected.

Back in my first year in the House and my first day on the standing committee I would suggest, I raised the issues of infrastructure and wharves involved with small craft harbours. My initiative encouraged the committee to do a major study which resulted in an extra $100 million being put into the budget. That $100 million ran out last year.

What the government did in the last budget was not only to secure that amount of money on a permanent basis, not for five years as was previously injected into the budget, but on a permanent basis. We added to that an extra $11 million. Last year we added to the base of the small craft harbours budget, $31 million.

One problem we have with small craft harbours is we now have a number of wharves scattered throughout the country, many of them in Quebec and Ontario, that fishermen no longer use, but they are used by towns, recreation groups and marine associations. Many groups would like to have these wharves. Many of the wharves are not being used at all and are falling into a state of disrepair.

It is similar to interest on a credit card. It has been taken away from our small craft harbours funding. What we have done this year is we have added an extra $10 million to the budget, and in fact over the long term we have added a lot of money to address small craft harbours. The focus is to clean them up and get rid of them, so that we can use the money for the real purpose of the wharves that the fishermen need.

The Budget February 28th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly my pleasure to participate in the debate. I will say at the start that I plan to share my time, with your permission, with the member for Kitchener—Conestoga.

I want to compliment the Minister of Finance on a budget that has been widely accepted by Canadians and certainly by people in my own province. Over the last day or so we have seen a number of groups, agencies and individuals come out and publicly praise the budget, which we do not often see. They are praising the budget, in some cases elements of it and in some cases the budget generally, knowing that in relatively difficult times we have a fair, prudent budget but one which keeps in mind the needs of all people across the country.

Praise has been heaped upon the minister from student groups, truckers associations, tourism groups, boards of trade and chambers of commerce, et cetera. The only negatives are from the political people. One would expect that. It is a political game and it is not to one's advantage to praise the other, even though it certainly is consoling to see the opposition party in the House praising our budget in the form of supporting it. We are delighted with that.

As I mentioned, the only people against it are people with a political bent. Unfortunately, I saw some negative comments from the head of the fisheries organization, the Fish, Food and Allied Workers, in Newfoundland. No group of people in our province has benefited more from this government than the people involved in the fishery, whether they be harvesters, processors, plant workers, et cetera.

One of the concerns raised was about the changes that would be made to the Employment Insurance Act. There, when we are talking about establishing an arm's length organization to manage the EI account, we are responding to requests from people in industry, requests that have been brought forward year after year. They saw major surpluses building up in the employment insurance fund that were not going back to the people who really should be benefiting from it, the people who pay in, whether it be the employers or the employees.

We committed to address that. It is not in any way taking anything away. It is giving money right back to the people who contribute to the fund, whether they be employers or employees. These are the very people who will benefit from the new move to eliminate this huge surplus and allow the money to remain in the pockets of those who have been contributing to it. That is a very positive move. People should not be playing games with this decision.

Having said that, there are two areas that I want to comment on in my short time. One of them relates to my department and the other my province.

In relation to the department, we, as we would say, did very well. There were major initiatives that we wanted to address, one of them being the Coast Guard.

When the Conservatives became the government two years ago, the Coast Guard was basically inactive and ineffective simply because we saw rust-out in relation to the infrastructure and a lack of funding to even keep the boats at sea. There was no work being done on surveillance simply because enough money was not being put into the regular maintenance of the boats, nor was there even enough money to put fuel in them in order to go out and do the work.

Last year we invested $750 million in the 16 new Coast Guard boats. This year we have in the budget $720 million for one new polar class icebreaker. Not only will it replace an aging smaller icebreaker, but the one we plan to acquire is a new state of the art icebreaker, bigger than ever, to ensure that Canada has a strong presence in the north and that the job can be done.

On top of the funding for the Coast Guard, we saw a major contribution in aquaculture. Aquaculture is becoming a major industry in this country. It is becoming a major industry in other countries in the world. Canada should be leading the way, but we are not. Our expertise is leading the way. Many of the countries that are doing very well have availed themselves of Canadian expertise. We have fallen behind, but we are going to make sure that does not happen in the future. We have to move forward.

An investment of $70 million in aquaculture is significant and with the private sector investment and involvement we are going to see an industry that will certainly be moving forward in this country. It is an industry that can co-exist quite easily with the wild fishery. If we combine both, the amount of employment generated certainly will be significant.

Many of the smaller communities that were devastated by the loss of groundfish, et cetera, have a new lease on life. They are being revived with all kinds of employment, and not employment for eight or ten weeks, but year-round solid employment.

We have made a major investment in our province. The big news coming out of the budget as it relates to our province is a new ferry and the approval of government for Marine Atlantic to acquire a new ferry, a huge ferry that will double the capacity of any boat that we now have.

This will enable the truckers to move goods to and from the island, the fish, lumber, et cetera, without having to worry about lining up on the docks in Port aux Basques or North Sydney wondering how long it will be before they can move. When one is moving fresh product it makes an awful lot of difference as to how long one is going to be parked in a yard somewhere.

This new ferry will also encourage more tourists. Again tourists now have to line up, or they do not even bother to come because they know they will have to wait and wait to get to and from the island. We will have a ferry with the capacity to move anyone who wants to visit that great island of ours.

I find it difficult to think that there are members here who have not visited the great province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is the last great frontier of this country. It is great to experience the friendliness and hospitality of the people, to see the rugged scenery and the beauty. We encourage people to visit and now, as of this year, they will have no trouble getting there.

Some people criticized the fact that they did not see any money for roads. Recently we signed the $430 million infrastructure agreement. This year alone there will be over $100 million spent on roads in Newfoundland and Labrador. We will be starting the major Trans-Labrador Highway with a $50 million investment from the federal government. As this road is completed over the next five or six years, we will make sure that it ties in with the rest of the major highways in the country so that people will be able to travel right through this great frontier.

On top of that, we have money for more policemen in our country. We have money to enable more students of low and middle income to go to college, because 100,000 students across this country will be able to quality for scholarships more so than in the past.

One of the hidden things in the budget is the amount of money in research and development. There are a number of initiatives in this budget to encourage people with innovative minds and the new companies we see springing up to take advantage of science and technology and research and development. It will encourage the great Memorial University and the associated colleges to get into research and development in our fishing industry and other industries also.

I could praise this budget for hours, but I promised to share my time with my colleague and I will therefore end my speech.

Coast Guard February 8th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, again let me set the hon. member straight for the record.

Since we came to government, we have added $750 million in two years to put 12 new Coast Guard boats in service. When the Liberals were in power, the Coast Guard boats that were tied up in St. John's did not have fuel. They did not have enough money to go to sea. Those members should not talk to me about search and rescue. They should look at their record.

Coast Guard February 8th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, we sympathize with the families of those who have lost their lives as many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have done over the years.

Let me correct the hon. gentleman. He said there are no boats stationed around the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. First of all, we have 15 major Coast Guard boats stationed, but we have 450 Coast Guard auxiliary boats captained and manned by the most experienced seagoing people in the world, Newfoundland and Labrador fishermen.