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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was atlantic.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Egmont (P.E.I.)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 53% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Water Resources Management June 15th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I want to take a few minutes to address this very important topic and very topical motion. I wish to commend the member for Lac-Saint-Louis for bringing this forward.

I want to commend also Senator Grafstein on the Senate's passage of Bill S-205 on fresh drinking water recently. It is an indication of some of the great work that senators do.

I can remember the seminal work on topsoil loss that a senator from Saskatchewan did many years ago. The findings of that particular study are still very relevant today, although a lot of the recommendations that he made in the report have not been followed and we continue to lose a lot of our topsoil into our streams. The very fragile inches of topsoil that our agriculture depends on are basically being wasted.

As the previous speaker noted, fresh drinking water is essential to the livelihoods of all Canadians. In my province of Prince Edward Island, recent studies have shown that there are high amounts of nitrates in our drinking water. In Prince Edward Island we are totally reliant on our groundwater for all our freshwater resources. We do not have any great freshwater lakes to rely on, so we are totally reliant on groundwater. We are totally reliant on the health and the purity of that groundwater in order to have healthy drinking water.

P.E.I. is an intensely agricultural province. Agriculture has been a number one industry since our island was established as a colony many years ago. It continues to be our biggest industry. It uses, and in some cases abuses, the essential source of fresh water that we all rely on as islanders.

Because of the health issues prevalent in P.E.I., because of our reliance on fresh groundwater and the intense agricultural industry over the centuries, the province of P.E.I. cannot afford to ignore this problem any longer. In recent years it has been taking a more active role in addressing the problem. We cannot afford to hide behind excuses not to address this problem. Not only is the health of our citizens at risk, but the health of our largest industry is at risk if we do not get serious about the problem.

A task force was established by the previous provincial government to look into and address the nitrate problem on Prince Edward Island at the end of April this year. During the recent election in P.E.I., Robert Ghiz, who was the then opposition leader, outlined a position where he would address the concerns about nitrates in our drinking water. He outlined plans for increased water testing and support for improved nutrient management practices. This is a good start. I suggest that our new premier make this a priority with his government and put adequate resources into addressing the problem of nitrates in the water of our province.

Although a major factor, agriculture is not totally to blame for the high nitrate readings in our drinking water in Prince Edward Island. Most of the weather systems go from west to east. A lot of the acid rain that contributes to nitrates in our drinking water comes from the central industrialized United States and the industrialized centre of Canada, mainly Ontario and Quebec. A great deal of acid rain has been deposited on our eastern provinces. We create very little of that particular pollutant in our area, but we are the recipients of it.

Fresh water is mainly a provincial jurisdiction, but it is an overlapping jurisdiction. I think the Department of Industry, the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Department of the Environment and the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs need to address this.

Over the years we have read about some horrendous experiences with the drinking water in a lot of the reserves and aboriginal communities across the country. There has been lead poisoning. People are unable to eat the fish on which a lot of the more isolated aboriginal communities rely. We can point our finger directly at the pollutants coming from industry in that area. I think we have ignored to a great extent the health of our aboriginal communities as well as the health of communities right across the country. Walkerton is an example that precipitated a lot of new interest in the problems of our drinking water.

It is incumbent upon both levels of government to address this problem. As the previous speaker said, every province has problems with fresh drinking water. The provinces have primary responsibility. I think we should immediately get together with the provinces, show some leadership on this file and have a working committee of the various departments that are responsible for the health of our citizens. It is a problem that is getting more and more serious as time goes on, as we farm more intensely and we rely more on chemical fertilizers. Not only chemical fertilizers but manure also contributes to high nitrate levels in our water system.

We have to find solutions to this problem. The health of our citizens is at risk. Agriculture is the major industry in P.E.I. and it is one of the major industries in Canada. Thousands and thousands of people rely on our agricultural industry and our fish supplies. It is incumbent upon all governments to finally address this problem in a very serious manner. They must put the resources behind the problem and enlist the scientific community. We must try to address this problem before it gets completely out of hand and a lot of our streams and groundwater supplies become contaminated beyond recovery.

I commend the sponsor of the motion and Senator Grafstein for bringing this issue to the fore. I think all members of Parliament from all parts of the country will be interested in seeing solutions to the problem.

Prince Edward Island June 15th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, a new era has dawned in Prince Edward Island, the cradle of Confederation, with the swearing in of a new Liberal government under Premier Robert Ghiz.

Robert, son of outstanding Premier Joseph Ghiz, will continue in the longstanding tradition of the natural governing party of P.E.I., the Liberal Party, to introduce innovative programs to usher P.E.I. into the new century.

I would like to congratulate the new premier and his team, and wish them all the best as they outline their plan for the years to come. They now have the opportunity to mould the future of the province and I am confident they will do it in the best interests of all islanders.

I would like to extend an invitation to all members of Parliament, the Senate and all Canadians to visit P.E.I. this summer. The beaches will be warm, the golf courses will be green, their putts will run true, and the people of the island will welcome them with open arms.

Equalization Formula June 14th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the government continues to carry out its policy of institutionalizing poverty in Atlantic Canada. The report by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council shows all four Atlantic provinces losing huge amounts of money because of changes made to the equalization program.

P.E.I. will lose $196 million due to the changes and that is not even counting the millions we will lose because we are going to per capita funding for the Canada social transfer.

Why has the government totally undermined the purpose of the equalization program and why is the Prime Minister pursuing the depopulation of Atlantic Canada?

Wind Energy May 16th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that for three hours on May 7 the city of Summerside, P.E.I. was totally powered by green energy. This is the first time in Canadian history that a city has received 100% of its power from wind energy. Power that would normally be purchased from off the island can now be provided locally from three wind farms in North Cape, West Cape and East Point.

I am proud to say that P.E.I. is at the forefront of developing this sustainable resource with 15% of the province's energy needs now supplied by wind power.

With funding provided by the previous Liberal government, in particular, Infrastructure Canada, ACOA and Natural Resources, the Wind Energy Institute and interpretive centre was established in North Cape. The institute is a world-class testing and research facility that develops new ways to harness wind power.

In 2006, after consultations with officials and residents, a private company, Ventus Energy, started construction of a wind farm in West Cape with eight turbines erected in phase I, and 35 to come.

We are proud of the initiative--

Budget Implementation Act, 2007 April 16th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I want to compliment the member for Saint John for an excellent speech.

To follow up on the equalization question that was just posed, once upon a time equalization was based on need where the citizens in all provinces could expect basically the same level of service. Now that formula is based on per capita formula and not on need.

How would small provinces like Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Atlantic ever have the ability to deliver programs approaching those services given to the richer provinces if this new formula, based on per capita, is followed through?

The Budget March 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the minister said she is receiving a lot of letters. I wonder if she has received any from the tax centre in Summerside where recently the finance minister cut 160 jobs out of the GST visitor rebate program.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the Minister of National Revenue said that 60 of those 160 jobs would be reinstated. With the new program that is coming out to replace the one that should have been left in place in the first place, I wonder if any of those jobs will be reinstated. Will the program be administered out of the tax centre in Summerside?

The Budget March 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, Professor Savoie described himself as “flabbergasted” at the recent Conservative budget. The article goes on to say:

“It's a case of big dogs eat first," he said. “I'd like to know what kind of gerrymandering of the formula they've come up with.

“I'm flabbergasted at the amount of money flowing to Quebec and the rather piddly sum going to the province of New Brunswick.

“It's mind-boggling.

“I think it's probably the first government in the history of the country since equalization came about in 1957 to be so blatant about it.”

Savoie said he has more than an academic curiosity driving him. He said he wants answers "for my mental health as a Maritimer."

Further in the article, he asked, "How...did they rejig this payment so that the great majority, almost all, of this money flows to Quebec?”

Out of all the cash that was left for this government by the previous Liberal government, why did the minister and others from the Atlantic region get so little for the Atlantic provinces as compared to other parts of the country?

The Budget March 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, would the hon. member from New Brunswick Southwest, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, comment on an article that was in the New Brunswick papers last week, the Telegraph-Journal in which Professor Donald Savoie of the University of New Brunswick termed himself flabbergasted that the Harper's long awaited fix to the fiscal imbalance—

Zimbabwe February 28th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, today Zimbabwe is a graveyard.

One of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in recent history is happening in Zimbabwe, a catastrophe said to be 10 times worse than Darfur. And the UN said it would not happen again.

President Robert Mugabe has ruined one of the most prosperous, productive nations on the African continent. Its population has been decimated by government-induced famine and disease. The economy has collapsed and an estimated 1.2 million Zimbabweans have fled.

Zimbabwe currently has an estimated 1.3 million orphans; an 80% unemployment rate; millions of people missing; 42,000 women who died in childbirth last year compared to 1,000 a decade ago; an average life expectancy that has dropped by 30 years since 1990, from 67 years to 37 years; and one in five adults is infected with HIV-AIDS.

In the midst of all this suffering, Robert Mugabe held an elaborate party to celebrate his own birthday. It cost over $300 million Zimbabwean dollars. He threw a party at a funeral, Zimbabwe's funeral.

I ask the Parliament of Canada to support the people of Zimbabwe.

David Biggar February 8th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, Prince Edward Island lost one of its foremost advocates for conservation and for the environment when we lost David Biggar of Portage, P.E.I. recently.

David did not only talk about the conservation and rehabilitation of Prince Edward Island's watersheds, he actively worked to reclaim our waterways. He epitomized the adage of “act locally for global impact”.

For many, many years, David would have a federal project proposal to do work on his favourite river, the Trout River in Coleman, P.E.I., or the Mill River and other streams that needed reclamation, improvement or to be stocked with fish.

He never accepted a denial of his proposals. He always hired individuals who needed work and he always fulfilled the objectives of his proposals.

He raised money for the O'Leary Wildlife Federation almost single-handedly and relentlessly drove the agenda of the Federation of Western Prince Edward Island.

David was a vocal, hard-working member of his community. He will be missed. I extend my sympathy to his wife Mary, his mother Mary Ellen and his family.