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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was fredericton.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Fredericton (New Brunswick)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 42% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Atlantic Canada September 26th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, Atlantic Canadians take exception with the government's decision to cut $7.7 million in ACOA's funding for not for profit organizations, credit unions, co-operatives and community economic development organizations.

The economy is not limited to private enterprise. These groups contribute to the economy just like private sector companies.

The government is cutting seed loan programs that provide direct funding for youth entrepreneurship. These are a successful mechanism for organizations to provide that first job and work experience for youth across the country.

Yesterday's cuts highlight the Conservatives' lack of creativity and understanding of this reality.

The elimination of $20 million aid package for New Brunswick's aquaculture industry is shameful. These cuts verify what we have said all along, that the fisheries money was clearly budgeted and that Canada's new government simply let New Brunswick down once again.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 18th, 2006

With regard to the Innovative Communities Fund (ICF) operated by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the government’s commitment to use funds from ACOA to support the construction of the Moncton Stadium and completion of the Fundy Trail: (a) which ACOA programs are being used to finance the Stadium and Trail projects; (b) precisely how much federal money will be provided for these two projects and over what time period; and (c) how many applications to the ICF have been received from each province in Atlantic Canada since the fund’s creation, including (i) which projects have been approved and announced so far to receive funds from ICF, (ii) how much money has been disbursed from the ICF, (iii) who are the recipients of these disbursements, (iv) what is the breakdown of ICF disbursements by province?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 18th, 2006

How much money has the government paid out through all programs from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) since 2000-2001, and, in each case: (a) how much was disbursed annually in each province; (b) which programs were used to finance the projects; (c) who received the funds; (d) what was the specific purpose of the disbursement; and (e) how long did the funding last?

Questions on the Order Paper September 18th, 2006

With regard to the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund and the Prime Minister’s announcement in March 2006 of $200 million in support for highway upgrades in New Brunswick: (a) what is the status of the $7 million approved by Infrastructure Canada in November of 2004 for Phase 1 of the Nashwaak/Marysville bypass; (b) did the government receive any revised proposals or designs in 2006 from the government of New Brunswick for this project enabling Treasury Board to forward this $7 million; (c) which program will be used to deliver the $200 million that has been committed by the Prime Minister; (d) when will these monies start flowing to the province; (e) what is the order of precedence in which individual highway projects will be funded under the $200 million commitment; and (f) has the government of New Brunswick submitted a design for the Route 8 Marysville bypass to South Portage?

Petitions June 21st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of a number of constituents in and around Fredericton recognizing that the Government of Canada has traditionally supported and enhanced mail delivery in all corners of the country.

The people of Canada require their mail in a timely and efficient manner wherever they might live. Accessibility issues are particularly important to seniors, sick and shut-ins, and people with disabilities.

The petitioners call upon the House and the minister responsible for Canada Post to maintain traditional mail delivery and service instead of implementing changes that are causing people to travel long distances from their homes to receive their mail.

Petitions June 20th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to present two petitions from a number of constituents in my riding of Fredericton and throughout New Brunswick that recognize that the government has traditionally supported an enhanced mail delivery in all parts of the country, that Canadians require their mail in a timely and efficient manner and that many seniors, the sick, shut-ins and people with disabilities face barriers daily regarding accessibility issues.

The petitioners call upon the House and the minister responsible for Canada Post to maintain traditional mail delivery and service instead of implementing changes that are causing people to travel long distances from their homes to receive their mail.

Business of Supply June 19th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my comments, this started at the round table in April 2004. Kelowna took place in November 2005, 18 months later. When I was involved in the round table, I was the minister for infrastructure and housing. I can tell the House that at the time I was excited by the possibilities because housing would be a big part of it and I remember wanting to be part of something that I thought, done right, could make a big difference.

Little did I know at the time that I would become the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development eventually and have the opportunity to facilitate this dialogue between a number of federal government departments. The Department of Justice was involved. I will not even begin to describe the number of departments involved to help facilitate that.

The Prime Minister had struck an aboriginal affairs committee of cabinet to make every policy change that was necessary. Over 20 times I had to go to cabinet to seek a policy change and to get the funding in order to support that policy change. This preoccupied the government for a year and a half, always respectfully, always recognizing that this would not work if it was imposed on the community, regardless of good intention.

This would only work if it was a respectful collaboration between the first nation of our country and the government of the day. That was what it set out to be and that is why so many people were invested in this agreement, because it meant so much to the people who contributed and participated.

At the end of the day one cannot build houses without investment or educate people without investment. There are all kinds of details that would explain how it was that we wished to go forward and the processes that would be involved because process is a big part of collaboration, but it is not all of it.

We would plan education with the provinces and we would structure educational systems because at the end of the day the consensus was that most of the education delivered, particularly in first nation communities, was delivered not by educational systems but simply in schools. My own children going to school in Fredericton would recognize that education is now a system and that is not the case in first nations communities generally.

Therefore, all of that content was a part of this exercise and there was a great deal of content, such as private ownership of homes. There is a long list and I will not get into enumerating it. More important perhaps than all the content, even perhaps more than the revenues or resources that were secured, is the relationship, the idea that finally the government was sitting down with the community and we were going to solve these tragic problems that have haunted our country for hundreds of years. We were going to solve them together, respectfully.

That was the nature of the new relationship and that is probably what is most at risk if the government does not see fit to support my hon. colleague's motion today.

Business of Supply June 19th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, thank you very much and happy birthday. I would like to take the time that is available to me in this debate to talk more about the Kelowna accord.

The Kelowna accord only came about at the time of the health ministers meeting in September 2004 when provincial and territorial governments agreed to a first ministers meeting on aboriginal issues. This process started in April 2004 when the aboriginal people round table was called.

Seventy-five aboriginal organizations in Canada, about 500 people, spent an entire day discussing the challenges facing first nations, Métis and Inuit Canadians. The difference in that instance, I believe, was the fact that the Prime Minister realized perhaps for the first time that the solutions would have to be collaborative. In the past, well intentioned people made decisions on behalf of first nations, Métis and Inuit Canadians and generally speaking, those initiatives were unsuccessful by their very nature because they were imposed rather than collaborative solutions.

I was at that meeting as the minister of infrastructure and housing. We met all day and came up with six areas that needed further study in terms of real solutions to the problems. It was a collective decision by all assembled. Those areas were health, education, housing, economic development, accountability and negotiations. At the time the Prime Minister said that this was the first step and from then on, first nations, Métis and Inuit Canadians would have a place at the table.

Not long after that, in September 2004, a first ministers meeting on health was scheduled and the aboriginal community stepped up understandably and asked about its seat at the table. This meeting on the question of health included federal, provincial and territorial governments as well as aboriginal leaders. It was at that time that the decision was taken to have a first ministers meeting in the following year which ended up being Kelowna. That was really the first time the aboriginal community and the federal, provincial and territorial governments met altogether.

Over the course of the winter, following the health meeting in September, workshops took place and meetings were held in terms of the community working together with the federal government. At this point it was still bilateral. I was quite encouraged by these meetings. Critics were there from other parties. We were seriously engaged in dialogue.

I remember in Calgary that spring the present Minister of Indian Affairs participating in the negotiations as part of the process that brought us to these reports. There are a large number of reports as a result of all the exercise on these six subject areas. However, it became apparent that notwithstanding the fiduciary responsibility of the federal government, if it was going to deal with those six issues, it would have to engage the provinces and territories in a meaningful way.

In March a meeting of aboriginal affairs ministers was held in advance of the final policy retreat that was part of the original process. This was bilateral between the federal government and aboriginal organizations.

I remember clearly the provincial aboriginal affairs ministers saying they would like to have their governments involved, but a serious financial investment would have to be made. Even if the ministers wanted to do something, their premiers, their finance ministers, and their intergovernmental affairs ministers would not buy it because they would believe the federal government was trying to off-load. That is when I began, as the minister responsible, to seek from my government both the policy agreements that were necessary to make this work and the funding arrangements that I will speak of in a minute.

On May 31 the process that started with the round table reached the first phase of completion and that was the policy retreat that was originally intended.

Five agreements were signed between the Government of Canada and the five national aboriginal organizations. That was intended to be bilateral. The provinces were aware because of the meeting we had in March and we scheduled a second aboriginal affairs meeting for Ottawa on June 21 to discuss the policy retreat that we had just completed in preparation for Kelowna.

At that meeting on January 21 we added a couple of items to the agenda. Everyone was encouraged, but once again the Government of Canada received a loud and clear message that this was not going to work unless the federal government made the kind of investments that were necessary and if it did, the provincial and territorial governments would in fact be involved in areas where they would have to be like education, health, housing, economic development and so on.

That process caused me and four of my colleagues to go forward to cabinet seeking policy decisions from the government and funding decisions that supported those policy decisions, and that happened all through the summer and fall leading to Kelowna. By the time we actually got to Kelowna the funding had been secured against the means and uses ledger that was available to the government as we accounted on a monthly basis.

The funding was secure. The Minister of Finance had said that, the Prime Minister had said that, and the finance officials appearing before the aboriginal affairs committee said the same thing. That was done. The policy framework was established and agreed to and signed off by the five national organizations twice; once on policy in May earlier that year and once in Kelowna, we signed five agreements over again.

The only trilateral agreement that was signed that day was signed with British Columbia. That was intentional and deliberate. We were then going forward with an agreement that everyone understood. I have the quotes of all of the premiers, territorial leaders and the aboriginal organizations themselves.

There can be no question what happened over a period of 18 months in this instance. I am sure there will be members who will get up and speak of the fact that we were the government for 13 years. No one in Canada really believes that this problem was one that was created even in our lifetime. The problems we are talking about here are hundreds of years old and repeated governments are responsible for the conditions that we all recognize exist.

I really believe that the difference in this instance was simply an honest desire to come up with a shared collaborative solution. It takes time. It takes more time than people wish to give, given the terrible situation, but the community wanted to be in on the solution and they were.

As a result that is the reason why there is such investment in the arrangement. People like my colleague from Nunavut talk about the fact that this is as much about the relationship as anything. That is why to turn our back on it at this point, as a country, would be a major mistake by virtue of the fact that what it would say to the community is that nothing has changed. The reality is, it is a wonderful opportunity. The community has an overwhelming consensus.

We will be able to identify individual people who do not like the arrangement, that is for sure, but there is an enormous consensus within the community. The people who were in Kelowna could see that. The statements that were made by the leaders that day and the statements that were made by the premiers that day all suggested that this was an important moment in the relationship and in terms of improving the living conditions of Métis, first nations and Inuit Canadians.

They stepped up. The Government of Canada stepped up by making the policy changes it requested and made the investments that were necessary to support those changes. The provinces and territorial governments stepped up for the first time to say, yes, they will work with the aboriginal people on education, they will work with them on housing, and they will collaborate in a way that is perhaps very new in terms of the relationship on this file in Canada. All of those things converged.

I think we have an opportunity to do the right thing by first nations, Métis and Inuit Canadians and I call upon the Government of Canada to consider the motion that was put by my colleague and do the right thing.

Petitions June 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present today a petition signed by a number of residents of the riding of Fredericton and surrounding area who are calling upon Parliament to honour the promise of a national child care program by protecting the early learning and child care agreements between the Government of Canada and the provinces.

Canada Post June 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, last week the House debated a motion directing Canada Post to restore traditional rural mail delivery. Members on all side of the House indicated their support for the motion by the member for Oak Ridges—Markham.

To act on this quickly, the minister responsible for Canada Post should instruct Canada Post to immediately resume rural delivery to residents.

Last week more than 400 people in greater Fredericton attended community meetings and offered thoughtful advice. Many residents have said that they are willing and able to move their mailboxes to safer locations immediately.

This situation has had a major impact on seniors, the sick and shut-ins and persons with disabilities. People have been reasonable and fair under the circumstances, however their patience is wearing thin. Some people still do not have community mailboxes and are driving 10 to 50 kilometres back and forth to see if they even have mail.

Parliament has spoken. It is time to end this disruption of mail to these Canadians.