House of Commons photo

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

Medic Alert May 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to remind the House that May is Medic Alert month. Medic Alert is an emergency medical information network accessible around the world. Over three-quarters of a million Canadians rely on Medic Alert bracelets and necklets to ensure emergency medical personnel are aware of their specific needs, whatever they may be.

Life Underwriters Association also holds an awareness campaign each May to promote the benefits of Medic Alert to Canadians.

Medic Alert identification can help save the lives of people suffering from diabetes, epilepsy, asthma, food and drug allergies and any hidden condition.

Please join me in congratulating the Medic Alert Foundation and the Life Underwriters Association for their excellent contribution to the health of Canadians.

Recall Act April 29th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I will try to be as brief as possible.

I commend the member for bringing this debate forward. I believe in her sincerity and I believe also in the underlying principles around which the recall concept is being promoted. Unfortunately I cannot support it. I see the exercise of recall as an adversarial exercise.

The public is tired of that kind of adversarial system. I genuinely believe we can come up with positive measures to involve people. In my constituency we have held a number of very successful public meetings that were well attended, well received and non-partisan. It involves the constituents in Fredericton-York-Sunbury in public policy discussions. There are those kinds of positive approaches to involvement.

I agree with the member that the public feels powerless and alienated from the system. I spent nine months going door to door in the constituency and I have to say with honesty that the concept did not come up as a mechanism, although the concerns the member expressed certainly came up very often.

As a member of Parliament I felt an obligation to respond to that and I have. On February 27 we had a large forum in the constituency on health matters. In March we had a forum on national defence matters. These were well attended, well reported, televised public policy discussions. Just last Sunday the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources Development visited the constituency and we had a non-partisan public meeting on HRD issues.

The need to change the system is real. I believe the public expects us to do that. I also suggest that there has been evidence so far in this Parliament, as brought to the attention of the House by the members on the side of the member proposing this bill, that changes have been made, for instance the debate in terms of Bosnia as one positive change.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your indulgence.

The Economy April 29th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions.

According to a report in the Montreal Gazette , Canada's economy is outperforming that of the United States. Specifically the report indicates a 4 per cent growth during the last quarter in Canada and it projects continuing growth this spring compared with 2.6 per cent growth in the United States.

How does this compare with the economic performance projections contained in the government's budget?

Supply April 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out there is some inconsistency in what the hon. member has said. He started out by saying that one of the problems with the official languages legislation is that it is divisive. I suggest that if there is a divisive element in this it is the putting forward of some of these bizarre notions as fact.

Twice categorically the member said that nobody in this country wants this. I do, so he is wrong. A lot of people do. Come visit New Brunswick and see how many people are lined up to get into immersion and programs like that. The suggestion that it is a failure disregards reality. Reality has it that in 25 short years in the context of the history of a country that large numbers of people are becoming conversant in a second language who would not have that opportunity outside of the official languages policy.

The suggestion has been made repeatedly that somehow this legislation forces people to become bilingual when in fact it has exactly the reverse effect of allowing people not to become bilingual and get services from their government.

If you speak French in Saskatchewan you do not have to be able to speak English to get services from your government. If you speak French in Fredericton, New Brunswick, you do not have to be able to speak English to get services from the government. That is what is provided, not the requirement to become bilingual but the opportunity not to be.

Finally, I would suggest that the cost argument that is put and is put often is very divisive in this debate. Consider the numbers of people who are being served by the provisions in this legislation relative to cost. I think of my province of New Brunswick and the numbers of people who get service. There are 250,000 Acadians who are being served by the federal government in their first language. Much of it is enhanced by this legislation. The cost relative to the numbers of people is not excessive at all. It is a divisive argument. It is an unfounded argument and I would ask the member to respond.

Official Languages April 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, today marks the 25th anniversary of the Official Languages Act in the province of New Brunswick.

We in New Brunswick are proud of the distinction of being the only officially bilingual province in Canada.

Over the last 25 years, significant progress was achieved by providing government services in both official languages to each linguistic community. Every day, we can witness the cultural, educational, social and economical benefits resulting from this change.

As the anglophone parents of two young children, my wife and I watch our boys grow up in an environment in which knowing both official languages and embracing both cultures is now the norm.

I know many join me in congratulating New Brunswick for its 25 years dedicated to the promotion of and leadership in official languages legislation in Canada.

World Hunger April 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the Fredericton branch of RESULTS, an international organization committed to creating the political will to end world hunger.

In the time it takes to read this statement over 200 children will die in the world. Tragically, most of these deaths are preventable. As little as $5 per child could save thousands of lives.

As we debate how many billions to spend within our affluent society, citizens in countries in four continents seek our support for basic sustenance.

We cannot allow NGO over-bureaucratization, western cultural bias or fiscal pressures within to distract us from our humanitarian responsibilities around the globe.

I join all members in saluting the many organizations and individuals who quietly save children's lives.

I call upon the government to meet its 1991 commitment of $20 million for immunization and encourage putting money toward micro enterprise initiatives so that actual results will be the pillars of Canada's foreign aid policy.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act March 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I also rise to speak on the matter now before the House concerning the redistribution of the federal electoral boundaries.

It is clear from all indications that Canadians are not happy with how the review and the proposals for change have been handled. Further, Canadians are reasonably consistent in their message as to why. They will not take judgments from on high without more consultation.

The preliminary steps leading to the proposed boundary changes fail to include local level consultation. It is not enough to hold out the promise of public input later on, because people know how difficult it is to amend such proposals after they have been designed in the way they have. People have once again sent

out a clear signal that they will not accept another top down, arbitrary decision by government.

Within my own constituency when a map appeared in a special insert in the local paper I heard a number of consistent messages from constituents. First, they were shocked to learn that the boundary changes were even being discussed. For most of them seeing the map in the paper was the first time they had ever heard of the exercise. Another common expression was one of disbelief. After we had all campaigned so vocally about the need to be more inclusive and since the government has practised this agenda so consistently since the election, people find it hard to believe that we would revert to the old style of top down governing.

As members we have all worked hard to gain the trust of our electorate. I know many of us do not wish to see that trust jeopardized when the potential not to do so is so easily avoided.

Another sentiment I have heard from my constituents is one of anger. People are angry, not only because the government had not bothered to consult with them but also because of the incredible amount of dollars invested in the exercise. People were shocked, wondering where was the need for this use of their hard earned tax dollars. Where did it come from? People were wondering why nobody had bothered to mention it to them earlier and why nobody had asked for their opinion.

As the member for the riding of Fredericton-York-Sunbury I can assure the House that I felt the sting of this action when people questioned my involvement in and my responsibility for the proposed changes. People were not happy, and that is essentially why I feel compelled to rise today and encourage the government to have this process stopped.

I want to acknowledge that riding boundary redistribution is in many respects necessary, but I take issue with the way the process for determining changes has occurred. I further question some of the present assumptions about how boundaries should be redefined. I addressed my concerns about the process earlier. I continue to believe that decisions should have been made based on consultation with the many people affected. I question how many Canadians know the criteria upon which decisions for change were even made.

We must realize that decisions of this nature have an enormous impact upon the political culture of our country. People tend to feel connected to the regions and communities of which they are a part. We all belong to many types of communities, each of which has boundaries in its own way. In many respects we are defined by our professional communities, our religious and social communities, and for many we find comfort in defining ourselves by our political communities.

My most recent witness of this assertion was during the last election. I watched and worked with people from all parties who travelled considerable distances many times over and who put parts of their own lives on hold because of their commitment to the electoral process. Last October became their focus.

We do people an injustice when we suddenly tell them that they no longer need to feel committed to the region they have always known and that now they must suddenly align themselves elsewhere. Making such a transition is not difficult. In fact it is embraced when those who must make the change participate in the decision making that moves them from one location to another.

If anything, commitment and investment are firmly entrenched from the start. It is this kind of stake in the social and political consciousness of our citizenry that we want to promote among Canadians. Imposing arbitrary political boundary changes upon people works counter to the fundamentals of inclusion and affiliation.

I accept that redistribution becomes necessary when there are major demographic shifts. Sometimes this may mean that the entire country must face reoganization, or it may simply mean that certain regions must change.

The changes proposed for New Brunswick in many respects fail to make any sense at all. With my own riding, for instance, all the rural areas have been disconnected from the constituency and given over to my colleagues' ridings. Were I selfishly motivated I would support the changes proposed since it would make my job much easier. I would not have to travel the considerable distances to reach the borders of my riding. I would only have to deal with concerns pertinent to an urban setting rather than worry about both rural and urban problems as the distribution now requires.

That is not what being an MP is about. I do not want to lose the rich blend of rural and urban that makes our riding a most unique and inviting place to live. It is obvious that my reasons for supporting the motion to suspend the operation of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act are not personally or politically motivated. I know this to be true of my colleagues with a view similar to my own.

I know the people of my riding just as other members are familiar with the citizens in their ridings. We work hard to build communities with our constituents. The people of their respective ridings know the intricacies and peculiarities of their places as well. These are the people who should be deciding where boundaries should be drawn and on what basis changes should be determined.

I do not question the competence or intentions of the commissioners but outside experts do not know our political regions or the people who live there. They cannot make informed decisions

about changing the lives of so many citizens without starting with the involved people first.

I worry as well that by following through with electoral boundary reform the government will not be seen as acting on its primary agenda of job creation and economic development. I also think the government will find it difficult to convince Canadians that it is acting prudently in its acknowledged need to practise sound financial management.

I fear spending millions of dollars to redefine electoral boundaries is indefensible in the light of the economic trials faced by so many Canadians. The government is recognized as honest, hard working, concerned about citizens and known for practising sound fiscal management. We are not known for excessiveness. We are the ones with the plan to help Canadians through the difficult period in order to make this a strong, united and able country prepared to meet the 21st century.

We need to remind ourselves of our own priorities and in keeping with that, we should recognize our error without singling out anyone or pointing fingers in any direction. Simply put, we should cut our losses and move on from here. Canadians are tired of governments trying to justify their errors or failing to admit that a mistake has been made. We are bigger than that. We must move on.

I join others in this House who have spoken against boundary redistribution at this time and I support the call to suspend the act until such time as Canadians have a greater opportunity to be a part of the process from the front end.

New Brunswick Youth Day March 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, today, March 21, is New Brunswick Youth Day.

I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to New Brunswick youth as valuable members of our present communities and an important consideration in all that we decide and do.

Young New Brunswickers and our young people across Canada are faced with peculiar challenges and need our support. Government services targeted for youth are improving. We need only look to the national youth services corps as an example of the kind of creative, youth specific programming necessary to assist young New Brunswickers and Canadians through tough and changing times. As we attempt to make change we must all realize that young people need to be involved in designing the programs and policies that affect them.

In honour of this special day I salute New Brunswick's youth and remind us all of the valuable contributions made by young people across Canada each and every day.

The Budget February 24th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I am delighted at the opportunity to beat all of my colleagues to the floor. I was certain that the speech would provoke an immediate reaction. Certainly it reminds me why I am here.

I would suggest to the member for Capilano-Howe Sound that the objective of social programs is not to save money. The objective of social programs is to help people. To set out with an immediate objective that is based on the need to save money is incorrect in the spirit of those programs.

The 18 new programs that the budget is financing were presented to the population of this country last fall and accepted and supported in big numbers. I think to do anything but to support those programs is to ignore the democratic wishes of the people in this country.

The idea that the UI reductions did not go far enough I find mind boggling, that the way we would try to save money is to take it from the hands of people who are just getting by so that people who are getting by more comfortably will be more comfortable in their support for these programs.

Finally I would say, in keeping with the member's analogy in terms of diet, there is a big difference between dieting and starving people to death.

Stephen Gough February 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge that Stephen Gough, the only Olympic athlete from New Brunswick, begins his first of three short track speed skating competitions today in Lillehammer. Stephen is from my riding of Fredericton-York-Sunbury. I want to publicly wish him well on behalf of the people of my constituency, the people of New Brunswick and indeed all Canadians.

As one of 110 athletes representing Canada in the Olympics, he is the the fourth skater in the 45 lap relay race.

Stephen has an impressive speed skating record. Just last month he ranked second at the Lake Placid Pacific Rim meet, placed fifth out of 66 in the pre-Olympic 500 meter race in Norway and earned a first place ranking in the relay as well.

While he makes Canadians proud as a representative in Norway, I know that he will be extremely successful during competitions as well.