House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was health.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for West Nova (Nova Scotia)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Food and Drugs Act April 3rd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in this House and take part in this extremely important debate. First, I would like to congratulate the two members who spoke before me and added much to the debate. I would also like to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary for Health on the quality of his French, which is steadily improving and which he is using more and more. I do have some concerns, however, about some of what he said.

I agree with him that Health Canada is doing a very good job of making sure that the foods on the Canadian market are safe and meet the highest international scientific standards, even though mistakes can occur. Some will say, however, that even with these assessments, genetically modified organisms can negatively impact Canadians' health, especially because we do not know how they interact with one another in growing children. It will take someone who knows more about organic biology or organic chemistry than I do to determine who is right.

What we can do is deal with what comes under our responsibility. In that regard, I agree with the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles that if consumers and parents are informed, they can make decisions they deem appropriate, in light of information and instructions they can follow. It is true that we are seeing young people in our schools who are taking an interest in these issues and discussing them.

There are some problems, however. The parliamentary secretary raised some valid points. In Canada, there are already about 50 genetically modified products on the market that have been approved, are in circulation and can be consumed on their own or are used to produce another food. This can present problems when it comes to marketing products and also for parents or consumers, who need to know the level of risk. Solutions to these problems must be found.

I support the member's bill because I agree with its purpose. It may yet be amended, but I believe that the member has to table this kind of bill in the House because of certain things the government has done. Like the member who spoke before me, I was once the parliamentary secretary for health. I had to explain which measures the government took and why the government did not decide to impose labelling. Even so, that is no reason not to consider it in the future.

That being said, we have to recognize that there are some problems in the food chain. If we say that all products that have genetically modified components in them must be labelled, we would be labelling so much on the shelves of our stores that the labelling would become meaningless. Canola oil is a GMO and it is omnipresent in the production of other foods. In the instance of aquaculture it may be that the entrance part of the feed, being an animal or plant, was partly produced using some GMO that might be one-thousandth of one per cent.

If that is not defined in the regulations, then that can become a problem, in that we could over label or end up not labelling enough. That is not defined in the bill as presented by the member. This is a subject for debate and questions. What is it? Is it a product that is 100% GMO? Is it a product that is at a certain percentage? How do we define that? How do we do it? At the health committee we can hear from experts who perhaps can help us.

This is not the ideal. The ideal would be that we would do this through regulation rather than through a bill, that we would make a minor amendment to the act so that it compels the minister to create the regulations. The regulations can be modified as market conditions or scientific conditions change a lot faster than bringing it back to this House in a bill to modify it. That is a problem.

I recognize the point of the member that if we do not do it through a private member's bill, we may not do it at all. That is an issue that will have to be debated at the committee to see if there is a way to do it under the current regulations that would meet the desired effects of this bill without creating stand-alone legislation, to do it through the regulatory process.

That would be the wise way for us to proceed. We have huge industrial and agricultural interests in this country and other areas that have an interest in this, that would want to make sure that we do not disadvantage ourselves when it comes to the products that we are competing against in our very own market and in other markets.

Other countries could say that when 50% of the product is manufactured from GMO it has to be labelled as GMO. However, in Canada a product that is 10% GMO would have to be labelled as such. Consumers would see on the same shelf a competing product from another country with 40% GMO not labelled as GMO. We would be producing a product that has less GMOs in it, but it would have a competitive disadvantage because the consumer would believe that it was all GMO and that the other product was not, whereas actually more GMO entrants were included within that competing product from another country. We have to consider the point the parliamentary secretary raised. It is a valid point. We have to consider our trade relationships and where we are in relation to other countries.

Our party has advanced a grown in Canada initiative with four major actions. This would play well within its intent.

We should design regulations under the current Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act to clarify the definitions of “made in Canada”, “product of Canada” and create a separate “grown in Canada” label for 100% Canadian grown products.

We should work with farmers and agri-food value chain partners to create a non-profit governing body that would manage and implement a voluntary “grown in Canada” label that would identify 100% Canadian grown products and work with CFIA to establish an audit process to maintain label integrity.

We should establish a grown in Canada marketing fund with two major objectives.

We should provide marketing grants to local farmers' markets and other buy local initiatives in communities across Canada.

We should develop a marketing campaign informing Canadian consumers of Canada's strong record of farm initiatives for environmental sustainability, food safety and others.

We should develop a grown in Canada toolkit, a series of knowledge and development programs where farm and industry organizations work in partnership with the government to develop information and business extension tools.

I could go on about this, but we all understand the problems associated with buying products labelled as made in Canada. These products, food or otherwise, can be made entirely in other countries and just packaged in Canada.

Recently, there were problems with toothpaste and pet food. Labels indicated that the products came from Canada or the United States, markets that people are familiar with and that comply with food safety standards. However, the products inside the packages were from China and did not comply with safety standards. We saw what happened as a result.

It is important to answer all of these questions. My time is up, but there is still a lot to discuss. We will have to continue this discussion in the Standing Committee on Health.

Once again, I would like to congratulate the member on introducing this bill, as well as all of the members who took part in the debate.

Food and Drugs Act April 3rd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that the hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles is presenting such a bill. Doing so demonstrates the maturity of the Bloc Québécois.

We must recognize that in order to protect Canadians, we need to have a strong, central government. The central government can tell merchants and retailers in the provinces, like Quebec, what must be found on the shelves, what must be displayed to inform citizens. It can go even further and tell them what language and even what words must be used—the specific nomenclature that must be used.

This is a acknowledgement of federalism, a recognition of Canada, and I congratulate him wholeheartedly.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008 April 3rd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments. I think of my own family. Quite a while ago, we were immigrants in this country. Some of my family came in 1638 as economic refugees of Normandy and areas of France where they could not find work. They came with zero education. They did not come to accept research chairs at some university or come here with great skills. They came to take the stumps out of swamps and build dikes.

The other side of my family arrived in 1820. One member was an escaped prisoner of war at the time of the Napoleonic wars. He escaped from a prisoner of war prison in Halifax while building the highway with a pickaxe. He hid out for some 20 years and later became a Canadian citizen and a member of the provincial legislature.

I think what this country needs is people, people who want to come to Canada, and more of them. To limit ourselves to only a certain set, to only the people who meet the desires, needs and aspirations of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, will not build the country as we have built it, with the Irish, the Chinese, the Ukrainians and all the other races that make up this great country.

Business of Supply April 2nd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to listen to this dialogue on this economic question put forward by the NDP.

It is rich to listen to this because we know what the New Democratic members' economic policy is: their support for small businesses is to take all large businesses, tax them all the way down to small businesses, give subsidies to bankrupt businesses, and tax profitable businesses. They have no vision at all on economics and are quite disingenuous on social programs.

I remember that not so long ago in the House, when there was a minority government, we presented a budget. The leader of the NDP negotiated with the Liberal Party so that we brought forward a year or two years ahead some of our priorities that were not in that budget: housing, assistance for poverty, day care, and Kelowna. We brought them all forward. The NDP members were all very happy to boast about it and then they voted our government out and supported this one on the income trust scandal, which took about $30 billion away from hard-working Canadians.

We cannot believe these people.

Petitions March 31st, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present to the House a certified petition from concerned citizens across Canada regarding the government's senseless funding cuts to the Canadian health network.

Canada's leading bilingual, non-commercial web based source for health information is slated to close today as part of the Public Health Agency of Canada's mandate to cut $17 million in grants and contributions, despite the $14 billion surplus.

The petitioners call upon the government to reinstate funding to the Canadian health network. I am pleased to add my name to this petition.

Ethics March 14th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, in just two years, the Conservative Party has gone from rhetoric and bluster about accountability to stories of shadowy Conservative operatives working on behalf of the Prime Minister, offering financial inducements to a man suffering from terminal cancer so that he would overturn a democratically elected government.

I cannot help but look across the aisle at my colleagues from the Conservative Party and wonder where it all went wrong. It must be disheartening to those sitting on the government benches.

So much for ideals and so much for promises they made to their constituents. Instead, they watch and listen every day to the changing story of the Prime Minister, the same Prime Minister whose voice was recorded, the same Prime Minister who said that financial considerations were on the table.

Mulroney had Fred, the Prime Minister has Flanagan and Finley, all F's, not very good grades, not good at all.

Judges Act March 14th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister of Veterans Affairs for his comments. He spoke about how proud he is of New Brunswick, which he feels offers suitable legal services in French. I am happy to see how proud he is of his province.

I urge him to extend that pride to the other maritime provinces, particularly Nova Scotia. There were three bilingual Federal Court judges in that province. Two of them are retiring: Justice Boudreau and Justice Batiot. They will be replaced by anglophones. For the entire province of Nova Scotia, from Cape Breton to southwestern Nova Scotia, including the provincial capital, there will be only one bilingual judge. That is completely unacceptable. It is unthinkable that we would move down to one judge from three.

Of the judges I mentioned, Justice Boudreau was appointed by Mr. Mulroney some time ago. Mr. Chrétien appointed a number of bilingual judges in Nova Scotia. Now, this government is replacing two francophones with two anglophones. In just two years of this government, French-language legal services in Nova Scotia have dropped by 66%.

The minister spoke about his pride in the bilingual legal services in the Maritimes, but will he extend that pride to the Acadians and francophones of Nova Scotia?

Airbus March 13th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, it has been four months to the day since the Prime Minister promised Canadians a full public inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber affair, and we are still waiting. It has been four long months since the Prime Minister finally yielded to pressure to examine what he himself called a very serious allegation of a former Conservative prime minister accepting cash-stuffed envelopes; four endless months later and nothing.

The Prime Minister is still covering up for Mulroney. He is hoping an election will be called, preventing him from actually appointing a commissioner.

Will this be another broken promise like the Atlantic accord, like income trusts, like veterans' widows--

Afghanistan March 13th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, what is raised by the member are those elements we have to work toward if we want that long term peace and security, not just in Afghanistan, but in the region.

Mr. Manley speaks of a senior envoy in the region where people in the region would know that this person would represent the interests of Canada. He would be the Prime Minister's envoy, and if he were meeting with the leadership, they would understand that all the powers that he needs were with him to achieve those things. So, if they require assistance, if they want Canada's participation, there would be minimum requirements.

One of the areas that continues to be an issue is the treatment by Afghanistan of the detainees. It is not acceptable to Canadians that Canadian soldiers risk their lives, capture these Taliban insurgents, treat them decently, turn them over to the correctional system, and then they are treated below the standards acceptable to the Canadian military or the Canadian people. That would be another example.

Afghanistan March 13th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I have to live in this universe. I do not know that universe. I do not know about the black hole that one goes through and finds on the other side where everybody is perfect, where we talk to the Taliban, and they agree that they will no longer have a fundamentalist, religious government where they do not give rights to everybody in their country, the women and children, that they will be peaceful, that everything will be good, and that the warlords will not try to make millions and billions of dollars through the production of heroin. I do not understand that world.

What I know is that members of Parliament have a responsibility for the security of our country. That is done through international organizations like NATO. We have a responsibility to the people of Afghanistan because of the destabilization in their country. If we take the military role out of Afghanistan, there will be a slaughter of all those who helped us in trying to change their country. I understand that.

We have a responsibility to NATO and to our fighting women and men who are in Afghanistan, so we must take a reasoned approach. After a lot of debate in my caucus and more debate in the House, this motion is the best way that we can achieve long term peace and stability in that region of the world.