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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was problem.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as NDP MP for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac (New Brunswick)

Lost her last election, in 2004, with 28% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canadian Forces Day October 20th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand today to speak in support of Motion No. 134.

Although we support the bill, we have to recognize the government cuts that the Department of National Defence has suffered. In 1993-94 the defence budget was $12.4 billion. In 1997-98 it was down to $9.8 billion. That does not really show support from the Liberal government. There has been a reduction of 23%. The reduction in the number of civilian employees at the Department of National Defence has been a staggering 40%. General Maurice Baril says that there is likely to be an additional reduction of 2,000 to 3,000 people in that department.

The government has gutted the heart and soul of the armed forces. Let us not forget that the Sea King helicopter replacement program is currently being investigated by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal and that there have actually been some pilots who have lost their lives because of a very bad decision by the Liberals. Let us not forget the soldiers who are forced to visit food banks. I do not think that should be happening. I could go on and on.

The armed forces deserve our unconditional support and respect. I commit to the House that members of my party will stand for our armed forces on June 15 or on the first Sunday in June. They will certainly have our support on that day as well as the other 364 days of the year.

International Boundary Waters Treaty Act October 20th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to discuss Bill C-15 with reference to one of Canada's most precious natural resources, water. Canada owns most of the freshwater resources in the world. Almost 9% of the world's soft water is on Canadian territory and 60% of Canadian water flows into the Arctic Ocean.

The exportation of bulk water is not a new issue. It is actually a major issue that the Conservative government in 1984 was very much concerned with. We believe it is imperative to protect the interests of Canadians with reference to the export of bulk water. It is why we made sure that water was protected under NAFTA.

Bill C-15 introduces amendments to the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act in order to prohibit bulk removal of water from Canadian boundary waters, including the Great Lakes. The prohibition on removals will apply principally to the Great Lakes and other boundary waters.

Apart from prohibition, the amendments will also set in place a licensing regime for boundary waters projects such as dams, obstructions or other works that can affect water levels and flows. The International Boundary Waters Treaty Act was passed in 1911, implementing the Canada-U.S. Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. Its main objective was to establish the International Joint Commission, a binational organization.

Canada's border is the longest in the world, with over 300 lakes or rivers that either form, cross or straddle it. It is the Canadian government's responsibility and duty to protect that border.

NAFTA and the WTO generally prohibit restrictions on the exportation of goods subject to certain exceptions, none of which are likely to be applicable to the present purpose. The difficulty lies with the absence of a legal definition of goods. Obviously water in its natural state is not considered a good. Subject to trade agreements, bottled water is.

The purpose of Bill C-15 is to protect water which in its natural state would not then be subject to international obligations concerning trade in goods. From this perspective any possible precedent from a water export project would be limited to the province involved and would arise from the particular legislation that permitted removal for export and not from trade agreements.

If one province's legislation permitted removal of water and a project were to be approved, other provinces could still have legislation that prohibited removal of water. The point is to illustrate that water, in its natural state, is not a good and therefore not subject to international trade agreements.

Water is an integral part of Canada's boundaries. This most precious resource has to be protected and managed in the best interest of Canadians. I can assure the House that the bill will be supported by us.

I want to speak about the importance of communities having good, safe drinking water. That is why I asked the minister today about the safety of water and talked about the federal government's role of ensuring that in this great country, where we have so much water, we are doing everything to make sure Canadians in all parts of the country can drink water safely. We do not want another Walkerton.

Even in my riding every month or two a small community has a boiling order. Do we have an infrastructure problem? Is enough money going to the communities and municipalities to make sure we have the facilities so that our children, seniors and all of us do not get sick from drinking water?

We cannot take it for granted any more. We did that in Sainte-Marie-de-Kent before getting that pig factory installed. We asked for an environmental impact assessment. The federal government had both the responsibility and the obligation to do an environmental impact assessment. It had the obligation. The Liberals lured Metz Farms to Sainte-Marie-de-Kent. It is clear the Liberals in Ottawa were told an environmental impact assessment was not wanted, and that is what happened.

What is happening today? We have communities and families not speaking with each other. On top of that we have a federal government that has realized that maybe we have water problems. Maybe we have communities with health risks. Maybe the drinking water is not safe any more and tests should be done.

We have 30,000 pigs being processed over there. That could have been prevented. Metz Farms invested a lot of money to install this. It was told it could. The federal government said it did not need to do an assessment, that Metz could go ahead and set up. It would not intervene. It would not use what was available to make sure the people of Sainte-Marie would not be at risk.

Definitely the department is on autopilot. It is not even in neutral but going in reverse. We did not have the technology in the past to identify why there were contaminations. We have it now, but we have a federal government that continues to close its eyes to it. This is not acceptable.

The federal government said last week it would do some water testing in Sainte-Marie. The government is now recognizing that it should have done an environmental impact assessment. I say the government should do what the manager of Metz Farms said to do: buy it out.

There is a problem here. Communities are not happy with this. We have our farms. Nobody is against farms. Our leader spoke on farms this week. Our critic spoke on farms and on how the federal government is abandoning our farmers. We do not mind farms, be it cow, pig or sheep. We are not talking about farms here; we are talking about factories. There is a difference.

The difference is that before we had Metz Farms in Sainte-Marie-de-Kent both the farmers and the non-farmers would actually eat together in the morning. They would have coffee together. They liked each other. They would help each other. What do we have because of this factory? We now have family divisions. There is no more harmony. That is what bothers me. No one is against farmers.

Where was agriculture in the mini-budget to make sure our farmers would survive? They do not survive. They are eaten up by the big factories. That is what the Liberal government is pushing for now, the megafactories. They did it with fishing as well. We have to protect our farmers. We have to help our farmers. Our farmers are saying they need what Metz is giving them because that way they get free fertilizer for their lands. That means our farmers are in difficulty. They might need financial help. What does the government do for our farms be they small, medium or big but still not factories?

A farm is not 30,000 pigs. I lived next to a farm that had pigs and one that had a milk dairy. They were great people. It was nice to hear the cowbells in the morning. My fence was electric, so I had no problem buying a home among farms. I like farms. A factory, it has been proven, is an environmental disaster.

Can hon. members imagine that we have actually put a pig factory in the middle of a region where we have invested millions and millions in tourism, aquaculture and fisheries? Let us try to mix the two together. There was a smell over the summer from the piggery. It was not supposed to smell during tourist season, but the pigs could not figure out how to hold it back during the summer months. What happened? We had a bad smell during tourist season.

What about the health risks? Today I was on a call-in show. There were calls from Carmelle, Maria, Lisa, Rhéal, Richard, Raymond, Edmond and more. They called because they were very concerned, and with good reason: they were not consulted. Nobody knew about it. It was a secret deal. Nobody knew this factory would be set up. That is not right. Let us allow communities to talk to about it.

There is legislation in place. I know farmers are worried that if we put forth too much legislation it would hurt the farmers. I believe we have the legislation in place now. We had a minister of DFO who could have requested an environmental impact assessment to make sure that what we are seeing now would not have happened. The mechanism is in place. We do not have to add any extra burden to our regular farmers. This is not what we are talking about. We are talking about a pig megafactory that has tremendous potential impact in terms of health, economics and the environment.

Even this week the Liberal government announced $19.5 million in tourism for Atlantic Canada. That is nice, and we will take it, but how do we balance it off with developments like the pig factory?

It could have been put somewhere else. It was a terrible location. There are other areas. The two just cannot be mixed together. At some point there will have to be a decision made on whether the government will keep investing millions in tourism and aquaculture or keep investing in pig factories. I do not think they blend.

Right now people are saying we cannot risk thousands of jobs in the fishing and tourism industries for a few jobs in Sainte-Marie-de-Kent. We cannot gamble that.

I believe we needed both an environmental impact assessment and a socioeconomic assessment. We needed to have this studied before it happened, but no, it looked as though it just went through. All of us in government have to sit together right now and fix this.

The people of Sainte-Marie-de-Kent, Saint-Paul, Saint-Lazare, Sainte-Anne, Fond-de-la-Baie, Bouctouche, Saint-Antoine and Saint-Joseph deserve better. All levels of government need to sit down and look at the situation. People deserve it.

I believe the solution is to compensate Metz. Metz has told me that if it gets the money it will close its doors. Let us compensate. For the few millions it will cost to close Metz we will save millions in the fishing and tourism industries. That is not counting the health bill. The health of the people of that region is at risk.

The government has to look at that option. People from the communities are telling me they want it closed. People working in Metz are telling me as an MP to find the money and it will close its doors. At the end of the day that will be the only option.

It was wrong from day one. The government does not know where it started or when it started. We know all of this started several years back. As was said on the radio talk show today, it really does not matter who brought it. We are stuck with the problem. We are stuck with a health problem, an environmental problem and an economic problem. This has to be addressed.

I do not agree that communities have to take it upon their shoulders the way they are doing. They have no choice. One politician alone cannot solve this problem because one politician alone did not bring it there. To be honest, it was two.

They need help and support. They need to know that the government will recognize that it failed big time when it could have intervened, when it could have requested an environmental impact assessment because of the possible impact on our fish habitat. It could have, but it closed its eyes to it.

That is not right. The government recognized it this week by requesting testing. What will it do if it finds the water is contaminated? What will the minister do? Will he close it then?

The assessment would have proven that the water would eventually be contaminated and would affect the fish habitat and all the money we have invested in aquaculture, in our fishing communities. We have communities that are practically totally dependent on the fishing industry and tourism.

At one end we have a government that says it will cut EI and people have to be working all the time. At the same time it is bringing in facilities going against what we are trying to do, which is work as much as we can. As usual there is no plan.

We need a regional development plan. We need environment ministers to agree to it and abide by it. Communities need to be consulted. No longer can we have facilities like this one. There are 30,000 pigs being processed per year in a community.

The one thing we do not talk about, and maybe one of the least important things for a lot of people, is the value of the homes. What about the value of the family? Many families have told me about being outside for barbecues and all of a sudden smelling it. They have to get into the house, close their windows and shut everything tight. That is not right. What about the value of their homes?

Sainte-Marie-de-Kent is a place where everybody would like to live. I remember going for drives there all the time and saying to my husband, “My God, it's nice in Sainte-Marie”. Unfortunately, a lot of people are not saying that any more. It is not because we do not have nice people. We have great people in Sainte-Marie.

Sainte-Marie is not the only place that has the smell. I live in Buctouche and the smell is there too. How about the golf course? How many millions does it take to build a golf course? We did not even look at the impact on the golf course but we are putting money in there too into pays de la Sagouine. It just goes on and on. It is a decision I will never understand.

I will never understand provincial politicians apparently lobbying to have this factory set up there, the same politicians who invested money in both tourism and the fishery. I will never understand why they believed that bringing in this factory would benefit our region. I hope someday that they will participate in the call-in, such as the one we did this morning where they refused to comment. I believe it was because they could not explain it or did not want to. However, I would like to see the day when they will explain that decision. It was a terrible decision. I have to say I do support the community and I do understand their frustration.

They talk of communities working very hard to develop their region, but not of the private sector. How many people have invested their own money, in a campground or in cottages, in starting up a fish plant or in many other things? Did anyone consult these entrepreneurs and ask them “Is this going to hurt your business?” No. No one consulted them. Everyone has to be consulted. The government cannot go on making decisions for communities at the expense of the people living there.

I had a call from a man who had to leave his work to go and care for his children because the spreader had gone by his house. It makes no sense for this man to leave his work for such a reason. This week, a truck was taken off the road. But were the people who did the inspection not within their rights? The truck was taken off the road. It was not allowed on the road because it failed to meet the requirements of the Department of Transport. How many other things are not right? I congratulate the committee. I congratulate the pool patrol for all their work.

It is true that all the communities, with our help, and all levels of government must sit down together and reach a solution. I hope that other people will insist that the government compensate Metz Farms, and close it down to save jobs in the tourism sector and to protect the health of our families, children, seniors and young children, who often have asthma, as Maria said when she called me.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you. It has been a pleasure for me to sit here these past three years, five months and few weeks. I know you will not be coming back to the House, and I want to wish you not only good luck, but success in your future endeavours. Thank you again for your patience, knowing that those of us who had arrived recently needed a little advice. I look forward to our next meeting.

Petitions October 20th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege to present a petition containing about 250 names with regard to the new EI boundaries.

Unfortunately the people in the villages of South Branch, Hillsborough and Elgin in my riding have been kept with the Moncton zone, which means they will need almost twice as many hours to qualify for only 15 to 17 weeks compared to 32 weeks in other regions. This is very unfair.

It is unfortunate that they still have to fight to get what is just. They should be zoned with the rural area and not with the urban. Hopefully within time that very unjust situation created by the Liberal government will be corrected.

The Environment October 20th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, last year I asked the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to have an environmental impact assessment on the impact of Metz Farms in Sainte-Marie-de-Kent. That was denied. Last week the same department ordered water testing. Has anything been learned from Walkerton? It has acknowledged it made a mistake last year. The people of Sainte-Marie and the surrounding area are requesting that the government compensate Metz Farms, a hog factory, and close it down and make sure that these communities can survive.

We cannot have hog factories with tourism and the health problem it is bringing. We need it closed now.

Employment Insurance Act October 19th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, what is interesting here with the Reform Party is that they keep calling it a temporary unexpected job loss. He is saying they want something there for someone that has an unexpected temporary job loss.

A seasonal worker knows every year they are getting laid off, so what he is really saying is that his government would not have an EI program for seasonal workers because it is an expected job loss. It is a seasonal job.

The Reform Party is very clear. They would destroy the EI program. He can go to Acadie—Bathurst and he can come to Beausejour—Petitcodiac with his leader and it is clear he would destroy the EI program and have those people suffer every winter. Can he answer that?

Economic Policy October 19th, 2000

Not an election plan.

Atlantic Tourism Industry October 17th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, on October 16, ACOA announced a new $19.5 million marketing measure for the tourism industry in the Atlantic provinces.

While the federal government continues to promote tourism in New Brunswick, certain rural communities are suffering as the result of poor environmental decisions made in their regions.

Kent county, in my riding of Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, was the victim of the construction of a huge pig barn in Sainte-Marie.

The Liberal government in office at the time failed to consult the public and refused to do an environmental impact study.

The people of Kent county, who work so hard to promote tourism, are now discouraged by the smell and the negative impact of this facility.

I wonder how this Liberal government can expect the people of Kent county to attract tourists to their region when they are up to their neck in manure.

Supply October 16th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I do agree. I do not have the figures the hon. member mentioned. What I do know is that when women go to a shelter it means they need shelter.

We need to address the problem. When partners are convicted they need rehabilitation. We need to have programs out there, maybe before the partners are convicted. We do not have enough programs. There was a program at one point that was called the turn around program. The success rate was not very high but at least it was a beginning for men who wanted to work out their violence and their tempers.

Those programs cost money, but unless we have those programs, unless we invest in having these programs available to help these men who do not want to be violent any more, who want to control their violence and who want to have a normal life, these men do not have the resources to get themselves out of it. A lot of men who hit their women are not happy with themselves but they do not have the resources to get themselves out of it. We need to have resources available, not only for women but for men.

Supply October 16th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, my answer is clear: I believe so. The government must consult the provinces. I believe Quebec has a formula that works.

It has proven that the $5 dollar a day child care program works. There cannot be an immediate no simply because it is Quebec. It is clear that anything coming from Quebec triggers an immediate no from the Liberals. I am not saying that they should always say yes, but they should consider the situation in each province. There must be leadership. Provinces must be encouraged to participate with the federal government and the municipalities. The problem must be addressed. The maternity leave problem is a serious one.

Only high income women will be able to afford to stay at home with their children. The women who work for minimum wage in a variety of factories—there are plenty of women in my area who work year round for $6.50 an hour—are certainly not going to stay home for a year with their children, not out of choice but for financial reasons.

The government must sit down with the provinces and find a workable formula. It should not do so with all provinces at the same time but rather one at a time, in order to solve the problems once and for all.

Supply October 16th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the organizers for the marches across the country and the world. A world women's march does not happen overnight. We are talking about days and months of organization. As a woman member of parliament, I want to thank them for everything they are doing.

I was part of the organization when we organized the national women's march against poverty in 1995 or 1996. I helped co-ordinate the march in New Brunswick which certainly brought awareness. Pay equity was one of the big issues.

After several courts, the Liberals finally decided to pay what was owed to mostly women who were federal government workers. Maybe to the Liberals it did not seem very important but it recognized that there was an inequity within salaries of federal employees. What the mostly women and some men did with that money was reinvest it in their communities. It also helped a lot of them to catch up.

I want to also recognize the work that was done by the members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. We have to thank them. We have to thank Nycole Turmel and the whole group who worked on this. Without their persistence and work I believe that women would not have won this very important justice that was owed to them.

Ten minutes is certainly not enough time to talk on all the issues but we have to touch on violence.

Violence against women is clearly unacceptable. There is certainly too much violence against women in this country.

Women's needs are not being met by our justice system. Too often women find themselves in dangerous situations. They ask the courts for help, but their spouse still manages to find them eventually, and we often see children who end up losing their mother.

Too often women live in shelters. This should not be happening. They should have the right to live in their own home, in their own environment, and feel safe. We must address this problem. Too many women live in fear and insecurity, afraid to leave the house or go to work, because they fear for their life.

Looking at the way the justice system works, it is obvious that the Liberal government has to do a lot better to correct the problem.

As my colleague mentioned a while ago, we certainly have to address the problem. Yes, I believe in prevention. I believe in a justice system. We need more prevention. We need prevention at home and, as mothers, we need to make sure that we address that with the our children. We need a society that talks about it and recognizes it. We need governments that address the problem. That is how we are going to fix this.

We also need shelters and we need to put a lot more money into them. We have the rural communities which are always disadvantaged. Shelters for battered women are much needed in our rural communities. We always have to scrape and scrape to try to get enough funds to operate shelters which are safe homes for women and their kids. They are safe homes that allow those moms to get out of a situation. They can get some counselling. They can reflect on their situation. They can get safety for their children. Then after they have had a time to rest, to feel safe and secure they can make those decisions. Those shelters work.

I used one quite a few years ago and it worked. There was counselling. Children were safe and the women could think. Unless we have those shelters for women who need them, they cannot get out of the environment. They cannot think straight. It does not matter how much prevention there is we will never solve all the problems. However, we need the shelters and we need to reinvested in them. All levels of government need to co-operate and address that. If we do not then we are not facing up to the problem.

Most children living in poverty are female. We have to look at the changes to the EI.

The changes to the employment insurance program have affected seasonal workers, of course, but women in particular. Did the Liberal government recognize that when it brought in these changes? The Liberals said that the changes to the employment insurance program would primarily affect women. Now they want to make changes to maternity leave.

It is very nice to tell women that they will get a one year maternity leave, but how many women can afford to take advantage of it with 55% of their $6 an hour salary? These women will spend a minimum amount of time at home with their children because they are forced to go back to work. They have no choice, because they cannot stay at home and live on 50% or 55%—the new amendments have not been adopted, and it looks like the government will not let them go through—of their salary. A woman cannot afford to stay at home with her children if she receives the equivalent of $3 an hour. It is simply not possible.

It is very nice to announce that a woman will be able to stay at home for a whole year with her children, but that only applies to women who earn big salaries. Those who are at the bottom end of the income scale will not have access to maternity leave, because they will not be able to afford it. We must also take a look at the child care program.

Child care is a big problem in this country. In August I released my report. On page 31, I recommended that we look at child care, especially in rural Canada. There are serious problems when it comes to child care. It is too expensive. A lot of women are working in fish plants or in tourism and are earning low salaries. They cannot afford child care. So where are the children going? The children are going where the moms and parents can afford afford to send them. Are they getting the best care? I am not too sure that they are. Is it the parents' fault? No, it is not the parents' fault.

We have to address child care in this country. It is not right and it is not fair that only people making high incomes can afford child care.

I do believe that Quebec has a good example in child care at $5 a day. We have to look at that. We have to look at it as a model and implement it across the country in different provinces where governments want it. I believe every provincial government should want an affordable child care program for parents. The children deserve it. If those governments do not care about the parents perhaps they should care about the children who are the ones suffering at the end of the day.

Let us look at breakfast programs. On the weekend I was talking to a director of a school of about 500 children. Two years ago he had to put in place a breakfast program, not twenty years ago but two years ago. He is feeding 20% of the kids in that school at least one meal a day, which is an awful shame. Why? Not because the parents are doing better, but because the parents are making less money and everything is going up. It may be gas, milk or bread, but everything is going up. Salaries are not going up. They are going down. Those are the issues that keep parents and children in poverty. That is not right.

How about part time workers? Who usually has a part time job? It is women. Which group was attacked most in the EI cuts? It was part time workers. They now pay into the fund but they cannot collect. Before when they used to pay they used to get at least a little bit but now they do not.

When the EI legislation was passed it was clear that women in particular were going to be targeted by it. The government passed it anyway. We need a system in place with policies that make sure there is not one group in particular being targeted. This Liberal government does not do that. The government speaks well today that it cares about women and poverty but I do not think it is really doing anything about it.

Violence and poverty among women has to be addressed. We are living in a very rich country. Every woman should feel safe in her home. Every child should have food in his stomach when he goes to school. Only by addressing poverty among parents can we ensure that. Single parents are usually women. This issue has to be addressed. Talking about it is not enough. We need sound policies that are going to address it once and for all.