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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was deal.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Avalon (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 58% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Housing May 28th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Government of Canada announced the signing of the Newfoundland and Labrador housing agreement.

Could the Secretary of State responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation advise the House on the status of the federal housing agreements with the provinces and territories related to the $680 million for affordable housing announced in the 2001 budget?

Fisheries May 26th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, after extensive consultations with members of Parliament, provincial governments and aboriginal groups, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has announced a 29% increase in the total allowable catch for northern shrimp for 2003. Sharing of this increase follows a new access framework that resulted from the work of the independent panel on access criteria.

However, given the precarious state of other fish stocks in the Atlantic, could the minister inform the House about the state of northern shrimp stocks and the measures the government is implementing to ensure their health in the future?

Cod Fishery April 29th, 2003

Maybe not.

Cod Fishery April 29th, 2003


That this House do now adjourn.

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by thanking you for allowing me the opportunity to introduce this debate. I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

This debate was brought on as a result of the minister's decision last week when he went to Newfoundland and Labrador and closed down the cod fishery, a decision which we, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, believe was wrong. We want to take the opportunity and the time in this debate to convince the minister that a mistake was made last week. In the best interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, let us work together to reverse the decision and put a plan in place that will build not just the cod stocks but the fish stocks of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Our intent is to convince this hon. House of why we as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians believe it was the wrong decision and how we see the decision can be changed to benefit the industry of Newfoundland and Labrador and the people of that province.

We do not mind admitting when mistakes are made. It is only those people who do absolutely nothing who do not make mistakes. Mistakes are made to be corrected. We are going to ask the minister to listen carefully this evening to our plea and to the reasons that we believe it was the wrong decision.

I need first to talk about the fishing industry of Newfoundland and Labrador, how it came about and what type of impact it has had on the people over the hundreds of years they have lived in that province. It is the only reason the people came across the Atlantic Ocean some 500-plus years ago to settle in the communities. It was based on the massive cod stocks, the massive fish stocks in our waters.

Very few people realize that at one point in time we had in excess of 2.5 million tonnes of cod fish in our ocean besides all of the other species. It is unbelievable to know that today we are now discussing in this hon. House the closure of two of the final stocks in the northern gulf and along the northeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. There is only one stock remaining along the south coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

We have to understand how we got there. We are not going to point any fingers at anybody in the country of Canada except around Newfoundland and Labrador, to companies both Canadian and foreign. I will use only one word to describe how we arrived at the closure of the fishery in 1992: greed. There was no respect for conservation. Taking into consideration that we had the largest fish stock unequalled anywhere in the world, it was reduced to a closure in 1992.

We are blaming it on nobody, only the greed of large companies, factory freezer trawlers and foreign trawlers. We will also take some responsibility ourselves because those of us who sat idly by and allowed it to happen must share some of the responsibility.

The fishing industry has always been, is today, must be and will be in the future the backbone of the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. There is no other reason the rural communities of Newfoundland and Labrador can exist without the fishing industry. It is no different from the farming industry in other parts of Canada. It is no different from the manufacturing industries in Ontario and all of the other centres around this great country of ours.

We want the government and the minister to understand the importance of making the right decision to benefit not only the people living in those communities today, but the people of the future. If we do not put the right building plan in place, the right management plan in place, then we all know that the stocks will never, ever return for generations and generations to come without some magnificent miracle by nature itself.

I have already said that the stocks went to an all time low in 1992 because of mismanagement. There is another thing I want to point out. Since 1992 to the present day, there has been no rebuilding management plan put in place.

The only time we hear from DFO is in a reactionary situation when a crisis takes place. That is a key fact that we must remember.

The minister did not cause the decline of the fishery. The minister inherited a problem. That is why we formed an all party committee in Newfoundland and Labrador and offered the minister a partnership to deal with a major situation, a situation that could have been avoided.

The other thing we have to recognize is that the fish stocks are not only part of the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador and not only do they give us a reason to stay in that province, but they also are part of the world food chain. That in itself is a major issue.

It is not the same as the oil we take out of a well. When the last barrel is taken out the well is dry. The fish stocks are renewable resources, all the cod, the caplin, the herring, the mackerel, the crab and the shrimp. All we are saying is that they must be managed properly.

When we came forth with the all party committee report we were not asking the federal government for millions of dollars. We said that we did not want money. We said that the government did not have to close this little fishery and that it did not have to give us any money. All we asked for was that the government allow the fishermen go in their boats, and that it put an appropriate rebuilding plan in place.

If we had come asking for another $1.5 billion or $1.7 billion I could understand the government's reluctance to talk to us because we spent a lot of money after 1992. However the all party committee from Newfoundland and Labrador did not mention money.

We offered the present minister a partnership to work with us. We gave him some 19 recommendations. We asked him to come back and sit down with us to discuss each recommendation. We wanted to take the responsibility of developing a plan, knowing full well that we could work together to rebuild the stocks in the short term.

Even if we had done everything right and everything to perfection, we knew the stocks would not return to the way they were in the 1970s and 1980s for generations to come, but we knew we had to start the rebuilding process.

If we do not start the rebuilding process communities will disappear. People's lives will be reduced to a welfare state again. That should not be happening with the ocean that is out there which can provide the jobs the people in the communities need, not only the people directly in the fishing boats but those people who are living around the spin off industries that create the economy of our province.

I want to read some numbers. We are talking about closing the fishery along the northeast coast where only 3,500 tonnes of fish were caught last year. That is all they are asking for this year. The fishermen in the gulf caught approximately 6,000 tonnes. We are talking about 10,000 tonnes or 9,500 tonnes last year. That is all we took away.

According to the minister's own advisory committee, his own scientific information, last year in the gulf alone the grey seals and the harp seals consumed 39,000 metric tonnes. The minister's own scientists sent me a letter saying that last year the seals consumed 900,000 metric tonnes of caplin. This is a million times more than what the fishermen took out of the ocean last year.

One might ask why this is happening. We caused it to happen. We fished for 500 years and hunted seals for 300 years. We kept the ecosystem in balance. However we then we became greedy and overfished. At he same time we allowed the animal rights protestors to stop the sealing industry. Therefore we have allowed the balance of nature to get out of control.

I ask the minister to listen to what we are saying. I ask him to reverse his decision and give us an opportunity to sit down and put an appropriate building plan in place, and to recognize how little fish the fishermen are asking to take out of the ocean compared to the mortality rate.

It is necessary to deal with this for the benefit of our communities. It is the best way to ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador, with its rural economy, can grow and survive. It is a right and part of our culture to be a part of this great country of Canada.

Request for Emergency Debate April 28th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, under Standing Order 52 I wrote your office and asked for an emergency debate on the situation of the fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador.

We consider the announcement the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans made last Thursday to be unnecessary. Many other options could have been put in place to deal with the serious situation of the fishery.

In 1992 people in the fishing industry were decimated in the province. It is 11 years later and communities now have been kicked again. The people involved in the fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador are saying very clearly that DFO does not understand the situation with the fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador and it is not working with the people in the industry to create a major rebuilding plan.

We need this debate in the House of Commons to get across to and implant in the minds of the people in DFO and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, who inherited this problem, an appropriate way to deal with a very serious situation. The biomass of northern cod today is less than it was in 1992. The outmigration of people from Newfoundland and Labrador has continued at a rapid rate and is unnecessary.

This is a renewable resource. It is part of the world food chain. It does not benefit just the people living in the communities of Newfoundland and Labrador; it is part of the world food chain. It is the responsibility of the Canadian government to manage this resource appropriately. We want the opportunity to debate this in the House of Commons to send a clear message and work in partnership with DFO and the minister to create an appropriate rebuilding plan.

Fisheries April 28th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, as we sit here today, DFO offices in Newfoundland and Labrador are being occupied by frustrated people, frustrated fishermen in the province. I am not so sure the government today understands how serious this is and the impact it has on people's lives.

To say that we are going to ask seals to leave exclusion zones is making a joke and making fun of the people. It is not right to do that.

Let me ask the minister a serious question. Will he reconsider his decision--

Fisheries April 28th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans delivered more bad news to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Given the fact that his scientists over the last number of years have confirmed the impact seals have on fish, in fact last year they confirmed that they ate 47,000 metric tonnes of cod and 940,000 metric tonnes of caplin, why then would the minister put another $6 million into research to see if seals eat fish?

Acts of Bravery March 17th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to congratulate John Dean of Little Heart's Ease, Newfoundland, who nearly four years after he saved the life of his friend and shipmate Levi Avery has been recognized by the Governor General of Canada for his act of bravery.

Mr. Dean and Mr. Avery were fishing from the Sandra L. Dean about 130 miles southeast of Catalina on May 29, 1999. They were setting crab pots when Mr. Avery became entangled in the rope that was tied to the pots and dragged overboard into the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. Crew member Randell Smith reacted quickly as he operated the engine controls. Mr. Dean made the decision to go into the water after his friend. The recipient showed exceptional courage in the face of this near fatality.

I would like to ask the House to join me in sending out congratulations and our thanks to this brave individual and all others like him.

Badger Flood February 20th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the flooding over the weekend of the town of Badger, Newfoundland and Labrador has left many residents homeless but not hopeless.

After having to flee so suddenly, many families were left with only what they were wearing and millions of dollars worth of damage. However they are discovering a flood of another kind now, the flood of kindness.

Donations of food, clothing and cash have been pouring in for the more than 1,000 residents who have been displaced. Clothing has been given by the Wal-Mart chain. The Canadian Tire Foundation for Families has made donations for families. McDonald's has donated bottled water. Several local companies have donated beds, TVs and furniture.

It is kindness and generosity like this that will make all the difference to the residents of this troubled town. The people of Badger are now asking the Minister of National Defence, who is responsible for emergency measures, to visit the town of Badger and give them some level of comfort as to what the government's response will be.

Queen's Jubilee Medal February 4th, 2003

Madam Speaker, before the Christmas recess I had the honour and privilege to present a number of deserving constituents from my riding of Bonavista—Trinity—Conception with the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in recognition of their outstanding achievements and contribution to our communities and to our country.

The recipients are Walter Baggs, Captain Gushue, William Ford, Dr. Barton Manning, Harry Strong, Judy Stagg, Byron Rodway, Gordon Pike, Elizabeth Jerrett, Augustus Mercer, John Crane, Max Hussey, Eugene Hurley, Robert Moore, Effie Boone, Elihu Antle, Bram Walters, Eliza Swyers, Roderick Nicholl, Herb Brett and Eric Kenneth Jerrett.