House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was province.

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

Public Safety Act, 2002 May 30th, 2002

Why do you not--

Public Safety Act, 2002 May 30th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I find it necessary to stand for a few moments to speak to the bill in response to what some members of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois have said this morning. I find it difficult to understand the reasoning and logic of some the statements made in the House criticizing this piece of legislation. I will try to recapture some of the things that were said and the logic behind them.

Members keep using the word corruption in the House in reference to the lack of confidence in the new minister of defence. Before coming to the House of Commons last week I had been in the Newfoundland house of assembly since 1985. Corruption was not a word we would use. If we wanted to criticize the government we would say a minister, an MP or a government official made an error in judgment. It is wrong to use the word corruption in reference to lack of confidence in a piece of legislation that would play a major role in the future safety of Canada. The hon. NDP member, the third last member who spoke, referenced all--

Public Safety Act, 2002 May 30th, 2002

I do apologize, Madam Speaker. I just do not have familiarity with all of the members. I have only been here a few short days. Whether it is east or west, it is Calgary. I do apologize. I will get it right the next time.

Public Safety Act, 2002 May 30th, 2002

Madam Speaker, I have only been in the House a few days. This is actually my second week. I have taken great interest in the debate by sitting in my seat and listening to speakers from both sides of the House. I am trying to understand the procedures of the House. I said I would wait and take some time before I rose for debate. I have been listening with great intent to the opposition on the public safety act.

I remember back to September 11 when I was in my hometown of Port de Grave, Newfoundland. I was in my pleasure boat coming into the harbour when I heard the tragic news. I have no doubt that September 11 struck with great impact on every single individual who heard about the tragedy of that particular day in Canada and around the world.

One of the first questions that came to my mind on that particular day was: How well equipped are we in Canada to deal with a situation like that? We live in the greatest part of the whole world in the greatest country, Canada. Every individual in this nation can take pride in saying that. However we must also be aware that we must have confidence in our armed forces and in our government so that Canada could and would be protected from such a tragedy.

I have listened to members of the opposition. The second last speaker from Calgary West mentioned things that happened and made accusations in the House over the last couple of days. I heard no reference at all to Mr. Gagliano. I heard no reference at all to false accusations made by the opposition this week on what the public safety act is all about. I see no room for discussion when statements are sensationalized.

We are talking about the future safety of Canada. The safety of the people in Canada is at risk. That is what we are talking about. The purpose of introducing this piece of legislation would give all Canadians confidence as to where we stand in the future, just in case the worst possible tragedy might happen. We hope and pray that September 11 will never be repeated again in any part of the world. We only hope and pray that terrorists will never strike in that way again, but we can never be sure.

We must be prepared. We must have confidence. We must give the leaders of our armed forces the reason and the ability to put forth confidence in the people and security measures so we can rest at ease. Whether one lives in western or eastern Canada, there is no difference. I do not understand how the opposition or anyone could oppose a piece of legislation, a bill that is before the House of Commons of this great nation, that would give us security and confidence.

One of the things the bill talks about is controlled military zones. If it were necessary to add a controlled military zone that would give us the security that we need, why not? The member for Calgary West talked about the land below and the air above, as well as a reference to a lawn or a staff car or some piece of equipment sitting there, and how that would automatically become a controlled military zone. If that is not sensationalism I would like to know what is. That is taking it to its worst extreme.

The opposition says it has no more confidence in our armed forces, in our ministers, and in the leaders of our government. Regardless of one's political stripe, if the ministers in the government, including the Minister of National Defence in charge of the armed forces, make a decision, will we say that the only place to have a controlled military zone is on someone's front lawn? I could not believe it.

I have been in government since 1985. I have been involved in many debates on both sides of the House. I was in the opposition from 1985 to 1989. It is the role of the opposition to question a piece of legislation. I will never argue with that. However if the opposition is going to stand in the House of Commons, as we are here today and will be for some time in the future, it should at least be constructive. It should at least show the people of Canada that it means what it is saying and not just stating the extreme.

We do not know what will happen tomorrow or next year. We do know one thing, we have an armed forces in this country that we are very proud of.

Do we make mistakes? From all the history I have read and all the discussions I have had I know that human beings make mistakes. Only those people that sit idly by and do not do anything do not make mistakes.

If we make a mistake, as was referenced by the opposition over the last number of days about things that were done in the past, we will learn from those mistakes. That is the reason why the bill is before the House, to ensure that mistakes are not repeated in the future.

We must place confidence in our government. We must place confidence in the leaders of our armed forces, whether it is the army, navy or air force. We must also give them the room to make decisions.

If we go back to the second world war, are we saying that every time the leaders of any nation or country had to make a decision that was critical of time and place they had to go back to their house of parliament to consult with the people to make a decision? How foolish can that be? Are we saying to the people of this country that the head of our armed forces is going to say that their front lawn could be a controlled military zone or that a staff car driven up the road and stopping in a certain position could be a controlled military zone? That is not bringing the right information to the people. As parliamentarians, regardless of where a member sits, we all have a responsibility to bring out the correct information to the people of this country.

Is it any wonder why the general public does not have confidence in our elected representatives. We all sit here day after day and listen to members of the opposition make such false statements and give out misleading information on many issues.

I have only been sitting here a few short days. I cannot believe the type of tripe that is coming out from that side of the House. Two days ago the Alliance leader made a statement about Atlantic Canadians. He said that Atlantic Canadians are a defeatist people. I can tell this House that we are proud in Atlantic Canada. We are proud of this country from east to west and north to south. We are proud of our armed forces and leaders. We are proud of everything that is going on and we will not take a second seat to anybody.

I will tell the House that I will stand on my feet and support the minister of defence any time he brings a piece of legislation before this House that will give me confidence in the future. We must have a good protection system in place just in case a tragedy ever happens. It may be never and we hope never.

I am so fortunate that I live on the east coast. I have a small grandchild. I am glad he will live in a safe and secure country when he grows up. That is what this is all about.

This is not partisan politics. This is not one group against the other. This is for the future of our country and for the protection of our children. This is for the right of someone to make a decision.

We would criticize the minister of defence if he did not bring this type of legislation into the House. The opposition would be first to criticize him for not doing so. When he does bring the legislation into the House he is criticized for doing so. The opposition should make up its mind. Either the opposition wants Canada protected in the future or it does not. I for one want Canada protected.

I want the leaders of our government, our defence and our military to be able to make a decision. I do not want them to have to come back to the House for public consultation to determine whether we can do this or not when it is a critical time to make a decision. No. Confidence in leadership and in our armed forces is what we want. This particular piece of legislation would give me and the government the confidence that we need.

Supply May 23rd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, as you said, I am a new member in the House. I came in just a couple of days ago after sixteen and a half years of experience in the provincial house of assembly in Newfoundland and Labrador. I had the good fortune of serving in the opposition for four years and then in three different portfolios, social services, transportation and twice as fisheries minister. There was quite a different setting in the house of assembly in Newfoundland and Labrador with respect to the decorum and the way question period is carried out, so it will take me a while to get used to it.

I have been listening to the opposition members over the last three or four days. They keep using the word corruption. Before I get into what I want to talk about, which is the sensationalism of what the opposition is doing, I want to make mention of the Prime Minister and the statement that he made in the House this morning.

I must say that I have been a Liberal for quite a long time. I have served for sixteen and a half years. I was never more proud to be a Liberal and to be in the House than when I heard the Prime Minister speak this morning. I served in the role of opposition member from 1985 to 1989 and I have some information for the people in the opposition. Those people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Using the word corruption is degrading all the ministers and all people on both sides of the House.