Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was women.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Cumberland—Colchester (Nova Scotia)

Lost her last election, in 2004, with 26% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Speech From The Throne February 29th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to address the second throne speech of the 35th Parliament.

When our government came to power in October 1993 the Canadian people had elected us on a platform of promises and commitments to the voters that we believed in strongly enough to print boldly for the whole world to see in the famous red book.

The greatest commitment that would affect all other commitments was to restore financial confidence in Canada and reduce the deficit to 3 per cent of GDP by the 1996-97 fiscal year.

When this government came to power the annual deficit was more than $42 billion. By the end of the 1995-96 fiscal year, which will end in just a few weeks on March 31, we expect to reach the deficit reduction target of approximately $32 billion. We will be on target of the original goal and we will by the end of fiscal year 1996-97 be around a deficit of $25 billion to $27 billion. The Minister of Finance has already set new rolling targets to take us into the second half of our term and that will reduce the deficit to 2 per cent of GDP by fiscal year 1997-98. By the turn of the century I personally hope to see a deficit of zero and a balanced budget.

Why is this so important? It is important because it has reduced interest rates. It has reduced unemployment. It has reduced mortgage rates and has provided a healthier financial environment. It is important also to let Canadians know that we have set realistic targets and that we have made the tough cuts in spending to meet those targets.

Our finance minister has shown strong leadership and our government has shown great political courage to do the right thing, not always the politically popular thing. I am proud to be a member of the Standing Committee on Finance and I am equally proud of the advice and support that the Canadian people have offered us in the consultative process.

The kept promise of financial responsibility was of number one importance in order to keep the promises of our government programs. As well, the greatest promise of all, the all encompassing commitment was the contract with the Canadian people to insist on the highest standards of integrity and honesty of all ministers performing their duties in this 35th Parliament. Our Prime Minister has kept that promise.

By setting and meeting realistic goals and by delivering an honest government with integrity, we have restored credibility and confidence in our elected representatives. This is not only good for Canada at home but it is very good for us globally as other countries view Canada with great respect. What is it about Canada that causes other countries and the United Nations to declare it to be the number one country in the world to provide the best quality of life?

We as a government have shown leadership in getting our financial house in order, in reducing the public service and in doing the business of government more efficiently. Now we can ensure the continuance of our highly valued social justice system that provides this high quality of life that the world views in awe.

The throne speech highlighted the fact that our government respects the values that Canadians hold dear. In respecting those values our government must ensure economic opportunity as well as security for all Canadians. Economic growth alone does not make a nation. Canadians have told us what defines greatness in nationhood is: the opportunity to work; the national health care system; a fair judicial system; and compassion and respect for all human beings to live in one united Canada.

We have delivered on what the majority of Canadians asked for in the first half of our mandate. Now we are committing to those values that Canadians have identified and asked for, values that bind this country together in Canadian unity.

We are committing to income security for the elderly and the availability of old age security and the guaranteed income supplement. Measures will be taken in this Parliament to ensure the sustainability of our elderly benefits system into the future. Let there be no doubt that we will look after our elderly.

We are committing to our youth, to double the number of federal summer jobs this year immediately, which will help them pay for their post-secondary education. We will challenge the private sector and other levels of government to create opportunities in assisting young people in finding their first job. Our youth must be our priority.

Recently I was honoured to announce funding to establish a new Bachelor of Science degree program in aquaculture, that is fish culture, at the Nova Scotia Agriculture College in Truro. This program is extremely important to the Atlantic coast as it provides an opportunity to train our young people in a new field that has tremendous potential for growth in world markets for Canadian fish products.

We have committed in the throne speech to the five principles of the Canadian Health Act. We will work with the provinces to ensure the future of our publicly financed health care system which remains the number one health care system in the world.

We have committed to the security and protection of our environment and we will modernize the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. We will introduce an endangered species protection act and legislation to ratify the UN straddling stocks agreement and the law of the sea convention.

Canada will continue to participate in the G-7, in NATO and in the United Nations for a more stable and peaceful world. We will commit to advancing human rights and the dignity of all people. We will work vigorously to eliminate the exploitation of child labour and child prostitution throughout the world.

Many people listening to my voice today will know that very often I speak in this House on issues on rural Canada. I was very pleased to see that this throne speech addresses the problems facing rural Canada and acknowledges the fact that our government must tailor policies to meet those needs.

Quite often the problems of urban centres overshadow rural needs and we lose sight of the great richness of the human resources and the great contributions made by rural people to this country. The Prime Minister has heard our voice speaking on behalf of rural Canada. I feel confident that he recognizes that in a strong, united Canada we must ensure that both rural and urban needs are met and that both rural and urban Canadians benefit from the wealth of this great country and share in its economic prosperity. I look forward to seeing the words rural Canada becoming key words in all of our policy proposals in this session of Parliament.

These past two years have created much anxiety as many programs were cut to take swift action against the deficit. It has not been easy for anyone and it is not over. I am sure members will agree that had we not taken the prudent steps of compassion, if we had taken the steps of slash and burn as recommended by some parties, it would have been even more painful. We have shown compassion while being responsible and accountable in fiscal matters.

There is still much to be done. When the hon. Minister of Finance presents his budget next Wednesday afternoon, we will need the co-operation and the continued trust of the Canadian people. We need their support so that we can create the economic climate for investment and job creation while still funding programs that represent Canadian values.

We will serve the Canadian people in the second half of our mandate with the same integrity, honesty and dedication as we have in the past two years. We will pass legislation that ensures and serves all Canadians with a sense of fairness and equality in a united Canada.

I look forward to hearing the views from my constituents of Cumberland-Colchester. I thank them for giving me the privilege of serving them in this 35th Parliament of Canada.

Finance December 14th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, in February, the Minister of Finance set the course of deficit reduction and economic growth. The budget focused on national priorities and set goals of fairness and credibility, goals we have met.

In 1993-94 there was a 5.9 per cent ratio of deficit to GDP. This year it will be 4.2 per cent and we are almost certain to meet our target of 3 per cent deficit to GDP by the year 1996-97. This is good news for Canadians, as we are on course and have achieved our goals.

This week the finance minister set a new two-year rolling target, the goal of a 2 per cent deficit to GDP ratio by the 1997-98 fiscal year. This means the deficit for that year will be approximately $17 billion. The borrowing requirement will be at its lowest level since 1969. This is credible reality of a finance minister of the government of today.

There are those who say we should go further and faster with cuts like this slash and burn approach but I say the deficit and debt were not created overnight and we cannot change them overnight. We are on a steady course showing results. With an anticipated growth rate of no more than 2.5 per cent next year and with inflation and wages under control we must continue the path we are on to reduce the deficit while stimulating the job creation strategy equation.

We have spent the past few months in committee listening to Canadians. They want us to be fair and show equity in all changes and cuts we make. We will earn our nation's affection and the respect of all Canadians if we as a government remain true to our own Liberal values. Those values of honesty, hard work, fairness, tolerance and compassion must prevail as we look at how to fight Canada's deficit and debt.

Liberals are a political party of the middle road. We will avoid the slash and burn policies of the extreme right wing and balance with compassion those policies of the extreme left. Margaret Thatcher once observed that staying in the middle of the road is very dangerous, as one gets knocked down by the traffic on Both sides.

The government is not afraid of being knocked down by either side. We will listen to Canadians; we have listened. We will uphold the value of a one level health care system, the values of tolerance and compassion, the values Canadians want and respect, the values of eliminating poverty among our children. Difficult choices were made last year. Unemployment is being reformed this year and our workforce is more competitive. We have had the co-operation of Canadians and I thank them for that.

I share some concerns Canadians expressed to our committee. Many asked why we do not force the Bank of Canada to lower interest rates and manipulate the money supply. Past governments have tried it and it does not work. If we reduce this strangling deficit and the debt we will have a healthy financial picture and interest rates will fall on their own, mortgage rates will fall and the economy will expand.

Economists tell us a 2 per cent reduction in interest rates over four years allows the economy to grow by approximately $13 billion. Canadians have asked us why we do not set a longer strategy to look at the debt to GDP ratio. We know we must do this, since 20 years ago the total federal debt was 19 per cent of gross domestic product; 10 years ago it was 50 per cent. It was growing even in good times. Today is close to 75 per cent. We know this ratio must be reduced if we are to compete globally and to remain the best country in the world in which to live. We know our generation must set an attainable strategy for reduction of debt to GDP.

Some recommendations by Canadians deal with the construction industry. It needs a boost. One idea is to renew the RAP, the residential assistance program we brought in last year. This helps low income earners to maintain adequate housing. It helps seniors on fixed income to stay in their home where they remain healthier and happier and it has helped the construction industry. Another suggestion was the use of the RRSP to extend to new construction by extended family members. As an example, a father could use his RRSP without penalty to construct the first new home for his son or daughter. Also, it has been suggested that if we remove the tax incentives that go along with demotion of buildings we would then indirectly encourage retrofitting and remodelling of older buildings and our heritage properties. This has two benefits. It restores and maintains heritage properties and in most cases it creates twice as many jobs. Renovating creates two jobs for every one of new construction. It does have the job creation factor.

Each one of us elected to this hon. House knows how closely literacy is tied to the economy. Without strong literary skills we cannot read the work manuals or the directions on a piece of equipment, nor can we comprehend the orders of our bosses. Adult literacy is closely linked to employment and income levels. Since literary requirements are forever on the increase it is important to promote reading.

One way this budget can do this is by removing the GST on books and magazines. It may be necessary to work co-operatively provinces. However, I believe it can be done. The provinces would participate. The marginal lost revenue would be regenerated in more sales. There would be a greater stimulation to Canadian writers and composers. Above all, a society that reads more becomes more knowledgeable and more competitive in a global society.

In last year's budget we taxed the chartered banks some $100 million over two years. What we saw as a result was an increase in service charges passed on to the consumer. At the same time the banks enjoyed billion dollar profits. It is my recommendation that we take a new strategy. That strategy in simple terms would be for us, the federal government, to establish a community investment strategy and permit it to be funded by the banks in the communities. This forces the banks to do more for small business, more for community economic development, and it forces them to leave some of those profits in local communities.

In addition, we have some responsibility to see that the banks lower those service charges. The charges have a negative impact on small business and a negative impact on the consumer. We are constantly told by economists we must adapt to an increasingly competitive world market.

Global competition means something entirely different to workers in small rural communities than it does to the workers at large corporations like Ford. This is where the banks can assist in those small communities often adversely affected by those global market forces.

I want to address labour sponsored venture capital funds. These are fairly new in the Canadian government's portfolio. They have been in existence less than five years and their mandate was to link investment opportunities to small and medium size businesses for the purposes of job creation. These are heavily tax subsidized dollars with about $2 billion in venture capital available in Canada today. Very little is earmarked for small companies requiring less than $250,000 in capital, and still a large portion is invested in secure treasury bills, not helping small business at all.

The individual who invests in these funds get a 40 per cent tax credit in addition to the usual tax deduction if the fund is placed in an RRSP. The time has come to insist these funds be used in job creation or remove the tax credit incentive. This budget can clearly look closely at this area for new revenue.

There is an opportunity since 1991 to carry forward any unused deduction in the RRSP, and StatsCanada shows that Canadians could pump up to $154 billion this year-not likely to happen because Canadians do not save that much money. There is an opportunity in the 1997-98 fiscal period to look at setting a ceiling

on RRSPs, somewhere around the $8,000 to $10,000 mark for individuals, and we can look at the opportunity in changing it from a deduction on the income tax page to a tax credit.

By changing it to a tax credit, we would give a greater incentive for low income earners to invest in an RRSP because a tax credit would give them more dollars in their pockets rather than a deduction at that low level. We would seal it for high income earners so the advantage was more equal in the incentive process.

There are many more things I could talk about in the budget process such as our training programs, our education facilities, needs such as the national highway strategy, and on and on.

We have heard Canadians speak and they have told us clearly their needs and wants. With political stability in the country we can create a dynamic federalism wherein we have sustainable financial resources, sustainable economies and a sustainable environment. What more can we give our youth but a country in which they can live and fulfil their dreams?

Peacekeeping December 4th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, today as we debate sending troops to Bosnia we must remember the accomplishments achieved over the past half century by Canadian UN forces.

We must embrace the vision of global peace and unity so recently articulated in Ottawa by UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Canadians must set the example as ambassadors of peace. To waver at such a historical moment in the history of these warring countries would be paramount to turning a blind eye to a starving child. Bosnia is starving for peace.

As members of a united nation, all Canadians must accept the challenge to make a lasting peace for all Bosnians.

Prisons November 20th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, on the day of the great unity rally in Montreal, I had the tremendous pleasure of officially opening the Nova Institution for federally sentenced women in Truro, Nova Scotia on behalf of the solicitor general. This institution marks a new era of federal corrections in Canada.

Could the solicitor general tell the House how Nova Institution, housing incarcerated women, differs from the Kingston prison?

Income Tax November 8th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, as we approach the end of the calendar year many Canadians focus their attention on the dreaded task of filing their income tax returns. The Department of National Revenue sends out millions of tax packages to individual Canadians each year.

Given the budget restraints this year, could the Minister of National Revenue tell the House what his department has done to streamline the tax filing operation and to save money?

Department Of Health Act November 6th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, as we consider Bill C-95, hon. members will want to reflect on the business of the Department of Health as it embarks on its new life, its new beginnings.

The department is no longer responsible for social assistance. Does this reduce its importance in the national structure? Is it fading away? Is it weakened? Far from it. As I read the results, the Department of Health is now poised and primed to take on perhaps the greatest challenge it has ever known. It has gathered its strength in order to guard the health of Canadians through an era of stress, strain and dislocation that is testing us all.

It is finding alternatives to the financial resources once thought inexhaustible but now known to be limited alternatives described by words such as collaboration, knowledge and intelligence, waste reduction and value for money. These are the watch words of the new department, focused today more than ever on health because it is focused on health alone.

The basic facts of Bill C-95 are as follows. The department is renamed. Some inspectors are empowered. The social well-being dimension of health is acknowledged and there are to be charges to businesses for services that have business value.

A new name means a new focus. This is what the bill is about, what is in the bill and who can object. It is eminently reasonable. It has been well set out by the minister and by other hon. members and the significance of the new name, the Department of Health, is personified in that single word because of the very importance of health to Canadians.

I would go one step further. The Department of Health is a symbol of a new beginning. This nominal act speaks volumes about a determination to focus intensely on the health of Canadians, our most precious resource.

The renamed department will continue all the essential work that has helped Canadians reach the top of the world rankings in health. However, it will do far more than maintain hallowed traditions. It intends to be a dynamic player in a world filled with new challenges and opportunities for health care.

The department is in business to protect the health of Canadians but it is doing that business in a new way, streamlined by a new vision of the way things must work in the future.

What indicators are there of this new approach? None is more practical or more telling than the consolidation in the department of 11 separate activities distinguished as such even up to the recent main estimates into just four business lines. This move reflects what has been learned from the program review process and participation in the science and technology policy review. More than this, it reflects a willingness to consult, to listen, to learn and to change.

The first of the new business lines will position the department to support and renew the health system in Canada. It will try to achieve a better balance among health care, disease prevention and health protection and promotion.

Quality health care services contribute to the health of the population, but good health is not simply the result of health care. Rather, it is more true to say health care is the result of ill health. Good health arises from a host of social, economic and environmental lifestyles and genetic factors.

Hon. members are aware of the initiatives undertaken by the Prime Minister's national forum on health to determine the necessary and sufficient conditions for health and identify the root cause of illness. The recommendations of the national forum will guide the department in its efforts to make the system healthier for all Canadians.

It will work with the provinces and territories to contain costs, including the costs of prescription drugs, in order to ease spending pressure on governments and the private health care system. It will lead consultation aimed at interpreting the Canada Health Act but it will not cease to enforce the act so that universal access to appropriate health care is maintained throughout Canada.

Canadians look to the federal government, to hon. members here in the House, to create bridges among the provinces. They want us to ensure national standards for health care. They insist we intervene to remedy inequalities and protect infrastructure. For all of this the Department of Health is our means, our instrument.

Another line of business the department has recently adapted will focus on the health problems of disadvantaged groups. This involves marshalling a number of existing programs toward this single objective. It involves new programs to be delivered in partnership with the provinces. As well, it involves improving the flexibility to respond when a new health need arises.

The department will intervene to help protect those at most risk when it is clear that the federal government is placed to provide the best care at the lowest cost. Affordable health care of the highest quality is the aim, the objective, while eliminating overlap and duplication with the provinces and other partners.

I will not dwell on the delivery of health services to First Nations, Inuit and the people of Yukon. I pass over it not because it is less important. Indeed it accounts for the largest share of the department's entire budget. I pass over it because it has been thoroughly explored in the representation of the minister and other hon. members speaking on the bill.

This is the new business line that flows least change from the department's previous portfolio of responsibilities. Helping native people and northerners attain a level of health comparable to that of other Canadians who live in similar conditions has long been a goal of this department, a goal of this government. The goal has not yet been achieved, but great strides are being made in the right direction to serve the people of the north.

The fourth reconstituted business line of the Department of Health seeks to reduce the health risks to Canadians arising from food and drugs, from consumer products and medical devices, from disease and disaster. This is the regulatory and compliance thrust of the department. This is the heart of health protection, where the department stands on guard to preserve the health of Canadians. It is here that Bill C-95 adds some muscle and meat to the refocused mission of the Department of Health.

The transfer of responsibility for the safety of consumer products and workplace equipment is formalized in the bill. Officials of the department get powers in the bill to inspect possible disease-carrying agents entering this country by way of foreign products. The costs of services provided to businesses may be recovered under a provision of the bill. If risks to Canadians are going to be managed effectively in an era of restraint, new ways to meet those costs must be found. This is one such way.

The late Lewis Thomas was a physician who taught at Yale. He was a great essayist and was called the poet laureate of 20th century medical science. Dr. Thomas wrote that the term health industry provides the illusion that it is in a general way all one thing and that it turns out on demand a single unambiguous product which is health.

Thus, health care has become the new name for medicine. Health care delivery is what doctors and nurses do along with hospitals and other professionals working with them. They are now known collectively as the health providers or the health team. Patients have become health consumers. Once we start on this line, there is no stopping.

We tend to forget sometimes that health is not simply a product distributed in neat little packages from a constantly replenished inventory on a shelf somewhere. We also forget sometimes in our rhapsodies over a multibillion dollar health system that it ultimately comes down to one patient, often hurt and scared, and one medical professional who may or may not be sure either about the cause of the complaint or what to do about it. It is a face to face, one to one confrontation as to what to do. This reality is part of the new understanding of the department which will be renamed with the passage of the bill.

I take the minister at her word, given to doctors at the CMA leadership conference in March, that decisions will be based on solid Canadian values such as fairness, compassion and respect for the fundamental dignity of all people, of all Canadians.

In the October edition of the Fraser Forum , which is published by the Fraser Institute, there was an article entitled: ``Two-tier health care system''. I quote from the article:

I would say that of all the government health plans in Europe the German system is the king among the blind. However, it's still one-eyed, it is still inferior compared to a purely private system, I believe. Now, the German system does not guarantee universal coverage-

The Canadian system is the best system, the single tier system. Only last week we heard that great American, Ralph Nader, telling us here in Canada to be vigilant, to be watchful and not to lose that single tier system where all Canadians have access to excellent health care.

I am pleased to speak on Bill C-95 today. I am pleased to enunciate for the second time the new name, Department of Health, and the significance we in this government place on the health of our people and the well-being of all Canadians. It is because of this naming, the single word health, that we give no extended situations to other things but singly the health of Canadians and the prominence it will play within our government.

I urge hon. members in this House to support the government with this very important bill. It is the fibre that helps this country maintain the strength of its unity.

National Housing Act November 3rd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's comments about the value of housing to seniors. I am sure every member in the House can appreciate that in his or her own community.

So often we hear criticism about CMHC, about government involvement in mortgages. I would like to ask the hon. member why the government is involved or should be involved in the issuing of mortgages for housing here in Canada.

National Housing Act November 3rd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I am really pleased to hear the hon. member's comments regarding this bill and the positive forces it will have on the economy of our country.

Only a few weeks ago I had the ambassador from Poland in my riding of Cumberland-Colchester, Nova Scotia. The purpose of his visit was to look at housing for Poland and eastern Europe. The interest is there because they know that Canada and particularly Atlantic Canada have numerous sawmills making new houses constructed of wood, high insulation products and meeting the R-2000 code for insulation standards.

When we had the G-7 conference in Halifax in June, we produced a G-7 model home. This was the interest the east European countries had in looking at Canada and the great potential in development. Could the hon. member elaborate a bit on the value of this construction, on the high prestige of construction of homes, on the value to the world structure, on the peace and economic development it will bring, as well as bringing jobs here at home and adding to that great potential of export for our country?

Sexual Abuse November 3rd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago in Halifax the solicitor general announced the second phase of a national program to help protect the young and the vulnerable from sexual abuse at the hands of people in positions of trust.

Could the solicitor general tell the House how the new program would protect our children from potential sexual abuse?

Department Of Health Act November 2nd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I did enjoy the hon. member's comments. I wish I could speak fluently enough in the beautiful French language, but I must speak in English. I am not good enough yet to carry on detailed conversations in French.

In health care, the needs of the people of Quebec are the same as those of the people in my province of Nova Scotia. All of the provinces have serious deficit situations and we have had to begin dealing with deficit reduction. I remind the hon. member that the province of Quebec has not attempted to reduce its deficit as the other provinces have done. This is a major concern in dealing with health care.

Another variant which occurs in the health care system is that some provinces give credence to many health care needs. For example, some of the provinces consider cosmetic surgery part of the health care program. Through the years in Nova Scotia we have had more than basic coverage in programs such as dental care for children, an excellent program covering dental care up to the age of 16.

What has happened under the broad umbrella of health care is the provinces have added on things encompassing more than basic health care. They cannot afford them. We have heard recently that

Quebec must close some 25 hospitals. This is not due to the federal government's cutbacks. This is due to the overspending and the additional encompassing programs which have come under health care.

What the federal government wants, and I ask the hon. member if this is not her desire too, is to preserve the health care programs for all Canadians as to basic needs, so that this is a very unifying factor for this country. Without the strong federalist approach to the health care needs, we will miss out.