House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was reform.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia (Manitoba)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Budget Implementation Act, 2004 May 3rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Davenport for his work on this particular file. He has established, over many long years, a reputation for concern about the environment and these kinds of issues. The House and the government, in fact the country, is better off because of his sensitivities, work and commitment.

I want to say that these are difficult issues, but the government is trying to strike a balance. The final chapter has not been written, but we will do whatever we can to achieve a balanced approach to this.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004 May 3rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Davenport for his interest on this important file, for his questions and suggestions.

At this time there are no transgenic varieties of wheat registered for commercial production in Canada. Monsanto Canada has applied to Government of Canada regulators for approval of Roundup Ready wheat. However, the three safety reviews: food, feed and the environment have not been completed.

In addition to the above food, feed and the environment safety reviews, Canada requires that wheat varieties be subjected to a rigorous analysis of end use quality, agronomic performance, and disease resistance for variety registration purposes prior to commercialization. Expert committees must judge these varieties to be equal to or better than the reference varieties before they can be registered by the federal government and sold as seed to commercial farmers.

The Government of Canada is aware of the concerns of many of Canada's international customers regarding GM crops and that the introduction of new plant varieties should be done in a manner that addresses those concerns.

Thus, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has launched an interdepartmental process to determine how best to ensure that the commercialization of products of agricultural innovation does not cause undue international market disruption, while balancing Canada's commitment to innovation and to science based regulation.

With respect to the labelling of genetically modified foods, Canada requires labelling where the foods have undergone significant nutritional or compositional changes, or where there may be health and safety concerns, such as allergenicity.

Canada supports a voluntary, industry based approach to labelling based on how a product was produced if it is not related to the product's characteristics, such as non-product related process and production methods.

In our view, mandatory labelling for non-product related process and production methods may constitute a technical barrier to trade and, therefore, contrary to our international trade obligations.

In this regard, Canadian industry has responded to consumer demand for labelling of GM foods and has developed a voluntary standard for GM products through the Canadian General Standards Board, CGSB.

The Canadian government has supported this broad based initiative and believes that a voluntary labelling standard would be the best way to provide important information about how a product is made while upholding our trade rights and obligations.

Both a comprehensive study by the Royal Society of Canada on “Biotechnology Regulation in Canada” and the Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee support a voluntary labelling scheme. The CGSB standard was recently referred to the Standards Council of Canada for final review and adoption as a national standard of Canada.

I would like to thank the hon. member for his comments and suggestions. As I have said, the government is well aware of the potential trade impact of the issue. This is why it is so important that the introduction of new plant varieties be done in a manner that addresses these concerns.

As I have said, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has launched an interdepartmental process to determine how best to ensure that the introduction of GM products does not cause undue international market disruption. As part of this process, we will ensure that the hon. member's comments and suggestion are taken fully into account.

Finally, I would emphasize again the importance of balancing Canada's commitment to innovation and to science based regulation. Ultimately, our ability to defend our access to foreign markets is based on our commitment to science based regulation.

As members will be aware, we are currently involved in a WTO panel against the European Union's moratorium on GM products on grounds that the moratorium is not based on science.

Canada National Parks Act May 3rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address the House on the occasion of the third reading of Bill C-28.

Canada has the distinction of having established the first national park system in the world. Over the decades, this system has grown to 41 national parks and reserves, preserving for future generations almost 265,000 square kilometres of lands and waters, and there are plans to add an additional 100,000 square kilometres through the creation of eight more national parks. This legacy is possible because aboriginal people have worked with us to create many of these new national parks.

The creation and management of national parks is a delicate balance between preserving ecologically significant areas of importance to wildlife and meeting economic and social needs of communities, including those of aboriginal people. Parks Canada has increasingly worked in partnership with aboriginal people and communities to achieve these mutually supportive goals.

Bill C-28 is an important part of that effort, a bill which strives to provide for the aboriginal people of Esowista while working to maintain the ecological integrity of a national park whose focus is the preservation of the northern temperate rainforest, one of the earth's truly magnificent ecosystems.

The Government of Canada is committed to working with aboriginal people and other Canadians and stakeholders to protect other examples of our precious natural heritage through the creation of new national parks and national marine conservation areas.

In October 2002, the government announced an action plan to substantially complete Canada's system of national parks by creating 10 new parks over the next five years. This will expand the system by almost 50%, with the total area spanning nearly the size of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Five new national marine conservation areas will also be created.

Canada is blessed with exceptional natural treasures. We owe it to Canadians and to the world to protect these lands and waters.

This action plan calls on Parks Canada to work with all of our partners, the provinces and territories, aboriginal and rural communities, industry, and environmental groups and others, to complete this effort.

In March 2003, a little more than a year ago, the government allocated $144 million over five years and $29 million annually thereafter toward this effort.

This action plan has already produced two new national parks. The new Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada protects 33 square kilometres of ecologically rare land in the southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia.

At over 20,000 square kilometres, Ukkusiksalik National Park of Canada protects virtually an entire watershed close to the Arctic circle in Nunavut. This park is the product of an agreement between the Government of Canada and the Inuit of Nunavut, forged over several decades of hard work, all focused on protecting land, water, caribou and polar bear for present and future generations.

Specific sites for more national parks have been selected in other natural regions across Canada: the southern Okanagan; lower Similkameen in interior British Columbia; Labrador's Torngat Mountains and Mealy Mountains; Manitoba's lowland boreal forests; Bathurst Island in Nunavut; and the east arm of Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. Sites for the two remaining national parks are being identified by Parks Canada.

The government is also working with partners to establish five new national marine conservation areas, adding an estimated 15,000 square kilometres to the system. This will be a major step forward for global conservation of marine habitat. Canada has the world's longest coastline and 7% of its fresh water.

These national marine conservation areas will be located in ecologically unrepresented marine regions. Four sites have been identified, including Gwaii Haanas off British Columbia's Queen Charlotte Islands, western Lake Superior, British Columbia's southern Strait of Georgia and the waters off Îles de la Madeleine. A site for the remaining national marine conservation area has yet to be finalized.

In addition, the government will accelerate its actions over the next five years to improve the ecological integrity of Canada's 41 existing national parks. This will implement the action plan arising from the panel on the ecological integrity of Canada's national parks, whose report was endorsed by the government in April 2000, four years ago. Parks Canada, in order to achieve its mandate to protect ecological integrity, will have to work closely with aboriginal people and communities to ensure that we work toward common conservation goals.

Nowhere will this be more important than in the area of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and the Esowista Indian reserve. Bill C-28 reflects our common goals of protecting the park while meeting the economic and social needs of the reserve's aboriginal people.

Bill C-28 reconciles the aspirations of Canadians for this national park and the aspirations of aboriginal people for their reserve. In the broader context, the government's action plan is the most ambitious action plan to expand and protect national parks and national marine conservation areas in over 100 years, since Banff National Park, Canada's first, was established way back in 1885.

It is a plan that requires the support of aboriginal people to achieve and I look forward to that day.

I urge the members of the House of Commons to give speedy passage to Bill C-28.

Softwood Lumber April 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I think it would be fair to say that today's decision from the NAFTA panel constitutes the winning of one battle for us but we have not won the war. We will continue our efforts.

The Prime Minister and Minister of International Trade are in Washington today. They will continue their best efforts to resolve this issue. We are involved with all the stakeholders, the workers, the provinces, the communities and, ultimately, our goal is to get free trade. We think that the decision today by the NAFTA panel takes us in that direction.

Softwood Lumber April 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, we are very happy with the NAFTA panel decision today because it confirms what we have been saying all along, that our industry does not pose a threat to its U.S. counterpart.

What we ultimately want is free trade in softwood lumber, and the decision made by the NAFTA panel today takes us in that direction. We hope, as a government, that the U.S. will respect the NAFTA panel decision.

Softwood Lumber April 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my first response, we hope the United States will respect this decision. This is an important decision. In fact it is an important decision to both countries.

Yes, the Prime Minister is in Washington today. The Minister of International Trade is in Washington today. On the agenda is softwood lumber. I assure the member that they will continue with their best work in the interest and support of free trade in softwood lumber.

Softwood Lumber April 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted that the hon. member has asked this question because it is a good day in the softwood lumber dispute.

The NAFTA panel, on the alleged threat of injury to the U.S. softwood lumber industry, released its decision today. It is good news for Canada and it is a total victory for Canada.

We said all along that the U.S. was wrong. Our industry does not threaten injury to the U.S. industry. We have said all along that we have free trade in softwood. The decision today supports our position. We hope the U.S. respects the decision.

Workplace Psychological Harassment Prevention Act April 28th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, all I would say to that intemperate outburst is that those kinds of over the top remarks carry absolutely no credibility.

We have a solid relationship with the United States of America. Americans are our friends. The government feels that it has a very strong and friendly relationship with the government of the United States in Washington.

We naturally take our trade partnership very seriously. That partnership is important to the Canadian economy. It is even important to the United States economy, which is the largest in the world.

I would say that we have a very important relationship with the Americans and we will do everything possible to nurture that relationship each and every day.

Workplace Psychological Harassment Prevention Act April 28th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, Canada and the United States share a unique and vital relationship. The importance of this relationship cannot be overstated. It requires careful management, and our success is not only born of the many treaties and agreements that we have in place, but also because of the frequent interaction with our U.S. counterparts across all levels of government.

The Canada-U.S. trade relationship is particularly vital to Canada given how highly integrated our economies have become, spurred in part by the success of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA.

Canada and the United States remain each other's largest trading partners, moving approximately $1.8 billion worth of goods and services across the border each day. Between 1993 and 2003, two-way trade in goods increased approximately 7.2% compounded annually. In 2003 Canada exported $328 billion in goods to the U.S. and imported $203 billion in return. Fully 86% of Canadian merchandise exports are destined for the U.S.

Since the implementation of the free trade agreement in 1989, two-way trade has more than doubled and this trade largely flows dispute free. Where disputes do arise, we have mechanisms to address them, such as those provided by the rules based framework of NAFTA and the WTO.

The Prime Minister, accompanied by the Minister for International Trade, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, will be visiting Washington tomorrow and Friday for meetings with U.S. President George Bush and congressional and non-government leaders to review key bilateral and regional issues.

However, the relationship between Canada and the U.S. involves more than the periodic meetings between the Prime Minister and the President. Central to our management of the Canada-U.S. relationship is a daily presence in the U.S. to advocate for Canadian interests and objectives. Canada achieves this through the appointment of an ambassador who serves as the Government of Canada's representative to the U.S., responsible for advising his government on policy toward the U.S. and communicating Canadian policy to U.S. government leaders.

Canada has been represented for the last three and a half years by a very competent career diplomat with over 35 years of experience, including two previous tours of duty in Washington representing Canadian interests abroad as a member of Canada's foreign service. While in Washington, our current ambassador, Michael Kergin, supported by a talented and dedicated group of officials, continues to work diligently to promote and defend Canada's political and economic trade interests in the U.S.

Furthermore, the February 2003 budget identified funding for an enhanced representation initiative aimed at improving our ability to operate more effectively in the U.S. in the context of an increasingly integrated North American market. In September 2003 the Government of Canada announced that it would open seven new consulates in the U.S., upgrade two consulates to consulates general and appoint 20 honourary consuls as part of the enhanced representation initiative.

This initiative, which will be completed by the fall of this year, will strengthen Canada's capacity to advocate its interests in vital economic, political and security matters and to develop innovative, strategic partnerships in emerging U.S. economic power centres.

Supply April 27th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I would say, with all humility, that the gentleman from Elk Island has left one very important matter out of that equation, and that is the opinion of the voters.

In those three elections to which he alluded, the Liberals won all three elections with majorities, thank you very much. Yes, they perhaps were shorter in duration than the terms of Parliament that he would like, but obviously Canadians did not see it his way.

I would remind him of one other thing. The last time we had a Conservative government headed by one Brian Mulroney, that particular government ran almost five years, and what did the Canadian voters say? Nix.