Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was agreement.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as Liberal MP for Provencher (Manitoba)

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

Statements in the House

Commemorative Medal April 11th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak on motion No. 143 put forward by the hon. member for Winnipeg Transcona.

The hon. member has suggested the government should honour the veterans of the Dieppe raid by striking a distinctive medal for these former members of the Canadian forces. I share the hon. member's desire and would like to add my personal commitment to see Canada's Dieppe veterans given proper recognition for their part in the ill-fated attack on Dieppe. These Canadians deserve every expression of our gratitude. However, as I will explain, there is already a process under way to resolve the issue and I feel the process deserves at least a chance to succeed. All Canadians would undoubtedly agree that Dieppe veterans should hold a special place in our history.

All members of the naval, ground and air forces that took part in the raid on the coast of France in 1942 exhibited great courage and bravery in the face of formidable circumstances. This is especially true of the members of the Second Canadian Infantry Division who disembarked on the beaches of Dieppe. These Canadians were proud to have been selected to breach Hitler's so-called Fortress of Europe but on that fateful day things went terribly wrong.

For our nation August 19, 1942 was one of the costliest days of the second world war. Of the almost 5,000 Canadians who embarked on the operation more than two-thirds suffered casualties. This included 907 Canadians who lost their lives and 1,946 Canadians who were taken as prisoners of war. Little more than 2,000 returned to England, many of whom were wounded.

Dieppe therefore took a terrible toll on our wartime forces that Canadians have not and will not forget.

In recent months interested Canadians have been taking up the cause of Dieppe veterans. Aware that many of the Dieppe veterans did not receive as many medals as their comrades, these Canadians find it difficult to understand why Dieppe veterans have not been given greater recognition for their participation in the battle. Their concern is legitimate and understandable. In point of fact Dieppe veterans definitely appear to have been short-changed.

On the other hand, we must respect that during the second world war Canada and other Commonwealth countries agreed to a unified system of military medals. Since the battle of Dieppe was a separate military activity outside any particular campaign, the efforts of veterans were not recognized by a campaign medal. There is the source of this unfortunate discrepancy. Furthermore Dieppe veterans were eligible for personal awards for acts of valour. Two veterans, Cecil Merritt and John Weir Foote, received the Victoria Cross for their actions that day.

This is why I am prepared to support the amended motion that would read "a distinctive decoration" instead of "a distinctive medal".

The Environment March 17th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question for the Minister of the Environment is about the recent spill of over 820 kilograms of the pesticide Busan-52 into the Winnipeg River by Abitibi-Price.

Abitibi-Price took four days to report the spill. Meanwhile 3,000 of my constituents who live on the Sagkeeng First Nation reserve and another 3,000 of my constituents in the Pine Falls-Powerview area were unaware that they may have been drinking contaminated water.

What is the minister doing about this intolerable action by Abitibi-Price?

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95 March 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to refer the Minister of Human Resources Development to a question that I raised in the House on February 7 concerning the issue of labour disputes at the port of Vancouver.

As history has proven, free and unimpeded movement of goods and services is the cornerstone of an economy that relies on a free market. Western Canada in particular was opened by our exports almost 100 years ago. In 1896 the wheat boom was a creation principally by a transportation system and security of labour relations which allowed us to export our grain to markets around the world.

When the free flow of these goods and services of any type is obstructed the Canadian economy is harmed and indeed weakened. In any kind of labour dispute which brings about these kinds of work stoppages there are no winners but everyone loses.

This was most definitely the case in this instance. Grains and other exports were stored in warehouses while 74 ships in the port of Vancouver were idle without any stock and not moving out of the port at all.

The Canadian Wheat Board said that this backlog of ships cost the prairie farmer $6 million in penalties. I want to point out that this is a cost Canadian farmers cannot afford to bear in these times. The storage fees alone for keeping that grain outside those ships was $300,000 a day.

I want to point out that this strike affected personally the people in my riding of Provencher. Outside of the grain farmers I want to draw members' attention to a manufacturing firm that has Japanese customers and is shipping over finished products in the lumber industry. It faced over $50,000 worth of late

penalties and an additional $13,000 in air freight charges to ship those goods to the Japanese customers to get them there on time.

Above and beyond this, one of the principal concerns of these kinds of labour interruptions is the fact that they call into question Canada's reputation as a good trading partner. The day before the actual strike the marketing director for the port of Vancouver in Beijing, China was receiving hundreds of calls questioning Canada's ability to deliver its goods to its trading partners on time.

China is Canada's largest importer of grain and it is a very valuable market to Canada. What sort of message are we sending to our international trade partners, to China and to the Asian Pacific rim in particular?

At a time when we are linking our economic trade to international relations it is critically important that Canada have security in our transportation systems and in our labour systems to ensure that business people in Canada, in western Canada and in Provencher in particular have their goods and services transported to their destinations without interference.

This is why I am asking the minister on behalf of the people of Provencher what specific measures were taken since the government introduced its legislation to bring the parties back to the table? What specific measures are being taken to ensure that we will have easy and unimpeded access to international markets throughout the world and the Asian Pacific Rim?

Criminal Code February 14th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to continue with some comments and questions I raised in the House a couple of weeks ago having to do with small business in Canada.

We know that in 1993 small business bankruptcies reaped a heavy toll on the Canadian economy. Nonetheless, of one million businesses registered in Canada 97 per cent have 50

employees or less, employing 40 per cent of the Canadian workforce. Of those, 35 per cent are located in western Canada. Certainly for my constituents in Provencher small business is an important aspect of the local economy.

In 1990 despite the difficult operating environment of small business, small firms with less than 20 employees filled the employment gap left by large businesses as they restructured or closed. In fact, smaller expanding and newly established firms accounted for virtually all of the net job creation during the recession of 1990.

One of the principal obstacles to the growth of small business in Canada has been what is described as the credit crunch. Expansion into new global markets by utilizing new technology and advanced equipment occurs all too infrequently in Canada particularly in western Canada. Yet outside of its leading role in job creation and economic growth the significant contribution of small business to the economy is its ability to be self-financing.

Long term debt of small business accounts for 25 per cent of business financing with government grants and loans less than one-third of 1 per cent. The credit applications of micro businesses or those with even a smaller number of employees, 20 or less, I regret to report are rejected very frequently. However we know that in 1993 in particular most of the job growth occurred in this area.

Outside of that obstacle one of the other things we face is the difficulty in providing the human resource capabilities and capacities to staff those young and emerging new firms which create jobs in Canada. We know that in Japan 96 per cent of the students graduate from grade 12 with at least one year of calculus while comparatively in Canada 30 per cent of our young people do not even finish high school. We are told by Statistics Canada that 36 per cent of our people have difficulty even with basic numerical and reading material.

As employers in Canada not only is there a credit crunch and a deficit in terms of financing for small business but the young people and the human resources we need to staff those firms are lacking as well. I think we can compete successfully in Canada. We have the capabilities, the human resources and the infrastructure resources. I point particularly to my riding of Provencher and Atomic Energy of Canada that has been successful in applying its scientific research applications into world markets and really is second to none in the world.

My question, and I want to continue on this theme, is what is the government prepared to do to work with the Canadian banks in Canada to ensure that small business and people who are putting their lives, their resources, their homes and what they have on the line to run these small business, have access to capital and to increase the training in Canada for young people and in western Canada in particular?

Labour Dispute February 7th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture.

The shutdown of the port of Vancouver, Canada's largest seaport, has cut off millions of dollars of commodity exports including hundreds of millions of dollars of grain, potash and forestry products.

Now that the mediated talks have broken off, could the minister give the House an undertaking as to what specific measures the government is prepared to take to guarantee that Canadian grain exports will reach their markets and that the integrity of our international trade position is not hindered?

Small Business January 31st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for western economic development.

During the election campaign the Liberals made a commitment to assist small business, to increase availability of venture capital, and to promote regional co-operation between provinces and industry.

Given western Canada's trade profile, notably continued heavy reliance on natural resources and our leadership role in the Asian Pacific markets, what initiatives has the minister undertaken to fulfil the government's promises to assist small business in western Canada?