House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was reform.

Last in Parliament September 2002, as Liberal MP for Saint Boniface (Manitoba)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 52% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question. Yes, I asked a number of questions. I think that they are important questions that should be discussed here in the House of Commons and elsewhere. I would like to see such discussions held across Canada as part of the defence policy review.

I think I closed my speech by saying: We can exercise leadership by promoting, building, refining armaments and so on. That is an avenue that is open to us. It may be something to consider but I am saying that there is an alternative: to promote peace and exercise leadership in this area. I thought I had made clear that I preferred the latter option but I thank the hon. member for having asked me that question. It is very nice of him.

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

Madam Speaker, yesterday and today we have experienced a rather unique situation, a somewhat historic moment, as we had the opportunity to speak freely on two issues. Yesterday we talked of Canada's role as peacekeeper and today we are discussing cruise missile testing over Canadian territory.

Yesterday we talked of Canada's peace efforts abroad, our contributions to this particular process. Today we are discussing cruise missile testing. It seems to me that the two go hand in hand.

When people talk to me about Canada's armed forces they always talk about our soldiers with a great deal of pride. They also ask, increasingly so, very tough questions such as: What is peacekeeping? What is peacemaking? Is there a difference between peacemaking and war? Do our soldiers have different terms of engagement under different circumstances? Are they secure? Are we doing everything we can to make sure that they can do the job they are being asked to do?

As I understand the situation, what Canadians are telling me is that they want us to continue to make that contribution but they want us to continue to make the contribution within a different context. They want to make sure that our soldiers, our armed forces, are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve because they are putting their lives on the line to create a better society and very often it is in very troubled countries.

When we talk about cruise missile testing it seems to me that we need to ask ourselves very fundamental insightful questions as well. I do not pretend that I know all of them but I am going to raise a few. What was the original rationale for this particular agreement and is it still valid? Some people will argue, and I can appreciate that.

We must honour our commitments. I totally agree but, clearly, when the situation changes, it is important that we review our commitment.

All I ask is, is the original rationale still valid, or is it equally responsible to sit down and ask whether the reasons that motivated that particular agreement are such that they necessitate that kind of response?

I want to ask another question. This is one that is troubling me as well. Can we ask other countries of the world to reduce armaments, perhaps not to manufacture certain kinds of armaments, and undertake such an initiative that is cruise missile testing? Is there not a potential contradiction if we were to do that? People will ask.

It is important as well before we reach a final decision to consider seriously not only what parliamentarians are saying in this House but what other elected people are saying to us, particularly those who are affected. I am talking about the provincial and territorial governments. I am talking about other governments where we have elected representatives. We need to consider very seriously what the people are saying, because this has an impact on them and we have a responsibility to at least listen to what they are saying.

I appreciate so much that we were given the opportunity yesterday to talk about our contribution to peacekeeping and peacemaking and that we are talking today about cruise missile testing, components of our defence policy. We have been promised a thorough review of where we are at and where we might go. I see this as the beginning of that particular process.

I am going to make one final comment because I know I have other colleagues who want to address this issue. We are being called upon to exercise leadership. Perhaps some people would characterize leadership as to lead, to build, perhaps to refine armaments-and I am not suggesting that there is not a role for that-but we need to consider it very seriously and with great sensitivity. We also need to lead to disarm, to promote peace. Clearly I prefer the latter.

Cruise Missile Testing January 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my colleague for his presentation.

I have two questions to raise. First, a number of people have been telling me that the original rationale for cruise missile testing is now passe. I wonder if he would care to comment on that.

The other question I want to raise, which is equally important, is with respect to complaints. I must confess that I do not have the whole picture necessarily but I was led to believe that there had been some concerns voiced by the Government of the Northwest Territories and some people in the territories. There may have been others.

If that were the case and recognizing that the Reform Party is unusually sensitive, according to their spokespersons, in listening to the people, how would he react to that.

Petitions January 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition indicating that seniors' pensions do not reflect their true needs. The cost of living index does not reflect their financial needs. They believe that the current pensions, even with the supplement, forces a lot of them to live either at or below the poverty line. As a result many seniors are living in extremely difficult situations.

These petitioners request the government to look at the whole of taxation in order to ensure that their pensions are adequate.

Speech From The Throne January 24th, 1994

I want to thank my hon. colleague for his comment and question. First off, it is a fact that the nearly one million men, women and children who make up the francophone minority outside Quebec have relied to some degree, and at times considerably, on the federal government to help them establish certain institutions.

One fact that is sometimes forgotten is that this minority has often looked to Quebec, an important reference point, for the necessary resources to grow and develop.

Moreover, it should also be remembered that we have long relied on our own resources and waged our own fight to preserve our language and culture which we hold so dear.

Regarding long-term stable jobs, as my hon. colleagues in this House know, the program which we are putting forward to encourage in some ways small and medium sized businesses will create this kind of well-paid, sustainable employment. Our long-term plan is to reduce government red tape, to ensure that taxes-

I see the Speaker is signalling to me that my time is up, so I will conclude on this note.

Speech From The Throne January 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his questions. Naturally, before we get the details, we will have to wait for the February budget. But I see no contradiction. If we examine all the reports received to date we see that the Minister of Finance is trying to establish a larger taxation base because we are short some $46 billion. It is very normal therefore to try to find taxes in areas that were not taxed or not sufficiently taxed before.

I do not think cutting certain expenses will necessarily have adverse effects on jobs. It depends on where we make the cuts. Remember that here, in the House of Commons, our program is based on two fundamental principles, on two very important programs, the first being the infrastructure program which has already been launched and budgeted. That measure has been implemented and it will immediately create jobs for people.

As far as long term development is concerned, we talked about replacing the GST, about ensuring better access to capital for small businesses, since they were responsible for creating 85 per cent of new jobs over the last 10 years, and about giving them additional help for training and updating skills, more help for research and less forms to fill. All that is very normal. I see no contradiction there. I think the Minister of Finance is trying

to strike a balance between deficit and debt reduction and job creation. I admit this is quite a challenge, but I am very willing to wait until February for the details.

Speech From The Throne January 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleagues on having been elected to the House.

Congratulations to all my colleagues. At the same time I want to thank my constituents for giving me the honour of representing them in this House.

I thank my constituents for having given me the opportunity to return.

My speech has three parts. Part one will be about government that takes an active role. Part two will concentrate on the priorities in the throne speech, and finally part three, the conclusion.

The government has been extremely busy undertaking a number of actions, actions that are good for Canadians, actions that are in fact part of its electoral program. Let me mention a few.

The government has downsized cabinet; it is one of the smallest ever in the history of Canada. It has cancelled the controversial EH-101 helicopter contract. It has as well stopped a bad deal to privatize terminals one and two at Pearson International Airport. It is pushing ahead with its $6 billion national infrastructure program. It has replaced the Governor of the Bank of Canada. It has passed NAFTA and finalized the terms of the new GATT. It has announced a plan for the review of defence policy. It has sent a clear signal on the need for integrity and frugality in government and it is opening the books to reveal government finances. Those are a number of actions the government has already taken.

As parliamentary secretary I have had the good fortune to make a number of announcements in my own riding that respond to the need to create jobs in Canada. It so happened because I was from the city of Winnipeg in the province of Manitoba that I was given this task.

For example, Peerless Garments Limited received two contracts totalling $541,000 for newly designed materials for National Defence to protect Canadian forces personnel from cold and wet weather. This will create four jobs and maintain up to 30 employees in Peerless Garments Limited.

Another announcement involved Century 21st Apparels Limited that won a $526,000 contract supplying National Defence with parkas and trousers for wet weather. This will create up to 20 jobs and maintain 45 more jobs at this particular company.

A third announcement involved Standard Aero Limited that won a $725,000 contract for repairing and overhauling aircraft cooling materials. It will maintain six jobs at this particular company.

Those are the kinds of announcements that Canadians want to hear. Those are the kinds of announcements that create jobs and maintain jobs, that make sure our fellow Canadians are working or going back to work.

I also had the privilege of announcing a grant of $261,000 in my own riding for maintaining a six-room residence to provide temporary shelter for victims of family violence.

It is too bad that in today's society, we need establishments like these, but unfortunately, we do. I was glad to make this announcement, which responds to a real need in our society.

I will now discuss the highlights of the throne speech. First, I would like to deal with job creation.

Job creation which during the election was our major priority continues to be our major priority.

Most members will have heard about the infrastructure program that is going forward rapidly. That is an immediate response to Canadians who have been unable to work. Then there will be the response to small and medium sized businesses which are those enterprises that have created 85 per cent of the new jobs in Canada during the last decade. They will have more access to capital. There will be less red tape. There will in fact be research and development which will permit them to grow, create and simply make sure there are more jobs in Canada.

Now, I would like to speak about integrity or ethics, if you prefer, in public life.

The Prime Minister has indicated that integrity in government is absolutely essential and in that vein he has cancelled the Pearson airport deal which was a very bad deal for Canadians. He has cut political staff for a saving of $10 million annually and he has outlined cuts to MPs' perks and benefits of over $5 million annually. There will be a review of MPs' pensions and there will be additional reductions and changes to that which is happening in this government in this Parliament because the Prime Minister and his government believe that integrity in government is an absolute necessity.

There were also references in the throne speech to economic recovery.

We have talked about changing Canada's social security system within two years so that it responds to more needs more effectively, replacing the goods and services tax, ending foreign overfishing and making sure that we have an elimination of internal trade barriers.

Finally, there is perhaps a fourth major point. We have talked about strengthening the fabric of Canada.

About strengthening the social fabric in this country.

We will proclaim the Canadian environmental assessment act. The Prime Minister will himself chair a national forum on health to foster a public dialogue on health care. We will introduce measures to enhance community safety, especially the safety of women and children, and we will move to implement the inherent right of aboriginal self-government. We will consult widely with Canadians as we conduct major reviews of foreign and defence policy.

As I indicated initially, this is a government of action. This is a government that said during the election campaign that it would do things and this is a government that has reiterated a number of those particular points in the Speech from the Throne.

I would like more or less to summarize the throne speech which reflects our determination to keep our campaign promises. To me, this is absolutely essential. Economic recovery and job creation are the main priorities of this government and of all Canadians.

We will meet the commitments made in our campaign program, the little red book which is becoming increasingly popular. The government's priorities are clearly identified, both in this little red book and in the throne speech.

And finally, the Minister of Finance will put figures to the measures announced in the throne speech in his February budget. The budget will contain measures designed to control the debt and the deficit while turning around the unemployment situation.

There are two final comments I would like to make. The throne speech contains one paragraph which to me is very important, and I quote:

Our cultural heritage and our official languages are at the very core of Canadian identity and our sources of social and economic enrichment. The government will announce measures to promote Canada's cultural identity.

Is this throne speech perfect? Of course not. But I think it gives us a chance, if we are willing, to work together to create, to build, and to improve what we already have. On many occasions I have heard members of all political parties make comments such as that this is an excellent country. We live well. We eat well. We have fun. So when we like something this much, something that may be the best of its kind in the whole world, why are we looking for radical solutions? To me, this is the best country in the world, and I want to ask my colleagues to help make it even better.

Speech From The Throne January 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my colleague for her speech. I would like to make a short comment and then ask two questions.

The comment is very straightforward. I believe that it would be useful, if possible in the near future, to give a comparison of the services anglophones have in Quebec and those francophones have outside Quebec.

I understand your point and I fully agree with the basic premise, but I believe that could help to educate some people. So if the occasion arose and I could assist you, I would be pleased to do so. If you can do it, it would be very useful.

I also note that the hon. member made the following comment, that if Quebec became a sovereign state, the anglophone minority could be assured of having the historic rights which they had and which they enjoy today. I hope that it would be so, but why did so many anglophones leave Quebec during the referendum crisis several years ago and why are so many still leaving, according to the statistics and information I have? If this objective of sovereignty were realized, no doubt more would leave. Obviously, some of them must be wondering if it is true or not.

Secondly, I listened carefully and I heard nothing about what a Bloc Quebecois government would do with respect to native people if Quebec were sovereign. Nevertheless, the First Nations have historic rights. Would you have something to share with us on this subject?

Petitions January 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from my electors that asks the government to undertake a comprehensive review of taxation at its earliest convenience to remove the current injustices.

These petitioners indicate a particular injustice in the current legislation; single income families with special needs children are discriminated against for their decision to remain at home with their children.

They point out that there is a significant cost that is incurred by families advised by physicians to place their children in day care catering to special needs children. I may add as well that these costs remain the same whether the family has a single or double income. This is, in the opinion of these petitioners, unfair and discriminatory.

These constituents are asking for a report on what is being done about taxes. They want the injustices to be removed.

International Year Of The Family January 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the United Nations has proclaimed 1994 the International Year of the Family.

Communities and organizations including governments around the world are planning activities this year to recognize the importance of the family today.

The UN refers to the family as a basic unit of society which is appreciated for its fundamental role in the building of a society as well as for the important socioeconomic functions that it performs.

In spite of the many challenges it has undergone, the family continues to provide the natural framework for the emotional, financial and material support essential to the growth of its members, particularly children, and for the care of other dependents including the elderly, the disabled and the infirm.

The family continues to play an important role in preserving and promoting the cultural values we all cherish.

The family teaches, trains and motivates its members, and contributes to the progress of our society.

I am proud of what is being done by the government to improve those structures the family needs, and there was proof of further progress in the Throne Speech yesterday.