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

Supply April 13th, 1999

What is your point?

Supply April 13th, 1999

No, I did not. I said people said it was silly. People said it made no sense. My hon. colleague knows that it is nothing but petty politics he is trying to play. He is trying to embarrass the government.

If he had wanted he could have given me an extra 10 minutes to talk about our partners in the women's enterprise centres, to talk about the 90 community futures development corporations we have in western Canada, and to talk about the 81 Canada-Manitoba and other provincial business centres that help businesses.

He could have permitted us to talk about businesses with which we work, businesses to which we provide information and businesses which we assist by finding funding and information on internal markets and export markets.

He could have permitted me to talk about aboriginal peoples and the way in which we are trying to integrate them more fully into Canadian society.

He could have permitted me to talk about the youth programs we have because we recognize that they are important. He could have encouraged me—

Supply April 13th, 1999

Madam Speaker, I will respond to my colleague's questions. First, I did not say it was a waste of time. I said that—

Supply April 13th, 1999

I rise On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I would like the unanimous consent to continue with my presentation.

Supply April 13th, 1999

That is unfortunate, because I was told that I had 20 minutes. Therefore, I had prepared myself accordingly. I thought that as the main speaker for the government, I would have 20 minutes.

We are in Vancouver. We are in Saskatoon. We have a satellite in Regina. We have an office in Winnipeg. More important, we are in the small places.

Saturday morning, for instance, I was in Saint-Pierre-Joli to announce the opening of a business centre. We are present in small towns and villages like Prud'homme and Bonnyville, not just in large urban centres.

We have a number of partners. We have four women's enterprise centres.

Supply April 13th, 1999

It is reprehensible.

The good news is that they are not all like that. I will share what one Reform member said. He no doubt recognizes the fallacy of the Reform Party's motion this morning. Here is a quote found in two publications which was made by the member for Athabasca.

The federal government has made the provision of information one of the cornerstones of its effort to assist Canadian small and medium-sized matter where you live in western Canada, Western Economic Diversification, in partnership with other business service organizations, is your local link to a world of business resources.

That is what the member for Athabasca had to say.

Another MP from the Reform Party, one of the more enlightened ones, who sees more than what they see thank goodness, who responds to materials made available to him so that he can share them with his constituents, said “It will be my pleasure to share this information with my constituency”.

The Reform Party has a platform. It would like to remove the economic development agencies, but it has not said what it would replace them with. It has not given an indication of how it would undertake economic development. Absolutely none. This is the party that would reduce equalization payments without having any clue whatsoever of the impact it would have on the provinces that are in fact receiving that kind of assistance.

What would they replace this by? They have no idea. They would be prepared to slash and to cut, without understanding what is going on, without analysing the impact this would have on Canadians. I find this absolutely unacceptable.

I want to talk this morning about western economic diversification.

I am responsible for this portfolio. I want to further emphasize this agency's presence in western Canada. Before doing this, I want to talk about, or at least briefly mention, the other agencies.

In the Atlantic provinces we have ACOA. While there are similarities to western economic diversification, there are differences and there need to be differences. If we are to listen to the people from those regions, we need programs that respond to their unique needs.

In Quebec, there is also the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. Here again, there are some similarities with other economic development agencies. Of course, there are some programs that have been tailored to meet the specific needs of Quebecers.

FedNor, an agency that operates in Northern Ontario, is similar in many respects to the other economic development agencies. Programs are in place to meet the special needs of this region.

Let us talk about the mandate of western economic diversification. It is to diversify the economies of the western provinces. What does that mean? We all know that traditionally we have made a good living. We have done very well based upon the natural resources that we have had, an abundance of natural resources in a number of sectors.

We also recognize that we are in a different world today. We are in a knowledge based society which requires a knowledge based economy. What does that mean? That means getting more from what we have by applying the knowledge we have in the mining sectors, the forestry sectors, the agricultural sectors and the fishing sectors. That is what it really means.

If people have businesses that are doing well, can they do more with those businesses? Can they create more jobs? If they have an idea for a new business, can they in fact launch that business successfully and create more jobs for western Canadians?

We on this side of the House believe that a strong western Canada, like strong Atlantic provinces, like a strong Quebec, like a strong Ontario, like strong northern territories, is good for Canada. It makes for a stronger nation. That is what we are all about.

Where is western economic diversification in the Government of Canada? It is headquartered in Edmonton, headed by a deputy minister from Edmonton, an outstanding public servant with an outstanding staff for each of the provinces, committed to western Canadians, committed to being advocates for western Canadian issues.

There is a satellite office, by the way, in Calgary, Alberta, because we want to bring the services to the people. We recognize that southern Alberta differs from Edmonton and northern Alberta.

Madam Speaker, I was under the impression that I had 20 minutes. Is that not the case?

Supply April 13th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the official opposition's motion.

Last night, as I was putting down some thoughts with respect to today's address, I was in a restaurant and a number of people came over and asked what I was doing. I showed them the motion. I asked them what they thought of it. The first person said “I really don't understand it”. Another two people said that it seemed rather silly. Another person said “It makes no sense”.

Having already heard from these people, I recognized some others, so I went to them. The truth of the matter is that another two said it was a silly motion and another two said that it made no sense that the government should rename the Liberal committee on western alienation to the Liberal alienation committee. Even the most literate could not understand what that meant. Reformers did not even have the courtesy of having the formal title. They probably could not find it, or perhaps they could not understand it.

There are a lot of issues that could have been raised in debate. We could have talked about building a stronger, more united Canada. We could have talked about increasing Canada's economic performance. We could have talked about Kosovo, the genocide that is occurring there and what it is that we might do to lessen the atrocities. What did they do? They picked a silly motion that does not make any sense to anyone. They are playing politics.

Why would they be doing that? They are a little nervous because they have pockets of support. They say that this could be useful. This might work. Therefore let us get in there, let us be dysfunctional, let us be negative, let us do whatever we can to torpedo it.

Are they waiting to see the report so they can look at it and then perhaps address substantive issues and solutions that will be identified in it? Of course not. That would be logical. That would be a professional approach. Of course they are not going to do that.

I participated for two days on the task force. I met with the mayor and councillors of the city of Winnipeg. It was an excellent meeting. We met with the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce. We met with la Chambre de commerce francophone du Manitoba and it was an excellent meeting. There was a meeting with the Brandon mayor and his council, which was an excellent meeting. I also attended a meeting of reeves and councillors from southeastern Manitoba. Guess what? It was an excellent meeting.

Were they friends of the government? No. They were responsible citizens, identifying issues and making concrete proposals for solutions.

In view of the way in which this has started and in view of this particular motion, perhaps the Reform Party ought to consider renaming itself the silly party of Canada, or perhaps the “we never made sense and will never make sense party of Canada”.

I will give an example of the lack of respect they have for their colleagues. This morning “flunkies” was used with respect to government members. They referred to MPs from eastern Canada as lackeys and trained seals, as if they had no role to play on such a task force. They also referred to senators without the least bit of respect, as if they were men and women who had no knowledge of the country, who could not make a contribution. I find that shocking.

Research And Development March 22nd, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I understand that this situation has occurred, but I also recognize, as does my colleague, the importance of social sciences and humanities research in Canada.

There were important investments in last year's budget, followed by more investments in this year's budget. I want to emphasize that the budget has been applauded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council as well as the and Social Sciences Federation of Canada.

This government recognizes the importance of all research. We have invested heavily and shall continue to do so. We want to provide Canadians with a range of tools so they can be competitive.

Supply March 16th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, clearly there is a disproportionately large number of aboriginal peoples in our prisons which begs the question why. Is it because the laws do not favour them? Is it because police officers treat them differently? Is it because the judges or prosecutors treat them differently? I do not have an answer to that question. It is a question that needs to be studied in a responsible way. It is not a simple answer that is required.

Because of a number of variables such as poverty, people coming to the cities unprepared to make the integration and sometimes getting into what one might call slight difficulties, the situation has become more serious and more and more people have been incarcerated. There has been a repeat way of approaching aboriginal peoples in many instances which does a disservice to the aboriginal population. It does not deal with them well. In fact it deals with them inappropriately.

It is something we ought to debate in the House. It is something that should be corrected and needs to be corrected. It uses too many resources inappropriately. Obviously those who commit serious crimes need to be treated as any other Canadian citizen is.

Supply March 16th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, that is my point. Does it really matter, if a good piece of legislation comes forth, who brought it forth? Is it not intended to benefit Canadians? Should that not be the first goal or is my colleague simply asking for an acknowledgement of his colleague? We will bring forth good, strong legislation. It will respond to the needs of Canadians.

My goal is not to say I did it, you did it. My goal is to bring forth and support legislation that will be useful, significant, sensitive and helpful to Canadians.