Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was atlantic.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for South Shore (Nova Scotia)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 17% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Special Olympics April 22nd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to rise in the House to recognize the special Olympians who are here today.

The South Shore is proud of its two athletes, Martin Fudge of Shelburne who is here today and Bonnie Conrad of Garden Lots, Lunenburg County.

The Special Olympics World Winter Games were held in Toronto in February. Athletes from 90 nations competed in the games. Canadians watched with pride as Bonnie Conrad captured a gold and two silver medals in speed skating and Martin Fudge earned a bronze and three silver medals in the snowshoeing competitions.

Bonnie, Martin and all the other athletes shared a dream. They all wanted to represent Canada at the world games. However victory is not achieved by dreaming; it is earned through dedication, commitment and hard work.

I send congratulations to all the special Olympians here today and to those at home. Just as family and friends turned out at the various welcome home and victory parties, many members want to show their respect and affection for the athletes who never stopped striving to be the best they could possibly be.

Taxation March 12th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, concerns have been expressed over the last number of months regarding the harmonized sales tax about to go in place in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. It has been a major topic at my town hall meetings and my visits to businesses where consumers and businesses have expressed concerns.

Because of concerns expressed by both small business and consumers, tax included pricing is being delayed until provinces representing 51 per cent of the Canadian people agree to blend their sales taxes with the federal goods and services tax. This is a victory for us in Atlantic Canada.

There are major benefits to a harmonized sales tax with the elimination of $700 million in hidden provincial sales taxes in the Atlantic, $280 million of this in Nova Scotia alone, one sales tax regime, a reduction in tax from almost 19 per cent to 15 per cent on most items, and in Nova Scotia a lowering of the personal income tax rate by 3.4 points.

With the changes recently announced I am confident that we can now move forward on April 1 with the new harmonized sales tax which will benefit Atlantic Canada-

Underground Economy March 5th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise again in the House to speak about cost recovery as it affects the fishing, fish processing and aquaculture industries of Nova Scotia.

On every possible occasion I have drawn attention to the vital role of the fishery in the region's economy and especially in my riding of South Shore. In Shelburne County, for example, the fishery directly or indirectly employs 80 per cent of the workforce.

I meet regularly with the fishing industry leaders and their organizations. Cost recovery has been a recurring topic for nearly two years. We have worked hard to document the impact of new and increased fees charged by government departments and agencies for different industry services. We have identified 14 categories of fees which directly affect the bottom line of fishing enterprises.

I have been asking for a cumulative impact study to analyse the combined and overall effects of these fees.

We have a fairly comprehensive picture of the impact of cost recovery at enterprise levels but we lack information about the combined or cumulative impact of fees at community or regional levels.

Last month the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans heard testimony about cost recovery from fish harvesters and fish processors. Representatives from Treasury Board attended these sessions and we understood they took a very strong message back to the minister that cost recovery, if allowed to proceed unchecked and without a cap or ceiling, will have significant impacts on business competitiveness and the entire economy of Atlantic Canada.

I am confident the fisheries committee will be recommending, as I have, that a detailed study of the cumulative impact of cost recovery on the fishing industry be carried out and that no new fees or any increases to existing fees be imposed.

I also hope that serious consideration be given to scaling back fees in circumstances where it can be demonstrated that they represent an excessive burden on either the fishing enterprise or the community.

I commend the paper tabled in this House on February 20, 1997 called "Getting Government Right: Governing for Canadians".

This document states unequivocally that those who pay for services must have an effective voice in service design and delivery.

To date information sessions and consultations between fisheries and oceans and its principal clients have taken place, but opportunities to roll up the sleeves and work together to decide on essential services and program delivery have not materialized.

"Getting Government Right" also talks about a process which is available to mediate in situations where clients believe departments and agencies have not followed the mandate to work in co-operation with stakeholders. It has become increasingly clear that mediation between the fishing industry and the federal government is a real and very urgent requirement.

I hope and request that the new guidelines to be announced by the President of the Treasury Board will recognize the concerns that I have been expressing over the last number of months: requiring the department to hold meaningful consultations with industry; adopting the user pay, user say concept; providing a process which would allow industry to appeal the imposition of any new fees; requiring government departments to disclose their own costs to those who are being asked to contribute to those costs.

We need the commitment. We need the guidelines. We need the assurances that the guidelines will be followed and that what industry has endured over the last two years will not be repeated.

On behalf of my South Shore constituents and their counterparts from every other region of Nova Scotia and of Canada, I am today asking the President of the Treasury Board to say "yes, we recognize a problem with cost recovery and action must be taken to ensure the long term sustainability of Canada's fishing industry".

Fisheries February 7th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia is Canada's leading fishing province. My riding of South Shore is heavily dependent on fishing and related employment opportunities. I have been working with industry for over a year to document the impact of user fees. This week the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans heard testimony about the cumulative effects of service fees.

Yesterday the President of the Treasury Board announced that a multi-sectoral committee of stakeholders has been formed to study this issue with a view to easing the burden on businesses caused by the imposition of service fees.

I congratulate the minister for making this commitment to review fishing and related fees. He has my full support in this undertaking.

Atlantic Economy February 6th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board.

The fishing, fish processing and agriculture industries in Atlantic Canada have been hit hard by new or increased fees for licences and fishing related services. Will the minister review the cumulative impacts of these user fees? Will he consider setting a ceiling on total payments to ensure that cost recovery will not adversely affect the immediate and long term viability of Atlantic coastal communities?

Constitution Amendment December 2nd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, my questions are for the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food concerning the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

As I have explained to this House on many occasions, there are more seafood processors in my South Shore riding than in any other riding in Canada. I am advised by organizations representing these companies as well as the organization representing members from the federal constituency of South West Nova that there has been no consultation on Bill C-60 in my constituency, and this concerns me greatly.

Whereas I understand that discussions have been held with the Fisheries Council of Canada, please be assured that this organization is only one of several industry organizations representing Nova Scotia seafood processors.

Consequently, I am asking the minister to give assurances that the small and medium size processing companies be given an opportunity to provide input before the legislation becomes law.

Seafood producers have brought three other important issues to my attention in recent weeks: increased distancing between industry and government, uncertainties associated with fee setting and service delivery, and privatization of services.

The seafood industry in my riding perceives that the new agency, as proposed in legislation, will add more distance between the policy makers, regulators and industry itself. For the record, it is important to understand why industry is raising the issue now. Let me explain.

The decision to move DFO inspection headquarters from Halifax to Moncton for the maritimes region was seen by Nova Scotia processors as counterproductive with respect to servicing industry. It is difficult to understand why a division as vital to industry as the inspection directorate was moved out of the province and further distanced from the focal point of processing activity in Atlantic Canada.

Processors now fear that the new legislation which creates an advisory board to advise and report to the minister responsible for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will result in further distancing between the seafood industry and government. It is believed that the advisory board will be a blue ribbon panel comprised of executives from the largest corporations from each of the sectors reporting to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. I must advise the minister that it is imperative to broaden representation.

With respect to fees, the seafood industry is concerned that fee setting for inspection services remains the exclusive domain of government. It foresee that fees could be increased and new fees added without any procedure to control or audit this process. Industry is asking to incorporate into the legislation a mechanism which ensures fees are discussed with industry in advance of implementation. It would also like to see a procedure which provides for independent review and audit of the inspection agency activities.

A suggestion which merits consideration is to look at Iceland as a model. I understand that many inspection services are delivered by the private sector but the national government observes the system through routine auditing and reporting. I believe Canada, like Iceland, has a vested interest in ensuring that business is not restricted or held hostage by single service providers.

I would recommend therefore that the legislation be amended with provisions to give the seafood industry a reasonable level of assurance that partnership agreements will be considered only if businesses will not be disadvantaged on the basis of size or ability to pay.

Food Inspection Agency November 7th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

The seafood industry is concerned that the consolidation of food inspection services into a single food inspection agency could lead to a serious loss of expertise and advocacy for seafood at the federal level.

Will the minister explain how the seafood industry will fit into the new agency structure? Will there be a dedicated seafood inspection branch staffed by former fisheries and oceans inspection personnel?

Questions On The Order Paper October 21st, 1996

Have any tenders been awarded in the past 12 months by Public Works Canada where any condition or provision provided for in the tender document was waived and the contract awarded despite the non-compliance with this provision or condition?

Pledge Of Allegiance October 9th, 1996

Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to revisit my question of May 17 to the

Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. I had the opportunity to ask the minister a question dealing with the proposed fish processing plant inspection fees.

I was surprised when I first came to Ottawa to find a general lack of understanding of the fishing and fish processing industries and their problems. Many Canadians do not realize that Nova Scotia is the leading fishing province in Canada. We lead all other provinces in terms of landed weight and value. Moreover, fish and fish products are the number one export commodity of the province of Nova Scotia.

My riding of South Shore is the most active fishing riding in Canada. I have a strong inshore fishery and a vibrant lobster, scallop and tuna fishery, among others. In fact, the minister recently announced an increase in the groundfish quota for cod and haddock in areas adjacent to my riding, the only such increase recommended in Atlantic Canada.

There are more than 100 fish processing plants located in communities spanning the entire length of my South Shore riding. I have the largest plant in Canada, National Sea Products, which employs approximately 615 people. I have some of the very smallest plants, enterprises that employ only one or two people.

The proposed registration fees and inspection fees were a source of great concern to all processors but especially to many of the smaller ones.

I want to thank the minister for recognizing the differences between fish processing operations and for taking action to help ease the burden of licence fees by capping registration fees at $1,000 for plants under 300 square metres and by imposing a cap of $10,000 per calendar year for product certification services to individual exporters which will go far in ensuring that our export sector remains competitive internationally.

The minister's announcement about fees went a long way in demonstrating the government's willingness to listen to industry. In addition, a communications process has been implemented which is intended to bridge some of the gaps between Ottawa and the regions with respect to regulatory inspection issues.

These positive developments have been encouraging to seafood producers, but there are still a number of outstanding concerns about future relationships between industry and seafood inspectors, especially since the introduction of Bill C-60 which establishes the new Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

I have met on several occasions with representatives from Nova Scotia's major fish processing organizations. They have asked me to seek assurances from Ottawa that the restructuring and amalgamation of food inspection services from three agencies will not

cause further disruptions or jeopardize future competitiveness through new sets of rules and procedures.

The fish processing sector has survived some very difficult years and has successfully adjusted to changes in the resource base, changes in the marketplace and changes brought forward by governments.

I am not convinced that the industry can continue to weather a perpetual climate of uncertainty. I trust the minister is aware of the concerns being expressed by industry. Many fear that they may be swallowed up in a national food agency because the seafood sector is much smaller than the agriculture and pharmaceutical industries.

I hope the minister will be able to assure fish processors that they will be well represented during the discussions about the structure and operation of the new food agency and that there will be a dedicated seafood division to oversee sector specific issues.

The seafood companies in my riding would like to hear the minister's views about how the transition from fishery to the single food inspection agency will unfold and I will appreciate hearing what plans are in place to protect the interests of my province's leading industry.

Fisheries September 19th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

Last week the annual meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization was held in St. Petersburg, Russia. Would the minister inform the House of the results of that meeting, of the impact on Canada's fishery and fishery resources that are so critical to my riding, my constituents, and all of eastern Canada?