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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was energy.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Timiskaming—Cochrane (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 62% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canadian Wheat Board Act November 19th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I would appreciate if he would let me do my speech. I had the courtesy to listen to his. That is the new way the Canadian Alliance are supposed to conduct themselves in parliament.

Canadian Wheat Board Act November 19th, 2001

I would appreciate it if I could finish my speech.

The hon. member will recall that all aspects of this same issue were debated only three years ago, during the debate on Bill C-4, and that parliament rejected it at that time. In fact, it was the hon. member from the party opposite who proposed a similar motion in 1997.

I will reiterate once again why the Government of Canada and the majority of the members of the House do not support these amendments.

First, the objective of the Canadian Wheat Board Act was purposely left unchanged three years ago to allow the board of directors to carry out its duties. When changes were made to the CWB act we modernized its corporate governance to make it more democratic and to give producers more direct control. We strengthened the CWB's accountability to farmers and provided it with greater operational flexibility to respond to changing producer needs in a rapidly changing marketplace.

Central to all of this was the creation of a brand new board of directors to direct the operation and determine the strategic direction of the Canadian Wheat Board. The existing objective of the Canadian Wheat Board Act to market in an orderly manner provides the board of directors with sufficient scope to perform this role.

Members will recall that the Canadian Wheat Board was previously governed by a small group of appointed commissioners. As a result of reforms to the CWB act in 1998, the Canadian Wheat Board now operates under a 15 member board of directors, 10 of whom, that is a two-thirds majority, are directly elected by CWB permit holders. These directors are accountable to producers. If they do not act in the best interests of producers, producers can vote them out.

Second, the board of directors has determined the CWB's mission is to market quality product and service to maximize returns to western Canadian grain producers. In other words, grain producers, through their elected directors, have already determined that the CWB is to maximize returns to producers. They have gone further in specifying that the CWB's mission is also to market quality product and service. This is precisely what parliament had in mind when it amended the CWB act. Producers, not politicians, are determining the Canadian Wheat Board's marketing role.

As for providing an opting out mechanism that will allow producers to remove themselves and the grain they produce from the board's jurisdiction for a minimum period of two years, the government cannot support the amendment because farmers do not want it. In fact, a solid majority of farmers have clearly said they want to retain the strengths of the Canadian Wheat Board. Farmers also made it clear they wanted more flexibility.

Canadian Wheat Board Act November 19th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this chance to speak to Motion M-331. This motion calls for amendments to the Canadian Wheat Board Act to change the object of the act from marketing in an orderly manner to marketing to maximize the return for producers. The motion also provides for an opting out mechanism for producers.

British Columbia November 9th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the government has been working very closely with the province of British Columbia on the pine beetle issue. The government is working with all the provinces on all aspects. I do not know what question specifically the member is referring to, but the government has been working with all the provinces on all issues including the pine beetle.

The Parliament of Canada Act October 18th, 2001

Madam Speaker, we all know that Bloc Quebecois members like to act the martyrs and to whip themselves into a frenzy.

The hon. member must realize that this new Iter project is not a federal government initiative. It is an international consortium. The federal government will not invest one penny in Iter's international operations.

I also remind the hon. member that the Quebec government had the same option as the Ontario government and Ontario Power Generation. In Ontario, they decided to carry on the merger program. The Government of Ontario invested money and so did the Ontario Power Corporation. The same could have been done in Quebec.

I think the hon. member is telling Quebecers that he is opposed to a project that will create thousands of jobs in Quebec, a project that is supported by SNC Lavalin and by the Institut de recherche du Québec.

The hon. member should talk to his constituents, because I am convinced that all Quebecers will support this project.

The Parliament of Canada Act October 18th, 2001

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the hon. member for Verchères--Les-Patriotes on behalf of the minister.

The Government of Canada has not contributed millions of dollars to the Iter project. The government agreed to contribute $1 million a year for three years, not $3 million, to Iter Canada to help it to prepare a bid for locating the Iter project in Canada. The federal funding will expire at the end of March 2002.

I want to emphasize that these funds are not for fusion research. Iter Canada has an annual budget of $5 million. The federal contribution is to help Iter Canada cover its operating expenses as it prepares its bid. Further, Iter Canada has pledged that its proposal will not require federal funding for the construction, operation and decommissioning of the project.

Iter Canada plans to fund its share of the project from contributions and loans from the private sector, $300 million from the Government of Ontario, and the revenue from facilities and services provided to the project. Iter Canada is convinced that it can finance its contribution to the project and obtain the project for Canada without any federal funding.

The government's contribution consists in helping this not-for-profit private sector consortium to establish this international project in Canada. This consortium comprises a number of prestigious Quebec organizations such as SNC-Lavalin and the Institut national de recherche scientifique.

From 1981 to 1997, the federal government has devoted some $155 million to research on fusion and related activities. Of that total, $109 million, or 70%, was invested in Quebec, and the remaining $48 million in Ontario.

The Government of Canada was asked to continue to ensure that Iter Canada retained access to the bidding process. To that end, it has given its agreement in principle to providing a Canadian site to the international components of Iter, namely the European Union, Japan and Russia, to carry out fusion research.

Given the infrastructural and cost advantages of the Canadian site at Clarington, Ontario over potential foreign sites, Canada has a good chance of winning the project. A decision by the Iter parties on the local will probably be made in late 2002.

If Iter parties were to choose a Canadian site, the effects would be the creation of jobs for qualified Canadians in the research area, and opportunities in terms of equipment, engineering and building services in Quebec and Ontario, as well as in western and Atlantic Canada.

According to Inter Canada's estimates, the awarding of the project to Canada would mean the buying of in Canadian goods and services over the ten year building period, and $3 billion throughout the 20 year operational stage. Iter Canada also believes that the project would create some 68,000 direct or indirect full time equivalent jobs in Canada, including several thousands in Quebec.

Last but not least, if the project was to be located in Canada, an environmental assessment of the project would have to be meet the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act as well as any other environmental laws and regulations.

World Habitat Day October 1st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the United Nations declared the first Monday in October World Habitat Day, an opportunity to reflect on our communities and their importance in our lives. This year's theme “Cities without Slums” offers people everywhere the opportunity to examine the current state of their cities and to think of ways to make them safer, healthier and more sustainable.

Canadians are lucky to be among the best housed people in the world. This enviable situation is due in large part to the efforts of organizations such as the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation and its different partners.

Working closely with industry, government and non-governmental organizations, as well as local community groups, CMHC strives to foster the development of affordable housing within safe, healthy and sustainable communities.

I encourage all members and all Canadians to join the United Nations in celebrating World Habitat Day, October 1, 2001.

National Forest Week May 8th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, this year we celebrate National Forest Week from May 6 to 12. Canada is richly endowed with 10% of the world's temperate and boreal forests.

A successful future depends on the sustainability of these forests. We are protecting the world's forest resources by using sources that can be replenished for our lumber and wood products.

Moreover, by moving into the value added wood products market, Canadians continue to benefit from the resource and maintain employment opportunities at home.

At this point in time, the forestry companies are engaged in consultations with aboriginal and environmental organizations with a view to determining what shape the decision-making process will take in future to ensure sustainable forest management.

For its part, the Government of Canada is working hard in its role in forestry. It is promoting our forest management practices to increase our access to international markets, as well as contributing to scientific research and development to ensure a sustainable and economically viable forest industry.

Gold Mines April 26th, 2001

Madam Speaker, the government is following the implementation of EI reforms very closely and, where necessary, is making the required changes to maintain the effectiveness of the program.

Fundamental changes introduced in 1996 continue to produce results and to help Canadians. Recently we proposed amendments to Bill C-2 in light of the recommendations made by the auditor general who feels that the process for setting premiums is not sufficiently transparent.

On February 22 the auditor general told the Standing Committee on Public Accounts that over the next two years work would be done on how the rates should be set in the future.

I therefore think that the bill buys time so that we can find a better way of calculating the rates paid by employees and employers. The Standing Committee on Finance has also indicated that the process should be reviewed.

Under these circumstances the government felt it was inappropriate to ask the commission to continue to set the rates.

In order to ensure stability and predictability the government will be suspending the commission's authority to set rates for a period of two years so that a thorough review of the process used can be conducted.

Gold Mines April 26th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Natural Resources and the government I am pleased to speak to the motion of the hon. member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik.

The hon. member proposes that the government table emergency legislation in order to help gold mine operators and guarantee a fixed price for gold produced in Canada. I am aware that the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik works very hard to help the mining industry, especially gold mining.

The hon. member's motion illustrates his commitment to the region he represents so well and which depends in part on the development of natural resources.

For the benefit of members, I will briefly review the history of metal prices. From the end of the second world war until the late seventies, the mining industry enjoyed strong and steadily rising demand. Producers, few in number, went along as a group with the price charged by the industry leaders. The economic prices of the eighties, triggered in part by two factors, that is, the emergence of independent third world countries wanting ownership of their own resources and the first oil price shock, put an abrupt end to rising metal consumption in industrialized countries. On the metals market, the tariff price system implemented by major producers gave way to world prices quoted on commodity exchanges.

In reaction to the new price regulation system, the end of the eighties ushered in an era of mining industries whose strength lay in the quality of their deposits, their energy supply and their ability to develop those resources.

I have just described characteristics unique to our country. Besides being one of the world's major producers of minerals and metals, Canada has an unequalled expertise in the mining sector. Mining exports, worth $44 billion a year, represent 13% of our total exports. This sector employs directly 400,000 Canadians from coast to coast. Our mineral resources are without a doubt essential to our quality of life.

However, I must admit like my colleague from Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik that the low prices for metals and gold we have been seeing these past few years are a concern. Indeed, as members know, the depressed gold market is due to the fact that the supply remains the same despite low prices.

The supply of gold depends on mining production but also on the sale of gold by central banks, recycled gold, protection programs for mining producers, and on the net sales of investors who believe it is not worth keeping gold as assets.

There are several factors that affect commodity prices, factors which are completely outside the control of government. To counter fluctuations in those factors, mining companies need to exploit rich deposits at low cost and need to know how to manage the risks that could put them at the mercy of the next stock market crisis. I am pleased to report that our country is in a good position relative to the other major gold producing countries, ranking second in terms of production costs. It is as a result not only of the ingenuity of our producers but also the enlightened policies of our provincial and federal governments.

The Prime Minister, in his response to the Speech from the Throne, focused on our mandate: to bring the best of Canada into the 21st century by building an innovative economy, fostering innovation and know-how and ensuring social inclusion. Natural Resources Canada is in a good position to solidly support the key objectives stated by our Prime Minister and that reflect the minister's priority.

I will demonstrate how the government works unceasingly to strengthen our foundations in terms of the mining industry.

Let us talk about sound economic foundations. A healthy financial climate is not an end in itself but rather the prerequisite without which the government would not be able to make all the socio-economic investments it must make in co-operation with its partners.

In the natural resource sector this prerequisite was reflected in the last mini budget through a 15% tax credit for flow through share investment in mineral exploration projects in Canada. This measure was put it place as a result of a grassroots campaign led by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, the Canadian Drilling Association and several members, including the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik and myself. All have understood the benefits of exploration in their communities.

We all know that generally flow through shares meet federal policy objectives in an appropriate, effective and economical way by stimulating exploration activities in Canada, promoting the purchase of stocks in mining companies and helping small exploration companies. In that regard PDAC announced that flow through financing coupled with tax credits and totalling about $30 million was confirmed just before the end of the year 2000.

The minerals and metals sector, like the Canadian economy as a whole, can conduct its activities in a sounder context, and it is among the leaders in the race for capital money on international markets.

The Quebec Geoscience Centre, QGC, is working with scientists from the national scientific research institute of the Université du Québec on various earth science projects.

The targeted geoscience initiative is one of the programs administered by the QGC. The purpose of the TGI is to develop the social and economic potential of our natural resources by increasing the scope and efficiency of the mineral exploration work done in the private sector. Five million dollars will be spent on this initiative over three years.

Three projects are currently under way in Quebec: one on ice dynamics; one on exploration for diamonds in northern Quebec; and one on metallogeny at the Doyon-Bousquet-Laronde mining camp in Abitibi.

The mine laboratory in Val-d'Or is known throughout the world for its innovative research on mechanization and automation technologies for the mining industry. Established in 1991 right where a gold mine used to be, the Val-d'Or experimental mine is a unique facility for on site testing and research in a realistic context.

An amount of $1.8 million is spent every year on the mechanization program alone, while the vein deposit program was granted a $2.5 million budget for a period of three years. Almost $5.7 million of the money invested by the CanMet partners will benefit various companies in Abitibi.

This goes to show that the Government of Canada recognizes the significance of our resource areas and believes in them. I have mentioned some figures, but what about the projects themselves?

Since the current natural resources minister has been appointed, close to 50 projects have been carried out or are under way in the Val-d'Or mine laboratory alone. These projects are wide-ranging, covering anything from health and security in the mines, research and development on new development techniques for vein deposits, training programs for miners to productivity and innovation.

Here are a few examples. CanMet formed a consortium to improve the performance of gold cyanidation plants. Eight plants, including five in Abitibi, participated in the consortium. The goal was to achieve a better understanding of the interaction of cyanide, lead nitrate and oxygen, and optimize the use of those reagents, as well as gold recovery.

Two participants in the study were asked to assess the impacts of the project. They estimate that their operating costs have been reduced by $3.2 million per year and that gold recovery has increased by $1.3 million, for a total annual impact of $4.5 million.

The mine automation program is a consortium of privately owned businesses and includes CanMet. The project, which is setting the tone for the future of the mining industry, uses mining robots to detonate explosives from the surface and machines to bring the ore to the surface without direct human intervention.

I would be amiss if I did not mention, before I conclude, how important community involvement is. Strong and confident communities are a vital part of our social fabric.

I would like to conclude by saying that for all the good intentions of the motion brought by my colleague from Abitibi, the government cannot support it. In the context of globalization and global markets it is inconceivable to set the price.

Also, this morning I received a call from the Mining Association of Canada, the most important mining association in Canada, expressing some very serious doubts about the motion and asking the government not to support it. The association does not support it. The association wants a free market economy and so do we.