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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

Supply March 17th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, contrary to most members who have spoken previously, I am not pleased to participate in the debate today. I do so out of a sense of duty not to my party but to my country.

Today I will probably give the most difficult speech of my political career. I understand fully the predicament we have put the Speaker in with the so-called flag issue. I too feel caught between a rock and a hard place. My heart is torn apart.

On the one hand I would like to support the motion, as I have previously been adamant about my right to place a flag on my desk. On the other hand, because of the manner in which members of the Reform Party have conducted themselves on this issue, I cannot and I will not support the motion. I will try to explain why to the best of my ability.

Before getting to the heart of the matter, let me remind the House of the events that led to this dilemma. I feel that after doing so I will have managed to upset both the separatists and the Reformers. In any case, it is important to set the record straight.

The separatist member for Rimouski—Mitis made some comments at the Nagano Games that upset Canadian parliamentarians, and in fact all Canadians. We could not let her get away with this. We had to respond to the member and to proudly defend the use of the Canadian flag, and we did. We did so spontaneously and with pride.

The Chair ruled that the way we did it was against the rules. I respect the decision. However, I am warning separatists that whenever they attack our flag, I will be there to defend it.

I have a suggestion for the member for Rimouski—Mitis and all her separatist colleagues: if they are offended by the Canadian flag, if they cannot loyally represent Canada at international events, then they should stay here and leave that opportunity to other members who will represent our country with pride and dignity.

Let me now address the motion of the Reform Party. Let me say from the outset that I favour having a Canadian flag on my desk. Two weeks ago I would have supported such a motion. I hope that through the Committee on Procedure and House Affairs or through a private members' bill we will one day be able to do so. However, to bring such a motion today in light of the recent events is divisive, disruptive and plain low politicking.

It would be a lot easier for me to grandstand today and be the lone Liberal hero by supporting this motion. But when one is elected to the Canadian Parliament, one must not ask himself what is best for the party, one must not ask himself what is best to be re-elected, one must ask himself what is best for Canada. That is a lot harder to do.

The manner in which the Reform Party conducted itself on this issue, and other facts which I have learned in the past week, has led me to reconsider my position. Here we are in the House of Commons saying that we want to promote the Canadian flag and teach respect for the flag. What does the Reform Party do? It throws the flag on the floor. It took a very serious issue and turned it into a circus. I have too much respect for the Canadian flag to support and witness such disrespectful acts.

Where was the Reform Party when we had the flag rally in Montreal on October 27, 1995? We were there. The Reform Party opposed the fly the flag program brought forward by the Minister of Canadian Heritage. We supported it. Yet, it comes into the House pretending to be holier than thou and somehow making the impression that it is more patriotic than we are.

We on this side of the House have no lessons to learn from the Reform Party on patriotism. We want the flag to unite Canadians, not divide them. By forcing this issue now, today, they are playing right into the separatists' hands. They are pouring gasoline on the fire.

I have done some research in the past week. In other legislatures around the world, the use of flags on MPs desks is not permitted in the British Parliament, Australia, the American Congress or the American Senate. Maybe we could set a precedent in this House and become the first parliament to do so, but today is not the time. We must put this issue to rest for now by referring the matter to a committee. We have important matters and bills to debate in this House. It is time for us to move on with the business of governing this country.

I suspect that most Canadians would agree with MPs having a flag on their desks. I also suspect that first and foremost they demand and expect that we conduct ourselves in a civil manner and that we do the job that we were elected to do, which is to help create jobs, improve our social programs and pass legislation for the betterment of all Canadians.

The Reform Party is saying that it wants change. I too want change. I challenge the Reform Party to show that it is not just playing politics with this issue. I challenge the Reform Party to give unanimous consent to the House to an amendment that I am prepared to put forward. The amendment is:

That the motion be amended by inserting immediately before the words “this House” the words “the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to prepare a report by June 15”.

Privilege March 9th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, what I was going to say is that, as a Canadian citizen elected by Canadians to sit in the Parliament of Canada, it is not only my right but my duty to promote the Canadian flag and all it represents.

If my comments are perceived by anyone as an attack against or a lack of respect to the Chair, I withdraw them and apologize. The point I wanted to make, is that I, as the member for Timiskaming—Cochrane, have taken the position that I have a right and a duty to show the Canadian flag in the House, in the Canadian Parliament, and that, regardless of the Speaker's decision on this, I am prepared to carry the flag and to face up to the consequences of the Speaker's ruling like a man.

Privilege March 9th, 1998

I would ask the separatist members to have the respect to listen, as they asked us to do earlier. We were quiet and listened to the member for Roberval. We ask that you show the same respect.

The comments I made to the journalists amounted to one thing: the position I took was that, as a Canadian citizen, elected by Canadians to sit in the Parliament of Canada, I felt—

Privilege March 9th, 1998

I was going to say that you know the respect I have for you, for the role you perform in the House and for this institution.

The Ottawa Sun has attributed comments to me. You know that journalists take a half-hour conversation and boil it down to one sentence.

Privilege March 9th, 1998

I will not get up on my high horse, like the member for Roberval. I will try to keep my remarks calm and rational.

Privilege March 9th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, you know the respect I have for you and for the role you perform in the House.

Member For Labrador February 3rd, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about my wonderful friend and colleague, the member for Labrador.

It was with great sadness that I learned he was diagnosed with a serious illness. I know that his determination, stamina and tremendous Labrador spirit will lead him to a speedy recovery.

His friends and colleagues miss him in the House. Rest assured that our thoughts and prayers remain with him during this most difficult time for him and his family.

On behalf of all of us in Ottawa, I wish to extend to him our heartfelt and sincere wishes. We hope to see him among us very soon. Good luck, Lawrence.

Mining November 26th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, when our government took office, mining investment in Canada was in decline. Since then our government's work with the mining industry to reduce regulatory overlap and duplication, implement innovative changes to our tax system and promote environmentally friendly mining practices is resulting in concrete benefits for Canadians.

For example in 1996, 20 new mines were opened or re-opened, creating 1,790 new jobs. In 1997 it is expected that 31 mines will open, generating over 6,000 direct and indirect jobs. By 1998, 32 new mines are expected to open. All in all, Natural Resources Canada predicts that over the next five years the mining industry will create 15,000 direct jobs and 15,000 indirect jobs in Canada.

I am proud to be a part of this government's efforts to assist the mining industry in creating these much needed jobs. I look forward to continuing our work together.

Member For Québec-Est April 14th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, it was disconcerting to say the least to see the Bloc member for Québec-Est last week on the RDI expressing concern about francophones outside Quebec as he promoted his book.

This separatist member should have given a thought first to the events at his party's last convention.

Members voted in plenary session against a resolution by which the Bloc Quebecois committed itself to, and I quote: "criticizing in specific terms the abuses and infringements of the rights of francophone and Acadian communities and promoting parallels with investments and commitments made by the Government of Quebec in these areas and thus the Quebec model in this regard".

The separatist member should first try to change attitudes within the Bloc Quebecois that have no time for francophones outside Quebec, before he tries to give lessons on the treatment of language minorities-

New Liskeard Cubs April 11th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I take great pride in extending my sincere congratulations to the New Liskeard Cubs, a AAA midget hockey team that captured the Ontario title on April 6, 1997. I am proud of these young hockey players for their hard work and team spirit. It is the second consecutive year that the Cubs won the Air Canada central region championship.

The Cubs have a long tradition of excellence in hockey. Residents of the tri-towns in my riding are proud this team will represent Ontario at the Air Canada Cup National Championship Tournament which will be held in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, later this month.

I am proud of the success of the New Liskeard Cubs, one of the hockey teams in our riding. I am sure the team will make all Canadians proud when it participates in the national championships.