Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was children.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for St. John's East (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Lost her last election, in 1997, with 27% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Constitution June 3rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his speech this evening and recognize the use the Newfoundland government made of the process of consultation.

Between 1990 and 1992 the Newfoundland royal commission received a total of 1,041 written and oral presentations, which represents 3,677 individuals and 384 groups. Consultation was widely spread in Newfoundland from corner to corner. I thank the hon. member for mentioning it.

The Constitution June 3rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, my comment concerns the rights of minorities under the Constitution and the proposed amendment that the resolution will impose the will of the majority on the minority.

The resolution affects 95 per cent of the population. There is no effect on minorities. All children in Newfoundland will benefit from this resolution. It is fair for all those affected. Fairness is the overall goal in this resolution.

The Constitution June 3rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I remind my colleague from the Reform Party that in the last provincial election in Newfoundland and Labrador 36 out of 52 seats were won with a yes answer for reform. Reform to Newfoundland means to educate our children, to give them a better education or as good an education as everybody else in Canada. Thirty-six is a large number for yes.

The question on term 17 means exactly what it says and that is to reform our education system, to make it better and to make us equal to everybody else in Canada. Whatever way he feels the question is read, I would like him to suggest another question. I cannot see it being any clearer than what it already is.

The Constitution June 3rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, with the permission of the House I would like to send my colleague opposite a copy of the letter written by the department of education to the Leader of the Opposition.

The Constitution June 3rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I advise the member opposite of a letter written to the Leader of the Opposition from the minister of education for Newfoundland which suggests they have no problem with sitting down to discuss this with the francophone society of Newfoundland and that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is more than willing to give every tool necessary to help the francophone association of Newfoundland and Labrador.

National Safe Boating Week June 3rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, June 1 to 9 is National Safe Boating Week in Canada. Boating and other water activities are fun and exciting but are very dangerous. Every year over 200 Canadians lose their lives in boating incidents and more than 50 per cent of all search and rescue incidents involve pleasure craft.

This week the Canadian Safe Boating Council, in partnership with local supporters and the Canadian Coast Guard, is taking the safe boating message to communities across the country. This year's theme is to warn the dangers of "drinking and boating" and the failure to wear life jackets. It is alarming that over 40 per cent of power boat drowning victims have a blood alcohol level above the legal limit and that in over 90 per cent of all boating deaths, life jackets are not worn.

Drinking and boating is just as illegal as drinking and driving. Yet the trend to have alcohol on board continues. Each and every boater has a responsibility to enrol in a safe boating course, check the motor, ensure a full tank of gas and, most important, to have enough life jackets on board and to stay sober.

This message is clear. Take the time to boat safe. Make boating a fun and enjoyable pastime for all.

Constitution Amendment June 3rd, 1996

Madam Speaker, I have not considered that as an amendment. I think the amendment we are making to justify giving our children a better education in Newfoundland is probably all that we have time to deal with.

The children of Newfoundland do not have a voice here today, but they would rather be given every opportunity possible to be better citizens rather than debating whether or not this or that amendment should be taken care of. The Term 17 amendment is all that we need to deal with. It will give our children a better education, a better future and a better life as Canadians.

Constitution Amendment June 3rd, 1996

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Mississauga West.

Madam Speaker, you are going to hear a lot of factual and statistical information today concerning educational reform in Newfoundland. You are going to hear a lot of "what ifs" and theory about how this may or may not affect other bilateral terms of union of the other nine provinces and territories of our nation.

What you will not hear today is the voice of one group of Canadians who are the most affected by this constitutional amendment, the Newfoundland children, of which I am a mother of two. I speak from the heart when I say the status quo is unacceptable.

Let me give a brief background on Newfoundland's denominational education system. It dates back to the 1700s when the Church of England's missionaries founded one of the first schools in Bonavista to administer to both the religious and educational needs of that town.

In the mid-1800s this system was entrenched through the educational act which further divided funds between the Roman Catholics and the Protestant school boards. It is this system that still exists today and was enshrined in the terms of union in 1949 when Newfoundland elected to be the 10th province of Canada.

For some time now Newfoundlanders have realized that the system cannot continue under its current form. With the province groaning under the pressing weight of a $6 billion debt, changes to the system are essential. The people of Newfoundland have always believed in a better future for their children.

Consider the title of the 1992 report of the royal commission of inquiry into the delivery of education in Newfoundland and Labrador, "Our Children, Our Future". I call on my colleagues in this chamber to remember these four words "our children, our future" as we debate this resolution in the House today.

The proposed changes will enable the province to improve educational opportunities for our students, to bring in new technologies and to update curriculum. At present the province of Newfoundland spends the highest proportion of its total resources on education, more than most other provinces.

A greater amount of this funding than should be necessary is being used to provide for the cost of maintaining four separate school systems and 27 individual school boards for a provincial population equivalent to that of the city of Calgary, Alberta.

Savings of up to $25 million a year will be realized from the administrative changes, student transportation efficiencies and school consolidation which will result from the education reform process. The proposed reform will provide an opportunity to redirect these savings into the classroom level and benefit our students.

As it exists today, a number of students miss out on the valuable skills and courses that will prepare them to enter the workforce. In today's technical, computerized world I have heard stories of students who have literally flipped a coin to decide which sciences to study because the school did not have enough money to offer a full range of courses. Yet there was a whole other identical system in the same community.

Instead of having one comprehensive system that allows students to avail themselves with every opportunity to study a broad range of sciences, the students lose out in a system of duplication and inefficiency.

With finances stretched to the limit, school boards are often unable to provide the basic necessities. There are schools in the province today with no cafeterias and no proper janitorial services. In these schools, students are missing out on meals and they are getting sick from the general lack of cleanliness.

Is this a system that adequately prepares our students to meet the changing face of the Canadian labour market? No, it is not. It puts the Newfoundland youth at a disadvantage to their counterparts in other provinces.

With the closure of the fishery and a dwindling population, a good education is the key to ensuring our children have a bright future and not one of unemployment and dependency.

In addition to my personal experience with the Newfoundland school system, I am currently part of a team that is travelling across the country coast to coast with the ministerial task force on youth. We are consulting directly with young Canadians, youth service agencies, private and public sectors, schools and other concerned Canadians about the needs of young people, their expectations and their aspirations. We are looking at the issues of school to work transition, labour market entry and perceived and real barriers to entering the job market.

Everywhere I go and especially at my town hall session in St. John's on May 11, which I might add has been the largest town hall session to date, I hear of the real need for schools to make changes to reflect the changing needs of the Canadian labour force.

In the speech from the throne the Liberal government made a promise to create a better future for our children and young Canadians. This statement was made because it realizes that one of the greatest challenges facing our country is ensuring that our children obtain the skills and knowledge they need to compete in the fast changing, highly competitive world.

To meet this challenge we have to ensure children have access to quality and excellence in education. By passing this resolution we will ensure that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have the tools necessary to meet the challenges and to ensure the future of our children.

For those who are concerned that the Newfoundland government is taking control from the churches in the province, this is simply false. The proposed amendment does not abolish or undermine denominational education in this province. Rather, current rights are being updated to effect the needs of today's students and at the same time allowing for a more efficient administration and delivery of educational services in the province of Newfoundland. The modifications further allow schools to maintain religious education, activities and observances.

The majority of Newfoundlanders voted in favour of these changes on September 5, 1995. Of those who chose to vote, 54 per cent voted in favour of the government's proposal despite the fact that the churches launched a vigorous campaign designed to encourage people to vote against the plan. The Newfoundland

government did not stage a campaign, yet it won a clear majority in support of its position.

As to the claim that this referendum is imposing the will of the majority on to the rights of the minorities in the province, the denominations affected by the changes in the education system comprise 95 per cent of Newfoundland's population, hardly a minority. I would further argue with those who would say that their education in a currently uni-denominational school will be destroyed. This is just not so either. There are provisions in the current proposal to ensure, where numbers warrant, those schools will be allowed to continue their as uni-denominational.

Now that I have addressed the many concerns of the resolution I want to address the concerns of some of my colleagues who are concerned about the process that brought the debate into this Chamber. Some argue that this is being pushed through. This is completely false. It has been an issue for a long time. Because it only affects the province of Newfoundland perhaps it was not a priority for some MPs, especially given the amount of legislation that passes through this Chamber. It has always been a priority for me and for my children.

I say this to those MPs who would vote against this resolution because of the concerns over the so-called process: Do not trivialize the future of my children for a bureaucratic mentality. Put yourself in my children's shoes and do not take away their chance for a better future.

In conclusion, I want my sons and the children of Newfoundland to have every opportunity available to embrace the future, to keep up with the changing labour force requirements and in doing so, to become contributors to the Canadian economy. Amidst all the debate on the constitutional, legal and political theories, let us not lose sight of what is really at stake here, Newfoundland's future, its children.

I ask all hon. members to look above the power struggles of the church and state and the political positioning and as parents, which the vast majority of us in this Chamber are, ask themselves: Would I want my child to lose out in a system that is based on duplication of services or would I want my child to have every opportunity available to get a well-rounded education? If hon. members believe in the future of my children and all those of Newfoundland, then they should not base their opinion on the what, ifs and maybes. They should base their conclusion on the greatest natural resources that Newfoundland has to offer this country: our children. Never lose sight of them in this debate.

Fisheries And Oceans May 31st, 1996

Mr. Speaker, for many MPs and their constituents, coast guard and fisheries and oceans services are an important part of community life.

This is hardly surprising considering that 88 per cent of the workforce is located in the regions, including my own. I recognize my colleague, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, for his efforts to bring about change.

With the merger of the coast guard and the DFO the minister is leading a historic integration of these two fleets. With an emphasis on multi-tasking, this merger allows each vessel to perform several duties, including science research, enforcement of rights, fishery patrols and search and rescue such as the recent daring rescue of the Amphion .

With a long history of co-operation, this merger will result in streamlined services, elimination of duplication and a reduction of overhead expenses. The result is substantial savings and better value for taxpayer dollars.

I urge the minister to ensure stakeholders are part of this decision making process and continue on this challenging path.

The Late Clara Smallwood April 23rd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, on April 14, Mrs. Clara Isabelle Smallwood, wife of the late Hon. Joseph R. Smallwood, premier of Newfoundland and Labrador from 1949 to 1972, passed away at the age of 94 at the Interfaith senior citizens home near Carbonear, Newfoundland.

Mrs. Smallwood witnessed some of the most crucial turning points in the history of Newfoundland. She saw the transition of politics from the commission of government in the early 1930s, ran from the Houses of the British Parliament in London, England, to the birth of the 10th province in Canada at midnight on March 31, 1949, an event that truly united our country from sea to sea.

She stood by her husband through six successful provincial elections and watched as the province made its mark in Canadian society as it brought with it unique heritage, culture and lifestyle which have not altered over generations.

Mrs. Smallwood will be missed by not only her large circle of family and friends but by all Newfoundlanders who remember the day we joined Canada and by future generations which, through history books, will learn of the indelible contribution made to this nation by the Smallwoods.