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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was students.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as Progressive Conservative MP for St. John's West (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Won his last election, in 1997, with 44% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Health Care May 14th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, it is a good speech. We have heard it many times. Even if every single Newfoundlander agreed with every single word the minister said, the reality is that we have a crisis in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The minister has said many times that nurses are the heart of the health care system. In Newfoundland because we have a significant shortage of nurses, we also have a significant crisis in health care.

As we might say in Newfoundland, does the minister have even the foggiest idea of how to correct this situation?

Health Care May 14th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, the health care system in Newfoundland and Labrador is in crisis.

Does the Minister of Health realize that there is a crisis in Newfoundland and Labrador? If he does realize it, does he have one single idea of how to correct this situation?

Nursing May 11th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, nursing week is an important opportunity for us to recognize the contributions made by nurses on the frontlines of our health care system.

In Newfoundland and Labrador our nurses are doing their best to cope in a very difficult professional environment. Tomorrow afternoon they will be holding a silent vigil at the house of assembly in St. John's to increase public awareness of their struggle for fairness.

As we all know, the nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador were legislated back to work without any recognition of their tremendous efforts on behalf of all patients in our health care system. Nurses and those who depend on their care deserve to be treated fairly by both federal and provincial governments.

I applaud the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses' Union for its ongoing efforts. My colleagues in the Progressive Conservative Party join me today in expressing our support for all nurses across this great country.

Voisey's Bay Nickel Project April 29th, 1999

Our union with Canada has been an amazingly good stroke of luck for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. It has helped us in many ways. It has given us a social safety net. It has allowed us to access the Canadian economy in many ways. It has served in many ways to benefit Newfoundland and Labrador.

Unfortunately it has not always worked as well as it could have or should have. Certain things have happened to Newfoundland and Labrador because of our union with Canada that really should not have happened.

We still have an unemployment rate that is twice the national average. Why is that so? Why does Newfoundland and Labrador have twice asmany people unemployed every single day of every single week of every single month of every single year for 50 years? There has to be something wrong. There has to be some way that can be rectified.

Let us look at some of the problems we have. Our unemployment situation is obvious. Some 30,000 people left Newfoundland in the last three years alone. That would be comparable to 7,500 people leaving Prince Edward Island. It is unbelievable to think that can happen consistently and still have a viable entity as a province with health and education systems.

I want to give the member from Etobicoke a little history of what happens in Newfoundland and Labrador. One thing that happened in Newfoundland that should never have happened was that the Government of Canada forced the tiny unimportant province of Newfoundland to sign a deal on the Upper Churchill agreement, which has cost Newfoundland citizens anywhere between $700 million and $800 million every year since 1969. We could be a have province. We could contribute positively in a revenue sense to Canada. That is one example.

Everything we do in Newfoundland and Labrador is because of the nature of where we are and of industry in Canada. Maybe we should send all our fish to be processed in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia because there is excess capacity there. Maybe we should take all the nickel we have and send it to Sudbury for smelting. It would be logical to ask what Newfoundland and Labrador can supply to Canada. We can supply raw materials and labourers, I suppose.

That is not the nature of Confederation as we want it to be. There is a difference. There is an opportunity for the Government of Canada and the province. There is a problem with the provinces in some of its stances in negotiating with Inco. If we were to work this arrangement through it would show to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and all other people of Canada we can be allowed in Newfoundland and Labrador to earn our own keep. We can be allowed to make our living, pay taxes and contribute revenue to the country of Canada. We can do it just using our own resources. We are not asking for a whole lot.

There is the Inco deal, the Voisey's Bay deal, and 48 million barrels of oil off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland this year, but we are not allowed to refine any of it in Newfoundland and Labrador. What should we do, just basically supply raw materials?

There is a tremendous correlation between Newfoundland having the highest per ratio export of raw materials and the highest unemployment rate, and Ontario having just the opposite. It does not export raw materials to the same degree per capita and has a high employment rate.

That is what we have to do in Newfoundland and Labrador and that is why Voisey's Bay is not just a mine. It is an opportunity for Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada to put our partnership right, to allow those of us in Newfoundland and Labrador to contribute. I hope this debate highlights the issue so that some of the people in the House can have a full understanding of the history of what has happened in Newfoundland and Labrador and why Voisey's Bay is so important to us.

Voisey's Bay Nickel Project April 29th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. members who have spoken. Some were in support of the motion and I am not so sure others were supporting it or not. However I thank all hon. members for their contributions to this important debate.

The member for Malpeque just outlined a decent history of what has happened and how government will proceed with supporting this major development. In the case of the Government of Canada the major role it can play is in the lands claim area. I hope the motion will encourage the government to speed up and to make a priority of land claims.

Land claims for Newfoundland and Labrador relating to Voisey's Bay are a little more important and urgent than they may be in other parts of the country because of what I said about the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. We have to have priorities as a House of Commons and as a Government of Canada.

If there is a priority for land claims settlement in Canada, it should be in Labrador to make sure this development can go ahead. I also thank my friend from Quebec who talked about the settlement for aboriginal peoples which comes from the land claims issue and his concern for the environment.

Not in a confrontational way I want to say in particular to the member from Etobicoke why this project is so important to Newfoundland and Labrador and why it is different from the norm. We just celebrated 50 years of Confederation a few days ago.

Voisey's Bay Nickel Project April 29th, 1999

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should become actively involved in the Voisey's Bay nickel project, specifically to speed up the settling of native land claims and to expedite the completion of all environmental studies.

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague the member for Compton—Stanstead for seconding my motion. Obviously the Voisey's Bay nickel find in Labrador of major importance. We have taken this time today to bring it to the attention of the House to see if we can exert some influence on the Government of Canada in particular and the Government of Newfoundland as well to expedite this process.

I am pleased to introduce discussion today on this proposed development of the rich nickel deposits at Voisey's Bay in my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Members will note that my motion was originally filed exactly 19 months ago today.

During this period a series of developments have taken place which we hope can bring us closer to the approvals required for this project to proceed and for the maximum benefits to be realized for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and of course for Canada. But it is symptomatic of our sometimes cumbersome system and the red tape that we create that even now questions remain about whether positive economic activity will be allowed to proceed.

Despite the fact that my Motion No. 194 was submitted over a year and a half ago, the questions it addresses remain pertinent and topical. Developments on this file are ongoing and include the presentation of the environmental assessment panel's report to government on the first day of this month, the associated commentary from Inco representatives at the company's annual general meeting held yesterday, and ongoing consultations with aboriginal groups.

I fully understand that there are important questions which must be answered before a mining operation of this magnitude can be undertaken. In this case the most important questions include the project's impact on the environment, the status of aboriginal land claims and the revenue sharing arrangements with the provincial government in particular.

At the same time I feel it must be pointed out that those who propose to develop this rich natural resource, thereby creating employment and generating a new revenue source for our government, have to date lived up to their environmental responsibilities. Inco has acted in good faith on the environmental assessment process and invested considerable time and resources to co-operate fully with the panel set up to review the various aspects of this project.

There are still some outstanding issues on the questions of processing and refining. I am in full agreement with the province's position with regard to the requirement for a smelter and refinery in Argentia, Newfoundland. Every Newfoundlander agrees that the export of these raw materials from our province would be absolutely devastating to our economy. We are sticking to our guns. We are, all of us together in Newfoundland and Labrador, saying to Incoand its shareholders that there must be a refinery and smelter in Newfoundland if there is to be a mine site.

The spirit of my motion is to call on the Government of Canada to play a lead co-ordinating role in ensuring that while the important environmental and land claims issues are addressed, government itself does not become an impediment to progress.

I would like to share with my colleagues the fact that new discoveries of nickel have been found in Australia and other places in the world. Despite the fact that these deposits were found after the discovery in Voisey's Bay, the Australian projects in particular have in that time been designed, duly approved, developed, fully constructed and are now producing nickel.

The message is not complicated. The message is simply let us not allow the machinery of government itself to constitute a barrier to economic activity. Let us examine the advice carefully prepared through the work of the environmental assessment panel. Let us consult with the aboriginal people who hold land claims in the area. But let us do so in an expeditious manner so that when we know these valid considerations have been satisfied, we do not stand in the way or indeed cause even further delays.

The proposed Voisey's Bay development has, since its inception, been faced with a series of obstacles to overcome. I do not want to leave any member of the House with the impression that the concerns that lie behind some of these delays are not valid or important. Nobody that I know of is suggesting that such a project would ever be undertaken without due regard for the environment and without close consultation with the aboriginal groups in the area. But we must adopt a reasonable approach. We must not be blind to the fact that our people suffer when the wheels of government turn so slowly that the viability of a significant development project is put in jeopardy.

There are some obvious practical matters to be taken into consideration with regard to the timing of the government decision and its impact on the Voisey's Bay development potential. One of these is the very short construction season available in Labrador.

Because of the length and severity of the winter in the Labrador climate, construction can only be carried out during a relatively brief window of time every year. As a consequence of this, a delay of, let us say, three months in the government's decision making does not mean a delay of only three months in the start of construction. If the government were to wait until the end of this summer before giving its approval for the Voisey's Bay project to go ahead, the whole development would remain dormant, on ice, pardon the turn of phrase, until the weather warmed up some time in the year 2000 so the project could begin. A three month delay in decision makingmeans more than a full year's delay in construction.

I know that all members of the House are familiar with the difficulties experienced by the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in adjusting from the collapse of the northern cod fishery that drove our economy for centuries. I and my colleagues in the Progressive Conservative caucus have identified the problems created by the fisheries crisis, emphasized the need for new avenues of economic growth and made constructive proposals to that end.

The problems are real and they have a human face. I see it firsthand on a regular basis. Many of the people affected are my constituents and still others have been forced from a lack of economic opportunity to leave our province. Can members present in the Chamber imagine that 30,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have been forced to leave Newfoundland in the last three years alone?

The area of Placentia and Argentia for example is in my federal riding of St. John's West. The closure of the former American military base in Argentia dealt a significant blow to the economy of that whole area of Placentia Bay. Since the Americans' departure, the Canadian government has invested in the neighbourhood of $100 million in environmental remediation, cleaning up the toxic waste and making the area suitable for new industrial and commercial development.

One of those new industrial commercial developments is the Voisey's Bay smelter and refinery. Much of the land has been put on reserve for this project and indeed, we have probably lost some other business activity in the area because we are waiting for this smelter and refinery to happen.

The proponents of the Voisey's Bay project have proposed a smelting and refining facility for the Argentia area that will provide the much needed economic boost to the local economy. I take my responsibility to the people of this area very seriously. I am here as their elected representative to fight to make sure that the smelting and refining facility does become a reality in Argentia. We have a responsibility to seize every opportunity that will generate new activity in the economy.

I would like to share with hon. members some information that illustrates the importance of new economic development in Newfoundland and Labrador.

According to the most recent labour force survey figures from Statistics Canada, unemployment in the province of Newfoundland stands at an intolerable 17.6%, more than twice the national average of 7.8%. The rate is three times that of Alberta with 5.8%, or Manitoba with 5.4% unemployed. That is good news for the people of those provinces and I congratulate the governments of Alberta, Manitoba and certainly Ontario for creating an environment in which economic activity is encouraged.

Former U.S. President John F. Kennedy once said that a rising tide floats all boats. I say to members that whatever positive signs may be evident in some parts of the country, Newfoundland and Labrador cannot afford to have a lethargic government act as an economic anchor.

Third party analysts agree that Newfoundland and Labrador will experience slower growth in 1999-2000 than it did last year. Even with developments in new industries outside the province's traditional economic backbone, the fishery, estimates are that growth in Newfoundland and Labrador next year will be only one-half of what it was last year. Surely it must be obvious that the last thing we would want to do is delay unnecessarily the start-up of a new development that will benefit the country, the province and its people.

Another point I would like to make, lest I be accused by some of overstating the impact of the Voisey's Bay project, is that I realize this development in itself is not a panacea for all of our problems. We all know that the days of seeking the magic megaproject solution that can stand alone and satisfy all of our economic needs are long past. This has much more to do with getting the fundamentals right.

In getting the fundamentals right, Newfoundland and Labrador exports more raw material per capita than any other province in Canada. Ontario as an example exports the least raw material per capita. There is an obvious correlation between the amount of raw materials we export and the unemployment rate. If rawmaterials are used wisely, we will get a much lower unemployment rate.

We have an opportunity for an important new addition to the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. Moving forward with the project will be helpful. Failure to do so, failure to take full advantage of our natural resources when the opportunity to develop them presents itself, would be a clear indication that we are a long way from being able to effectively build a new economy in the absence of a viable commercial cod fishery.

I ask my colleagues in this House to join with me in making a strong statement calling on the federal government to assume a leadership role not only in seeing that the necessary criteria are satisfied but also in co-ordinating negotiations among all the stakeholders. Let us work to ensure that this project, including the Mill/mine in Labrador and the smelting and refining facilities in Argentia, can proceed without further delays for the benefit of all Newfoundlanders and indeed for all Canadians.

Newfoundland And Labrador Nurses April 21st, 1999

Mr. Speaker, nurses in Newfoundland and Labrador have been betrayed by two levels of Liberal government.

During the provincial election only a few months ago, Premier Tobin felt the pressure of the nurses' demonstrations on the campaign trail. He told them not to worry and hinted openly that everything would work out well for them after he secured his re-election. Now, he and his minister of health have turned their backs on the nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Nationally, the Liberals are gouging a staggering $6 billion a year in CHST transfers to the provinces. That means that every year in Newfoundland we receive $146 million less for health, education and social services than we did during the former Progressive Conservative government's time in office, and the Liberals would have us believe that theirs is a party of compassion on social issues.

After six years of Liberal government, Canada's health care system is in crisis. The province's ability to support those who deliver health care services has been seriously undermined. This government's record on health care issues is a national disgrace.

Coastal Fisheries Protection Act April 16th, 1999

Madam Speaker, I thank the minister for his comments. I know he has been very active in trying to manage the very complicated resources in our oceans.

However, we have to be careful in this case that the seal issue does not become political. When the present Minister of Fisheries and Oceans said to the provincial ministers of fisheries in Quebec City the other day that the reason he cannot increase the seal cull or seal quota this year is because of international trade ramifications, we then begin as politicians to manage the resource based on public relations and politics. That is what happened.

I agreed fully in the 1980s with the other governments and the other ministers. If we go back to that with seals we are going to repeat the problem. We may repeat history, but we should not repeat current events.

Coastal Fisheries Protection Act April 16th, 1999

Madam Speaker, there is no longer a balance in our ecosystem. Strangely enough, long before we joined Canada, long before Canada became Canada, there were seal and cod fish all along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Recorded history tells us that they were there as long ago as 500 years, but I suspect they were there tens of thousands of years before that.

We finally got the two hundred mile limit in 1997 and Canadian control and management. We have Ph.D.s in biology and in ecosystem science. We have all kinds of educated scientists. We have all kinds of people with masters degrees in business to manage the resource. We have all kinds of guardians and wildlife people to look after it. Why, after barely 25 or 30 years, do we have a system that is so totally mismanaged and out of control?

The problem now is that because it is so mismanaged and because we have so many seals and so few fish, we are going to lose. We have seen seven years of devastation in Atlantic Canada, particularly in Newfoundland. There has been an out-migration of 30,000 people in the last three years alone from a lot of towns like Trepassey. It used to have close to 2,000 people and it now has close to 800 people. We are losing our young people. We are losing our brains. A lot of it is because our fishery resources have been totally mismanaged.

Now we have another problem facing the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Government of Canada square in the face every day. We have six million or seven million seals. They are eating well over one million tonnes of food per year. As a result, the cod stocks are not coming back. The $3 billion invested by the Government of Canada to allow the resource to come back is going to be wasted.

All we are saying is that there has to be a balance. The Government of Canada now has enough scientific data and certainly enough evidence from all of our fishers and people living on our coast that it is really time to do something with the seal herd. Unless it is done, as the member says, the seals will eat themselves out of house and home. There will be a mass depopulation of seals by natural reasons. Everybody will be poorly served with respect to cod fish and seals, especially the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Coastal Fisheries Protection Act April 16th, 1999

Madam Speaker, obviously the reason we are supporting the bill on this side of the House is because it conserves and protects our fish stocks. The nature and level of those fish stocks are obviously very pertinent to this debate and therefore the member's question is certainly in order.