Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was rights.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Cape Breton Highlands—Canso (Nova Scotia)

Lost his last election, in 1997, with 30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

North American Aerospacedefence Command March 11th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague whether in his opinion NORAD is a good deal for Canada.

North American Aerospacedefence Command March 11th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, my question is: Would the member please conclude his remarks.

National Unity March 1st, 1996

Mr. Speaker, on October 30, Quebecers voted to stay in Canada. Since then, our government has been delivering on the commitments it made during the referendum campaign. The House of Commons passed one bill recognizing Quebec's distinct character and another one giving a veto to the five regions in Canada.

No later than yesterday, our government reaffirmed its intention of withdrawing, as soon as possible, from manpower training. The Canadian federation is evolving and there are more changes to come.

Our government is confident that its actions will show Quebecers that Canada is their best choice and that it is through unity that we can best express the richness of our diversity.

Foreign Affairs February 28th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for granting me this short period of time to wrap up the debate.

It is clear there is broad agreement on all sides of the House for Canada to assume a leadership role and continue its work in Haiti with the UN mission and to help restore democracy and security.

We on this side of the House have received some very valuable contributions from the opposition to guide the government in the decisions it will take on this subject. As the foreign affairs minister announced earlier this evening, he will make sure the House is kept informed of the government's progress in Haiti regardless of how this unfolds in the next few hours or days, as the case may be.

I thank all parliamentarians who contributed to the debate tonight for their interest in this very important subject. I assure the House on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs that we will keep Parliament informed of our role in this matter.

Stora Feldmill Ltd. December 11th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to inform the House today that STORA Feldmill of Sweden will be carrying out a $650 million expansion of its pulp and paper facilities in Point Tupper in my riding of Cape Breton Highlands-Canso. The company made the announcement today.

The investment in a new paper plant at this location will create 800 construction jobs over the next two years. Just as important, the expansion will secure newsprint and paper production jobs over the long term in eastern Nova Scotia.

The government, along with its provincial and municipal partners, has pursued the expansion vigorously. Once again we have proven that Nova Scotia can attract international investment.

The location of the facility on the Strait of Canso on our east coast offers competitive transport costs to both the United States and Europe. The new facility is scheduled to be in operation early in 1998 and project planning has already started.

The government has proven it can be aggressive in attracting and keeping international investment in Canada.

Recognition Of Quebec As A Distinct Society December 6th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in tonight's debate on the Prime Minister's motion concerning the recognition of Quebec's distinct society within Canada. In supporting this motion, I would like to talk, first of all, as an Acadian from Nova Scotia. As you know, Acadians were among the first people to settle in Canada after the First Nations, and, since the founding of the first settlement at Port-Royal, four centuries ago, we have had our share of upheavals, struggles and turmoil.

Protecting our language and culture has never been easy. We have had to fight, and we still do, to get our share of recognition. But we realized a long time ago that our chances of survival as a cultural community were much better if we joined forces with the francophones of Quebec, Manitoba and elsewhere in Canada.

We know that the preservation and blossoming of our language and culture inevitably depend on our being part of a larger country which has been able to include our concerns as well as those of other cultural communities in a larger entity and a broader vision. This is Canada.

The Official Languages Act and the bilingualism policy have provided a concrete example of this broader vision of Canada.

I consider myself lucky to have had a chance to personally experience the distinct nature of Quebec. For four years, in the early 1980s, I was a student at Laval University, where I made a lot of close friends among Quebecers. I had a chance to have lengthy discussions with them about their vision and their place both within Quebec and within Canada.

I found that, in general, the distinct nature of Quebec and of Quebecers is not based on a separation from the rest of Canada, but rather on an affirmation of oneself and a feeling of solidarity that finds its expression and its soul in the vitality of the French language, as the singer-songwriter Michel Rivard says so beautifully: "The language of my heart is the heart of my life".

But despite all the political rhetoric and the sovereignist movement, the Quebecers that I know have a profound attachment to Canada. And I think that if all cultural communities across Canada can work together, we can contribute to the growth and prosperity of our wonderful country.

I have no trouble with the notion of Quebec being seen as a distinct society within the context of this motion. Nor do I see any contradiction in the notion that while not conferring special powers to the Government of Quebec, this motion is by no means symbolic, although it carries some important and powerful symbolism.

By recognizing the distinctive character of Quebec in its policies, its laws, its regulations and its programs, this motion provides one more prism among many others through which the Government of Canada commits itself to be guided in the development of its laws, its regulations, its policies and programs before they are enacted and as they are implemented.

The members of the Reform Party have a hard time understanding this because they do not really understand how modern government functions. When government policy is developed and presented before cabinet for consideration or when a change is made to a body of regulation or when a new law or program is adopted and advanced and presented before Parliament, it must be evaluated according to many different angles or dimensions. One of these is the balance of impacts of the program across gender lines, socio-economic lines, and regions and provinces so that the balance of these impacts is fair and equitable.

A good example of this is the legislation that was tabled last week by the Minister of Human Resources Development. In the package of information that accompanied the legislation creating the employment insurance program, one of the first tables presented is a table describing the financial impacts of employment insurance by province. No government would contemplate a major change in a program such as employment insurance without considering the impacts across provincial lines.

Another example of a prism through which government policy has to be evaluated is provided by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which since 1982 has been enshrined in the Canadian Constitution. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms ensures that laws and regulations and programs introduced by the federal government respect the basic freedoms and rights of Canadian citizens that we have enshrined in the Constitution through the charter.

A third example is provided to us by the official languages legislation enforced by the official languages commission for Canada and the whole policy and infrastructure promoting official bilingualism in Canada, which ensure that linguistic minorities in Canada, including Acadians and other francophone groups throughout the country, as well as anglophones in Quebec, receive

the recognition of their language and receive services in the language of their choice.

These are commitments the federal government has made for itself and for its programs. They are part of the prism through which all laws, regulations, and programs must be evaluated by the Government of Canada.

The distinct society motion the Prime Minister has brought forward this week will in a different way act as a prism and a guide and an opportunity for the federal government to commit and ensure that the programs and its policies reflect this particular cultural aspect of Canada, which is the distinctive character of Quebec in those very important categories of unique language, culture, and civil law tradition. That in a sense is the genius of the Prime Minister's approach to recognizing Quebec as a distinct society and putting into practical effect the application of that respect as far as the Government of Canada is concerned.

One of the reasons Canadians continue to be so supportive and have such great confidence in the Prime Minister of Canada is because largely through his great experience in government he has found a way to give concrete effect to the commitments and undertakings he made to the people of Quebec and to the people of Canada for change and for recognition of their particular place in Confederation in a way that does not violate the rights of other Canadians and the rights of provinces but acts as a positive discipline on the Government of Canada.

If other Canadians and provinces through the constitutional discussions choose and can agree on the enshrinement of such a principle in the Canadian Constitution, that would strengthen the notion of the distinct society we have adopted and will adopt through this Parliament.

I will conclude my remarks by saying that I know this initiative will never satisfy the separatist members of the Bloc Quebecois and the Parti Quebecois.

The Late John Angus Rankin December 1st, 1995

Mr. Speaker, last Monday hundreds of people gathered at the funeral of John Angus Rankin to say goodbye to this beloved parish priest and fiddler.

Born in Inverness, Reverend Rankin was ordained to the priesthood in 1946. In 1959 he became pastor of Saint Mary of the Angels Parish in Glendale and Holy Trinity Mission in Waycobah, where he stayed until his retirement in 1994.

During these years Reverend Rankin sparked a renaissance in Cape Breton fiddling and helped revive the Gaelic language. He combined an ear for fiddling with a genuine love for people, in particular the Micmac community of Cape Breton among whom he finally chose to lay at rest.

Reverend Rankin will be sorely missed by all, but his cultural and musical legacy will continue to live on long into the future.

``On To Ottawa'' Trek November 2nd, 1995

Mr. Speaker, it was not my intention to speak but since there is some time remaining I will say a few words on the motion of the hon. member for Regina-Qu'Appelle, which I was pleased to second.

My reason for seconding the motion was to allow us to debate an event in Canada's history that serves as a reminder to us all of some difficult periods in our history that have in a sense given birth to many of the progressive pieces of social legislation and programs we now enjoy in Canada.

It serves us well to remember events such as the march to Ottawa, the "On to Ottawa" trek of 60 years ago, and the struggles our forebears undertook to pave the way for some of the social programs we regard with such pride today.

On the question of offering an unequivocal and official apology, I am not sure I would support that part of the motion for the same reasons that have already been expressed by my colleagues on both sides of the House. In this day and age we cannot judge the actions of our ancestors. We can only learn from them. I express that caveat in my endorsement of the debate the hon. member initiated.

I was a little uncomfortable with the member's attempt to compare current circumstances with the depression that led to the "On to Ottawa" trek and the unfortunate occurrences that took place in Regina on July 1, 1935. Canada has moved a long way from those unfortunate days. The struggles and the sacrifices of the workers who paid that price were part of what brought the country to where it is today.

Even though we presently have our own economic difficulties in Canada, in no way do they compare to the difficulties those workers experienced in the dirty thirties which have been eloquently described by the hon. member and others in this House. Those difficulties are part of the past which Canada must learn from.

With those caveats, I want to commend the hon. member for Regina-Qu'Appelle on having introduced his motion and on having brought our attention to this chapter in Canada's history. It has allowed members on both sides of the House to draw some lessons from that period in Canada's past.

Referendum Campaign October 26th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, one of the separatist leaders took the Prime Minister of Canada up on his offer to address all Canadians. But unlike the Prime Minister, who delivered the same speech to Canadians in both official languages, the Bloc leader had two different messages for Canadians.

In his French language speech, the separatist leader was content to put the past on trial and to accuse the Canadian government of all the problems in the world. In his English language speech, he chose to speak from the other side of his mouth. He portrayed himself as a good, mollifying neighbour hoping for open co-operation in the future.

Quebecers have wised up to the separatists' subterfuge designed to deceive them. On October 30, Quebec will say No to this vision, which comes in different French and English versions.

Chéticamp Community Radio October 24th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, I took part in the official opening of CKJM, the new community radio station that has just gone on the air in Chéticamp and the Cape Breton Highlands.

This is the conclusion of five years' work by Normand Poirier, Angus Lefort and Daniel Aucoin and many other volunteers, who wanted to give Acadians in the area their own community radio as a means of local development. Their efforts were backed by the Government of Canada and strongly supported by the 5,000 or so listeners in the station's coverage area.

The opening ceremony was followed by a show featuring a variety of local musical talent. The show proved the point, if proof is required, that French language and culture are very much alive in Chéticamp, Grand-Étang, Saint-Joseph-du-Moine and many other places in Nova Scotia.

The Acadian people here have roots, language and culture in common with the francophones of Quebec. They fervently hope they will continue to have a country in common after October 30.