Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was federal.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as NDP MP for The Battlefords—Meadow Lake (Saskatchewan)

Lost his last election, in 1997, with 28% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada Post December 9th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, yesterday hundreds of postal workers came to the Prime Minister's door to protest the government's decision to stop Canada Post from delivering advertising mail, a move that will result in the layoff of 10,000 workers, one of the largest mass terminations in recent Canadian history.

Today postal workers will be setting up information pickets at major postal stations across Canada as part of their campaign to save the jobs of 10,000 men and women, most of whom work less than 15 hours a week and therefore are not eligible for EI.

In the red book the Liberals promised that a Liberal government would put jobs and economic growth at the forefront of its objectives. Instead, here we have a Liberal government that gave absolutely no thought whatsoever to the devastation and hardship this cruel and tasteless act will bring to the lives of those workers and their families.

The government should rescind this decision, save the jobs of the admail workers and promote the healthy future of a public postal service.

An Act To Revoke The Conviction Of Louis David Riel December 5th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, there was a major conference in Ottawa last week. It brought together people from all across Canada who are interested in finding ways to relieve child poverty. They left knowing that the problem was well documented, but frustrated because there is little being done to deal with it.

However, there was one bright note and that was the award presented to the province of Saskatchewan and accepted at the conference by Premier Roy Romanow. The award acknowledged Saskatchewan's commitment to investing in children as a key priority and its co-ordinated approach to policy development and delivery.

Premier Romanow was also a featured speaker at that conference. He reminded us that it is the responsibility of all of us to value, protect and support Canada's children, to guide them in becoming healthy, functioning adults because it is the health and the strength of our children that will determine the future health and strength of our country.

He also reminded us of the most recent report of the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops which said: "To think that almost one Canadian child in five lives in poverty in one of the richest

societies in world history is nothing less than a damning indictment of the present socioeconomic order".

In Saskatchewan, the province's action plan for children was designated in 1993 to provide a model for the development of programs and services for children and families. It not only brings together community groups, agencies, individuals and governments to collaborate and deliver services, but also links activities between Saskatchewan's human service departments. This interlinking of departmental initiatives enables the province to better target limited resources and to develop programs that more effectively meet the overall needs of children and families.

It was this action plan that captured the attention of the child poverty community and was the impetus for the award presented to the premier last week.

But more needs to be done and Premier Romanow and most of Canada knows that the federal government must play an important role in this regard.

First, on the premier's national agenda to help reduce child poverty is a commitment to strong social programs. He emphasizes programs which address child and family poverty, but at the same time he stresses the necessity to preserve medicare and accessible quality education.

I might add that a major problem today is the federal Liberal government's insistence that $7 billion be cut from its transfers to the provinces for health and education programs. To me this $7 billion must be reinstated immediately.

The premier also believes that Canada must undertake a comprehensive review of the taxation system which is seen as being unfair, ineffective and not representative of current Canadian priorities. Obviously this fits well with the federal NDP's call for a fair taxation system which would see the banks and large corporations paying their fair share of taxes.

It goes without saying that our nation's children represent our nation's future. We have to take their needs into account as we plan for today's activities.

In 1989 a resolution brought forward by the then NDP federal leader Ed Broadbent to eliminate poverty by the year 2000 was passed unanimously by the members of the House. Since then 46 per cent more children are living below the poverty line. Obviously, the status quo is not working. Some aggressive action is required.

My question for the federal Liberal government is simple: When the premier of Saskatchewan and all those who care about children call for a different approach to dealing with poverty, is the minister, on behalf of the government prepared to heed that call?

Canadian Airlines December 5th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, we are offended by yesterday's decision by the Minister of Labour to force a vote of CAW members at Canadian Airlines. This is an unprecedented and shocking attack on workers' rights.

At the same time we recognize the minister's attempts to use the Canada Labour Code to protect the bungling of the Minister of Transport, who seems not to understand the real crisis facing Canadian Airlines or has chosen to ignore it.

New Democrats recognize that the real issue is the stability of the industry which it has demonstrated cannot regulate itself.

We care about the jobs of Canadian Airlines. We care about the future of the industry. However, we are concerned that by focusing only on the concessions being demanded of working people that the job and industrial security we all desire will be lost in the long term.

If the federal government wants to be involved in Canadian Airlines restructuring, it should leave collective bargaining to the affected parties and go to the table with a real package that addresses the real problems of the industry.


Hazardous Materials December 4th, 1996

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to private member's Motion No. 241, brought forward by my NDP colleague from Burnaby-Kingsway. He has worked very hard on this important motion to bring it to our attention for which I congratulate him.

Motion No. 241 deals with a subject matter that I also have been supporting and have done a lot of work on over the years. That is why I want to say a few words today. It is important to note that another one of our colleagues from the New Democratic Party, the member for Winnipeg Transcona, has worked very hard on this

issue. We all thank the parliamentary secretary and the minister for responding in the way they have.

The motion essentially deals with the establishment of a Canadian test site for Operation Respond, a computerized database of hazardous materials that would improve safety for firefighters and help save lives and property.

There is no question in my mind that this is a critical motion which every member of this House should support. At the same time the Minister of Transport should be as we speak preparing to establish this test site. As the parliamentary secretary indicated a few minutes ago, I believe that is what he is doing. I am very pleased to hear that tonight and I recognize the support the government has given to this motion.

This is an issue that is most important to Canada's firefighters. It was first brought to my attention by Saskatchewan firefighters during one of their lobby days on Parliament Hill. The firefighters annual lobby effort is one of the most effective I have been subject to in my eight years in Parliament. I congratulate the firefighters on that.

I also want to congratulate Doug Coupar who was the Canadian director of the International Association of Firefighters. His efforts were instrumental in the success of this lobby. During that lobby they told me that firefighters dealing with incidents involving hazardous materials need to know precisely what chemicals are present and how to handle them. The faster they can obtain this information the more effectively they can protect their own safety and that of the community around them.

The situation today is not adequate. Operation Respond, on the other hand, is a system that gives firefighters firsthand access to information that they need by use of a laptop computer and a modem installed in their emergency vehicles. They simply enter a number which has been assigned to each load travelling on the rails or highways into that laptop and within one minute they can know exactly what materials are onboard that vehicle which may have been involved in an accident. They will know what safety precautions to take and how to contain the incident they have encountered more effectively.

Compare that to the 10 minutes to several hours that it sometimes takes under the existing system. The sources of the information for Operation Respond are databases kept by the carriers. The system is applicable to all forms of transportation in its ideal usages, trains, trucks, ships and aircraft. I hope we will be able to find a way to ensure that this happens. Operation Respond makes a tremendous amount of sense.

In May of this year I wrote a letter to the Minister of Transport. I stated: "I have recently met with Canadian firefighters who are interested in securing a Canadian test site for a program they refer to as Operation Respond. I know you are familiar with the proposal and I think you were supportive of the concept prior to your appointment as Minister of Transport.

"The concept of identifying hazardous materials in transit is a very important one because the most dangerous aspect of firefighting is responding to incidents involving hazardous materials. Firefighters in Canada are especially hampered, they say, by a lack of information available at such incidents, especially within the critical first minutes upon arrival at the scene.

"Firefighters in Canada are urging you to make Operation Respond's Canadian test site a priority of your government by committing staff and resources to the project immediately. I am writing today to say that I agree with the firefighters' request and I trust that you will make this commitment without delay".

That was the letter I sent to the minister after the Saskatchewan firefighters along with their colleagues from across Canada visited me here in Ottawa.

In June the minister responded to my letter. A major part of his response to me was that the CANUTEC system, the system in place today, seemed to be working just fine but there was always room for improvement. The minister said there were Canadians currently in the United States monitoring the Operation Respond system and he suggested that perhaps this fall there might be recommendations coming forward to change the way the Canadian system operated.

I am very pleased to see today that perhaps the experience in the United States has had an effect here in Canada and it is as a direct result of the firefighters lobby and their request that these matters take place.

In light of how important this issue is and in light of how supportive of change the firefighters are, I think it is time that we in Canada took action.

The motion in front of us today gives every parliamentarian in Canada a chance to confer with the minister, the cabinet and the department and say that firefighters know what they are talking about. By voting in support of this motion today we may actually be doing something that will one day prevent a serious human accident and perhaps even save a life.

I was proud to support the call of firefighters in May and I am proud to support this motion today.

Petitions December 4th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to present a petition, pursuant to Standing Order 36, from residents of the constituency of The Battlefords-Meadow Lake.

The petition notes that 38 per cent of the national highway system in Canada is substandard, that the national highway policy study identified job creation, economic development, national unity, saving lives and avoiding industry, lower congestion, lower vehicular operating costs and better international competitiveness as benefits of the proposed national highway program.

Therefore, the petitioners call on Parliament to urge the federal government to join with provincial governments to make the national highway system upgrading possible.

The Environment December 4th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Louise Comeau on behalf of people everywhere who are concerned about the future of the planet pointed out that Canada is not going to meet its international commitments on climate change. It appears that federal and provincial ministers will do nothing to rectify this deplorable situation when they meet on December 12.

Will the Minister of the Environment reaffirm his personal commitment today and tell the House and the people of Canada that on December 12 he will acknowledge that Canada is not doing enough and that he will talk about concrete measures which will actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions to ensure Canada meets its international obligations by the year 2005?

Child Poverty November 28th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, Canadian children living in poverty need more than the minister's commitment to have his officials look into possible solutions to their crises.

Yesterday Saskatchewan's premier, Roy Romanow, called for immediate federal-provincial action to restore and enrich support for children that have been eroded by deficit cutting measures.

The premier called for a national plan for children modelled on Saskatchewan's, which includes reviewing all legislation for its impact on children, appointing a children's advocate and setting up local children's centres to provide services in health, nutrition, child care, abuse prevention and recreation that are now pieced out to various ministries.

Is the minister, on behalf of the government, prepared to heed the premier's call?

Child Poverty November 28th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, at a national child welfare conference in Ottawa yesterday, Premier Roy Romanow and the province of Saskatchewan were acknowledged as leaders in caring for our nation's children.

In the words of the award presented to the premier, Saskatchewan was acknowledged for its commitment to investing in children as a key priority and a co-ordinated approach to policy development and delivery.

We are very proud of our province, our provincial party and our provincial premier.

Members may remember that in 1989 a resolution brought forward by then NDP federal leader Ed Broadbent to eliminate poverty by the year 2000 was passed unanimously in this House. Since then 46 per cent more children are living below the poverty line, a shameful illustration of the failure of this government to act on one of this country's most critical issues.

In congratulating Premier Romanow and the province of Saskatchewan, I also encourage the federal government to follow Saskatchewan's lead and make the elimination of child poverty a priority and begin that effort today.

Supplementary Estimates (A) November 21st, 1996

Madam Speaker, New Democrats vote no.

Supplementary Estimates (A) November 21st, 1996

Madam Speaker, New Democrats in the House will be voting no.