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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was system.

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

Won her last election, in 1993, with 55% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Pre-Budget Consultations February 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I believe the Minister of Finance has made a fine start in the development of the infrastructure program he has put forward.

As I said in my maiden speech earlier this week, the people in my riding are very happy with the infrastructure program that has been put forward.

Again I say to the hon. member that in order to reduce the deficit I believe we need more people working, more people paying taxes than taking out of the government purse. The way to do that is to increase employment and the infrastructure program is certainly a good jump start in that respect.

Pre-Budget Consultations February 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am of the firm conviction that anybody who is receiving above average incomes or pensions should not be permitted to dip into the government purse.

I am not quite certain at this stage how the Minister of Finance is going to deal with this situation but, if in fairness to all Canadians it means having to claw back pensions from those people who are receiving above average income either by pensions or otherwise, it is my firm belief we should look at it.

Pre-Budget Consultations February 1st, 1994

It is a pleasure for me to participate today in this most important pre-budget debate. I would like to begin my remarks by saying that this debate shows the government's commitment to listen to the opinions of Canadians as well as to make Parliament a more relevant institution.

The budget being prepared by the Minister of Finance will be the most widely discussed budget in history. The previous government left the country in a desperate financial situation. Their economic policies increased unemployment and caused corporate profits to decline. As revenues declined, spending on items like unemployment insurance and social assistance increased.

With a budget deficit of $46 billion, Canadians and this government are faced with some very difficult choices. Do we raise taxes, reduce spending, cut services, or let the deficit increase? Whatever decisions are made, they must be fair to all Canadians in all regions.

The people in St. John's West are facing a number of challenges. Unemployment is very high, business confidence is low, the fishery continues to decline and people are burdened with personal income taxes.

The crisis in the east coast fishery is a problem for all Canadians. It is not just a concern for Newfoundlanders. The fisher people and plant workers are not to blame for the situation they find themselves in. The previous government mismanaged the resource and pulled the rug out from under the people who depend on the fishery for a living.

As people adjust to the new realities of the fishery they need support. The former government set up a short term assistance program that is due to run out in a few months. What people need is a co-ordinated, long term assistance plan that will meet the needs of those involved in the industry.

The people affected need income assistance to compensate for some of their lost income. Useful retraining programs are a must for those who choose to leave the fishery. As well, more research on conservation and certain harvesting methods is necessary to ensure the future health of the entire industry.

The half-measures taken by the previous government simply will not do. I am confident the ministers of fisheries, human resources and finance will design programs that meet the needs of Newfoundlanders and still keep within the government's tight financial situation.

There has been a lot of talk recently about tax increases and broadening the tax base. Increasing the tax base is not a tax grab by government. It is a way to ensure that all Canadians pay their fair share of taxes.

For the past few years Canadians have seen their incomes decline and taxes increase. Consideration should be given to measures to ensure that wealthy individuals pay a fair share of taxes. RRSPs are a common tax loophole that many people will take advantage of. While governments should encourage people to save for their retirement, it is a fact that the more money they have the more likely they are to make use of RRSPs to reduce their taxes. Tax reductions for RRSPs should not be eliminated, but we should look at lowering the ceiling and reducing the tax break to those who are better off.

The number one priority of the budget must be job creation and measures to put Canadians back to work. The people of my riding are eager for the infrastructure program to move into high gear. I applaud the Prime Minister and the Minister responsible for Infrastructure for their efforts in getting this off to a quick start. However there is a greater need for job creation.

The federal government can do a great deal to stimulate job creation directly. It cannot create every job we need. That is where small businesses come in. Small business is the engine of the economy. Unfortunately the previous government did a terrific job of hurting small business owners and keeping them from doing what they do best, creating jobs.

A mixture of the GST, high interest rates, tight credit and problems with the Small Businesses Loans Act put a crunch on small businesses, preventing them from expanding or hiring new employees.

Our new government needs to address these problems. Small businesses need an understanding federal government. Businesses need access to capital to fund product and market development. The GST must be replaced with a tax that is easier for businesses to collect and that reduces the growing underground economy. Only when small businesses find their feet will the economy really begin to pick up.

All measures of the budget should be designed to increase employment. When people start working once again they will start paying taxes again. The biggest problem faced by the government is not where to cut or increase taxes. The biggest problem is the lack of people working and paying taxes. Instead of people drawing from the system, we need to have them paying back into the government purse.

The finance minister has a difficult job ahead as he tries to balance the need of Canadians to work and the government's need to reduce the deficit. The constituents of St. John's West are watching. I know the minister will do his best to strike the balance that is necessary to get this economy rolling once again.

Atlantic Fishery February 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is with great concern that I continue to read reports about the ongoing decline of the groundfish stocks in Newfoundland.

We have to take every action possible to protect and rebuild the stocks. We also have to take into account the century old tradition of cod jigging in Newfoundland and subsistence fishing in other areas, including the lower north shore of Quebec for example.

Given this, can the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans tell the House why he is resorting to closing down the recreational and food fisheries in Newfoundland and will he be taking such drastic action elsewhere?

Speech From The Throne January 28th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

I have to say that we have quite a number of people from western Canada in our province, particularly working on the Hibernia project, which I am sure the member is familiar with.

As to the member's comments with regard to the income support program, I have to agree that when this program was put in place by the former administration it was poorly conceived and implemented. I do not think that is any secret to anybody in this House or in the previous House.

I believe the hon. member probably made a mistake when he said a 10-day program, or 10 days of work to qualify for a year of unemployment insurance. I think the hon. member might have meant 10 weeks of work which is so in some cases.

We certainly do support a better support program for the fishermen who have been displaced by this terrible tragedy in our province and I think we should work toward that goal.

Speech From The Throne January 28th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her comments and her questions. At this time I would like to extend an invitation to her to return to Newfoundland.

I have to say that during the election one of the common themes was the need for employment. Almost every constituent I met asked if this government would provide more employment.

They were very happy with the new infrastructure program that our Prime Minister put forward in our red book. They are certainly looking forward to having that put in place. As a matter of fact I have already met with some of the people on the municipal councils in my riding and they certainly are very willing to participate. I do not think there is one community council that is not looking forward to participating in that program. They are certainly looking forward to having greater access to jobs and job opportunities.

Speech From The Throne January 28th, 1994

Madam Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me to speak for the first time in this great Chamber and to congratulate you on your appointment to the Chair.

I would like to begin my remarks by thanking the people of St. John's West for their support on October 25. I am greatly honoured to serve as their member of Parliament and I look forward to working with my constituents over the next four years.

My riding represents a mix of both the old and the new. In St. John's West the fishery is the largest industry and has been a way of life for the past 500 years. At the same time there are many small businesses in the district, some of which are at the leading edge of high technology research. Others are traditional types of businesses which have been employing people for many years.

The people of my district are honest and hard working. They count back the generations of people earning a living from the sea. Business operators recall years of good and bad times. Newfoundlanders have a reputation for sticking together and finding solutions and I have just found that my colleagues in this place also stick together.

Today the people of St. John's West face a number of problems. The decline in the fishery has had a devastating effect on most families in my district. Small business operators are trying to cope with a decrease in sales and the burdens caused by the GST and other taxes. Young people were looking to the future, only to see despair.

During the election Liberals campaigned on a platform of hope and opportunity. The decline in the Newfoundland fishery has struck at the very heart of our province. Under the previous administration foreigners were stealing our fish and laughing at us overseas, while our fisher people at home took empty nets and came home with empty boats. Short-term political concerns were given priority over the long-term health of the industry.

The people of St. John's West were not satisfied with the way the former government dealt with these important issues and that is why fisher persons and plant workers in my riding voted for a Liberal government.

In the throne speech the government made special mention of the challenges facing the east coast fishery. At this time, I would like to say thank you to our Prime Minister who has demonstrated such foresight and wisdom in the appointment of his ministers, in particular the appointment of our very knowledgeable and capable Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. A fellow Newfoundlander and colleague, his reputation for working hard is well known and I can personally vouch for the long hours he dedicates to his work.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has been hard at work dealing with foreign overfishing, with measures directed toward rebuilding fish stocks and providing income support programs for those who are displaced by the close out of the fishing industry. The road to recovery in the fishery will be a difficult one but the people of St. John's West are up to the challenge and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices.

I look forward to playing my role as member of Parliament in working with the minister and my colleagues in helping our number one industry come back to the levels it once enjoyed.

Also in my riding we have what was once considered to be one of the most affluent areas of our province. That area is a town called Argentia. This town is now facing a bleak and uncertain future as the U.S. navy prepares to close its station in that community. The American presence has been a daily fact in Argentia for about 50 years and their pull-out will have a lasting impact on the local economy.

The people of Argentia did not lie down and give up when the American announcement came two years ago. They have been working hard to create opportunities in their own community. The "Agenda for Argentia: A Study on Re-Use", is a testament to the town's determination to prosper. Negotiations are presently under way with the Americans on issues relating to the U.S. naval station and I have met with our ministers on the issue to ensure that these concerns are addressed.

The federal government has already provided funding for the consultant's report on the future use of station facilities. I was pleased to announce recently on behalf of the minister responsible for ACOA that an entrepreneurial training program would be implemented. A key recommendation of the consultant's report was the long-term redevelopment of the port facilities at the station. Such redevelopment would provide needed jobs in an area of increasing unemployment. These efforts will help ease the transition for Argentia.

Today I want to again assure the people of Argentia that they can count on my support as they explore development opportunities.

A decision by Marine Atlantic recently to reduce its scheduled ferry service from North Sydney, Nova Scotia, to Argentia is another blow to the town. The six-week reduction will have a double impact on Argentia. The shorter season will mean that fewer truckers and tourists will come to visit the town, to eat in the local restaurants and to buy fuel. It will take money out of the local economy. As well, the shorter season will mean less work for Marine Atlantic employees and a greater reliance on unemployment insurance throughout the fall and winter.

This is a backward move by Marine Atlantic and I would call on the company to reverse its decision and I would call on this government to encourage it to revisit its plans for the area.

Small businesses in St. John's West face many challenges. The long recession has hurt sales. Then in 1991 came that infamous tax, the goods and service tax, a tax to end all taxes. It was imposed by the previous government and has created a paper burden that many business administrators and operators find impossible to deal with. In addition, the high interest rates

followed by the previous administration limited funding opportunities for small businesses.

Small businesses are vital to the future prosperity of the residents of St. John's West. Most jobs created in the province of Newfoundland are created by small businesses. As a business operator, I know firsthand the difficulties faced by this sector. During the election I listened to the pleas of small business owners asking for some relief from the problems they experienced.

The Liberal Party has given its promise to help small businesses. I am pleased to hear, in the speech from the throne, the government's determination to fulfil its commitments in that area. The Canada investment fund will also help high technology companies secure funding for product development, improving market access and obtaining long-term capital.

The Prime Minister's commitment to replacing the GST is greatly appreciated by the business people in St. John's West. The GST has been a disaster that has either driven businesses underground or simply forced them out of business altogether. As I have said before, it has increased the paper burden and costs to businesses and forced many to lay off staff in order to reduce their costs. This is an unacceptable situation and I am very pleased with the government's determination to correct it.

Business operators from St. John's West will have an opportunity to participate in a study on a tax to replace the GST. Businesses were not consulted the last time, but they will certainly be consulted by the government this time and by our Prime Minister.

The government's commitment to improving the literacy skills of Canadians is a great step forward. There are people in my district who are not able to take advantage of training programs because they lack the basic math and reading skills. Renewed funding for the national literacy program will enable the people of St. John's West to make better use of government training programs.

The theme of the Liberal Party during the election was creating opportunity. Before the election Canadians felt frustrated with their government. They felt out of touch and felt that their government was not listening to them.

On October 25, Canadians and the people of St. John's West spoke with a loud, clear voice. The government has received the message and it will listen to Canadians. The new Liberal government will provide the people of St. John's West with the opportunities they need to earn a decent living and prosper in this great country.

Once again I wish to thank the people of St. John's West for their overwhelming support. I look forward to the next four years to be their voice in this great Canadian House of Commons.