House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was poverty.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour (Nova Scotia)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Questions Passed as Orders for Return January 31st, 2011

With regard to advertising by International Trade Canada or its agencies: (a) what was the total amount of money spent by the department and each of its agencies since January 1, 2009, in multi-cultural targeted print, radio, television and web-based media; (b) what was the exact placement of each ad purchase; and (c) what was the target demographic of each advertisement?

Questions Passed as Orders for Return January 31st, 2011

With regard to advertising by Health Canada or its agencies: (a) what was the total amount of money spent by the department and each of its agencies since January 1, 2009, in multi-cultural targeted print, radio, television and web-based media; (b) what was the exact placement of each ad purchase; and (c) what was the target demographic of each advertisement?

Military Families December 16th, 2010

Madam Speaker, Rob Gasgoine is back at the rink and at the gym with his kids.

Major Robert Gasgoine was serving as officer commanding the tactical air control party in Kandahar since April, part of his exemplary 24.5-year military career.

We all know the tremendous sacrifices made by our serving CF personnel and their families. Spouses like Kathy manage their families, keep their jobs, keep the crazy schedules, drive their kids to everything and stay optimistic and productive, all the while waiting for the family to be reunited again. This is done with little complaint.

I know all members of this House will join me in thanking all of our Canadian military families and wishing them a fabulous and well-deserved Christmas. For those who are currently serving, we pray for their safe return and hope they have a wonderful Christmas together next year.

To the Gasgoines, to Rob, Kathy, Josie, Malcom, who is playing some great hockey these days, and Clara, it is great to see them together for Christmas. We thank them and all military families for what they do for Canada. And it is great to see Rob back at the rink.

December 15th, 2010

Madam Speaker, my colleague talks about working with provinces and stakeholders. Of all those stakeholders, not one person has come out and said that the Canadian Council on Learning should have been cut, not one.

Not one province has said that. About the only thing the provinces were aligned with completely was that the CCL was working and that the millennium scholarship fund, something else they cancelled, was working.

However, we should think about what we do not have. Think about the economics of not having any quality assurance agency in place. Think about all the economies in the world that we are competing with. Now some of the emerging economies that used to send their students here are keeping them at home. All of the countries are saying, “Not only are we going to invest in education, but we are going to study where we are. We are going to see how we are doing and we are going to find a way to make it better”.

Canada is the only one that refuses to have a plan. This was the plan. This was the road map to a more educated Canada, at a better price, more economic.

If the government does not believe in supporting students, ideologically, that is one thing; but at the very least, it should say, “We need to know how we are doing; we need to know what we are spending”. We cannot even determine how much is being spent on education in Canada because the provinces do not all talk to each other about these sorts of things. We need to find this stuff out. The Canadian Council on Learning was doing it.

I want to pay tribute to Paul Cappon, who was continuing to do some work, even though the funding has gone.

It is a shame that we are entering a new information age and we are doing it without any information at all. Canadian students, who are the future of this country, are the ones who are going to suffer.

December 15th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to follow up on a question I asked some time ago concerning the Canadian Council on Learning and, in the broader sense, information that the government does not have as we enter the new information age.

The Canadian Council on Learning was set up to assist in providing a road map for education for Canada. It had the support of just about every educational institute in the country and every province. It even had the respect of organizations around the world. For no apparent reason, the government not only refused to renew the Canadian Council on Learning but in fact took back some money that was left after the end of its run.

The reason we need the Canadian Council on Learning is simple. We do not have any surveillance on education in Canada. In fact, in one of the last reports that it put out, which was called “Taking Stock of Lifelong Learning in Canada 2005-2010:”, it contains a chart that shows how different countries are doing in evaluating education within their own borders. The report compared Australia, the European Union, Germany, the U.S., Switzerland, the U.K., New Zealand and Canada in a number of categories.

For example, how many of these countries have had a major review in the last five years of post-secondary education processes? Australia, yes; the EU, yes; Germany, yes; the U.S., yes; Switzerland, yes; the U.K., yes; New Zealand, yes; Canada, no. Who has system-wide goals and objectives? All of them have those but Canada does not.

In how many countries is funding aligned with national priorities? Australia, yes; the EU, not applicable; Germany, yes; the U.S., yes; the U.K., yes, New Zealand, yes; Canada, no. Do we have quality assurance agencies in place? Australia, yes; in the EU it is under development; in Germany it is under development; the United States has it; Switzerland has it; the U.K. has it; New Zealand has it; Canada does not. We do not have quality assurance in place.

We need to know where we are going. As we have gone through this recession over the last few years, one thing has become very clear. The economy that we will be entering as we come out of the recession will be fundamentally different from the one when we went into the recession. Manufacturing has taken a big hit as have many other areas.

We need to find places for Canada to excel. Canada is a very well educated country. Traditionally, it has been. We have been slipping in the last five or six years as we have taken our foot off the accelerator of education and innovation. We need to know what we need to be doing to educate Canadians, from early learning and child care through pre-kindergarten to grade 12, post-secondary, literacy, adult learning, all those things. We need to know where we are. The Canadian Council of Learning, which was the only group that was actually putting together that road map, we do not have it.

As I said, there are people across the country, such as Don Drummond, a very smart man, smart enough to hire Howie Millard at the TD, said, ““It is disturbing. Even the scant information we have is not adequately funded”. He estimated that gathering useful information would cost $15 million a year.

Arati Sharma, who was the national director of CASA, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, stated:

Without the research of groups such as the Canadian Council on Learning, Canada will continue to lack the knowledge needed to improve access, persistence and quality in our post-secondary institutions.

An editorial in the Toronto Star read:

—the learning council's work was of value to Canadians, particularly at a time when our economic future depends more than ever on our ability to compete with other knowledge-based economies around the world.

Canada has done very well. We have very strong educational institutions. I come from Nova Scotia. We have universities like Dalhousie, St. Francis Xavier, Acadia, Saint Mary's and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. We have a whole host of great institutions, such as the Nova Scotia Community College revitalized. We have great institutions but we are not putting that stuff together. We are not seeing what it all adds up to as a whole.

How do we compete in the world? How does Canada compete? How are we going to compete with those countries that traditionally did not spend as much but now are spending all kinds of money? The Canadian Council on Learning was telling us that. It was building the road map to a more prosperous Canada and it is gone, which is a shame.

Millennium Scholarships December 13th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, every government in the world seems to know that education is the cornerstone to the new economy, except the Conservative government, which has no plan.

The Canadian Council on Learning was building an educational road map. The government killed it. The Millennium Scholarship Foundation was doing world-class research and helping students. It killed that. It took the $120 million and put the exact same amount into government propaganda. Instead of giving students a hand, it gave itself a hand.

How does that prepare Canada for the new economy?

Business of Supply December 9th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I agree completely with the member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe. The Prime Minister has said things such as, “Yes...I agree that serious flaws exist in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms”. I think it sends a dangerous signal, and I must say, it is a signal that people are right to be afraid of because we have seen organizations that do not have a majority voice in this country that have been shut out. That is a shame. That is a signal that has been sent by the Prime Minister. I think that is very unfortunate.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, it is a good question. There were a number of things that were not included in the charter that may have. I have had many discussions with people with disability who feel that they have not been protected adequately under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. So to the previous point, that may be something that we can look at.

The point that my colleague brings up is true. Quebec has its own charter, which is a very robust document. So there may well be things that are missing from the charter, but the principle of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that overarching belief in equality, is really what is most important and it has been used to advance the cause of many people in Canada who would not have had their cause advanced without the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As to improvements, I have never seen a document yet where one could not say there is something missing here or there, but there are not many documents about which I have more faith than the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor came to Parliament at the same time as I did, and I can recall discussions we have had on, for example, civil marriage. At the end of the day, we did not agree 100% on that, but we had a respectful discussion about it.

The significance of the court challenges program is that the countries that are the strongest, the countries that really have strength, are the countries that allow themselves to be exposed to challenges such as were allowed under the court challenges program. When I think about my children, Emma and Conor, who may or may not be in the gallery today, this is the kind of thing that I want to hand off to them. This is the kind of history and commitment to equality that I want my kids and all kids to have as we go forward, this belief that we are stronger together when the majority allows the minority to have equal rights and that we are not afraid of that. I think the court challenges program was one of the most important tools in allowing that to happen.

Business of Supply December 9th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I respect the work that my colleague does. All I can say is if that is the position of the Liberal Party, I suspect it is probably a sensible position.

I do not have the detail on the bill that the member has, but I think that if things are living, breathing and changing, as my colleague from Prince Edward—Hastings said, I do not think it is unreasonable to have a sunset clause in a bill.