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

The Budget May 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk about two issues in the budget that concern me most. One is the inherent unfairness of it in giving an advantage to those who spend, those who make more money. The budget documents themselves even tout the savings on a $350,000 home. There are probably ridings in this country that do not have even one $350,000 home.

I want to talk about the other aspect of it, which is that the measures in it are the triumph of politics over policy, of show over the activity that would improve Canada's economy. We know now that the issue for Canada and the world is that the world is changing, with emerging economies now spending money on innovation and technology.

According to the budget documents themselves, Canada has done a remarkable job. We now lead the G-7 in investment in research at the university level. It is all very important, but this budget hardly mentions this at all.

The second part of university and post-secondary education overall, including community colleges, apprenticeships and skills upgrading, which are very important, is putting money into post-secondary education for Canadians who can least afford it.

In the economic update introduced by our government last November, we dedicated $2.2 billion over five years for students most in need, for aboriginals, low income Canadians and persons with disabilities, and another $265 million specifically to help disabled people get into the workforce. There is nothing in this budget to address that.

I wonder if the member would agree, first, that the government has a role to play in assisting those most in need to get post-secondary education and, second, why that would not be mentioned in the budget.

The Budget May 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague for his speech. I know him by reputation and I think he is a sincere man and wants the best for his constituents of Halton. I look forward to serving with him on the finance committee.

I would refer him, though, to comments made by the intergovernmental affairs minister when I asked a similar question on student assistance. The minister referred to the great programs that exist for students which came in under the Liberal government.

However, my question refers to taxation, something I know he cares about deeply. He mentioned middle income taxpayers. Maybe middle income in Halton is a lot different than middle income in Dartmouth--Cole Harbour. We all come from different constituencies, but my question refers to the brochure that came with the budget which talked about broad-based tax relief for families by income group.

It indicated that a family that makes less than $15,000 a year will save in 2007, from the Conservative budget, $96, while a family making more than $150,000, which includes probably all of us in this House, would save $1,228. I wonder if he really thinks it is fair that an MP should get 12 or more times the benefit than the family struggling to raise their kids on $15,000.

EnerGuide May 9th, 2006

Recently the Conservative government cancelled the $500 million EnerGuide for low income housing program, another example of how this year's budget gives Canada's most disadvantaged citizens the cold shoulder. Without EnerGuide, Canada has no strategy to protect low income households from escalating energy prices and no strategy to engage these households in an effort to reduce pollution.

I know that the environment and support for low income Canadians are not among the government's top five priorities. However, if this government cancels EnerGuide, it will be low income Canadians that the Conservatives will once again leave in the cold. Home energy prices have increased dramatically. Low income householders will bear much of the cost since they generally spend a much higher percentage of their income on heating.

Last November, the Conservatives joined all other parties in Parliament in unanimously supporting Bill C-66, legislation that included $100 million a year over five years for a new program to improve the energy efficiency of Canada's low income housing. I call upon the government to live up to this previous commitment to energy efficiency and invest the resources needed to ensure a warmer future for those in need.

Petitions May 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition signed by Nova Scotian families who are concerned about the government's intention to cancel the daycare agreement.

This petition comes from the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women's Health. The petitioners are very concerned about the government's plan to kill child care. It is signed by distinguished leaders in the child care community, such as Christine Dunn and many others, who have asked me to bring this forward. It is my pleasure to do so.

Petitions May 8th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to present today, as I have most days in this sitting, a petition from people in Nova Scotia who are very concerned about the government's plan to kill child care.

Many of the names on this petition are Arcadian, representing the Acadian community of Nova Scotia who saw great hope in the early learning and child care agreement. In fact, it would have provided support for Acadian students. Sixty three per cent of Acadian students who go to French school show up for grade primary without the understanding of the French language that they should have. This would have helped to support that and now, unfortunately, it has been killed by the government and they wanted to express their concern.

The Budget May 8th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of things in the minister's speech I would take issue with, not the least of which is the child care proposal which I have expressed in the House already. I have presented a number of petitions on that subject and will be presenting another one today.

I was taken by the comments she made early in her speech about tax relief, saying that the vast majority goes to low and middle income Canadians. Certainly when we reduced the lowest marginal rate to 15%, that was true last year. Raising it by half a point is not helpful. I looked at the brochure that accompanied the budget documents. Under the heading “More Money in Canadians' Pockets”, there is a table titled “Broad-Based Tax Relief for Individuals, by Family Income Group”. I notice that those who make less than $15,000 a year will benefit by $96 in tax savings in 2007 according to the government's numbers, while those who make $100,000 to $150,000 a year will get over $1,200, members of Parliament included and cabinet ministers much beyond that.

My question is simple. Does the minister really believe that MPs deserve 12 times as much of a tax break as families struggling to raise their kids on $15,000 a year?

The Budget May 8th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, in this place where we hear so much false bravado and famed indignation, it is nice to hear a thoughtful speech. The member outlined very sincerely how he felt about the budget and I commend him for that.

I would like to ask him a serious question. As a fellow Atlantic Canadian, I was very concerned as there does not seem to be very much in the budget for us. It may partly be due to the lower representation in the government from Atlantic Canada. I would have thought that my hon. colleague might have made a very good parliamentary secretary, along with the members for Cumberland—Colchester and South Shore. Instead, parliamentary secretaries for things like ACOA come from Calgary and Toronto, which I think is disappointing.

Shortly after the election, we heard the Minister of Finance muse about the offshore accords that meant so much to the member's province and mine last year, indicating that it was bad fiscal policy. Then we heard that was not what he meant, that was not the fact. In the budget that was presented to us last week, it says specifically that the February 2005 agreements with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador were widely criticized as undermining the principles on which the equalization program is based.

When I saw that, it made me a little angry considering all that we heard from the opposition when this was being debated and the former prime minister made good on his commitment to fully ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador and my own province of Nova Scotia got 100% of offshore royalties.

How does my colleague feel about that being included in the budget speech itself? Does it cause him concern? Does he agree with it? If he does not agree with it, might he share that with the Minister of Finance?

The Budget May 8th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on his speech. I would have one exception, though. He talked about imitation in this budget, and there is a fair amount of that, and I would characterize it as the missing of a great opportunity based on the economy the Conservative Party inherited. There is one thing the Conservatives did not imitate, or one of many, I should say, and that was in the post-secondary file.

As a former minister of human resources and skills development, my colleague knows well the investments that we made in research and innovation, taking Canada to the top of the G-7 in publicly funded research. In the last couple of years, we moved significantly on student access, which I would suggest is now the big challenge. If our friends in the New Democratic Party had supported the economic update, many low income Canadians would now be getting the benefit of expanded Canada access grants. Economists say that if we want productivity, and that is the challenge, then we should invest in people, not cut the consumption tax.

I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on how little attention education has received in this budget, particularly post-secondary education, which is so important to our productivity.

Petitions May 3rd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to rise again with a petition from the Shearwater Military Family Resource Centre.

The petitioners are parents who are concerned about the government's plan to kill child care, which was done yesterday. They indicate that adding a taxable $100 a month allowance to a child benefit will not establish new child care spaces.

Child care is an every day necessity. There is an urgent need and they call upon the Prime Minister to honour the early learning and child care agreement in principle, and to commit the funding for five years.

The Budget May 3rd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the shame of this year's federal budget is the opportunity provided by a record breaking economy that is squandered in a sea of undefined and underwhelming tax schemes, mostly targeted to those who need them least.

A real national child care program finally within reach will be gone, and investments in post-secondary education for students and institutions slashed. Personal tax rates will go up and a GST cut replaces it, proudly shown in a brochure for the benefit it gives to a $350,000 new home owner.

In our changing world we should be investing in education for all Canadians throughout their life. The economic update in November did exactly that, putting billions into direct assistance for students, especially those who need it most, billions for research, and more money for skills training. This budget fails to address the importance and the necessity of investing directly in our students and continuing to invest in research and innovation.

We all want to pay less tax, even MPs, but it has to be real tax relief and it should go first to those who need it most.