House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was military.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Sackville—Eastern Shore (Nova Scotia)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Dna Identification Act November 3rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I will keep my remarks quite brief. I have always admired the Reform Party in its aspects on various legislation, including gun control, victims rights, et cetera. It should be also commended for its efforts to keep our streets safe.

However, I have a couple of concerns for which I do not yet have answers. I was hoping that I could get the answers in the debate today for our party and for our constituents.

The fear I have the most is that in some countries which are not as democratic as ours there is the assumption of guilt before innocence. Thank goodness we live in a society where a person is innocent until proven guilty either by a judge or jury of their peers.

There is one aspect I have not heard from the Reform Party. In the event that a DNA sample is collected and the individual is found to be not guilty, will the DNA sample be removed and destroyed or will it be held in the databank for ever and a day? If the presumption is that we are going to maintain these samples forever, the the next step I see is that each person born will have a DNA sample taken and locked up somewhere. If a person is proven innocent after going to trial, will the DNA sample be removed?

As well, we heard members of the Reform Party talk about criminals and the length of time they should stay in jail and the treatment they should receive while incarcerated.

I would have a question for them. What rehabilitation processes would they have in place while the person is incarcerated? What kind of halfway programs would they include in their summations of a prisoner once the person has served their time to rehabilitate them back into society?

National Shipbuilding Policy October 29th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in favour of the motion brought forward by the hon. member for Fundy—Royal.

As my colleague, the member for Halifax West, stated yesterday in the House, we in this party believe that Canada is in desperate need of a national shipbuilding policy.

Shipbuilding has a vital place in the economy of this nation, in its heritage and, more importantly, in the lives of numerous coastal communities. To let it wither on the vine would be a wanton act of industrial sabotage that would haunt the present government for generations to come.

Canada was once a key player in the global shipbuilding industry. As a major coastal nation and a central partner in the Allied military effort during the second world war, Canada entered the post-war years with a robust and healthy shipbuilding sector.

Today, after decades of short-sighted Liberal and Conservative stewardship, the industry is on its knees. The industry which once was a vital part of our industrial base is now barely afloat. We have reached the stage where we can barely meet our own modest shipbuilding needs, let alone aspire to become a major provider to the global market.

More sadly, the tragic lack of foresight and innovation exhibited by successive Liberal and Conservative governments have condemned thousands of highly skilled workers to unemployment or idleness. Since the beginning of this decade alone, the workforce in this sector has fallen from 12,000 to less than 5,000 hourly and salaried workers in 1996.

This is a shameful performance. It is especially so when we reflect on the fact that these same workers have made tremendous strides in improving their value added and productivity per worker, increasing it by almost one-quarter between 1986 and 1993. Alas, no such vision or dynamism has been apparent in the approach taken by the government to the future of this strategic sector. Apathy, resignation and ineptitude have been the hallmarks of its approach.

The government approach has had devastating consequences. Total sales of the Canadian shipbuilding sector have declined by about one-half since 1991, from $1.5 billion to less than $800 million in 1996. The decline in the value added of of the shipbuilding industry to the Canadian GDP has been even more dramatic, falling from $450 million in 1990 to less than $200 million today. While other countries continue to make the necessary investment in upgrading their shipbuilding yards and technology, with some exceptions Canada has continued to rely on outdated capital equipment.

Most forecasts suggest that the demand for new ships and marine technology will grow rapidly in the coming years. The need to modernize our Great Lakes fleet, the requirement for high speed ferry and commuter services, developments in the offshore oil and gas sector all point to a renewed demand for ships. However, every indication at present is that Canada is in no position to meet this renewed domestic demand.

If we are ill-equipped to meet domestic demand, our preparedness to meet global demand is even weaker still. As world trade grows, demand for new, economically efficient ships to replace an aging world fleet will be strong. Close to one-third of the world fleet is more than 20 years old. In sectors such as oil tankers this figure is much higher. There is also demand for new cruise ships from the expanding leisure industry. Opportunities for economic growth in jobs in the coastal shipbuilding yards abound, yet the minister sticks to his banal and naive view that he will not be dragged into a subsidies bidding war.

I can assure the minister that while he clings to these doctrinal absurdities, other nations are busily preparing themselves to meet the renewed demand. The U.S. with its Jones Act ensures that cargo carried between U.S. ports is carried aboard U.S. ships that are U.S. built, U.S. registered, U.S. owned, U.S. crewed and repaired and serviced by U.S. firms.

European nations use innovative tax credits, competitive bank financing, share purchases and tax shelter programs to encourage investment in shipbuilding. In Germany, for instance, individuals or corporations who invest in ship shares receive total deductions equal to 100% of the total investment.

The do nothing approach taken by this government to date is no longer acceptable. Canada must show some audacity and seek to develop new markets for our industry in niche areas such as ferries, icebreakers or specialized cargo ships. Canada must get out of the business of subsidizing foreign shipbuilders, many of whom utilize cheap labour and fail to comply with fair social and environmental standards.

Since the completion of the frigate building process and the refurbishment of Tribal class destroyers, Canada's shipbuilding industry has been waiting in vain for direction from Ottawa. Hard pressed coastal regions are looking to Ottawa to abandon its dismal hands off policy which has been so fatal to the industry. As it is increasingly obvious that neither the minister nor his senior officials have any idea how they might begin to re-invigorate the industry, let me suggest some basic life support measures which would benefit the industry over the medium to longer term.

First, let us rid ourselves of the short-sighted and damaging notion that private market forces alone should determine the future development of this important industry. While we do not endorse an escalating subsidy war, it is time to recognize that governments have a role to play in managing a fair allocation of shipbuilding production between competing countries. A managed trade approach, akin to the auto pact, would ensure that the Canadian shipbuilding industry would receive an overall volume of new orders consistent with our own shipbuilding requirements. This would amount to the extension of the U.S. Jones Act principle to international shipping and would ensure that each major seagoing nation would achieve a certain target level of shipbuilding activity.

Second, the government should lobby for the inclusion in any future international agreement regulating shipbuilding of a social clause. The problem in the past was that the term subsidy had been defined too narrowly. In many countries anti-union laws, low wages and non-existent health and safety laws amount to a subsidy to private shipbuilders. In these cases a subsidy is paid by the workers through lower wages or less safe working conditions rather than explicitly by the government.

We recommend that future international agreements in relation to subsidies take a broader view and include a social clause requiring participating countries to respect basic social, democratic and labour norms.

Third, we must recognize and co-ordinate the close links that exist between the regulation of the shipping industry and government efforts to support the shipbuilding industry.

In the past, shippers have been given too much discretion to select companies on the basis of price alone. The result has been that considerations relating to Canadian content, basic health and safety and environmental concerns have been neglected. In many cases the trade in Canada has become dominated by foreign flag vessels, flying flags of convenience from low tax jurisdictions such as Panama.

In fact, it is alleged by observers of the industry that Canada Steamship Lines, a company owned by the finance minister, has made use of these tax evading measures in the past. We believe that to be simply scandalous. It is time for Canada to implement a Jones like act that would require minimum levels of Canadian content in shipping activities. Furthermore, it is time that we insisted that ships traversing Canada's inland waterways be Canadian built and Canadian flagged.

Fourth, Canada has long been relying on its production and export of natural resources. We now recognize that greater value must be added to these raw, unprocessed resources here in Canada. It follows that Canada should be more involved in constructing, maintaining and operating the vessels that carry our natural resources to their destination markets. Canada is a great trading nation and it makes obvious sense that we have shipping and shipbuilding industries that reflect our stature as one of the top ten exporting nations.

Finally, it is time the government paid greater attention to maintaining appropriate levels of investment in our coastal infrastructure. Liberal cutbacks to lighthouses, coast guard search and rescue services, port upkeep and other maritime services have been highly detrimental to the safety, security and efficiency of our maritime communities. New public investment is needed by the coast guard and would generate additional work for Canadian shipyards.

In conclusion, I would like to state that we reject the view that the key decisions affecting the shipbuilding industries should be left to private shipbuilders and the private shipping companies. It is time for the government to embrace the public interest in promoting a vibrant, domestic shipbuilding sector. Shipbuilding workers, coastal communities and Canada's status as a major maritime nation are too important to be left to the vagaries of the marketplace.

To my colleague for Fundy—Royal, I too endorse your request that this important motion be a votable one. I will do what I can to support the motion. I beg your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, to look into that aspect.

Liberal Policies October 29th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, recently Canadians have been treated to the spectacle of two Atlantic Liberal premiers opposing federal Liberal policies they once supported when they were members of the government.

When he was a member of this House, the premier of Nova Scotia supported the HST. Now that he sees that the HST does not work, he comes to Ottawa with hat in hand asking the finance minister to reduce the HST premiums.

When he was federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans the premier of Newfoundland allowed the department's policy to destroy the livelihood of Newfoundland fishers. Now that he sees how wrong he was, the premier wants the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans to go to Newfoundland to re-examine the early cutoff of the Atlantic groundfish strategy that would devastate fishers in his province.

Given this double flip flop, Canadians now wonder if the present Minister of Fisheries and Oceans or the Minister of Finance ever became the premier of a province whether they would oppose their own policies because they do not work.

Newfoundland School System October 27th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Reform Party. The hon. member mentioned earlier that in his opinion 53% was a fairly good turnout for a vote of this nature.

I asked the members for St. John's East and St. John's West earlier why they felt there was such a low turnout for such an important question. The response from the representatives from St. John's East and from St. John's West was that it was during the summertime, during the Cabot celebrations and many people felt that because there was unanimity by the members of the legislature in Newfoundland was the reason the turnout was low.

Does the hon. member honestly believe that 53%, under those circumstances during that time, is really a high turnout for such an important issue?

Public Service October 27th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.

At a meeting this past weekend of the Professional Institute of the Public Service its president, Mr. Hindle, said that the pride of the public service will never be restored as long as it is run by paternalistic managers who do not treat workers as equals and who keep them from speaking out on politically sensitive issues. He also stated that mismanagement of Canada's fisheries illustrates how public service managers keep employees from speaking the truth.

When will the Liberal government remove the suppression or gag order from scientists who work in the fisheries and oceans, health and environment departments and allow the truth to come forward—

Newfoundland School System October 27th, 1997

Madam Speaker, my question is for the two hon. members for St. John's East and St. John's West.

As my colleague from Winnipeg mentioned earlier, this is a concern of such very great importance not only to Newfoundland but across the country. Yet a few years back the same question was asked of the people of Newfoundland.

The Pentecostal and Catholic organizations got together and mobilized their forces and came within a few percentage points of defeating the original motion. This time the question was asked again and received overwhelming support of those people who voted.

Of an issue of this importance—now I am receiving all kinds of letters and all kinds of phone calls regarding this—why did the people not get out this time and vote? So many people stayed home. I would like those people from Newfoundland to answer tell me why people stayed home and did not vote on this very critical and very important issue.

Marine Atlantic October 27th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I rise in support of the motion by my colleague for Sydney—Victoria. I believe the motion also has the support of our constituents.

It disturbs me when the government takes the path of privatization. There are many examples out there of what privatization has done to Canadian standards, for example Nav Canada's flight service and air traffic control.

Safety is still at a premium and I commend the government for maintaining the safety of aspects of it. We now have reports that Nav Canada wants to lay off 1,000 workers. Those who will be left within a year or two will be coming up for contract renewal and will be asked without a doubt to take further wage cuts and concessions.

My concern for the government and the working people in Atlantic Canada is that when we go the notion of privatization, instead of the government and the Canadian people becoming the shareholders, the shareholders are few, usually a company or certain individuals. The pressure on the individuals or the company to provide excessive dividends to their shareholders means that lower standards, wages and benefits have to accrue to the people who work in that environment.

My one concern besides supporting the motion is that the government also take into consideration the labour, financial and benefit standards of workers currently in those facilities, especially those in Atlantic Canada and Marine Atlantic.

I thank the government, the Reform Party and the Bloc for supporting my colleague's motion.

Customs Tariff October 24th, 1997

Sorry. The Canadian Labour Congress, for those on the other side who do not understand the labour groups.

I did not hear him once say that he had spoken with the CAW, the Canadian Auto Workers. Not once did I hear him say that they referred this bill to working people.

There is one point I forgot in my submission. A few years ago the Mexican government allowed the peso to drop and devalue on the market. This caused shock waves through the financial community. What was Canada's response? Canada had to pump tens of millions of dollars through the auspices of the World Bank and friends in the American government to prop up the Mexican peso.

We were told in the House of Commons—although I was not here at that time—but read the Hansard comments that that was to assist, enable and help out the people of Mexico and the Mexican workers. In reality, it was to help out those Canadian businesses that left provinces like Ontario and the rest of Canada to go down to Mexico because of their cheap labour force.

We were told that the whole aspect of NAFTA and free trade was to prop up the living standards of those workers in Mexico.

Madam Speaker, I invite you and everyone in the House of Commons to go down to Mexico and see how propped up they are. They are not very propped up at all. What has it done? It has not increased the working conditions of Mexican workers. It has decreased the condition of Canadian workers.

Customs Tariff October 24th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I wish to thank the parliamentary secretary for his comments toward the New Democratic Party concerning our trying to get the message across that we should be working with and assisting Canadians.

There is one thing I mentioned. He again said that the government had consulted with various industries and groups. I did not hear him once that he had consulted with the CLC. I did not hear him once say that he had consulted with the Quebec Federation of Labour.

Customs Tariff October 24th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill because of the ramifications it will have, along with the NAFTA deal, the free trade deal, the MAI, APEX and all those other deals that governments past and present have made.

We would assume by listening to government members that the sun rises and sets on their current policies. They have repeated on several occasions that Bill C-11 was created in consultation with industry. Industry, industry, industry. If I am not mistaken, the government member who previously spoke said that five times. However, not once have I heard them say they have consulted the working people, labour groups, citizens groups or action groups. Any group having a leaning toward the social left was not consulted with respect to Bill C-11. That is typical of the government when it comes to modifying or altering current legislation.

If I may digress for a moment, a few years back this government did not like the regulations which governed the foreign sale of nuclear CANDU reactors. Literally overnight, with an order in council, it changed the trade regulations and the environmental regulations in order to sell two CANDU reactors to China.

I remind the House that China has one of the worst human rights records in the world today and yet this government, without consulting the House of Commons, without allowing proper debate, changed the environmental and trade regulations and sold the CANDU reactors to China. Organizations such as the Sierra Club have taken the government to court to fight those arrangements.

I could go on and list more spectacles of that nature. That is the despicable nature of the government.

Slowly, bit by bit, this government and previous Conservative governments have relinquished control to the corporate elite. I have said time and time again that I would much rather have an elected Bob Rae or an elected government official than I would an unelected Conrad Black. The reason I say that is that if people do not like an elected official, he or she will come up for election again in so many years, and the people can kick them out.

Elected officials have to listen to the concerns of the people whether they like them or not. An unelected corporate official does not have to listen to the people. They never have to attend meetings. They can totally ignore the wishes of the Canadian people.

I have held talks with members of the professional bankers association in my riding. They have indicated, as we have suspected for quite some time, that the big six banks will soon merge to become the big three. The bankers are saying that will happen because we cannot compete globally. That they can make $1 billion in six months is not good enough for them. Now they are saying we have to compete globally. Globally, globally, globally. That is all we ever hear.

What will happen to the thousands of people working in the banking institutions? What will happen to them years down the road? What kind of jobs will we be able to offer our children? Are there going to be any jobs?

The hon. member from Saskatchewan indicated that we should be working toward the benefit and health of our children. Our children are our most valuable resource.

During the wars and after the wars this country produced all kinds of equipment, machinery and products. For example, the world's largest gypsum mine borders on my riding. Ninety per cent of the gypsum is shipped out of Canada, into the United States, turned into gyproc, and we turn around and buy it back. That is insanity. There could be hundreds of jobs created in my riding if there were a gypsum board factory. That would be tremendous.

We do the same thing with whole logs. We ship them to countries like Japan when we could be manufacturing those logs in Canada today. We could be creating thousands and thousands of jobs.

The Minister for International Trade, through the Economic Development Corporation, is giving $285 million to a firm to set up a pulp mill in Indonesia. That is another country with a terrible human rights record.

We give it $285 million to build a pulp mill so it can compete with our pulp mills in Canada. We have pulp mill workers in Skeena, which is represented by the Reform, and I have yet to hear a Reform member stand up on behalf of those working people out there.

They have to give labour concessions and more wage cuts and more benefit cuts in order to compete through the government's turning around and giving millions of dollars to another country to compete with ours, and not just a country with a good record, a country that has some of the worst human rights records in history.

The APEC deal is coming around, and who do we invite with open arms and the red carpet? Soeharto, one of the vilest people on the planet, and Canada is going to sit there and welcome him with open arms.

I wish I had brought the picture with me that I had taken a few years ago of the defeated minister of health, Mr. David Dingwall, who was soundly defeated in the riding of Cape Breton. He could not wait when the premier of China, Li Peng, the butcher of Beijing, came to Canada in his big 747 to the Halifax airport.

Members should have seen Mr. Dingwall tripping over everybody, pushing away security guards in order to get in that limousine and have his picture taken with the butcher of Beijing. Those kinds of attitudes in this Liberal government are still there.

Liberals are willing to sell their souls to anybody in this country or anybody in the world willing to pay, without proper debate and without consultation of the House of Commons.

I recently referred members to the CPP bill, one of the most damaging pieces of legislation ever in Canadian history. Whether someone is for or against it is really not the question. The question is that we should be having proper debate on something that affects every single Canadian.

What does the hon. House leader do after only seven hours of debate? He shuts it off. He invokes closure. He uses the majority, by the way only a slim majority, of the government officials to defeat the debate. To us that is simply scandalous.

What is this government afraid of? Why is it not willing to talk to Canadians, all Canadians, not just industry but labour groups, other opposition parties, to form political solutions to the political problems that we have today?

It is unbelievable to those Canadians outside Parliament that this government and former governments would continue on this path of hide and seek policies every time.

We kept hearing when free trade was talked about that it would be good for Canadians. It was not good enough. We have to have NAFTA. That is going to be good for Canadians. No, no, that's not good enough either. We have to go one step further.

APEC really is not anything, just some sort of agreement among economies and businesses, not countries; no human rights legislation, no protection for working people, none, just sort of business deals.

But that is not good enough. Now we have the mother of all trade deals coming down, the MAI. I remind members that if not for the leader of the New Democrats, this deal may already have been passed, as this deal was silently being passed through without any consultation with the House of Commons.

During the campaign she mentioned this deal and all of a sudden the government said “Hold off, the cat is out of the bag now. We are going to have to reluctantly discuss this with the House of Commons”. I cannot wait for the day when that debate comes around. It goes on and on.

I think back to a movie I saw in the early 1970s, “Rollerball”, in which there were no governments and the world was being dominated by five corporations. The corporations were fighting among each other for total control of the planet. I cannot understand why elected officials would relinquish their control through legislation and allow corporations to take over and take over.

I remind members in the War of 1812 we won. We won the sovereignty of our country. We won the solidarity of working people throughout this country from coast to coast to coast, the French and English together.

Jonathan Winters said in a stand-up comic routine “We Americans, gee, we hope we can take you peacefully”. They are doing a very good job of it right now. They are taking us over economically, and what is happening?

There are literally millions of workers in this country who do not even know if they are going to have a job next week. Probably every labour aspect and every trade union have had to go before their employers. Their employers have had to go to them. It is becoming not just protection or improvements to collective agreements but givebacks and takeaways and further wage cuts, downsizing, restructuring, this and that and this. We have had over 80 months with unemployment rates of over 9%. We had heard that free trade was going to cure that problem. We had heard that NAFTA was going to cure that problem. We hear now that the MAI is going to cure that problem. We now hear that Bill C-11 is going to cure that problem. Government had to get rid of the manufacturers sales tax. The former Tory government said we absolutely had to get rid of that and place the burden of taxation away from corporations and on individuals.

What happened in Atlantic Canada? Lo and behold, the Liberals get elected. Eleven Liberals from the province of Nova Scotia are elected. Off they go to the House of Commons. I can see all 11 of them sitting there and agreeing like this: “You know Mr. Prime Minister and Mr. Finance Minister, the GST really isn't hitting those people hard enough. I think we should impose another tax on them called the HST”, or as we prefer it, the BST. “It is no longer acceptable to pay 8% or 9% or combined percentages of rates. We now have to hit them with 15%”.

I remind the House that in three provinces of Atlantic Canada we pay more for postage stamps than anywhere else in this country. That is just one slight example of the scandalous treatment of Atlantic Canadians. It goes on and on. The HST is the most regressive tax ever to hit pensioners on lower incomes and people with low wages.

It is just incredible that government would shift the burden of taxation away from corporations that make record profits year after year and place the burden of taxation on to individuals. It blows me absolutely away.

I could stand here all day and mention example after example but I will cut my speech short and say once and for all that I wish the government, instead of listening to its friends on the corporate world, would start to listen to ordinary working Canadians, those from labour and social action groups, to come up with the solutions we need for today.