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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

Aboriginal Affairs October 24th, 1997

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

Yesterday the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development said that they hoped to implement some aspects of the aboriginal commission. Today in questioning he led the same line, that he hopes. Would the Deputy Prime Minister please make a release to the House?

You have been sitting on the commission for almost an entire year. When will you be speaking—

Supply October 23rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question for the Reform member from Vancouver Island is more or less a statement and is a clarification of what the minister said earlier.

I believe that no one has defended the rights of scientists to speak more than I have in the House of Commons by continually asking for a judicial inquiry.

I reiterate two points for the member from the Reform. First, because he has a lot of concerns with the science that is going on and the misinformation that is appearing, will he join me in calling for an inquiry?

Second, the minister spoke earlier about the faith that he has in the expertise of the scientists within the DFO. He failed to mention that the DFO still has to go through another two years of cuts. He failed to mention that the coast guard, since its merger with DFO, has turned one of the finest institutes in the world, the Bedford Institute of Technology, into a morale mess. It is one of the finest institutes of the world for fisheries and oceans studies. The morale in that building in Bedford, Nova Scotia is at an all-time low because of the policies of the federal government.

Will he now join with me in asking the minister and the government to remove this suppression or gag order from scientists so that they can speak freely about their findings and their interpretation of science, without fear of losing their jobs?

Supply October 23rd, 1997

Let the man speak.

Supply October 23rd, 1997

Madam Speaker, again we can hear the frustration in the voice of the hon. member from the Conservative Party.

I would like to advise him that this is the typical divide and conquer attitude that the current government is displaying with our fisher people in Atlantic Canada, not only between the fishers but as well as the First Nation fishers, not only between New Brunswick but also P.E.I., Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. It is the old divide and conquer with its quota systems that do not work. It is unfortunate because there is a lot of infighting among the fisheries. I expressed the same frustration that the member is speaking about.

This is the last time I will call for this today because I am being cut off. We have a judicial inquiry into the practices of DFO. I think we can come to a reasonable solution and solve some problems in the Atlantic fishery.

Supply October 23rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak on the Conservative motion. When I saw the motion from the leader of the Conservative Party I was very impressed.

It is obvious that my role in Parliament to work with other political parties to come up with political solutions to grave problems is working. I commend the leader of the Conservative Party and his caucus for the motion.

At the same time it is reprehensible that the Liberal government would try to amend the motion to satisfy its own needs. It is simply scandalous that it would try to do that.

I must say to the Conservative Party that I only wish that when its leader was in government for the nine years it had developed some kind of national policy back then. We might not be in the state we are in today. That is old history.

We have a new government that has been in power for over four years. I believe that it has to answer to the 20,000 fishers and their families in Atlantic Canada.

I wish the motion had also included not only the west coast but the Arctic and the inland fisheries as well. These are serious problems which we have and they intend to be ignored in the proper debate.

We support the national fisheries policy as long as the policy recognizes that harvesting the resource can only be sustainable through the use of small boat inshore fishers and not through the corporate trollers, and as long as there is an independent judicial inquiry into the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and its policies and practices in Atlantic Canada.

The reason I have been so adamant in calling for a judicial inquiry is that science has been literally ignored. There is evidence galore throughout history, at least since 1983 that I am aware of, that science has been ignored, ripped up and altered to satisfy the needs of the government of the day. Only through a judicial inquiry will the scientists from the Atlantic and west coasts be allowed to speak freely without the fear of job retribution or so-called gag orders which they are under right now.

I do not believe that the current management of the DFO has the intelligence and capability of instituting a national policy unless we have a judicial inquiry to find out exactly where things went wrong. I do not believe, according to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, that it would a waste of time and money. I firmly believe that a judicial inquiry would go a long way in solving the problems of the current fisheries crisis.

Regarding the auditor general's report. He went a long way on the fiscal side of the TAGS program but he unfortunately left out the humane aspects of it. This is most unfortunate.

I look at Newfoundland. When it joined Confederation in 1949, unknown to it it also transferred its entire responsibility of the fishing industry, which survived well over 400 years, to the government of the day. In less than 50 years it is completely destroyed. This is completely unacceptable to the people in Newfoundland as well as the rest of Atlantic Canada.

It is the typical thing. This is why the west coast is so upset now. We have central Canadian views being forced on those in the west and those in the east. It simply does not work anymore. What needs to happen is complete consultation with the people within the industry; not just select groups that the government of the day chooses to speak to, but the people who work the resource in the small communities throughout Atlantic Canada and the west coast.

This is why I have constantly asked for the inquiry. I would hope that in my constant asking for it more groups will join and ask for it as well.

A report commissioned by the fisheries department director of Newfoundland stated that department scientists were routinely silenced while ill informed spokespersons conveyed false information to the public by inflating stock estimates to defend high quotas and by emphasizing the role of seals and cold water in the cod collapse instead of overfishing.

I could give example after example of what has been going on with these people. What has happened now is that 35,000 Atlantic Canadians are literally out of work and on an income support program. I find it reprehensible that the government would promise in 1994 the TAGS program for five years; not four but five. There are many thousands of people who made their financial commitments based on the fact that the TAGS program would run out in May of 1999, not May of 1998.

In question period and in other areas I have been given the answer that the government has consulted people within the industry to say “yes, we are the ones who consulted the cabinet to make the decision to cut the program from five to four years”.

I can hardly stand in this House of Commons and honestly believe that the government would go to fishers in Atlantic Canada and say “would you like your income support dropped off by a year?” and getting an overwhelming yes to that response. I find it very difficult if that happens.

Again, an inquiry of that nature would get down to the truth, to exactly what happened and who cut that program off. I am of the firm belief that the finance department made that decision, not the fishers of Atlantic Canada and of Quebec.

We go on and on with this. It gets almost to the sound of a broken record. This government does not have the capability of instituting a national policy on its own. It must institute a national policy with comprehensive consultation with not only the fishing groups but other political parties as well. Only then will we have the solutions to a long term sustainable fishery.

I honestly believe that there are many thousands of people fishing in the industry who can still be fishing 10 years from now if we just come up with a comprehensive plan in order for them to do it.

As members know, if people go out to the outlying areas of Canada and speak to the fishermen and fisher women of Atlantic Canada and the west coast, fishing is in their blood. In most cases many of these people are under educated in terms of academics. What they know is fishing.

Here we are in the government, in the House of Commons, saying to many of them they will no longer be able to have that way of life. To me it is completely unacceptable to say that to them because it is not the fault of the fishermen and fisher women of Atlantic Canada for the collapse of the ground stock. It is government policy. It is mislead information from the scientists, overcapacity by the huge trawlers that are out there now. We have trawlers out there now that are still dumping by-catch. We still have fish being dumped over the side as we speak today.

We have Cuban trawlers inside the 200 mile limit fishing our stock, but we have fishermen and fisher women sitting at home collecting TAGS program. It is simply unacceptable that we would do that. I would love the government to be able to respond to that at a later time, during question period.

One fisherman from the Sambro area who had a grade 5 education said to me “Peter, it is like this. You can have one fisherman making $200,000 a year or you can have seven of us making $30,000 a year. Make your choice”.

I think the choice is quite clear, to be able to put as many of these people back into the fishing industry which they so desire. I am not saying that every single person will get back into the fishing industry. Obviously there has to be reallocation of some of these folks to other areas.

That can be done through an attrition process, through either retirement of the licences when they reach the ages of 50 or 55, retiring these people completely so that they can retire with dignity and with respect, as well as going out of the ITQ systems, the corporate individual transfer quotas, and move back to the way it used to be on a community based allocation. I believe that would be a firm response and a positive method on the way to go.

I again compliment the leader of the Conservative Party for his motion. I can assure him that the New Democratic Party caucus will be supporting him in every way we can.

Supply October 21st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I apologize. As I have asked before, in terms of tax cuts that the Reform and Conservative parties have asked for in the past, would he not agree that a tax cut to the HST and the GST would be much more beneficial and provide a much more immediate dividend to the Canadian people?

Supply October 21st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the New Democratic Party I thank the Conservative member for South Shore for his efforts in the application to get our motion passed today.

It is ironic to hear the Liberals speak about how great they did on the fiscal policies and the low interest rates. It means absolutely diddly-squat if you do not have a job.

I wish you would get this through your head. It means absolutely nothing—

Supply October 21st, 1997

Madam Speaker, I have just a couple of points for the Conservative member. I thank him for his support of the NDP motion. I believe if it does get passed it will go a long way in helping Canadians out there.

I do want to debunk the myth that comes from members of the Reform Party mostly that the government cannot create jobs. If they keep saying that eventually people may say “Why do you keep saying that?” I do believe the government can create jobs.

A prime example is our post office. It has taken away what were good jobs, a job my father did for 11 years as a letter carrier, and now there are superboxes. All they have to do is replace the GST and in Atlantic Canada the HST. Take that money off, put it back into the corporation's profits, get rid of the superboxes and thousands of letter carrier jobs can be created right across this country so that those shut-ins, those seniors, those people who are disabled or those single mothers at home do not have to leave to go get their mail in inclement weather. There would be thousands of jobs created right there.

Another area where they can create jobs is in regulation. The state of Oregon from my understanding has no self-serve gas stations. There is a station open right across from my constituency office in Lower Sackville with 12 pumps, all self-serve. I asked the manager. She said that it was Petro-Canada's policy. That is insane. The fact of the matter is that gas prices will not rise if full service stations are implemented.

Does the Conservative member honestly believe that government cannot create jobs or does he believe that government in consultation with industries can create jobs together?

Supply October 9th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, it has been quite a day.

I rise today to further question the Liberal government, in particular the minister responsible for Canada Post.

My question to him was as follows: The U.S. postal service handles 40% of the world's mail while its postmaster general Marvin Runyon earns a salary of $205,000 Canadian per year. The Canadian post office handles 3% of the world's mail while its president Georges Clermont just had his contract renegotiated for another two years for $380,000 Canadian per year. As the minister was so willing and capable to quickly settle the services of Georges Clermont, then why does he and Canada Post not show the same consideration toward the Canadian postal workers? His response was for me to get back to my friends within the union to get back to the bargaining table.

I am very honoured for the minister to say that I and the NDP are friends of not only the union workers but all workers throughout Canada. It is just this point that we defend the rights of those workers against scandalous practices of the management of corporations such as Canada Post.

The arrogance displayed by the minister by announcing Georges Clermont's contract during a time when negotiations between management and union are at best a very tense situation is what I would always fight against.

Without consultation this government has directed Canada Post Corporation to ignore its original mandate and to start realizing a return on equity of 11% which would represent profits of around $175 million to $200 million per year. Interestingly enough, a government commissioned report released earlier this year said that with this kind of financial return, Canada Post would be capable of privatization by an initial public offering of its shares in the future if government should decide to pursue this alternative.

I firmly believe that if the government had not interfered in the original bargaining process, and if it had not promised John Gustavson of the Canadian Direct Marketing Association of Canada that in the event of a labour stoppage he would introduce back to work legislation within eight days of a strike, I believe that Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers would have reached a collective agreement by now.

Another concern to Canadians is why the government is insisting that the corporation, after making a $120 million last year, has taken an additional $200 million in concessions from the workers.

Everything I have mentioned is going against the Canada Post Corporation Act. It is my opinion that the corporation should make enough profits to finance operations and for the purpose of reinvestment into improving and expanding services like door to door delivery.

Canadians enjoy the second lowest postal rates in the industrial world. An example how Canada Post can make additional revenues needed is as follows. Every penny increase for a stamp realizes $25 million profit to the corporation. If the government reduced the GST on stamps from 7¢ to 2¢ and raised the price of stamps by 5¢ the corporation would realize an additional revenue of another $125 million.

I would call this a win situation. The workers at Canada Post win because they would not have to be sucked into giving any concessions of any kind. The post office wins with additional revenue. The public wins because there would be no additional costs to them in the purchase of stamps.

I trust the government and the Canada Post Corporation will in all honesty sit down with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and, for once in their lives, bargain in good faith.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act October 6th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring light to the crisis facing the east coast fishery.

My question last week to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans was for him to call a judicial inquiry into the past and current practices and policies of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. With all four opposition parties plus scientists and bureaucrats from within the departments, plus the Department of the Environment, not to mention thousands of fishers in Atlantic Canada and Quebec calling for the same inquiry, it appears to all of us that only the minister is opposed to calling an inquiry.

His position reminds me of a line I heard in a movie which indicates to me that he cannot handle the truth. Only an open judicial inquiry would allow scientists from within the department to state openly their concerns without fear of job retribution.

Only an inquiry will be able to find solutions to the crisis not only on the east coast but on the west coast as well. Our stocks of various species of fish are reaching dangerously low levels and without strong measures may never recover.

The minister of human resources announced the other day that he has hired an individual to look at the concerns facing the 40,000 fishers on our east coast as the income supplement known as TAGS runs out one year prematurely in May 1998.

I suspect that he did this to deflect certain criticism bound to come to the government from the upcoming attorney general's report. The report coming out this week is sure to be very critical of the government's handling of not only the TAGS program but the management, or should I say mismanagement, of the groundstock species.

A system such as the individual transfer quotas or ITQs have taken 50 percent of the total quotas away from individual fishers and moved them into the hands of a handful of corporations. As well, 20 percent of additional quotas are sold from individual fishers to the corporations. In truth the corporations control 70 percent of the total allowable catch.

With the modern high tech methods incorporated in today's fishing industries, tonnes of fish can now be caught indiscriminately within a matter of hours using no more than a couple of dozen fishers, where before fish were caught more selectively using hook and line methods, using the services of hundreds of fishers and smaller vessels.

The nets used by draggers on the huge trawlers sometimes break away from the ship, lying on the ocean floor, indiscriminately killing anything in their path, not to mention the trawler gear that rips up the ocean floor, destroying precious corral and reef habitats. Just last week two whales off the east coast were seen tangled up in nets.

Other examples of concern are the dumping of by-catches which is still ongoing. As well, the number of gun-toting fishing officers is ever increasing. It is also true that with the hundreds of different organizations involved in the fishing industry there are hundreds of different ideas of what should happen to cure the ills affecting the industry.

Today I ask all parties involved in the fishery on all three coasts to put aside their differences and work together to come up with a viable long term sustainable solution not only to bring back the stocks but to provide long term employment for as many Canadians as possible. I believe this process would be greatly enhanced by an inquiry.