House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservative.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for St. John's South—Mount Pearl (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Budget April 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, what is going to happen is that there is going to be a change. The change will be that we will have a new federal government. We will have a New Democratic government, and we will have a new Prime Minister of Canada, and the priorities will change.

If I can return to the speech, the typical family, as outlined in the budget on page 6, makes $120,000 a year. That is an example, from the federal Conservatives, of a typical family in Canada, where $120,000 for a family income represents the top 15% wealthiest in the country.

I guess I should not call it out to lunch. It just shows what the Conservatives' priorities are. The Conservatives' priority is not the real, typical Canadian family.

The Budget April 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, before I became the member of Parliament for St. John's South—Mount Pearl, I was a journalist. I was an editor of a newspaper. At one time I was a political reporter. I was locked up in more than one budget lock-up analyzing provincial government budgets in Newfoundland and Labrador.

What I find different about this budget and the 518-page document we have with this Conservative budget, versus budgets I covered as a journalist in the past, is exactly what this member pointed out. It is the absence of detail.

Marine Atlantic is an example. I was told, as I outlined in my speech, that we would find out what was going on with Marine Atlantic's budget in the budget document. It is nowhere to be found. I was told today by the minister that it may be included in some estimates that will be released in May. That is not good enough. There should be more detail.

The Budget April 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member of Parliament for York South—Weston.

I begin my speech on the Conservative budget, my critique of the Conservative budget, by highlighting the fact that there are only five mentions of Newfoundland and Labrador in the entire 518-page document. As a representative of St. John's South—Mount Pearl, one of Newfoundland and Labrador's seven ridings, my priority is my riding and my province, and five mentions, one in a graph of crude oil prices, another in a statistic about pensions and the other three off-hand mentions is not near good enough.

My critique is both good and bad, but make no mistake, there is more bad. There always is with these Conservatives.

Not so much bad news as wrong Conservative priorities that are wrong for Canada. They are Conservative priorities that are changing the face of Canada. These are the Conservative priorities that put the wealthy first, the more affluent and influential first, and that is not who we are. It is not who we are as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. It is not who we are as Canadians. It is not who are, but it is who the current Conservative government wants us to become. We cannot let that happen. We will not let that happen.

First, I will go to a piece of good news for Newfoundland and Labrador, or what would appear on the surface to be good news.

In its budget, the Conservative government announced $5.7 million over five years to help secure new markets for Canadian seal products. That is good news. It is welcome news on the surface. Let me put that news in the context of where the sealing industry is today.

We have a $5.7 million pot to help secure new markets for seal products when, under the current Conservative government, we have seen the biggest collapse of world seal markets in our history. Under the current Conservative government, seal products have been banned in Russia, the European Union, Belarus, Taiwan and Kazakhstan. Therefore, that $5.7 million for seal marketing is just a little late coming.

That money is also a little late coming when we consider Carino, a Newfoundland and Labrador company that is the largest buyer of seal pelts in Canada. Carino is not buying any seal pelts this year. Instead, it is going to rely on its inventory.

That $5.7 million is also a little late coming when we consider that the Canadian Sealers Association shut the doors of its St. John's office recently to reorganize because it was broke.

Better late than never with the $5.7 million for the sealing industry, I suppose. However, it is clear that the current Conservative government has no right to bill itself as a champion of the seal hunt because the facts do not support it.

Moving on, the Conservative budget is also incredibly worrisome from Newfoundland and Labrador's perspective because of what it does not mention. Red flags waved all across Newfoundland and Labrador in February when the government released the main estimates. As members know, the main estimates lay out the expected spending of the federal government in the coming fiscal year. The red flags were raised because the subsidy for Marine Atlantic, the crown corporation that runs the ferry link between Newfoundland and mainland Canada, has had its budget slashed.

Marine Atlantic's budget for the this fiscal year, according to those main estimates, has been set at $19.3 million, which is a massive drop from the $127 million last year and $154 million the year before that.

I asked the minister in this House before the budget was announced whether Marine Atlantic would receive full funding. The minister's response was to wait for the budget, only there was not a word mentioned about Marine Atlantic in the budget. There was not a whisper.

A gulf ferry link is guaranteed in Newfoundland's Terms of Union with Canada. If Marine Atlantic's budget is indeed set at $19.3 million for this fiscal year, it will amount to the lowest amount of funding the corporation has received from the federal government going back at least 15 years.

If Marine Atlantic's budget is indeed slashed, ferry rates are sure to rise. Why is that incredibly bad news, besides the obvious? It is incredibly bad news because 60% of all freight going into or out of my province does so on a Marine Atlantic ferry. Slashing the federal subsidy will jack up the rates, and increasing the ferry rates will drive up the price of everything.

What is the score? Is the government preparing to punish Newfoundlanders and Labradorians? Is the government preparing to ignore the spirit of the terms of union?

The leader of the government once described Atlantic Canada as having a culture of defeat, but it is the present government that has a defeatist attitude toward Atlantic Canada. The government has turned its back on Atlantic Canada, but not before spitting in the eye of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is maybe payback for Danny Williams' “Anyone but Conservative” campaign. It is like we do not matter. We are only 32 seats in Atlantic Canada.

The Conservative government is not good for Atlantic Canada. The Conservative government is not good for the country.

Canadians who will most benefit from this budget are the wealthiest 15%. The wealthiest 15% are the ones who will qualify for income splitting. They are also the ones who will be able to put $10,000, cash, into a tax free savings account, which the Conservatives would almost double from $5,500 to $10,000 in their budget. What typical family will benefit from the Conservative budget?

The typical family, as outlined on page 6 of the budget document, is a family of four, a couple with two children. The man, according to the example, earns $84,000 a year, while the woman earns $36,000, for a total household income of $120,000 a year, which puts that typical Conservative family in the top 15% in terms of income. That is the Conservatives' example. It is not my example. There is nothing typical about that household income. That tells us who the Conservative target group is. It is the wealthy.

The difference between a typical family in this Conservative budget and a typical family in previous Conservative budgets is that the man of the family now makes a lot more. In all previous years, all previous Conservative examples, the woman was the biggest breadwinner. In the income-splitting year, this year, the man suddenly has the biggest income. It sounds like the old boys' club.

Let me quote my party's finance critic, the MP for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. He said that this Conservative budget's family example is all about politics. It is not about fairly illustrating tax policy.

The Conservatives' imaginary “typical family” doesn't reflect the reality of Canadian families: they make almost twice as much as the real average Canadian family.

They benefit from boutique tax credits that most real families don't make enough to qualify for....

There is an expression worth repeating: boutique tax credit. I would go so far as to call this a boutique budget, only most Canadians, most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, cannot afford to shop at boutiques. If I can cut to the chase and summarize what Canadians, what Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, should take away from this Conservative budget is that we cannot afford to vote Conservative in the next election.

As for the Conservatives' boast that this is a balanced budget written in black ink, I disagree. This budget is written in Conservative blue ink, whereby balancing the budget means raiding the EI fund and robbing the emergency contingency fund. Balancing a budget by creating such an imbalance in incomes and directed tax breaks is nothing to boast about. It is shameful.

Marine Atlantic April 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, Marine Atlantic is a critical link between Newfoundland and mainland Canada, but for weeks now there has been an outstanding question of whether the budget would be gutted, as the main estimates indicated. The minister said to wait for the budget, but then there was not a word, not a whisper, about Marine Atlantic in the 518 pages.

Now, Marine Atlantic is referring all questions to the minister's office. Will the minister finally stand in her place and tell Newfoundlanders and Labradorians what is happening with their ferry service?

Marine Atlantic April 22nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are raiding the emergency fund to give billions to the wealthiest instead of helping average Canadians. Take Marine Atlantic as an example. After being told yesterday to “wait for the budget”, there was nothing in the budget to address the massive cuts that the Conservatives have made to the ferry service.

Will the minister come clean and admit that the Conservatives are moving ahead with an 85% cut to the critical transportation link that the people and the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador cannot live without?

Marine Atlantic April 21st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador rely on Marine Atlantic. It is a critical transportation link that our people and our economy cannot live without. Yet in the main estimates the government showed a cut of $97 million in operating funding to Marine Atlantic. This is unacceptable to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

The federal government has a clear obligation to protect this ferry service under our terms of union. Will the minister ensure that this budget has full funding for Marine Atlantic?

Questions on the Order Paper March 31st, 2015

With regard to International Trade: (a) how did the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development arrive at a figure of $280 million as compensation to Newfoundland and Labrador for anticipated losses incurred with the elimination of Minimum Processing Requirements as part of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) deal; (b) when did the EU ask for Minimum Processing Requirements to be lifted as part of CETA negotiations; and (c) for what concessions from the EU was the elimination of Minimum Processing Requirements exchanged?

Questions on the Order Paper March 31st, 2015

With regard to National Defence and its Cormorant Search and Rescue helicopters: (a) what are the details of a pilot project to be carried out this year regarding a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week uniform search and rescue response time; (b) what is the expected completion date; (c) what is the goal of the pilot project; and (d) will the results be presented to Parliament?

Questions on the Order Paper March 31st, 2015

With regard to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Manolis L situation: (a) since March 2013, what advice has the Department received from international experts regarding the situation; (b) will a management plan be put in place; and (c) is the government prepared to access a federal clean-up fund to address the situation?

Fisheries and Oceans March 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, a fisheries delegation from Newfoundland and Labrador is in Ottawa today to talk about the Conservatives' mismanagement of northern shrimp. Unfortunately, the fisheries committee is not slated to meet with them and there is no sign of the Conservatives correcting their course.

Coastal communities should be able to benefit from the resources off their shores, but the Conservatives have not committed to upholding the principle of adjacency when it comes to northern shrimp. Why does the minister continue to ignore Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who depend on healthy local fisheries?