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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was fact.

Last in Parliament February 2019, as Liberal MP for Kings—Hants (Nova Scotia)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 71% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply February 23rd, 1998

Madam Speaker, this is one of those issues which helps our party to define itself as being different from the other party to which it seems to be compared periodically, that being the Reform Party.

We were unequivocal in our support for a cultural exemption and we will fight to ensure it.

The importance of protecting culture in a national unity context boils down to this. We need to preserve the ability for Canadians to speak with each other as Canadians. We need to preserve institutions such as the CRTC and the CBC when we are living next to a cultural elephant. We need to ensure that all Canadians can communicate fully. We need to ensure that there is systemic protection for culture within Canadian institutions.

Under the NAFTA and the free trade agreement Canadians are protected against their biggest cultural risk, that being the U.S. There is a bilateral right to retaliation, but that is a part of any trade agreement, providing a double edge sword.

The most important thing to recognize is that we are expanding the chapter 11 provisions to 29 countries. That is why due diligence is ever more important. There will be an unprecedented level of exposure to Canadian culture and we must ensure that our cultural interests are protected. That is why, when the Reform Party was equivocal about its support for a cultural exemption, the Conservative Party fought hard to ensure that it was there.

Supply February 23rd, 1998

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time.

In our party we have fought very hard over the past several weeks prior to the compilation of the report on the MAI from the subcommittee to ensure that culture is protected. I want to clarify for this House that it was a Progressive Conservative intervention which made as part of the recommendations of the report that culture would achieve deal breaker status. We intervened and fought for and strengthened seven of the recommendations of the report and we are very proud of that intervention.

Philosophically our party has been consistent in its support for free trade. Many of the members opposite, including the chairman of the subcommittee who was elected in 1988, fought vociferously against free trade, that free trade was not a good idea because it was brought forward by Brian Mulroney. However, now they are big proponents of free trade.

When the hon. member from the New Democratic Party said this issue was not raised by Conservatives in the House, he was wrong. We raised this issue several times in question period in the last House. We asked the minister of trade why the Minister of the Environment introduced Bill C-29 which led to the litigation from Ethyl Corporation against the Canadian government in the amount of $350 million, and why should we now trust him as minister of international trade to negotiate on behalf of Canada in the MAI when his leadership in the ministry of environment led to that lawsuit.

We did raise that issue and I would clarify it for the hon. member. I certainly would not want to accuse him of having omitted that on purpose or oversimplifying a very complex issue, although that may be a reasonable accusation in this case.

The success of free trade since 1988 is fairly unequivocal. Like any other sound economic policy, it takes a long time for the impact to be felt.

The chairman of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council told me recently that any job growth that has occurred in Atlantic Canada has occurred as a result of free trade. When I speak with the member for Saint John she tells me how Saint John has benefited from free trade.

We recognize that the basic principles of free trade are sound and we support free trade. However, we do not support any deal at any cost without any consultation with Canadians.

This government's inaction and vacuum of information has provided an opportunity for people who are opposed to free trade philosophically to fill that vacuum with some misinformation. Like any issue, there is some information out there from the opponents of MAI that is very sound and deserves debate and discussion. This government has not provided Canadians with that opportunity.

It is the same as the Kyoto agreement and the lack of discussion on it. Effectively the Kyoto position was written on the back of an airplane vomit bag on the way to Kyoto. The Canadian position was basically reached without any consultation with ordinary Canadians.

And this government wonders why Canadians reject liberalized trade philosophically when they are essentially provided with a final deal.

The minister of foreign affairs for Australia in May 1996 introduced the Australian model for treaty negotiations. When Alexander Downer was in Ottawa on his last trip, I met with him and discussed this. In fact, the leader of our party met with Alexander Downer to discuss this important model.

One of the things the Australian model provides is that any treaty Australia signs will be submitted to and tabled before parliament for 15 days of debate prior to ratification. That is one of the recommendations we fought for at the committee level to try to get in the final report and we were shot down.

One of the other components of the Australian model and one we were successful in achieving at the committee level, and I am very proud of this, is that there will be an impact analysis. The government should undertake an impact analysis on current federal, provincial and municipal programs in Canada to understand fully the impact of MAI on the current programs.

Our subnational governments have not been consulted on MAI. Something we have to ensure is that the provinces, municipalities and all Canadians have an opportunity to voice their concerns on MAI, Kyoto or any other international treaty.

In closing, we welcome more debate in this House. We want to fight to ensure that there is a full debate in this House on this very important international agreement prior to ratification.

Supply February 18th, 1998

Free trade.

Supply February 18th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, sound long term economic policy takes years to have an effect. It also takes consistency. Let us talk about consistency. The hon. member was first elected to this House in 1988 I believe. As I said, consistency is critical when we are talking about sound economic policy.

The Economist magazine's 1998 preview did say specifically that the deficit reduction in Canada was largely due to structural changes made in the Canadian economy by the government in the early 1990s, free trade, the GST, deregulation, including the elimination of the national energy program—and I hope my friends in the Reform Party appreciate us for that—and deregulation of transportation and financial services.

Where did the member stand on the issue of free trade and on the issue of the GST? We have acknowledged that consistency is critical. Where did he stand at that time on those two issues?

Supply February 18th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for sharing his thoughts today and for the gastro-colonic reflexes from members opposite.

It has been sad for some of us to watch the party of prairie populism emerge and evolve into the party of prairie poll mongering.

Our party believes as strongly as the Reform Party in the free market. The Liberals believe in free government, in big government. The Reform Party believes in free market. We believe in free market for the Canadian economy, but we believe that all Canadians need access to the levers of the free market. There are some fundamental changes that need to occur such that those Canadians can access the tools.

Speaking of brain drains, in 1993 there was a huge brain drain from the House. However one of the most important issue is student bankruptcies. Students are graduating on average with $25,000 worth of debt in Canada. In 1997, 8,000 students had to declare bankruptcy.

What is the hon. member's personal opinion on the bankruptcy issue? Since it is an immediate problem, how would the Reform Party address the student bankruptcy issue in the short term?

Supply February 18th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, when I hear the undying optimism on the opposite side of the House, I sometimes wonder. I heard one hon. member say earlier that some people in this House talk the talk, but the Liberal government walks the walk. Perhaps we should remind ourselves who is walking the walk. It is the young people in Canada who are seeking opportunities elsewhere who are walking the walk. They are leaving Canada.

With the unbridled optimism of the government, perhaps it should spend less time in the House and more time out talking to young people and telling them why they should stay. Not the talk of this government, but the actions of this government and the fundamentals of the economy are driving the young out of this country.

Given that free trade, the GST and the deregulation of financial services, transportation and energy have been fundamentally important to this government's ability to eliminate the deficit, where did the hon. member stand on free trade and the GST in the 1993 election? Where did the Minister of Finance stand and where did that party stand at that time?

Supply February 18th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member that government spending is not the answer to the problems of Canada. That is why I am concerned about the big government spending programs like the millennium scholarship fund. That is why the Conservative government reduced government program spending growth from over 15% per year to around 0% growth by the time our government was defeated in 1993.

My question for the hon. member is related to regional economic development. Our party believes in a strong market based economy that all Canadians have access to the levers of and can participate in the economic growth. That means we need regional economic development programs in some regions of the country in order to ensure equality of opportunity. I would like to know the member's position on regional economic development programs.

Supply February 18th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has a penchant for quoting publications. It is a penchant I share as well. One of the publications I enjoy is the Economist . For $172 a year he could be similarly well informed. And that is in Canadian dollars by the way, which makes it even better value now that the dollar has been so weak.

The Economist on the deficit issue and the elimination of the deficit in its 1998 preview said that the credit belongs to structural changes made in the early 1990s. It listed free trade, GST, deregulation of financial services, transportation and energy. You know, the national energy program. Members opposite may remember that.

Where does the member's party stand on free trade and the GST?

Supply February 18th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member has so many good reasons why Canadians should stay in Canada, he should be speaking to all the Canadians who are leaving Canada. He obviously knows something that ordinary Canadians do not.

Canadians are making decisions and voting with their feet. They are going to the U.S. because the level of taxation is lower. If they want a standard of living, they can buy it down there. This government's cuts to health and social transfers over the past four years is denying Canadians the quality health care they need in Canada.

Supply February 18th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, perhaps if we looked back at history we would see that Pierre Trudeau inherited no debt. It was the Liberal government's interventionist, anti-Canadian policies which led to the significant debt that we inherited in 1984.