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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

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation Act November 24th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's mention of the many maritimers who are involved as peacekeepers. I met some of them in the SFOR mission. There are organizations in the maritimes and some individuals in my riding who have been adamant and constant in their support of this type of initiative.

I guess it is part of being a maritimer, humble and self-deprecating individuals, that we do not like to toot our horn too much. We appreciate it when we do get this type of support from the west.

We are proud of all Canadians who have been participating in this effort. It is a gain. I do consider this a national unity issue because I think, frankly, if we do more to inform Canadians of the importance of this leadership and do more to inform Canadians of the prowess of our peacekeepers internationally, we give Canadians more reasons to be proud and more reasons to maintain a strong and united Canada.

Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Implementation Act November 24th, 1997

Madam Speaker, Canadians should feel a great deal of pride in this significant accomplishment today. Canada has regained for a brief moment its traditional role as a middle power and has relinked human rights and foreign policy which many Canadians have been concerned about since 1993.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs has demonstrated leadership in championing the ban on anti-personnel mines and it has paid off. On behalf of my party, I congratulate the minister on this accomplishment. I would also like to take the time to congratulate Jody Williams as well as all the NGOs and individuals, including Princess Diana, who provided an international focus and a popular focus on this very important issue at a time when it needed that critical mass of support internationally.

Every year more than 20,000 people are injured by land mines. These people are not all soldiers trying to take a hill. Most of these people are not even soldiers trying to clear land mines.

The people that are most vulnerable to these land mines are civilians. Two weeks ago I travelled to Bosnia as part of a delegation of MPs from the Defence and Foreign Affairs committees. In Bosnia I witnessed first hand the devastation and suffering caused by land mines. Canadian peacekeepers provide mine awareness programs in elementary schools.

I was surprised and, in fact, disturbed by the level of familiarity that children already have with land mines. Children have nicknames for land mines. Some are called Skoal mines because they are shaped like a tobacco can. Some mines similarly are called camera mines because they resemble a camera. Some are called pineapple mines because of the fact that they resemble pineapples.

It seems to me that the innocence of childhood cannot coexist with an intimate knowledge of and familiarity with land mines. In Bosnia, mines are being redeployed around houses to prevent the return of refugees and displaced people to their homes. Mines are being redeployed around farmers' fields to prevent theft. In some cases, farmers' fields have been rendered useless by land mines.

SFOR's mandate does not include clearing farmers' fields. In order for their fields to be cleared by SFOR, some farmers have become resourceful and are actually placing mines or relocating mines to the sides of roads near their fields to try to draw attention to and create a sense of priority with regard to the clearing of land mines from their own fields. Six million mines were deployed in Bosnia during the war and to date the UN estimates there are still 3 million mines left in Bosnia.

The problem for the peacekeepers is that millions of mines are unaccounted for across the country. Several weeks ago a tractor trailer overturned near Banka Luka and the trailer rolled over a land mine, causing an explosion. This was an area that had previously been de-mined and thus had been re-mined. Mines had been redeployed to this area.

As Canadians, it is sometimes difficult to imagine the constant fear of living in an area that is plagued by the scourge of land mines. For me on a personal level, in Canada something I enjoy doing every morning is my morning run. We were warned when we were in Bosnia in the Velika Kladusa area, as well as in other areas, not to run in the mornings. You cannot go off the pavement. If you go off the pavement on to the shoulder of the road, you may hit a land mine.

I grew up in rural Nova Scotia. Having returned from Bosnia, I no longer take for granted the peacefulness and the tranquility and safety of the surroundings that I took for granted as a child. As a child I was able to run through and play in fields with no risk and no fear of being maimed or killed by a land mine.

Farmers, mothers, fathers, children, innocent people, these are the people paying for these wars that were fought and, to a considerable extent, are now over. Land mines do not require sophisticated technology to manufacture and this is part of the problem. Sometimes the least stable states are producing land mines now and people are producing land mines in their basements because of the availability of the resources and the tools necessary to make land mines.

It is a difficult problem to control and to contain. As with any major humanitarian effort, this ban will require a great deal of expertise and resources. The Minister of Foreign Affairs earlier referred to the need for investments in sophisticated technology and equipment in the removal of land mines. This is critical as well. It will take a long time before all the land mines are cleared from countries like Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Angola, Afghanistan, Egypt, just to name a few.

Canadians have a very important role to play in this effort. Our peacekeepers are among the best in the world. That is something I would like to mention. Upon returning from Bosnia, I came back with a tremendous pride in our peacekeepers and also the recognition that one of the things that is unique to Canadians is our peacekeeping prowess, which is internationally recognized.

I would also remind my colleagues from the Bloc that one of the first casualties of a divided Canada would be our ability to participate fully and meaningfully in international peacekeeping and in other types of international fora. Not only do Canadians need a strong united Canada but the world needs a strong united Canada.

We have contributed over $11 million to the humanitarian efforts to clear land mines. As the minister mentioned, we must continue to invest in technology and perhaps create opportunities for Canadian companies like Bombardier which may have the ability to develop new technologies for this very important task at hand.

It can take 10 peacekeepers up to a full day to manually clear a minefield the size of a gymnasium. Mine removal requires significant and sustained resources that are very costly. Over the past few years two million to five million more land mines have been deployed. This number, combined with the number already in the ground means that at current de-mining rates it could take decades to rid the world of the current mines in the ground. During that time span, thousands more will be injured or killed, even with the signing of this agreement.

That is why after this week we cannot forget the need for continued vigilance in ensuring that the necessary resources are provided to ensure that the task that is beginning with the signing of this land mine treaty will continue over the next several years as part of our international participation in this effort. Conditionality must be used and can be used with IMF funding to ensure the full co-operation of resources of countries that seek IMF funding. By passing this bill Canadians will be demonstrating to other countries the need to quickly and decisively act in ratifying the treaty.

I have a further note on my trip to Bosnia. In one of our briefings we were alerted to the fact that an anti-tank mine can be converted into an anti-personnel mine. This can be done with a band saw in some cases. The TMA-3, which looks like a film reel, can be cut into thirds by an ordinary band saw. This converts it to three anti-personnel mines.

The definition of an anti-personnel mine is found on the first page of the bill. It states:

—“anti-personnel mine” means a mine that is designed, altered or intended to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person—. Mines that are designed, altered or intended to be detonated by the presence, proximity or contact of a vehicle as opposed to a person—are not considered to be anti-personnel mines—

We must be vigilant in ensuring that the TMA-3 anti-tank mine cannot slip through a loophole in this bill. Canadian companies could conceivably still manufacture a TMA-3 model anti-tank mine and sell it to another country with the proper export permit. Within the other country that mine could be turned into three anti-personnel mines. Nothing can stop the buyer from the other country from altering the mine if that country is not a signatory to this treaty. Once the mine leaves Canada, the responsibility is out of our hands. Therefore, during this debate I am seeking clarification from the government on how the definition will be applied to avoid that type of situation.

It is a great accomplishment to have 100 countries sign the treaty. However, the major countries that have not signed, with the exception of the U.S., are the countries where the greatest military uncertainty lies. We must continue to use every lever we have as a middle power through international fora to ensure these other countries do sign.

I leave the House with the words of the former secretary general of the UN, Boutros Boutros-Ghali: “No nation alone can prevent the killing fields full of land mines. No nation alone can prevent inhumane weapons from being deployed, but all nations united with a single purpose can make this world more secure for generations to come”.

Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park Act November 21st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Earlier today I asked the Minister of Finance a question and he responded to that question, saying that I had misquoted the auditor general. I would like to give the Minister of Finance an opportunity to clarify his position as quickly as possible—

Finance November 21st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, during the finance committee hearings on Bill C-2 departmental officials informed members that the auditor general agreed he would not oversee the investment board. The auditor general has now sent a letter to the committee asking that his position be clarified. He wants to and should be auditor for that board.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Will the auditor general oversee the investment board or not? If not, why did the minister's officials mislead members of the committee?

International Trade November 21st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade.

U.S. customs compliance checks at Canadian borders are costing Canadians jobs. They are an unfair burden to Canadian Christmas tree farmers in particular. Several tractor trailer loads of Canadian Christmas trees have been unloaded and then forcefully reloaded, with Canadian shippers paying as much as $1,100 for their trees to be unloaded and reloaded even if they are in complete compliance.

What will the government do to address the issue?

Agreement On Internal Trade Implementation Act November 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-203.

The bill before us proposes to amend the powers of the government to enforce the agreement on internal trade. Under Bill C-203 unanimous consent from the provinces will no longer be required to reduce interprovincial trade barriers.

Internal trade is an area of great interest to me. My background is in small and medium size business. My family have been historically involved in small and medium size business. Our family and our region in Atlantic Canada prospered under more liberalized trade both with other Canadians and with people around the world.

Currently 20% of our national income and over 1.9 million Canadian jobs are created by trade among provinces and territories. Trade between the provinces totalled $314 billion in 1995 alone. Recognizing that internal trade in Canada is a vital part of our economy, I am distressed that since the internal trade agreement was negotiated and implemented it has received very little attention and even less leadership from the government.

Working harder to eliminate interprovincial trade barriers might stop or at least slow the recent increase in the unemployment rate. Canadian consumers, Canadian taxpayers and Canadians looking for work are paying the price for inaction on reducing internal trade barriers.

The initiative on the internal trade agreement was brought forward by the former Conservative government in partnership with the first ministers of the day. In 1987 the partners reached an agreement in principle to negotiate an agreement on internal trade. In the spring of 1993 negotiations began with a deadline of June 1994.

Unfortunately this agreement has not had the effect its originators had envisioned for it. This is especially distressing when one reads the red book distributed by the government in 1993. In it the Liberals promised to urgently address the issue of internal trade if they were to form a government. Today Canadians still find the economy hampered by internal trade barriers which give the provinces protectionist powers that cost Canadians jobs.

The current agreement is fundamentally flawed. There continue to be differing rules for a wide range of goods and services and specifications for things as ludicrous as the colour of margarine to the standards that trades people must meet in neighbouring provinces. Self-governing professional groups have erected qualification and certification barriers that prevent mobility of the workforce between provinces.

The current agreement does not cover the $50 billion public procurement market involving municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals. A recent proposal to open this market was vetoed by the British Columbian government. Since the agreement contains no enforcement mechanism, when a province wishes to break the agreement it can do so without fear. These trade barriers are creating false economies, are creating higher costs for consumers, taxpayers and are hindering employment growth.

The Liberal Party has in its past fought free trade. Now it cannot get enough of it. One week it will sign a deal with Chile. The next week it will sign a deal with Israel. While we are supportive and have been consistent in our support of the principles of liberalized trade and have recognized its benefits, it is time to bring down the barriers that create more trade barriers between Newfoundland and Ontario than exist between Newfoundland and Chile or Newfoundland and Israel.

This is not an issue of partisan politics as members of each party recognize the importance of bringing down these barriers and ensuring that we further grow the Canadian economy through liberalized trade.

Since the Liberals negotiated the agreement they have continued to pass legislation that increases barriers to internal trade. The current Minister for International Trade, the government's latest choirboy for trade internationally, was singing a different tune just a short time ago when as minister of the environment he championed Bill C-29 which created internal trade barriers within Canada that are now being contested under chapter 11 of the investor state provisions of NAFTA. This represents a potential $350 million loss to Canadian taxpayers because of his ineptitude at the time he championed Bill C-29.

The former minister for international trade, now the defence minister, cautioned the member for York West in a letter dated February 23, 1996. He told the minister “Bill C-29 could have many adverse implications for Canadian trade without compensating environmental benefits”. The government is guilty of creating more internal trade barriers within the country, not eliminating them.

Bill C-29 created internal trade barriers and is inconsistent with our current international trade minister's philosophy du jour espousing the benefits of liberalized trade. Now the minister's trade policy contained in Bill C-29 has brought the lawsuit from Ethyl Corporation. It is one of three lawsuits now against the Canadian government from foreign companies under chapter 11 provisions of NAFTA.

Not only did the government introduce Bill C-29 but it also tried to push taxation barriers on the Atlantic provinces through the implementation of the HST. Tax-in prices would have done more to create internal trade barriers and would have cost more jobs in Atlantic Canada. It is completely contrary to the basic principles of liberalized trade the government consistently represents, at least in terms of its rhetoric. It is completely inconsistent in terms of its policy inaction.

The motion put forth by the member for Lakehead is headed in the right direction as it asks for trade barriers to be reduced. It has enabled the House to have a lively debate on the important issue of internal trade. The motion on its own is too simplistic to completely address the barriers surrounding internal trade. I fear that what is needed is leadership from the government on an issue that is all too important to be downsized.

The government has shown a propensity to downsize and offload responsibilities to the provinces in the race to fiscal responsibility. We cannot offload or downsize leadership. That is what I fear has happened with this important issue of internal trade.

The problems with this agreement are much deeper than unanimous consent of the provinces. This is an example of the need for an enforcement clause which I touched on earlier. Furthermore, the motion asks the government to unilaterally change the internal trade agreement without consultation with the provinces. It is this type of federalism that the Official Opposition has used at times to divide Canadians while our party, the PC Party, is trying hard to unite Canada.

The PC Party believes it is time to deal with this problem of internal trade barriers with a holistic approach. The jobs at stake are simply too important for the federal government to sit on the sidelines. We believe that free internal trade can be negotiated co-operatively with the provinces.

The government needs to provide courageous leadership on this issue. The government has demonstrated basically that it is not interested in playing that important and critical role with the provinces on these types of important negotiations.

Earlier this spring my party proposed making internal trade an integral part of something we call the Canadian covenant. Under the Canadian covenant the PC Party proposed forging a new and lasting federation with a new level of co-operation between the federal government and the provinces.

Besides health care and post-secondary education, the covenant would have focused on interprovincial trade. We support the establishment of a commission to regulate and enforce the rules of interprovincial trade. We need to negotiate with the provinces to harmonize provincial standards in areas of corporate and business registrations, professional or occupational certification so that the costs of doing business in this country are not increased but in fact are reduced. The PC also supports strengthening internal trade through the transportation procurement provisions.

In closing, interprovincial trade like international trade is vital to our economy. The current government has focused too little time on improving trade conditions right here at home.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce estimates that a 10% increase in interprovincial trade will create 200,000 very necessary and important jobs for Canadians. It is time for a Team Canada for Canada and it is time that we demonstrate leadership and it is time that the federal government actually works hard to provide this type of leadership at this critical time for the Canadian people.

Export Development Corporation November 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, at a foreign affairs committee meeting earlier this month the president of the Export Development Corporation, Ian Gillespie, confirmed that the EDC was reluctant to sign a code of ethics championed earlier this year by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

How could the Canadian government ask Canadian corporations to sign this code of ethics when crown agencies are unwilling to sign the code of ethics and play by the same rules?

Trade November 4th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. When the current Minister for International Trade was Minister of the Environment, he mismanaged Bill C-29 resulting in the $350 million Ethyl Corporation lawsuit against the Canadian government. This is one of three lawsuits against the government under chapter 11 provisions of NAFTA.

MAI expands on the scope and definition of the investor provisions of NAFTA as well as geographically expanding it to 29 OECD countries. This exponentially increases the ability for foreign investors to sue the Canadian government—

The Miner Company November 3rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, today at noon Nobel prize recipient Jody Williams and the prime minister destroyed the last land mine in Canada's stockpile. On this momentous occasion I am disheartened by our government's lack of interest in a domestic issue occurring in Shefford, Quebec.

The Miner Company operated as an arms manufacturing plant during World War II in Shefford. In April 1996 forgotten explosive material was found at the site of the old plant. The ministers of foreign affairs, defence and the environment as well as the prime minister have all been made aware of this situation in our backyard.

To date no action has been taken to clear the area of dangerous material. I urge the government to maintain a domestic policy consistent with our international agenda and to address the dangerous situation in Shefford without further delay before a Canadian resident is injured or killed.

Supply October 30th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the debate today on the issue of drunk driving is extraordinarily important. I congratulate MADD for its important work nationally. In my own constituency there are very few families who have not been affected in some way by a drunk driver. The risk to individuals and to society is great if we let it continue to grow unabated.

The penalty for someone arrested for drunk driving is significantly more lenient than the penalty for someone who while behind the wheel of a car kills somebody, yet the actions leading up to either of those two conclusions are identical. The only difference is that one person was lucky enough to be arrested before he killed somebody. That the two actions are identical represents one of the greatest arguments for stricter sentencing, for tougher laws and for stronger enforcement of those laws.

Earlier I had made a few notes to commend my fellow parliamentarians on the non-partisan nature of this debate, but I suppose that is no longer valid. However, I was enjoying the debate immensely up to that point, so I would ask that we return to the non-partisan spirit of debate on this very important issue.