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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was report.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Charlottetown (P.E.I.)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 50% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Prebudget Consultations December 10th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, as a student of economics, the previous speaker will fully acknowledge that in 1993 when this government took over, the economics of the country were in a mess. He has heard the figures before. Our annual debt was at $42 million. Unemployment was close to 12%. Interest rates were around 11%. Our debt to GDP ratio was in excess of 71%. We were being watched by the World Bank. The long and the short of it was the situation was totally out of control. Corrective action needed to be taken; corrective action was taken.

The previous speaker indicated what has happened. We now have a GDP growth of close to 3.4%. Some $46 billion has been paid down in the accumulated debt. Interest rates are at an all-time low and are between the band of 1% and 3%. We have created hundreds of thousands of jobs this year.

My question for the hon. member is how can we, as parliamentarians, ensure that the policies and the programs of the previous government are never ever implemented again? How can we ensure that the people who were responsible for implementing those policies and programs are never near the levers of power in government again?

Verbal Abuse Prevention Week Act December 3rd, 2002

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-320, an act to establish Verbal Abuse Prevention Week.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to re-introduce my private member's bill, formerly Bill C-414. The bill would establish the first week of every October as verbal abuse prevention week.

I have sponsored the bill again in the hope that it will bring to the forefront the seriousness of verbal abuse in our communities, homes and schools, and the importance of raising people's awareness on this topic.

I have received a great deal of support for the, bill, both from the constituents in my riding and from across Canada. The bill deserves to have a second chance in the House of Commons and be voted on by members of Parliament.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Kyoto Protocol December 2nd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, there is always room for more work to be done on any plan. This is a complicated issue and it is not easy to come forward with all the exact details. Kyoto has been going on for five or six years now. These consultations have been going on for approximately three years with the leaders of the provinces, the territorial leaders, with business leaders and environmental groups. After it came to the House, a lot of revisions were made to the plan presented by the Minister of the Environment. There certainly would be no harm in further consultations taking place.

As I said before, I listened to the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard today. He agrees that there should be more consultations, more work done on the plan. I do not disagree with that, but let us move forward.

There is another important point. This is an international agreement and I believe the world is looking to see what Canada does with respect to this treaty. That is why we as a society, as Canadian people, have to move forward with courage on this protocol.

Kyoto Protocol December 2nd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, when we read everything that is written on this subject, the 17 academies, the thousands of scientists who have spoken to this issue and every day we pick up the paper there is another group saying that the evidence is irrefutable, that this damage is caused by human activity. To argue otherwise, I submit, is just burying one's head in the sand.

Certainly, I agree with the hon. member that there will be some scientists who will say that the evidence is not conclusive, that human activity is causing this problem but there will always be scientists who disagree with that. I do not know if it is going on presently, but do not forget that within the past five years scientists by the dozens and dozens were testifying in court in the United States of America saying that cigarette smoke had no relation to the health of individuals. We know that is simply not true.

To answer the hon. member's question, the evidence is overwhelming that human activity is causing an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Kyoto Protocol December 2nd, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I first want to say that I am pleased to rise and participate in this debate. The second thing I want to say is that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Yukon.

I have followed the debate in the House over the last number of days. I have read the materials that I could get my hands on. I am by no means an expert on the issue but I have come to the firm position that the time has come where inaction on climate change and the environment is no longer an option. In every cause and every issue there is a time for action, and that time is right now.

I have heard many people in the House argue that what is happening with the earth is natural. Yes, it is true that naturally we do produce a certain amount of greenhouse gas emissions. However I believe it is time to be honest and recognize that it is human activity that has caused most of the problems.

In recognizing that we are the main creators of the problem, we now have an obligation to create a solution. We have, I submit, an overwhelming consensus within the scientific community. I believe that 17 academies and over 2,000 climate change scientists presented documents and gave opinions on climate change and the detrimental effects that come with it are damaging our planet.

Despite all this credible evidence, it is safe to say that it does not take a scientist to see the effects of global warming. Our planet is warming faster than at any time in the past 10,000 years, driven by greenhouse gases which have reached their highest level in 420,000 years. Increased floods, droughts, spreading disease and melting glaciers are affecting every area of this globe. When tragedies such as these become commonplace in our daily lives, it makes it apparent that something needs to be done and that it needs to be done sooner rather than later. It is my belief that we have overlooked this problem far too long right now.

With this broad base of evidence before us, I support the actions that are being advocated by our Minister of the Environment as we move toward positive change. It is essential that we--and I speak of we as a global society--take measures immediately to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Kyoto protocol outlines the need to reduce our greenhouse gases and it is a strong recognition of the need for action.

I think we can all agree that it is Canada's intention to create a society for this and future generations with clean air, clean water, liveable cities and healthy people. Continuing to delay action will only make more time for increased damages. Canada's climate change plan is devised to address these issues and help every single Canadian re-evaluate how we use energy.

We have heard a lot of talk over the last number of days about a plan. I acknowledge that the plan that has been presented by the Minister of the Environment is not perfect. It is the result of three years of consultation with the provinces, territories and business groups, but again it is not perfect. It is a plan that sets out how we are going to reach our reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. I agree that more work needs to be done on this plan.

I sat today and listened to the speech given by the hon. member for LaSalle--Émard. He supports the ratification of the accord but his position, with which I agree, is that more work needs to be done on the plan; more meat on the bone, so to speak. He made a couple of good suggestions. One suggestion was to sell Petro-Canada shares. I have never heard that raised before. I think it is an excellent suggestion that should be pursued by the government.

The second suggestion was to strike a committee immediately to develop the plan in a little more detail. I think it is a good idea but let us be realistic. If the committee goes forward, which I think it should, and it comes back in March or April next year with more details, do we think that all the industrial sectors, all the premiers, all the territorial leaders, all the business leaders, all the groups will say, “Hallelujah, it is over, we have struck our plan and we all agree with the plan”? No, and we know that. The Romanow report was tabled last week in the House. Before people could have possibly read the report, they were hostile to its contents.

That is Canada. It is a great country, but that is the federation we live in. Of course there will be disputes as we go forward.

I have read the plan. It is a good document to move forward with. There will be costs to meeting the targets of the Kyoto protocol; I will not argue that, but those costs are quite manageable and quite small compared to the impact of not taking action. That is one of the issues that perhaps has not been talked about enough in the House. What are the costs if we do not take any action, we do nothing, such as some hon. members in the House have suggested, if we just let the world unfold as it should?

Canadians are well aware of the economic costs of the severe weather events that occur as a result of global warming. The economic impact of the Saguenay flood exceeded $1 billion. The economic impact of the 1998 ice storm exceeded $5 billion. The economic impact of the 2001 drought also exceeded $5 billion. The costs of meeting our Kyoto commitments pale in comparison to those figures.

Rather than spending so much time and energy focusing on what the costs of Kyoto are, let us talk about the costs that we can save. Emissions costs could potentially save $200 billion in energy costs. A lot of potential growth could be tapped into by investing in alternate energy.

If we ratify Kyoto and give the go ahead to the business community by reducing energy consumption, which is what the majority of Canadians want, they will certainly use their entrepreneurial and innovative skills and meet the challenges. In fact, many of the leading businesses are doing exactly that. Options are available. Sometimes people resist change, but it brings tremendous opportunity.

Another topic that should be discussed is the health care costs. The Ontario Medical Association calculated that smog costs more than $1 billion a year in hospital admissions, emergency visits and absenteeism in Ontario alone.

Canada's environmental commissioner has said that smog kills more Canadians than car accidents, breast cancer, prostate cancer or melanoma. It seems to me that we often focus on what is a perceived disconnect between the economy and the environment and that is not necessarily the case.

My own province of Prince Edward Island has a very exciting development with wind farming. I believe there is one in Alberta that is 10 times the size. It has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 13,000 tonnes per year. This morning I read in the local newspaper that one of the local industrial concerns in Atlantic Canada, Irving Oil, a private enterprise, is contemplating building a $100 million wind farm in my province. It is a tremendous opportunity.

I would like to highlight that the benefits of having clean air, clean water and a sustainable environment cannot be easily measured in dollars and cents. This protocol represents a huge step in the right direction toward developing a sustainable economy coupled with a sustainable ecosystem.

Many people may still be left with questions. I believe we should all take the initiative to put our energy into doing something positive and working collectively to fill those gaps. I suggest to the House and to all Canadians that we move forward on this protocol with conviction, commitment and courage.

Prince Edward Island Music Awards November 26th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, last Saturday evening the Prince Edward Island Music Awards Association held its annual music awards ceremony in Charlottetown.

In all, 22 award winners were presented with awards in a number of categories.

On behalf of the House, I want to extend my congratulations to all award winners, including fiddler Cynthia MacLeod, who won five separate awards.

I especially want to pay tribute to Bill Acorn who received the lifetime achievement award.

Twenty-five years ago Bill Acorn started a local cable show featuring country music called Bill's Jamboree . The show ran for 25 consecutive years. When it stopped last year, it had been the longest running cable show in Canada. During those years, Bill hosted many provincial and national entertainers. The show was thoroughly enjoyed by thousands of Prince Edward Islanders.

To Cynthia, Bill and the other award winners, on behalf of everyone in the House, I offer our best wishes and sincere congratulations.

Petitions November 21st, 2002

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to present a petition to this Chamber today from the citizens of my riding of Hillsborough, Prince Edward Island, who believe that the courts of Canada have not applied the current child pornography law in such a way that makes it clear that such exploitation of children will always be met with swift punishment.

They call upon Parliament to protect our children by outlawing all materials which promote or glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children.

Question No. 21 November 18th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise in this debate to pick up on some points that were raised by the member for St. John's West; that is the whole area of interim orders and how these they may interfere with our liberty as Canadian citizens.

More than one speaker in the House, including the member for St. John's West, has asked why do we need interim orders. Do we not already have enough rules, laws, regulations and authorities? Also the argument was made that these interim orders would of course interfere with the liberty of Canadian citizens.

Given the importance of this topic I want to enter the debate and provide my thoughts on the whole area.

When we consider, and the previous speaker spoke so eloquently on this issue, the operation of an aircraft, the transportation of a substance such a chlorine, the use of explosives, the central concern for safety in Canada is what I would call the law of physics and the competency of the people who operate these devices.

We in the House of Commons and in the various provincial legislatures have numerous pages of regulations, laws and standards guiding the construction and the operation of an airport, the construction of railway tank cars for the movement of noxious substances and for the manufacture, distribution and transportation of explosives. There is one thing in common with these items. That is the bulk of our existing laws and regulations, whether they be infectious substances, or aircraft operations, or ship operations or pest control products, have been established to ensure our safety as Canadian citizens.

I observe that an accident which arises, even though everyone intended to do the right thing, is a failure to maintain safety.

In contrast, when we deal with terrorism activities, I observe that the event which arises, arises because at least one person, and in most instances we are talking about more than one person, has intended to do the wrong thing and that also equally is a failure to maintain security.

We have extensive requirements, as we should, to protect public safety, developed over the years through experience, theory and research and we have extensive requirements with respect to the human element, the training that is required.

Therefore we achieve success with safety because we are able as a civil society to protect how materials will behave during use and what training is appropriate for the human component.

In short, the laws of physics are sufficiently well known to allow us as legislators to develop very solid safety requirements.

However in contrast, the motivation of terrorists and the ways in which they can misuse explosives, chemicals and even means of transport, such as an aircraft, is very much open ended. One only need watch recent films to see ways in which ordinary items can become a threat to public safety when deliberately misused.

In a peaceful community we might suggest that food, clothing, shelter should not from a safety point of view cause us undue concern. However I point out the incident involving Timothy McVeigh. He mixed a fertilizer used to produce that food with fuel oil used to ensure our shelter was comfortably heated and bombed, as everyone here knows, a government building out of existence in Oklahoma City.

The point I am making is this. The most striking contrast between threats to safety and threats to security is that while the former can be predicted to an extent, according to statistical and physical principles and what has gone on in the past, a security attack is not clearly predictable in terms of who, the location or elements of the attack.

When each of us got out of bed on September 11 last year, no one predicted the extent of the attack which was to occur that mid-morning. I am sure each of us could develop a very extensive list of where we as a society would be personally vulnerable should one or more than one person desire or wish to seriously upset our lives, including becoming the target of a sniper.

My point is similar to ones made in this assembly by other speakers. It is the totality of the “what if” scenarios that presents an overwhelming burden that will try to protect ourselves from all the possibilities that are out there. Just where would we start? More important, where would we end up?

First, we could have a curfew with everyone in their residence by 9:00 or 10:00 at night. This might keep all the criminals off the street. Would it be desirable? Absolutely not. Do we establish regulations today for all future eventualities? No. Even if we could be twisted enough in our thinking to conceive of all possible forms of attack, would we consider suicide bombers entering schools or the release of highly contagious agents in shopping centres? There is no doubt that this government as well as future ones will continue to introduce new legislation and the Special Committee of Council will continue to review new regulations.

My point is that we have not attained, even for normal activities, a state of perfect knowledge and perfect regulatory instruments. Nor will that ever be attained in a dynamic and viable culture.

Equally, even if we could list all the areas in which we may be vulnerable, we could not possibly list all the ways in which attempts could be made to exploit one or more of these vulnerabilities. Even if we could, how would we ever possibly enact the number of draconian laws that would be necessary to protect us as a society?

Again, I come back to the events of September 11, 2001 and the very significant lesson that was learned by society at that time. The impact in Canada of such an attack in the United States had not been previously studied by Transport Canada. Nevertheless, as it unfolded, immediate decision points arose and had to be accommodated immediately.

As we will recall, the first immediate decision was to close Canadian air space in an orderly fashion. Fortunately the text of the Aeronautics Act provided for the Minister of Transport the ability to do this. I would like to point out that a delay of an hour in light of the unfolding events that were occurring that day would not have been acceptable. For each minute that passed, one or two aircraft crossing the Atlantic became Canada's responsibility as they crossed the no-return line. The important lesson that was learned, and the point I am trying to make today, was that an immediate decision was required. Fortunately in that case, the authority was present and the decision could be made.

I want to summarize two key points. In the context of terrorist attacks, we cannot predict all events which might arise and which would require an immediate decision. Second, even if we could predict all potential events, would we want to put into effect all possible preventive measures?

These interim orders are required to deal with emergencies. We cannot predict the emergencies and we cannot predict the way they will be carried out. Therefore, I support the legislation and I urge all my colleagues on both sides of the House to support the legislation.

Committee Business and Reinstatement of Government Bills October 7th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to government Motion No. 2, a motion that would allow for the continued business of Parliament in this new session.

It is my view that the motion is important as it allows for the reinstatement of government bills and the continuation of committee business. I believe there are nine bills that are being reinstated and a number of committees in the House which have important business before them to be reinstated. Simply put, the reason comes down to common sense.

When the House was prorogued a lot of work had been done by certain committees prior to the date of prorogation. All the motion does is reinstate all the work done by the committees prior to that date. I realize that committees have the option of reinstating their own work but it is much simpler to do it in Parliament in the House of Commons.

However, if we accepted the argument being advanced by the official opposition, then the committees would have to go back and start from square one and go through all the hearings, the witnesses, the reports and the tabling of documents that have gone on for the past month and sometimes years.

I have asked to speak to the motion because it has a special interest to me. I am on the public accounts committee and the finance committee and both those committees have embarked upon relatively significant issues. They have spent a lot of time, energy, effort and resources going through the issues and I, at this point in time, do not want to throw out the baby with the bath water. I want to get on with the work of Parliament.

The motion states:

That, in order to provide for the resumption and continuation of the business of the House begun in the previous session of Parliament it is ordered:

  1. That any evidence adduced by any Standing or Special Committee on any matter not reported upon in the previous session shall be deemed to have been laid upon the table in the present session;

I will speak directly now to the two committees with which I am involved because those are the two issues for which I have intimate knowledge. The first one is the public accounts committee.

As I believe everyone who reads newspapers in Canada is aware, in the last three to five months we have had an extensive investigation of the Groupaction affair. We have had at least six to eight witnesses. We have had very heated discussions among all members as to the procedures to be followed, the witnesses to be called and the witnesses' right to counsel. It was extensively published in all media outlets. We had a couple of hearings in camera. We had two hearings in the summer, one in July and one in August. The work of the committee was almost done. The only thing we had left to do was to finalize the report. If it had not been for the summer recess this work would have been done, the report would have been filed in the House and we would be looking for a government response.

However, because of the summer recess, the report, which I understand is in draft form, has not been done and has not been filed in the House. If the motion does not get passed by Parliament then we will have to go back and do the whole thing again: call the same witnesses, have the same arguments, et cetera. Of course we would take another six months of time.

I believe every person in Canada watching this show tonight would agree with me that it is incumbent upon that committee and Parliament to get that committee's report filed in the House as soon as possible so that a response can be made by the government of the day.

The second committee is the finance committee. As everyone is aware, the government back in I believe 1994 or 1995 started a new procedure to get the views of all Canadians before the budget was tabled in the House of Commons. Prior to that, the budget document was cloaked in secrecy. Only a few people knew what was going on and only a few people had dialogue on the budget. This has become a very significant process involving democracy.

The finance committee starts to hold hearings in the fall and it holds hearings very extensively. It travels to the west coast and the east coast. I am not exactly sure of the number of different groups and organizations that appear before the committee but it is at least 300 or 400 different groups and individuals. These groups put an awful lot of time, energy and resources into presenting their submissions. Many of the groups are very well organized. They have their own economists and they come forward with excellent papers dealing with their views and positions as to what should be in or not in the upcoming budget.

That process started in April of this year. We had a large number of hearings with a large number of groups. We received their submissions. Under normal circumstances that process would continue on and we would file a report by November or December of this year. That report would be considered by the government when preparing the budget, which would be tabled by the Minister of Finance in the House.

If we look back at the number of reports of the finance committee and the pre-budget consultations, the results are not always immediate. However if we were to go back and read the recommendations made by the committee we would find that a significant number of the recommendations that were made did find their way into the budget that was eventually tabled by the Minister of Finance. In other words, the government is listening to the people of Canada.

The process has been started and a tremendous amount of time has been spent, not only by the committee members but, more important, by the groups, organizations and individuals who made submissions to the committee. I do not know the exact number but the submissions have been substantial.

If the motion does not pass the House the proponents to defeating the bill have suggested that we go back, start again, ask those groups to present new submissions and come back before the committee. It would just delay the matter that much further. With all due respect, that lacks common sense.

Another issue I would like to speak to is the costs, the costs of travel, of bringing in witnesses and of having hearings. It would all have to be repeated and duplicated but for what purpose?

If we listen to the official opposition it is because it does not like one particular bill, the species at risk bill. That was debated in Parliament long before I arrived here. An act has gone to the Senate. This particular bill pits the agriculture community against the animal rights community. It was a compromise. It is not perfect. I am sure there are people out there watching this show who are not totally happy with all the provisions of the bill. However a lot of work and effort has been put into the bill. It has gone before the committee. Hearings have been held and evidence has been adduced. It has taken up a lot of time, effort and energy of a lot of people in the House to come forward with this bill.

I want to bring to the attention of the House the reinstatement of the special committee on the non-medical use of drugs. I believe most members are aware of the extensive amount of work that committee has done hearing evidence and researching the whole issue. I believe it was near the completion of its mandate and was almost ready to file its report. The Senate has already filed its report and I believe the Canadian people want that report to be filed by the House of Commons as soon as possible.

I did some research on this issue. This matter has come before the House many times before, in 1970, 1972, 1974 and 1986. It seems to be a common procedure that when the House prorogues to reinstate bills that died on the order paper and committee work that was in existence. I believe that in 2000 the same procedure was followed.

I want to point out that the very same procedure is followed for private members' bills with the consent of all parties in the House. Private members' bills that died when the House was prorogued are automatically reinstated pursuant to a bill that was adopted in the House. I see the same argument being advanced in this motion also.

Another committee is the subcommittee on the status of persons with disabilities of the human resources development committee. This is a very timely matter. It is an important issue and it is one that the Canadian public deserves to hear from Parliament on.

I want to highlight how ridiculous this is. Let us look at the heritage committee. As I believe most people are aware, the heritage committee was in the middle of a very extensive study on the Canadian broadcasting system. The committee has travelled, heard witnesses, done research and put a lot of time into this initiative. Therefore the motion would also support this committee in the completion of this very important study.

In conclusion, those are just some of the examples of what we are dealing with in the House. I will come back to my point on the public accounts committee and the finance committee that would benefit from this motion. It would benefit the committees, it would benefit the House and would benefit the Canadian public

Therefore I urge all members to support the adoption of the motion.

Charlottetown June 17th, 2002

Madam Speaker, I rise today to inform the House that Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island will proudly welcome Canadians from coast to coast to coast this Canada Day with the largest planned celebrations outside of the nation's capital.

The CBC in co-operation with the Prince Edward Island Capital Commission will produce a spectacular stage show on the historic Charlottetown waterfront. This location is only steps away from where our founding fathers landed in 1864.

The show will be broadcast as part of a live CBC network special highlighting the best in Canadian entertainment and the history and pride that Charlottetown has to offer. As the birthplace of Canada, Charlottetown is truly honoured to have the opportunity to host this event.

I encourage all Canadians to join with myself, my family and the residents of the Charlottetown area on this Canada Day.