House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was million.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for St. John's South—Mount Pearl (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 29% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Budget January 29th, 2009

Madam Speaker, thank you to the hon. member for the question. I look forward to serving with you on the very important Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. The future of our country is to look at investments in terms of jobs of the future, investments in terms of what we should be doing in genomics and some of the other very important areas of science. Ocean technology is very important in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I welcome your question. I lived through the 1990s as a business person in Newfoundland and Labrador. I have been on the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. I have contributed to the business community of this country. Thank goodness for the Liberal government at the time for setting the parameters in place that allowed for the economic circumstance we had until recent times. If it were not for the previous minister of finance and the previous prime minister of this country, we would not be in such economic good fortunes.

You consider, sir, that over the last while we have now faced one of the largest deficits in our history.

The Budget January 29th, 2009

Madam Speaker, these are extremely difficult times in our country. The issues we are facing today in Newfoundland and Labrador are exactly as I have outlined. The change proposed in the budget is absolutely going to harm Newfoundland and Labrador. The change in this budget has a very big impact on the province.

I have received many calls and many contributions from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador on this very issue. We are listening to their concerns. The sharing of the offshore oil and gas industry revenues of $1.5 billion is not acceptable to Newfoundland and Labrador. I would think it would not be acceptable to this country to treat a member of our federation in this manner.

The Budget January 29th, 2009

Madam Speaker, the message this budget sends with the penalizing of some provinces is that under a Conservative government we do not stand as equals, that trust is absent, that in the face of adversity we do not share equally in the benefits of the federation, that doing what is right is replaced by doing the most to hurt.

Let me tell the Conservative government that it will take a lot more than the Conservative government to knock a Newfoundlander and a Labradorian. We have weathered over 500 years of storms. We have faced every adversity. We have stared in the face of injustice and we have grown stronger.

Now is not the time to play politics. Now is the time to do what is right. Doing what is right means understanding that this change very deep in the budget has grave impacts. Doing what is right means rethinking and discussing the challenges with those impacted. Doing what is right means the minister rising in the House to give assurances that would be the case.

This is a defining moment in the country's history of defining moments.

The Budget January 29th, 2009

Madam Speaker, in the history of a nation there are defining moments, moments that we mark with pride, moments that we mark with disillusionment, moments that fundamentally change the way we think about our country. The United States of America recently had a defining moment marked with pride and hope, a beacon for the future, the setting of a new course, a direction mapped with vision and leadership. We have not been so fortunate in this country.

It took the Conservative government too long to acknowledge the serious problems in the economy. The Conservative government took too lightly its request to close the House of Commons. Its inaction saw 100,000 Canadian jobs lost, futures made uncertain, lives disrupted, hope lost. When the Conservative government finally got down to business, catching up with the rest of the industrialized world and offering a stimulus package, while the nation waited for leadership, while a country held its breath in the hope of some positive direction, what the Conservatives did was tear apart the foundation of a federation. They sent a message that fairness does not exist, that vindictiveness outpaces vision, that bold initiatives are displaced by bad direction.

I listened intently to the Minister of Finance deliver his budget. I listened, read, reviewed and found very deep beneath his glowing words the ugly truth of how the Conservatives treat provinces in this federation.

A few short weeks ago I stood in this House and spoke with pride about how it felt to be a first generation Canadian and an eighth generation Newfoundlander and Labradorian working to build a great nation. I stand today with no less passion.

In what is touted to be a stimulus budget, in a time when governments around the world work to ensure that the success of their countries is secure, the Conservative government attacks certain members of its federation, penalizes them, retaliates against them and cuts them to the core.

Thankfully, Newfoundland and Labrador, through prudent and careful planning, is no longer receiving equalization. While the province has the highest per capita debt and many challenges to overcome, it is indeed making progress. However, this budget contains previously undisclosed changes to the equalization formula which have major impacts on the Atlantic accord.

The Atlantic accord sets the rules for the sharing of revenues with Ottawa of the offshore energy industry. Let me tell the Conservative government that by unilaterally changing the O'Brien formula for equalization, and penalizing--not stimulating, but penalizing--taking money away from Newfoundland and Labrador, $1.5 billion--$400 million in 2009, $600 million in 2010 and $500 million in 2011--is reprehensible, unconscionable and difficult to swallow.

This is no way to build a federation. It breeds an atmosphere of mistrust that will cause problems in the future. The provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador are the targets of the Conservative government today. Who will it be tomorrow? That is the question all provincial governments have to ask themselves.

In this House we often speak of huge numbers. We talk about millions and billions of dollars in expenditures. What does $1.5 billion mean to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador? It will likely mean the province will have less funding to help in health care and education. It will mean that some of the lowest paid nurses in this country will not necessarily get the wage increases they deserve. It will mean that health care facilities may not be able to recruit health care professionals. Care to patients may suffer. It means municipalities in the province that are trying to take advantage of some of the infrastructure programs in the budget may not be able to do so because they cannot come up with matching funds to put in place the kind of infrastructure they need to provide safe drinking water for the people in small communities in Newfoundland and Labrador.

These are real impacts on real people.

By making this budget change, the Conservative government is sending a message loud and clear to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. I am sure my friends in Quebec and other provinces impacted by the same change heard the same message. The message this budget sends with the penalizing of some provinces is that under a Conservative government we do not stand as equals, that trust is absent and in the face of adversity we do not share equally in the benefits of the federation, that doing what is right--

Equalization Payments January 28th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, Newfoundland and Labrador has worked hard to put its economy on track. This so-called stimulus budget is more than unfair to Newfoundland and Labrador. Changes to equalization mean a $1.5 billion loss, a substantial hit to the province. Will the Prime Minister end his heavy-handed and vindictive approach to federal-provincial relations and do it now?

The Budget January 27th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the minister has given us a budget. We will be reviewing it with the care and consideration that Canadians and these economic circumstances demand and deserve.

What we do know from the minister is that Canada will face a $34 billion deficit this year. This from the same Minister of Finance who told Canadians before Christmas that our country was in surplus, an astounding reversal from the minister. This from the same government that told us in September that there would not even be a recession in Canada and that falling stock prices meant good buying opportunities, not cause for concern.

We now know we were in deficit and the government delayed in developing a plan for the crisis. We know that 100,000 Canadian jobs have been lost since the government prorogued Parliament rather than act to protect Canadians.

How will the minister explain his inaction to Canadians whose jobs, pensions and savings have vanished while his government has failed to act?

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply November 21st, 2008

Mr. Speaker, it is a proud moment as a Newfoundlander and Labradorian to be in a have province. It is proud moment for all of us in Canada to see one of the regions of our country continuing to do well.

However, the hon. member is absolutely correct in that it is largely dependent upon the offshore oil and gas revenues that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador have enjoyed over the last number of years. While we have done much in Newfoundland and Labrador to ensure diversity within our economy and sustainability of our have status, there is much to be done.

We ask the Conservatives to work with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to ensure its continued success. We ask them to have a plan for fiscal responsibility. We ask that they do indeed focus on ensuring fiscal responsibility and good sound fiscal management for the country.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply November 21st, 2008

Mr. Speaker, yes, indeed, the fishery has felt the burden of the economic crisis in the country and it has suffered under the heavy cost of fuels and insurances and the continuing challenges within our fiscal environment.

We will do everything we can to work with the government to ensure the fishery is set on solid footing and has the opportunity to contribute to our country and to our food sources. There is a lot to be done in the fishery, including ensuring that those who wish to retire can do so with dignity and that we have the proper infrastructure in small craft harbours. There is much to be done in this regard.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply November 21st, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Mount Royal.

This is the first opportunity I have had to thank the wonderful people of St. John's South--Mount Pearl for giving me the opportunity to work on their behalf in the Parliament of Canada. I consider it a great honour to represent them and their interests, and to serve my country. I will work hard every day to ensure they are well represented.

I would also like to recognize the many volunteers who worked so diligently to ensure a healthy democracy. Their efforts were appreciated by all who sit in this chamber and all those who offered themselves for public service.

We are joined together in the House in common purpose: to improve the lives of Canadians. Let us focus on ensuring that the decisions we make reflect the needs of our citizens a hundred times a day; no, a thousand. We should remind ourselves that we are here on behalf of the people. Let us always be reminded of and always do what is right for the citizens of our great country.

By way of introduction, I am a first generation Canadian, an eighth generation Newfoundlander and Labradorian, and I am proud to have the opportunity to contribute to building our great country.

Nearly 60 years ago, my father, as a young man, voted in favour of Confederation. He, along with my mother, have instilled a sense of responsibility to ensure that Canada, and Newfoundland and Labrador in it, develops along a successful path.

I mentioned that I am a Newfoundlander. I also hold the seat held by the Hon. Loyola Hearn and the Hon. John Crosbie. Their contributions have been numerous and they are known not only for their work, but for being great orators. I can only hope that one day I will be too.

Among the first honours I had as a new member of Parliament was to participate in a Remembrance Day ceremony to pay tribute to those who served our country. Many hon. members may not be aware of the tremendous contribution that Newfoundland, as a country at the time, made during the first and second world wars. Many hon. members may not be aware of the contribution that many young Newfoundlanders and Labradorians make today as members of the Canadian Forces. In fact, the number of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians serving in the Canadian Forces today is way above the national average. My sister is one of them.

The riding of St. John's South--Mount Pearl is the location of Bowring Park, the home of the statue of The Fighting Newfoundlander. This statue has come to symbolize not only our respect for those who have served in the armed forces, but it has also come to symbolize our determination and persistence as a people. I will reflect upon this contribution and the statue of The Fighting Newfoundlander as I make decisions in the House. They who has given so much deserve our respect, our admiration and, most of all, they deserve dignity.

In the Speech from the Throne mention was made of our heroic Canadian Forces, however there was little mention of our veterans. Today, many of our veterans face uncertain and difficult times. I have spoken with numerous who have struggled financially, as pensions are clawed back despite their sacrifices.

I am sure I am joined in the House in giving recognition to our veterans and ask that the government recognize their contributions to global security by working to improve their well-being.

The Speech from the Throne weighs heavily on the economic situation we are now facing in Canada. It states “structural deficits must never return”, yet a series of deliberate policy decisions by the government has led to the challenges we currently face, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, a situation of the Conservatives' own doing by not providing sound fiscal management, a steady hand at the wheel.

As we navigate these fiscal waters, we find ourselves in a gale of uncertainty. The rough winds of the mortgage, credit, fiscal and now global financial crises are blowing us to the shoals of uncertainty.

Let this be our goal then: to instill in our institutions, in our companies, in our investors, in our communities and, as important, in our people, a knowledge that we are working on their behalf to ensure stability, to ensure a strong and productive Canada.

The Speech from the Throne indicates that the building Canada plan will be expedited. These important infrastructure investments would not only stimulate the economy, they would indeed improve our country.

It reminds me of an extremely important project under way in St. John's right now, the cleanup of St. John's harbour and the building of the sewage treatment plant.

The city of St. John's, the city of Mount Pearl and the town of Paradise have a combined population of 130,000 people. Municipal waste water from these municipalities is currently discharged, untreated, into St. John's harbour. Thankfully, since 1999, the Government of Canada, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the municipal governments of the cities of St. John's, Mount Pearl and the town of Paradise have partnered in ensuring this environmentally challenging, not to mention aesthetically concerning, project is under way. This has required incredible engineering, carving from rocks, unearthing streets and sewers.

I am sure the members of the House are very pleased to be a partner in this project, in ensuring that raw sewage is no longer spewed into this historic harbour, a partner with the citizens of Mount Pearl, St. John's and Paradise, a partner.

As members can imagine, the costs have escalated over the last decade. The cost of materials and labour has soared. The project is close to $50 million over budget.

As a partner, one believes the federal government would help, would participate in its responsibility. I ask that it does. I ask for this in the spirit of the Speech from the Throne in protecting Canada's future by preserving Canada's environment.

I also noted in the Speech from the Throne that fisheries was mentioned with respect to giving assistance for international marketing and helping businesses to innovate. I look forward to further details on these initiatives.

As members of the House will remember, the largest layoff in Canadian history occurred in 1992 when the cod fisheries was placed under moratorium, where it remains today. The modernization of the fishery continues and there is much to be done to ensure its sustainability and its viability.

We have to help those who wish to retire to do so with dignity and assistance.

We need to continue to ensure funding for small craft harbours so we have adequate infrastructure.

We need to ensure to that foreign overfishing on the Nose and the Tail of the Grand Banks is stopped.

These are a few of the further initiatives not found in the Speech from the Throne but which are important in the fisheries today.

The Speech from the Throne also refers to securing our energy future by developing our rich energy resources and pursuing new greener strategies. This is particularly relevant to Newfoundland and Labrador as one of the best opportunities for hydroelectricity is in the province. The Churchill River in Labrador is a significant source of renewable clean electroenergy. The Lower Churchill project consists of two of the best underdeveloped hydroelectric sites in North America. Securing our energy future will be made much easier by working with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to help develop this project.

There is much to be done. As I stand in this historic House, surrounded by its members, I recognize we have been entrusted by the people of Canada to work to improve their lives.

I started today by reminding Mr. Speaker and all hon. members that our responsibility is to the individuals who make up the mosaic of Canada. Let us never forget our duty to them. Let us never forget that our fiscal responsibility is to them. Let us never forget we are here because of them.

Seniors November 21st, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of what the Conservative government has done. Nor are the rest of Canadians aware of what the Conservative government has done.

In this economic crisis, seniors across my riding have seen their savings and pensions wiped out. Seniors face real uncertainty about how to pay their bills. Conservative dithering and bad management will only prolong their anxiety.

Seniors deserve a real answer. Where is the plan for seniors?