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Liberal MP for Malpeque (P.E.I.)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 62% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Prince Edward Island Fixed Link February 15th, 1994

Madam Speaker, the member mentioned that maybe it is time to move to a first class ferry service. I do not know if he is familiar with Prince Edward Island and the amount of physical goods and products we move off the island. Our experience with the ferry service in recent years has been fairly poor.

In fact, talking about economic efficiency, I spoke with some truckers today. The wait at the ferry for truckers is anywhere from three to five hours. As many as 50 to 80 trucks at a time are sometimes waiting in line for the car ferries. One can only handle 13 and the other at maximum can handle 45. The hon. member has to understand that that is just not good enough. We believe a link will change that.

When we look at the truckers, the fuel they are burning, the hours, taking a day longer to get to market in terms of scheduling and so on, it is a disaster for them and for the agricultural industry as well.

What does the hon. member mean by first class ferry service? I hope this is not an example.

Trade February 8th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I rise to raise concerns with respect to the free trade agreement with the United States. That is the continued use by the United States of its export enhancement program, specifically with respect to agricultural exports impacting on Canadian farmers and Canadian markets.

The U.S. is currently providing an export subsidy under the EEP of $3 to $40 per tonne into Mexico and of $65 per tonne into China.

Article 701(4) of the CUSFTA states the United States is obligated to take into consideration the negative impact its export subsidies will have upon Canadian exporters of agricultural products into a third country.

The United States is failing now and has failed repeatedly to respect this provision. This is unacceptable.

It is time for the federal government to call for a formal binational dispute settlement panel to examine the issue and determine the extent of the injury caused to Canadian farmers and force the U.S. to cease the use of EEP.

Social Security System February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. I happened to be in New Zealand when the value added tax was brought in and I saw first hand the destruction of many of the rural communities as a result of doing away with the subsidies to the farm community.

The subsidy question has become a misnomer in that during the GATT talks the whole thrust of the negotiations was how to do away with subsidies. Subsidies became the issue when really subsidies are the symptom of a greater problem globally, low farm income, which is causing the destruction and the deterioration of rural communities and a loss of farms world wide.

Instead of just targeting subsidies we must look at the real problem which is a global agricultural policy creating lots of profits for the global corporations in terms of trade issues as they try and have farmers in one nation compete against another in order to access cheap supply to undermine producers in another area and profit in the process.

Therefore we have to look at this much differently globally in terms of looking at actually returning the cost of production to farmers for the products they produce wherever they produce them around the world. Certainly there are lots of hungry people around the world.

The other point the hon. member makes is with regard to farmers marketing their products. We have some great examples of that in this country. In fact farmers are doing that.

One of the best examples is the Canadian Wheat Board. Canagrex was a good agency which would use market intelligence and go out to sell farm products in the interests of the country and producers, but the previous administration canned it.

The Canadian Wheat Board is a tremendous agency in terms of pooling the resources of producers, acting as a single seller of export wheat and barley, accessing the marketplace in other countries, setting the delivery system in place and returning to producers the best return for the product available in that international marketplace.

Social Security System February 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I might say in the beginning that embarking on this major comprehensive change to the social safety net is a bold and much needed move by the new government. I pleased with the process that the Minister of Human Resources Development has established which will involve people in terms of those discussions.

As well I might point out that in this initiative, along with the first budget of the new Liberal government, we must demonstrate to all Canadians this is a new government with a new agenda which places jobs and opportunities for all Canadians first and foremost.

While taking control over the deficit and debt is critical, we must not fall victim to the neo-conservative obsession of the past nine years which has directly contributed to the current crisis in Canada in terms of job losses, social unrest, increased poverty and disillusionment throughout the country.

It will be important for this government to outline to Canadians the limits within which we as government can work with respect to developing new made in and for Canada economic and social policies, especially so given the various trade agreements in which we now find ourselves.

For example, we have to address the issue in the very near future of the kind of federal provincial transfer system which will provide the critical social infrastructures for most provinces. As a nation and as a government we must ensure that all Canadians have equal access to programs under those economic and social policies that we implement.

Professor Tom Courchesne, a proponent of free trade, pointed out that an east-west transfer system does not square well with north-south economic integration. If Courchesne is correct, the future of our ability to provide for the means of our critical social programs throughout Canada could be at risk.

Our economy is still having to adjust to the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement and is now faced with both NAFTA and GATT. Canadians do not want this government to merely administer trade policies negotiated by the previous government, they want a proactive government which will ensure that policies emerging from these trade deals reflect Canadian needs, not just the economic and foreign interests of our neighbour to the south.

The Prime Minister has stated clearly that he will operate on these deals in the interests of Canadians.

As members in this House, we must be forever vigilant that economic trade agreements do not force us to the lowest common denominators in social programs under the guise of economic competition. We must work toward bringing up the social, labour and environmental standards of the United States and Mexico, our trading partners, and not buckle under to the pressure of reducing our own programs.

Let me turn for a moment to what is perhaps one of the greatest social tragedies in this country over the last nine to twelve years, the farm financial crisis.

I want to try and put that in some kind of context in terms of where we are coming from and where we are going and what we have to do to offer some hope for the future.

I maintain it is a real serious social tragedy in our rural areas. The farm crisis, to a great extent for political and global trade reasons, has become accepted to a great extent around the world. It has become almost normal in our society to hear of farmers going broke and governments really not doing much about it. This acceptance ignores the reality in personal terms in which farmers and farm families and farm communities find themselves.

Let me put that into perspective. In 1988, after eight years of farm crisis in this country, the House of Commons in its agricultural committee report talked about a debt of $22 billion. After implementing the Farm Debt Review Board, farm adjustment program and other subsidies, in 1992 we found ourselves after the loss of thousands of farmers still in debt to the tune of $23.9 billion.

How serious is this? It is very serious. It means that if we were farmers in this room, if you looked one person to your left and one person to your right, one of you would be in serious financial trouble, faced with the possibility of losing your farm. That is the kind of situation we find ourselves in today.

In my province of Prince Edward Island in 1991, according to census figures, we had 2,361 farmers, a decline of 16.7 per cent since 1986 and a 48 per cent decline of farmers since 1971. Are we any better off today because we have lost these farmers? No, we are not. We have deteriorating communities, a deteriorating base on which to base community programs, rinks, social affairs, educational systems and so on, a very serious matter.

How do we put a human face on these figures in terms of social problems? It is an issue that you really cannot understand unless you have experienced it. I call it economic violence, a loss of pride in terms of those farmers affected, a feeling of failure, increasing farm suicides, increasing family split-ups as a result of this very serious economic problem at the farm gate.

Even with these facts and figures we continue to see over the last nine years, coming out of Agriculture Canada and the Government of Canada, an acceptance that we must follow the trend that the market should make all decisions. We are seeing that increasingly so in the new era of globalization.

There are some who would say on the other side of the House that the free market should decide all things. I disagree very strongly with that and I hope we do as a government.

Some people will say let us be competitive. Let us look a little deeper into this competitive approach for a moment. What is the nature of competition? Basically, the nature of competition is that you get into an economic game and your objective is to destroy the competitor. In the current kind of trade and economic policy that we are moving toward in terms of these globalized trade agreements, the object of the game is to pit farmer against farmer in communities, between countries, between provinces, across borders, in a game of trying to lower your prices in order to access the market and in the process destroy that farmer in that other area.

That is not the answer. We must move forward with economic and social programs that bring in regulatory control, put in place marketing programs like the Canadian Dairy Commission, the Poultry Marketing Board, the Canadian Wheat Board, to implement agricultural policy in the interests of rural Canada and farmers.

The approach that has been going on for the last nine or ten years is leading to greater and greater exploitation and I believe to competitive poverty.

I do not believe it has to be this way. We must restore, as a new government, a sense of direction and a sense of purpose. As I mentioned a moment ago, we can introduce marketing programs. We can, through our power as a federal government, expand and strengthen farm debt review boards to deal with these cases that are in serious financial trouble.

This is one member who is going to work toward those objectives.

I do not believe we can allow the pressure to adapt and adjust to the blind blameless free market on a global basis to deter us from doing what is right in terms of the social and economic future of rural Canada and Canadians.

There are a number of other areas that I had hoped to speak on for a moment but I see that I am out of time so I will sit down and receive questions.

Air Safety January 31st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the Department of Transport under the previous administration initiated a study into air transport navigation systems across Canada.

One of the outcomes will be the possible replacement of air traffic control operators at a number of airports with flight service stations. My concern is that Charlottetown is one airport so targeted. Any reduction in essential services at airports is often perceived as a safety factor. The government must demonstrate that cost reduction will not impact upon safety.

I am therefore calling upon the Minister of Transport to ensure that before any action is taken as a result of this review all stakeholders on the island will be consulted. After all, we should not be following the agenda of the previous government but correcting the mistakes it made.

Therefore it is an absolute must that we consult with all parties affected before government decisions.

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I want to agree with the hon. member's comment that the social economic condition is extremely important to health care. The Minister of Human Resources Development is certainly looking at ways of improving the social safety net and making better use of every dollar spent.

The hon. member made a comment that I am intrigued and curious about. It was along the lines that a return trip to Ottawa is at a cost, I think implying that the trips of MPs and others coming to Ottawa that you leave dollars here and it is a drain.

The perception is that Ottawa is English Canada and it is a drain on all the taxpayers of Canada. Now I am not a lover of the bureaucracy by any means, I am a critic of it and we have to make improvements there.

However has the hon. member given any thought or does she know the economic spinoff in terms of the central government's efforts, Parliament and all the ministries, that go to Hull as a result? What would the losses be to Hull and to the province of Quebec if the Bloc ever got its desire to separate Quebec from Canada?

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the last part of the questioner's comments. The record certainly will show what was said. What I copied down was that the minister was being accused of negotiations to eliminate the tariffs.

That is the opposite of what the Minister of Agriculture is trying to do. I want to emphasize that fact. The minister is very much in negotiations with the secretary of agriculture for the United States and is very definitely trying to negotiate an agreement to keeps tariffs high, which is our right and should be our right under the GATT. That is exactly what he is trying to do. He is trying to have them high enough to keep our supply managed system in place, in tact and secure.

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, certainly in terms of the GATT negotiations the retaining and the strenghthening of article XI(ii)(c) was the preferred direction of the government. It ended up that it was not in the cards. What we tried to achieve at that time was the tariffication approach and to establish very high tariffs to protect our supply management industry.

The agreement does not come into place until July or August 1995. That gives us some time in order to meet with the supply management groups and other groups and to set up the system in such a way that we can have a growing and prosperous industry in the future. The supply management system in Canada, I believe and we believe as a government, is a model for the world. It provides a high quality product at reasonable prices to consumers and is a great food security policy.

The minister of agriculture is very committed in his discussions with the secretary of agriculture of the United States to trying to achieve the objectives we set out during the election of protecting and enhancing the supply management system.

It is a difficult job. We were left with negotiations when so much had been given away by the previous administration. It is a very difficult negotiation, but I believe the minister of agriculture will prevail and the supply management system will indeed survive.

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, this being my first speech in the House, I want to at this time congratulate the Speaker on his appointment to the chair and also congratulate the other Speakers so appointed.

Your job, Mr. Speaker, is a very important one and I think especially so in this 35th session of Parliament because this country really is at a crossroads. Given the mix of parties and given the mood of the public, the Speaker's position I think will be very important in terms of balancing the debates and keeping order.

I must admit that I am somewhat awed to speak in this House, and to be quite honest that surprises me. I will explain why. This is a place where I did not expect to be especially on this side of the rail because as little as 15 months ago I was completely disillusioned with the House of Commons, with the government of the day and with the bureaucracies that serve the various ministries.

I was completely disillusioned with the process and the House of Commons and the government because I had spent the last nine years going before committees to give our organization's point of view and felt that it had been a waste of time and I had not been heard. As experienced parliamentarians like to call it "this place", I felt this place had lost touch with the people that it was supposed to serve. The election of so many new members this time and of a Liberal government with a plan of direction via the red book signifies that.

However, through the course of this Parliament we must ensure that "this place" becomes "our place" from the perspective of Canadians. I think all of us on both sides of the House have a responsibility in seeing that this place becomes "our place" from the perspective of Canadians, whether it is from what we like to call the emerald isle of Prince Edward Island, the province of Quebec or Saskatchewan. This place must be where the voice of Canada and Canadians is heard.

As I mentioned a moment ago that certainly did not happen during the last nine years. The throne speech speaks of providing members of Parliament greater opportunity to contribute to the development of public policy and legislation. That is perhaps one of the most important things that we can do. We can change the direction from the past and give people the opportunity to speak and be heard. It is a very important direction and a direction in which ordinary MPs can be given the opportunity to have some power in the House of Commons to speak on behalf of their constituents and their country.

Certainly in that context, giving ordinary MPs some power, there are differences. There is debate. We have seen that in the House already. That is what a democracy is all about. It is about the thrust and pros and cons of debate and out of that debate coming up with the best solution possible.

I want to take a moment to very sincerely thank the people of Malpeque for giving me this opportunity to work with and for them. My riding really stretches from Summerside, Prince Edward Island, bypasses Charlottetown and goes to the community of Marshfield. In my riding farming, fishing and tourism are the major industries and agriculture is certainly the big one. We have many small industries and two large potato processing plants, but as an island we are very dependent in terms of exports, be it potatoes or other products from the island.

I think one thing that is significant about Prince Edward Island is that it is basically a community of communities and we believe strongly in community spirit and helping one another in times of difficulty. I think we have to relate that to Canada as well.

I come from kind of a unique experience in that I have travelled this country during the last 20 years, the last 10 as president of the National Farmers' Union. I just wish that every Canadian could have that kind of experience. We are great at criticizing our own country. I have lived about half the time in Saskatchewan, but I have travelled across the country and have seen its potential: how great a country it can be if it remains united. When foreign countries look at Canada they wonder why we are fighting among ourselves and think that with our tremendous resource base, land base and people base we should be using them to good advantage in building a nation.

The speech from the throne starts to build on some of our opportunities. Indeed there are many challenges before us as well. In the three months since the election the government has to a great extent been keeping its commitments. Last week in my province there was the announcement of a $36 million infrastructure program. It will develop critical infrastructure work and create direct and indirect jobs. Also the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has indicated that he will be providing assistance to fishermen who are having great difficulty as a result of the cod crisis.

I recognize that we do, though, face enormous challenges that have been left with us as a result of the last nine years. I recognize the government has entered into NAFTA and GATT. I share the concerns of many Canadians about both these agreements. I worry that in these agreements there is a considerable loss of sovereignty. Will we really have the right to govern or will we just be administrators of the various trade agreements? The Prime Minister has spoken to this somewhat. He has given his commitment and the commitment of the Canadian government to ensure that these trade agreements work in the interests of Canadians. That is our objective and that is our commitment.

I take exception to the comment of a Bloc Quebecois member who spoke two speakers ago. I repeat what he said. He said that the minister of agriculture was negotiating to eliminate the tariffs. That statement is wrong. The minister of agriculture is negotiating in the interests of our dairy farmers to keep the tariff levels high so that we can enhance and protect the supply management system. The government is committed to agriculture. It is committed to the supply management system. It is committed to the Canadian Wheat Board. This government offers hope for the future.

In conclusion, we are faced with a challenge to take charge in these difficult times and institute our agenda as outlined in the red book. The throne speech and the progress made to date are good starts. I emphasize again the point that by giving power to MPs, as we have indicated in the throne speech, we bring democracy back to the country, give everyone their input and certainly work in the interests of people.

The Environment January 24th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, as was mentioned in the House on Friday, the Irving Whale sank off the coast of P.E.I. some 23 years ago. It remains there today, with 3,100 tonnes of bunker sea oil in its tanks. Federal officials have tried for years to assure Islanders that the barge does not pose an environmental risk, however after 23 years few Islanders share that confidence. This is increasingly evident in recent weeks.

It has been reported that the Canadian Coast Guard has recommended the oil be pumped out. I am pleased the Minister of the Environment agrees that it is not a question of whether or

not to remove the oil but is a matter of finding the financing and is a matter being discussed within government.

It is my intention and that of my colleague, the member for Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, to continue the pressure to resolve the issue and to have the oil removed from the Irving Whale . It is time, as one committee is named, to ``bail the whale''.