Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Nipissing (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2000, with 57.04% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Petitions November 5th, 2003
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a number of petitions pursuant to Standing Order 36 signed by hundreds of residents of northern Ontario.
The petitioners call upon Parliament to take all necessary means to maintain and support the definition of marriage in Canada as affirmed on June 8, 1999.
National Defence October 29th, 2003
Mr. Speaker, as you know, the House of Commons has a very successful program which allows MPs to spend time at a military base in Canada.
I had the opportunity last week to spend it at 14 Wing in Greenwood, Nova Scotia. I was able to see at first hand what 14 Wing really means to our air force and especially to the east coast of Canada. I must say that I was extremely impressed.
During the week, I spent a lot of time with 415 Squadron, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Yvan Boilard. As part of its job, it cooperates with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to patrol and identify fishing vessels within the 200 mile limit of our east coast. I flew on two of these patrols in the Davis Strait of Newfoundland-Labrador.
I also had the opportunity of flying in the newly purchased Cormorant helicopter with 413 Squadron. It is proving to be a great investment by the Canadian government.
To Wing Commander Colonel Gerry Morey, the members of Swordfish Squadron and all those at CFB Greenwood who made my stay so enjoyable, I wish to express my thanks. It was a wonderful experience and I encourage all my colleagues in the House to take advantage of this worthwhile program.
Veterans Affairs September 30th, 2003
Mr. Speaker, as we approach November 11, MPs such as myself start planning for the various Remembrance Day activities in our ridings. This year veterans affairs will be sending one complimentary commemorative wreath to each MP instead of each branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Does this mean MPs have to pay for additional commemorative wreaths?
Committees of the House June 12th, 2003
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, entitled “Honouring the Pledge: Ensuring Quality Long-Term Care for Veterans”. Pursuant to Standing Order 109 the committee requests a government response within 150 days.
Also I would like to take a few seconds to express my personal thanks to some people for their dedication and help in the preparation of this report. First I would like to thank Diane Deschamps, the clerk of the subcommittee, whose leadership and organizational skills helped keep the committee and me on track and on time, Michel Rossignol, who authored the report, and Wolf Koerner from the Parliamentary Research Branch.
I would like to thank the staff and administrators of all the facilities we visited, regional and provincial authorities and Veterans Affairs Canada officials. Most of all, I must express our deep gratitude to the veterans themselves, who shared their personal thoughts and ideas, quite openly I might add, with members of the committee.
Pension Act June 3rd, 2003
Madam Speaker, I am pleased that today the House starts third reading debate on Bill C-31, an act to amend the Pension Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act.
The fast turnaround time from its introduction on April 10 and the speed with which the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs gave it unanimous approval on May 8 clearly reflects how strongly we all feel for the members of our Canadian Forces and the RCMP.
Thus, when they are sent to areas of operations of elevated risk, all of us are one in the conviction that they should have the most comprehensive coverage and the speediest access possible to disability pension and also health benefits. That is exactly what Bill C-31 accomplishes. Let me briefly recap the highlights of the bill.
For decades now, Canadian service personnel have served abroad in areas of elevated risk designated as special duty areas, or SDAs, as part of United Nations peacekeeping activities for which Canada has become renowned. Quite rightly, they receive disability protection 24 hours a day, 7 days a week when they serve in these designated areas, but the administrative process to officially designate such an area is unduly lengthy and can take up to several months.
The bill before us today will help relieve the anxiety of our service personnel and their families by speeding up the process.
An SDA can quickly be designated by the Minister of National Defence, or the Solicitor General in the case of the RCMP, in consultation with the Minister of Veterans Affairs, and thereby give peace of mind to them before they are sent out for deployment. In fact, the bill extends coverage to include travel to and from special designated areas. Simply speeding up the process does not help those who are similarly at elevated risk while serving inside Canada or in assignments that cannot be geographically described as falling within a special duty area.
The bill now creates a new service category called special duty operation. This new designation recognizes that the face of war and the other challenges to peace and security have undergone tremendous change. Geography no longer offers non-combatant nations a cocoon of safety. Terrorism, in all its forms and disguises, presents a real and a present danger. We may never know where or in what form terrorism may strike next.
It is to this less easily definable battlefield that Canada sends out her men and women in uniform to protect us. Often the enemy is hard to identify, the lines of conflict are not clearly known and the nature of danger is difficult to determine. The new SDO designation takes into account the fluidity of such operations abroad and within our country. These operations are just as hazardous as special duty areas.
It is important to emphasize that special duty operations can encompass situations within our own borders. Think of the devastating floods and the ice storms we have experienced in recent times in Canada, or of the dangers of search and rescue operations. They expose our uniformed citizens to greater than usual danger.
Just as with special designated areas, this piece of legislation also provides RCMP personnel who serve in special designated operations with the same degree of coverage as their military counterparts.
A large spectrum of military operations could be covered by an SDA or an SDO designation. They include armed conflicts in missions conducted under the auspices of the United Nations and NATO and within coalitions of like-minded countries. Domestically, operations authorized under the Emergencies Act or the National Defence Act could also trigger an SDO designation covering such eventualities as disaster relief operations and in-Canada anti-terrorism service.
The spectrum of RCMP operations that could be similarly designated runs a parallel but not necessarily identical track. These operations could include police service within armed conflict situations, again under the auspices of the UN operations abroad, where the officers would be exposed to elevated levels of risk over a specific period of time. These situations might well include activities aimed at re-establishing social order, rebuilding social institutions and offering police training and services to wartorn nations trying to re-establish civil order.
The bill allows for the provision of the best coverage possible for members of the Canadian Forces and RCMP sent to areas of operations of elevated risk, and their families. A grateful and caring nation takes it upon herself to provide this as a duty of pride. I thank all my colleagues in the House for their unanimous support for this bill and ask members to give it swift passage today.
Ernest Alvia “Smokey” Smith June 2nd, 2003
Mr. Speaker, on May 23 in his hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia, Ernest Alvia “Smokey” Smith received a Minister of Veterans Affairs commendation.
In citing Mr. Smith's achievements, the minister stated that Smokey has become an invaluable and enormously effective remembrance ambassador. He has represented veterans with distinction during many overseas pilgrimages and in countless commemorative ceremonies across this country.
Smokey Smith is the last Canadian Victoria Cross recipient alive today. A selfless individual, over the years, Smokey has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to ensuring that Canadians, and especially Canadian youth, forever remember the service and sacrifice of his comrades.
We are thankful for Smokey Smith. We can think of no finer individual worthy of this recognition by the Minister of Veterans Affairs.
Veterans Affairs May 12th, 2003
Mr. Speaker, veterans, through their organizations, such as The Royal Canadian Legion, the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada and the National Council of Veterans Associations, have raised several priority issues lately, such as the extension of VIP for widows for life, which they would like addressed by the government.
Could the Minister of Veterans Affairs let the House know what progress has been made on these files?
Veterans Affairs March 17th, 2003
Mr. Speaker, the official opening of the Juno Beach Centre in Normandy, France will be on June 6 this year.
The centre, which was developed by a group of World War II veterans who participated in the D-Day landings, will be the first Canadian second world war interactive centre in Europe.
Could the Minister of Veterans Affairs please update the House on the involvement of the Government of Canada in this particular project?
Veterans Affairs February 25th, 2003
Mr. Speaker, this September marks the 85th anniversary of the liberation of Cagnicourt, France by Canadian troops during the first world war. Could the Minister of Veterans Affairs tell the House how Canada plans to be represented at the ceremony in Cagnicourt marking this important anniversary?