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Crucial Fact

Conservative MP for West Nova (Nova Scotia)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 47.00% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Marine Mammal Regulations March 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have learned a lot in preparing for this bill in terms of the incredible importance in the north and the communities that really depend on this activity, certainly in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Even in the member's area, the coast of B.C., there is interest in what goes on.

There are a lot of issues that go on in the seal business. We talked about whether there are too many seals. This particular industry has been established. It had a black eye decades ago. There are images, such as of Paul McCartney and his wife out on the ice, and it becomes very dramatic. By the way, that in itself was a safety issue, but we will leave that one alone.

What we are finding from reasonably thinking people in Canada is that, whether or not they like the industry, it is a legal, legitimate industry that provides a lot of income and support to families. In that case, if it is going to be done, which it is, then people want to see the industry protected in the right way. Nobody believes those illegal activities should be condoned or supported. This is one more effort to make sure the illegal activity is controlled.

Marine Mammal Regulations March 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, more in recent years, the department and the coast guard have become concerned. Those who are licensed can get very close. They are monitored. There are people from government constantly monitoring the activity.

The most notable incident was when a environmentalist group brought a boat in several years ago. They did indeed get up into that range and did start breaking up a lot of ice. What was apparent then to the authorities was that the ice could easily break at that distance, within the half nautical mile. That became a major concern.

I did meet with industry, and I am not aware that it had concerns about monitoring and policing. That is certainly something I would pass along. I do know they welcome and support the extended distance, because when their folks are out standing on the ice, the last thing they want to worry about is the ice disappearing below them.

We are heading in the right direction. If there is more needed down the road, I am sure we will be quite prepared to look at it.

Marine Mammal Regulations March 6th, 2014

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-555, An Act respecting the Marine Mammal Regulations (seal fishery observation licence).

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Yukon for seconding this bill. I know he is quite passionate about the topic.

I rise today to speak to Bill C-555, An Act respecting the Marine Mammal Regulations (seal fishery observation licence). I believe that this is a sensible proposition and one that deserves the support of the House.

The proposed change to the Marine Mammal Regulations is straightforward and to the point. Essentially, it seeks to increase the distance unauthorized persons must maintain from seal harvesters. The bill would change the safety distance to a full nautical mile instead of the present half nautical mile.

The House should endorse this bill to show that we support the legitimate economic activities of the sealers. We should provide as safe an environment as possible for them to work in. Each day spent on the ice is a day spent on the ragged edge of safety, and that is without opponents putting the sealers lives in danger by disrupting the seal hunt.

This bill would serve to strengthen the safety aspect of the Marine Mammal Regulations and enhance the government's ability to enforce the requirements set out in the regulations. To be clear, the intention is to preserve the authority and discretion of the Governor in Council to modify the regulations in the future through the normal regulatory process, as opposed to having to do it by legislation.

For decades now there have been many radical groups that have wanted to disrupt the seal hunt, but there are also those who legitimately want to monitor the hunting up close. Any person can apply to Fisheries and Oceans Canada for a licence to observe the seal harvest, and I want to stress that this is a licence to observe and not a licence to intervene. Any person failing to respect the condition of the licence can indeed be fined or arrested. Thankfully, these incidents have been few and far between.

Indeed, the government can and will refuse to issue licences to anyone who intends to disrupt the seal harvest or otherwise interfere with sealers' activities. Under the regulations, anyone convicted of violating the conditions of a sealing fishery observation licence may not be eligible for another licence in the future.

There are those who do not want to comply and do not want licences. They simply want to disrupt the seal hunt. These are the people we must be concerned with.

It is the safety concerns pointed out by DFO officials that we are working on. The recommendation is to go from a half nautical mile buffer to the full nautical mile to ensure that people will not be able to break up the ice when they approach.

I want to point out that there have actually been recorded incidents in the past when large, unlicensed vessels have been there simply to disrupt the livelihoods of sealers. When these large vessels are out on the ice floes where the sealers legally are, the ice can be broken a long way away. Big ships within a half nautical mile have indeed caused some very dangerous situations in the past. We are not saying that we can stop them forever, but what we can do through this bill is keep them at a safe distance. That is what we are really asking for.

The additional cushion would ensure that seal harvesters could go about their jobs without the fear of disruption from vessels that come too close to the sealing activity.

We fully support the legitimate seal industry. We are steadfast in saying that the seal harvest is a humane, sustainable, and well-regulated activity. This is not an attempt to disguise or hide the seal hunt. This bill would do nothing to change the rules under which legitimate licensed observers must carry themselves. Any attempt to paint this as a way to hide the hunt is more of the same misinformation that has been going on for some time.

Our government fully supports the Canadian sealing industry, as I have said. For over 300 years, it has been in business. It would ensure sealers' safety in carrying on this long-standing and crucial industry.

The Canadian sealing industry has a highly professional workforce committed to upholding high standards in the harvest efforts. Our government is doing what it takes to ensure that the harvest remains as safe as possible. While we respect the right of individuals to form opinions on any matter, we will not accept illegal activities that attempt to disrupt a legitimate industry such as the seal hunt.

The government will continue to defend the seal hunt as an important source of food and income for coastal and Inuit communities. We stand behind the thousands of Canadians who depend on the seal harvest to provide a livelihood for their families. We are defending those Canadians who rely on the harvest to maintain their culture, tradition, and quality of life.

I encourage all members of the House to support this bill and help ensure the safety of our sealers.

Yarmouth Lightstation March 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, cap Fourchu, at the mouth of Yarmouth Harbour in Nova Scotia, has been welcoming visitors since 1604, when Samuel de Champlain landed and named the area cap Fourchu. By 1870, Yarmouth was the second largest port of registry in Canada and the cap Fourchu Lightstation had become a very important shipping beacon.

By the 1990s, lighthouses were becoming obsolete. Local citizens of Yarmouth County formed the Friends of the Yarmouth Light Society to preserve this important piece of nautical history. In 2003, the Province of Nova Scotia registered the cap Fourchu Lightstation as a heritage property. cap Fourchu Lightstation is featured on this year's cover of the Tourism Doers' & Dreamers' Travel Guide issued by the Province of Nova Scotia.

Congratulations to the amazing volunteers in Yarmouth County who have preserved this icon and have reminded us of our connection to the sea.

Sealing Industry March 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the seal hunt has helped to support rural coastal communities in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, and the north for centuries.

Sealers put their lives on their line each time they step on the ice. I presented Bill C-555 in order to put in place better protections for all those involved in the seal hunt.

Would the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans please tell the House our government's position on this bill?

Marine Mammal Regulations November 27th, 2013

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-555, An Act respecting the Marine Mammal Regulations (seal fishery observation licence).

Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce a private member's bill, an act respecting the Marine Mammal Regulations on seal fishery observation licences.

I want to thank the member for Yukon for seconding the bill. He has a real interest in this topic and definitely supports the seal hunt. The bill requires the Governor in Council to amend the Marine Mammal Regulations to increase the distance that a person must maintain from another person who is fishing for seals, except those with a legitimate observation licence.

The bill is important because it concerns the safety of everyone involved in the seal hunt, including licensed observers.

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

World Junior A Hockey Challenge November 5th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, the World Junior A Hockey Challenge is under way in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, which is in the great riding of West Nova. The event takes place from November 4 to November 10.

Yarmouth has the unique distinction of being the first town to host this tournament more than once. It is a great honour for everyone involved.

The tournament attracts thousands of visitors and will showcase some of the world's top young players from the United States, Russia, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and, of course, Canada.

Though the finals will be in Yarmouth, games will take place in communities throughout southwestern Nova Scotia. It is a great opportunity for the area.

I congratulate the volunteers, surrounding communities, and the town of Yarmouth, which has won the right to host this event once again.

I wish the best of luck to our athletes, and again, congratulations to everyone involved.

Committees of the House June 4th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, entitled "Depleted Uranium and Canadian Veterans".

Committees of the House December 11th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs in relation to its review of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, VRAB, activities.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons the committee requests the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Halifax Harbour December 6th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, today marks 95 years since the Halifax explosion. On this day in 1917, two ships, the Imo and the Mont Blanc, loaded with explosives for the war effort, collided in Halifax Harbour causing the largest man-made explosion until the atomic bomb.

The explosion levelled the surrounding area. Shock waves were felt on Prince Edward Island. The blast was so powerful that it created a tsunami and sent the anchor of the Mont Blanc 3.2 kilometres inland. The devastation left nearly 2,000 people dead and 9,000 injured.

Despite the tragic destruction and during a major blizzard, a rescue effort resulted that was nothing short of heroic. For example, Boston sent a rescue train immediately with supplies and medical aid. To this day, Nova Scotia sends a Christmas tree to the city of Boston to commemorate the help it provided.

Let us never forget the impact of this disaster and the compassion of our fellow man.