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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 February 17th, 2015
It was that close, you are right.
Mr. Speaker, we had great support from the various parties and very positive input. For those who were at the Seal Day that took place in the Speaker's quarters inside, when we were talking to the native folks who were here, we heard what they had to say and how incredibly dedicated they are to doing it right and how important it has been to their actual survival. It is the income that in many cases provides the food on the table and provides the opportunity to look after families. They, I think, sometimes are puzzled as to how the uninformed or misinformed people can be so negative about what this achieves within their community and their culture. Anything we can do to keep supporting it and making sure it is done correctly I think is a very important thing, and we in the House can make sure that it happens.
Marine Mammal Regulations February 17th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, we did not quite get unanimous support. One member could not quite come with us. However, we have had great support across the--
Marine Mammal Regulations February 17th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I did mention the Seal Days on the Hill as being one of the efforts to recognize the importance of sealing to both the culture, the livelihood, and the economies of northern communities. I agree with the member that it is important to keep putting sealing forward. I also indicated that this industry has been under way for some 300 years in our country and has made great strides and great improvements over the years. However, we must remain vigilant and continue to support it. It is part of how our country was developed. I certainly agree that anything we do to keep promoting it is a positive thing to do.
Marine Mammal Regulations February 17th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, that is an activity that obviously goes beyond just a private member's bill. It would require the government standing up and making those points very clear.
In fact, the government has repeatedly made it clear and has gained some ground with respect to some of the European market. As the member knows, it is a tough market to defeat and bring onside, but we feel that we must continue the information and education process that is particularly necessary in the European market.
Canada has been very clear that we will do everything we can to support this industry, to make sure it is done correctly, and to recognize its important role in the economy of our country.
Marine Mammal Regulations February 17th, 2015
moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank members who have participated in Bill C-555, an act respecting the Marine Mammal Regulations (seal fishery observation licence), commonly referred as the triple nickel bill. I am pleased that the bill is at this stage, because it shows, first of all, continuing interest in and support of safety in the seal hunt. It also shows the government's recognition of the seal harvest as a legitimate livelihood.
For more than 300 years, Canadians have relied on the sealing industry to support their families, and today I am really pleased that we are continuing the support for this important industry.
Many members may have enjoyed in recent days the Seal Day held on Parliament Hill. A number of aboriginal representatives from northern Canada showed how important sealing is to the culture and the economy of their communities. I am particularly pleased that the Minister of the Environment and the member for Yukon led the way in that. For those who enjoyed it, certainly they saw some great food, entertainment, and wonderful clothing made from seal skins.
I am glad that members from both sides have been supportive of the bill thus far, as most have been. This whole process is to make sure that we look at legitimate safety within a legal industry. The bill would simply create a larger zone of safety around the sealing expedition. It would go from one-half to a full nautical mile.
When we reflect on the need for the bill, an obvious question comes to mind: why is it that some people are prepared to endanger sealers and those around them and those who are protecting the public? One example stands out. In 2008, the Sea Shepherd irresponsibly and illegally endangered not only the sealers but licensed observers, and it caused considerable damage to a Coast Guard vessel.
We think this continues because of three basic misconceptions that keep cropping up. One, of course, is that the seal hunt is inhumane. Many years have gone by. With the 50th anniversary of the Seal Protection Regulations, many changes have taken place. The sealers are very responsible and very much aware of making sure they do things right. We think it is time for that myth to go, because it is a humane industry and a humane harvest that takes place.
The second myth that kicks around is the sense that this is unsustainable, which may have been possibly a concern back in the fifties and sixties, but today there are over seven million harp seals. They have almost exploded in population and indeed have become a threat to other fish, particularly cod. It is way overdue that we let that myth go by, because not only is it sustainable but it is done in a most efficient manner. Maintaining a healthy sea population is to the benefit of all sealers, and certainly it is to their advantage to make sure it continues.
The third myth is that the seal harvest is not thoroughly regulated, and that is absolutely incorrect. Fisheries and Oceans officials have worked hard over the past decades to make sure that sealers are well educated, well informed, and well regulated, and they certainly do their industry in the most productive and most supportive manner. These regulations make sure that in collaboration with the Coast Guard, policing authorities, provincial authorities, and so on, they are followed. It is important that the officials ensure not only safety but that the proper methods are followed.
It is unacceptable to let the critics simply spread misinformation, but it has been part of almost a worldwide effort for some time. It has been easy for some on the sidelines to make these very incorrect accusations. Today we know that we have not only a sustainable and a very well-regulated industry but an industry that remains incredibly important to the Inuit and the northern population and certainly to many communities in Atlantic Canada. Violations are taken very seriously, with fines, and the process is followed very closely by authorities as well.
This bill, as I said, would double the zone of safety. There is a very thorough process with regard to becoming a licensed observer, and the bill would make sure that both observers and sealers are protected. It would ensure that this legal and legitimate industry is allowed to pursue its course of action and harvest in a safe and thoughtful way and that those who simply want to protest and cause disruption are not allowed to interfere with this legal ongoing industry.
The end result of the effort here is to bring about improvements. We realize there will be more to come. There are certainly more things that should be considered and looked at in this very important industry.
I want to end by saying that we in the House, the government, and I think the general population, in taking the time to understand what this bill is about, realize that sealing is very much a part of both the culture, the background, and the economy of many communities. We want to ensure that it becomes a bit safer, and that is what this bill would do. I appreciate the support of the House and I hope we get this bill moved forward.
Care for Veterans November 25th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to enter the discussion this evening in support of the motion put forward by my colleague from Edmonton Centre.
I will start off by pointing out that, as chair of the veterans affairs committee, I certainly was pleased that we had unanimous consent and support from all members of the committee to proceed with the report. One of the important recommendations within the report is one that my colleague and friend has been promoting for some time. I think we have all been promoting it.
We sometimes get a little carried away in this place, and I was pleased that did not happen at committee stage. We focused on improving services to veterans and picking up on some of the gaps. We committed ourselves to moving forward. All of us on the committee agreed that there are a lot of great services available to our veterans, as there should be. Are there opportunities to improve? Absolutely. Are there challenges? Of course, there are. We have to focus on where we are going.
To unnecessarily upset veterans is unfortunate, but it does happen, and I realize that this is the political climate. I would like to focus on where we are and where we are going moving forward. We will never get everything done that we think should be done, but that is the nature of the kind of services that we need to provide to our veterans.
The motion refers to one of the things that we have seen and heard for some time is a challenge, and that is the fact that many veterans have slipped through the cracks in getting service in a timely manner. I have heard members from all sides refer to this as incredibly important, and it was the committee's number one recommendation.
Veterans are often transitioned out of DND, and they end up in Veterans Affairs. There can be gaps of time in getting the appropriate services that they deserve. We all agree that is an important challenge to face. We do not know what these two departments do together or how united they become in the end result, but we are absolutely committed to making sure that when somebody leaves DND and enters veterans services that they are entering a seamless and absolutely supportive system. We are committed to making sure that they do not have to spend months waiting to go from one department to another, one bureaucracy to another bureaucracy.
I spoke to one lady during the committee process who had gone through the system. She was a medical person, and even with her knowledge she waited for over 12 months to be transitioned from DND to Veterans Affairs.
Part of the problem that these individuals face is the interpretation of the degree of the problem, or the medical challenge that they face, the recognition by Veterans Affairs that if they left DND with some serious challenges, they should automatically be accepted by Veterans Affairs. Unfortunately, for some reason that has become a problem for many of our veterans.
People with medical challenges who have done their service feel that they are alone, that there are not enough services available to them, even though there are all kinds of terrific services. The problem they face is accessing those services. That is the critical entry point. My friend and colleague's motion says that we should keep the pressure on, that we need to keep focusing on where we are going.
There were 14 major recommendations that the committee felt the government should focus on. Most of the organizations and groups agreed that these recommendations are the timely and important ones. The ombudsman said they are important, and he wants to make sure that we continue to be focused on them. The government has accepted some of the recommendations up front, and it continues to add its support and acceptance of the recommendations. As we continue down this road, our job is to make sure that all of the recommendations are enacted and supported. Our veterans deserve that. We all agree that it is the right thing to do.
It is important, as well, that we do not unnecessarily confuse or alarm our veterans. Many veterans get great service, and they are happy to get it. However, there is no question that there are those who are going to be difficult. There are also those who will probably never be happy with what we do, but that should never stop us or get us off course in doing what is right for our veterans.
Doing what is right for our veterans is consulting with them, listening to them and then acting in the best possible way on behalf of them and the taxpayers to deliver services that look after their needs for many years to come.
I know that when we finished the committee report, and when we presented it to the government, there was a great feeling that it was a huge step forward. For those who are asking why are they not done, some of these things require us to go back and consult with the veterans' organizations on implementation. We cannot force them. For instance, the family resource centres are being looked at. How do we engage them more? We cannot go out and tell a separate organization that this is what it is going to do. We are here to help, we want to help and organizations should let us know the best way to proceed.
In some cases these things happen quickly and in some cases it takes months of discussion, always with the sense that we must do it, we must complete it, we must get there together to benefit all our veterans. We are absolutely convinced that that is under way and will happen.
For those who are impatient, I would just ask them to look deeper than the lines that are being thrown out here. They should talk to veterans and ask them if they want it done correctly or quickly. They will tell people that of course they would like to have it quickly and correctly, but correctly is far more important. The veterans want long-term support and long-term delivery, and we want to ensure we do it in the right manner to benefit them.
I would also point out that it is important, as we carry through, we keep the dialogue going with the veterans to ask them how we are making out. There are a lot of organizations out there, perhaps there are too many organizations. It is one of those things we have to discuss with them to ensure we hear clear messages as to progress and results. That will continue to happen.
I am delighted that Walt Natynczyk is now the new deputy minister of Veterans Affairs. He was the former chief of the defence staff. He was the head honcho there. For him to be in Veterans Affairs, I really believe the motion that our colleague has raised will becomes a reality even more efficiently and more quickly, perhaps because he gets it. He understands this issues of appropriate transitions, appropriate delivery of service and appropriate follow-up for the veterans.
He has now seen both sides of the table, and he will help the progress along a great deal. It was a good move on behalf of the government to appoint him as the deputy minister of Veterans Affairs.
I do not think anybody from any party would question the logic of having him as the deputy minister in this transition period. He will understand the departments, the veterans and he will help us on this course as we move down the road.
It has been frustrating for many of us when we get into this discussion, but I really believe all members, regardless of party, care about and are concerned about veterans. There is no doubt in my mind. Sometimes we get caught up in some misinformation, occasionally. It is not a deliberate thing to misinform, but sometimes that happens. We must be careful that we are unnecessarily confusing the veterans or giving them the wrong information, and I am talking about all sides, all parties.
I am glad my colleague raised the motion. It reminds us there is work to be done. It reminds us that veterans are a top priority. It reminds us that we are making progress. It also reminds us that we must stay vigilant, focused and committed to ensuring we deliver the very best service we can to our veterans.
Committees of the House October 30th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs in relation to Bill C-27, an act to amend the Public Service Employment Act, enhancing hiring opportunities for certain serving and former members of the Canadian Forces.
The committee has studied the bill and decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.
National Defence October 28th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, when we were first elected, our government significantly increased the budget for the Canadian Armed Forces. This allowed the military to undertake some major capital acquisitions, including the purchase of 4 C-17 Globemaster strategic airlift craft, 17 C-130J Hercules tactical transport aircraft, and the Aurora modernization project.
Could the Minister of Justice please update the House on the contribution our modern CP-140 Auroras and CF Greenwood will be making to Operation Impact in the fight against ISIL?
Committees of the House June 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs in relation to a study on the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act, statutory review of the Act.
We are delighted that this is a unanimous report of all the members involved and in the House. I certainly want to thank them for their co-operation, which is a very positive thing. I also want to point out that the analysts did a terrific job in their supporting effort. We are very pleased that this report is in the House right now.
Veterans Hiring Act June 2nd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, actually, I liked your answer on the topic very much.
In this study that we just finished, which we will hear more about tomorrow, we heard from some 55 or so witnesses who came before us. There were a variety of differences in opinion on the programs, and some would disagree with each other on occasion, and so on. We were careful not to go into why they were there or if they were from a particular organization or group, unless they registered that they were with an organization such as Wounded Warriors, et cetera.
The safe answer would be that we have heard from many different individuals, as veterans, with many different ideas. We tried to listen to them all.