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Conservative MP for Elgin—Middlesex—London (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 57.50% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees of the House March 31st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the 10th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House earlier today, be concurred in.

Committees of the House March 31st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 10th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding membership in committees of the House.

If the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence in the 10th report later this day.

Volunteer Service Award March 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to share that one of my constituents recently received a prestigious honour, the Volunteer Service Award, bestowed upon him by the Province of Ontario.

Dan Kelly has been a lead volunteer for Junior Achievement, an international organization that has been working with students in the London-St. Thomas area since 1967. This fantastic program helps high school students run their own businesses and actually sell products to consumers. This includes product development, assembly packaging, and marketing. Consultants oversee the program as volunteers each year from November to April, and over the past several years the St. Thomas operation has been led by my friend Dan Kelly of Dowler-Karn Fuels.

Volunteers like Dan Kelly and the teaching of young people the skills of business is what makes communities like Elgin—Middlesex—London a richer place. Congratulations to Dan. We are proud of him.

Community Development Funding March 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency of Ontario announced an $8 million non-repayable contribution to the Western Ontario Community Futures Development Corporation Association. This will allow it to continue to deliver the Southern Ontario Fund for Investment in Innovation in southwestern Ontario.

The minister also announced a $12 million non-repayable contribution to the Eastern Ontario Community Futures Development Corporations, to allow it to continue to deliver the Southern Ontario Fund for Investment in Innovation in southeastern Ontario.

The top-ups to each of these funds will help address the high demand for loans in both regions, with a focus on the information, communications, technology, and food processing sectors.

Unlike the opposition, our government is focused on jobs, growth, and economic prosperity. We will continue to set the right macroeconomic conditions for businesses to succeed and will continue to strategically invest in all parts of Ontario.

Committees of the House March 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House earlier today, be concurred in.

Committees of the House March 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, regarding membership of the committees of the House.

If the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence in the ninth report later today.

Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Act March 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that question fits well with what we are trying to decide here today.

A large amount of applications happened at the end of the process. Some decisions had already been made, but for the most part this is a process concerning the whole Qalipu Mi'kmaq nation. All of the applicants will be reviewed and studied in the same way, going back to those who were already there. It is only fair to look at all applicants in the same light rather than rushing because there were so many applications at the end of the process.

It is also clear that there is a need for us to get to it. Bill C-25 should pass so that we can finish this process and work on establishing the Qalipu Mi'kmaq nation and who rightfully belongs to it.

Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Act March 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thought that the minutes I had spent speaking in the House would probably answer most of those questions, but I will try to go at them again.

The review includes a reassessment of applications of those whose names currently appear on the schedule to the order that legally created the first nations. They have become members of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nations and are entitled to registration under the Indian Act. It is expected that the review process will last until the summer of 2015 and be followed by an appeal period. Once the process is completed, the schedule to the order that legally created the band, and which contains the list of names of the founding members of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation, will be amended. We are looking at between now and then for the review of the rest of the applications and completion of the process.

Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Act March 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I cannot give the member an exact answer, but I can tell him the importance of this piece of legislation. Bill C-25, although technical in nature, would enable the Governor in Council to amend the schedule for the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band order to ensure that only eligible individuals, in accordance with the enrolment criteria outlined in the 2008 agreement, are granted Indian status and the membership of the first nations.

It is important that we get this piece passed. To answer the member's question, it could be used as a model in the future. However, let us worry right now about Bill C-25, getting it done right, and, because of the timeline that has already taken place, getting it done as quickly as possible.

Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Act March 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I certainly hope that for the last hour and a bit everyone has been held in suspense waiting for the final seven minutes, notwithstanding the excitement of question period.

I was talking about how we came to where we are today and the 2008 agreement and the eligibility process. To be eligible for membership in the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band, the 2008 agreement stipulated that individuals must be of Canadian Indian ancestry, be a member or a descendant of a member of a pre-Confederation Mi'kmaq community, self-identify as a member of a Mi'kmaq group of Indians of Newfoundland, and be accepted by the Mi'kmaq group of Indians of Newfoundland based on a demonstrated or substantial cultural connection.

When the application process began in 2008, Mi'kmaq leaders and Canada expected that somewhere between 8,700 and 12,000 people would be entitled to band membership. This range seemed realistic given that there were roughly 10,500 members of the Federation of Newfoundland Indians at the time. Imagine the surprise when over 101,000 applications were submitted by the time the enrolment period ended in November 2012. Almost half of these applications, roughly 46,000, were received in the final three months before the deadline of that four-year process. Most of the applications received were from people living outside of Newfoundland.

As Chief Brendan Sheppard has stated: “It was neither reasonable nor credible to expect such a huge number of individuals to become members of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation...”. Not surprisingly, the Federation of Newfoundland Indians and Mi'kmaq residents of the province were worried about the credibility of the enrolment process and the integrity of the first nation. They wanted to be sure that the objectives of the 2008 agreement would be respected.

The intent of the 2008 agreement and the desire of the Mi'kmaq group of Indians of Newfoundland was that membership in the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation would be granted primarily to the people living in or around the province's Mi'kmaq communities named in the agreement. While individuals living outside these communities could also become members, the goal of the original signatories was that non-residents would be required to have a strong cultural connection to the Newfoundland Mi'kmaq community. This includes a sustained and active involvement in the community despite their absence.

By the fall of 2012, all parties agreed that additional steps were needed to clarify the document's requirements for the enrolment process. In response, a chief federal negotiator was appointed to explore the measures to address issues connected to the enrolment process. Fred Caron, a lawyer and former assistant deputy minister at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, collaborated closely with the chief and council of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians.

They jointly agreed on the need for improvements. On July 4, 2013, the Government of Canada and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians announced a supplemental agreement, which resolves the issues that emerged in the implementing of the 2008 agreement.

For instance, the 2013 supplemental agreement extends the timelines to review applications, ensuring that all previously unprocessed applications will be thoroughly reviewed and also ensuring that all applicants will be treated fairly and equitably.

It ensures that all applications received during all phases of the enrolment process will be assessed or reassessed, except those previously rejected. This guarantees that all applicants, no matter when they applied in the process, will be treated in a manner that ensures that their application is considered to the fullest extent required to determine membership.

Especially important, the 2013 supplemental agreement guaranteed that anyone whose application is reviewed will be sent written notification and that those who have submitted a valid application will be given the opportunity to provide additional documentation if required.

It also clarifies how an applicant's self-identification as a member of the Mi'kmaq group of Indians of Newfoundland is assessed. It provides guidance related to an individual's acceptance to the Mi'kmaq group of Indians of Newfoundland. This information is particularly relevant to individuals not residing in Newfoundland Mi'kmaq communities.

This reasonable approach is the only way to ensure the integrity of the enrolment process and that the rules of eligibility for memberships are fairly applied so that all applicants are treated equitably. That is what Mi'kmaq residents of Newfoundland demand and what all Canadians expect.

I would remind members that status brings with it a range of important social and economic benefits, something that cannot and should not be taken lightly. For these reasons, determination of the eligibility of applicants is being made by the enrolment committee, which includes two federal representatives, two Mi'kmaq representatives, and one independent chair.

In the meantime, all current members will retain their status cards. They will continue to be eligible for benefits that are conferred on registered Indians until such time as their status might change, based on the determination of the enrolment committee.

Acquiring first nations status will help the Mi'kmaq of Newfoundland create and maintain a strong foundation of Mi'kmaq culture, growth, and development. This will lead to a better future for today's generation and all those who follow. This is something that generations of Mi'kmaq residents of the province have fought long and hard for, since the 1970s. It is time to resolve this complex and long-running matter, so that those who belong to the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation can finally realize this potential.

Some Liberal members are suggesting that the supplemental agreement signed by our government and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians, which is essential for the establishment of the fairness and equitability of all applicants, stands for nothing. These assertions speak to members putting their own personal motives ahead of the interests of those they claim to represent. Our government asserts that the integrity and credibility of the band should be upheld above all else.

These interests are what make Bill C-25 so important. Once the review process is over, the schedule to the order in council that legally created the first nation in 2011 will need to be amended. This is to reflect the fact that some of the names will likely be removed and others will be added to the list of the names of the founding members of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation.

I call on all parties to join us in passing Bill C-25. Let us take these important steps in the process for the Mi'kmaq people of Newfoundland, so they can finally settle these issues and move on to enjoy the benefits of being a first nation.