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  • Her favourite word is health.

Conservative MP for Sarnia—Lambton (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 52.60% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my colleague from Huron—Bruce for sharing his time with me and for his very informative and well-researched speech. It was very good.

I am honoured to add my voice in support of today's debate on Bill C-31, which proposes to legislate key elements of economic action plan 2014.

Economic action plan 2014 would play a key role in strengthening Canada's economy now and in the future, with positive measures that would advance economic progress and prosperity. Today I would like to highlight some of the act's key measures that target the financial sector.

Canadians should be proud of our financial services sector. It plays a fundamental role, transforming savings into productive investment in the economy; facilitating the efficient management of risk; and providing the payment infrastructure necessary for the exchange of goods, services,and financial assets.

Canada's financial system is widely considered one of the most resilient and best-regulated in the world. For the sixth year in a row, the World Economic Forum has recognized our banking system as the soundest in the world. Moreover, five Canadian financial institutions were among the top 20 in Bloomberg's most recent list of the world's strongest financial institutions, which is more than any other country.

Since the start of the global financial crisis, the government has implemented a number of measures to maintain Canada's financial sector advantage. These measures are designed to reinforce the stability of the sector and to encourage competition. Today's legislation proposes new initiatives that would build on Canada's financial sector advantage.

We have Canada's anti-money-laundering and anti-terrorist-financing regime. This measure, as I have just said, concerns strengthening Canada's anti-money-laundering and anti-terrorist-financing regime. Our government is committed to a strong and comprehensive regime that is at the forefront of the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing and that safeguards the integrity of Canada's financial system and the safety and security of Canadians. Canada's regime remains strong and effective and is consistent with international standards. However, it is important to continually improve Canada's regime to address emerging risks, including virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, to strengthen Canada's international leadership in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

Following an extensive multi-year review process, our government is proposing various updates, including enhancing the ability of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, or FINTRAC, to disclose to federal partners threats to the security of Canada, consistent with the government's response to the Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of the Bombing of Air India Flight 182. This measure would help keep Canadians safe and would strengthen our financial institutions against white-collar crime.

Next, let us talk about the co-operative capital markets regulator. While Canada's financial system has been rated one of the soundest in the world, we have a capital markets regulatory system that can and must be improved. At a time when talented people and sought-after capital are flowing across borders as never before, competition in financial markets today is fierce. If we want Canadians to succeed in the global marketplace, we need to continually improve our system. Critics of the current system believe that it is overly complex, inefficient, and a barrier to foreign investment in Canada, and they are right. That is why, last September, our government and the Governments of British Columbia and Ontario agreed to establish a co-operative capital markets regulator. In fact, Terry Campbell, president of the Canadian Bankers Association, applauded today's move by the Governments of Canada, British Columbia, and Ontario to establish a co-operative capital markets regulator, which would offer improved investor protection and greater efficiencies in capital markets in participating provinces.

He further stated that:

We appreciate the federal government's perseverance and leadership on this important economic issue as Canada's current fragmented system puts us out of step with other countries around the world. Today's announcement by these three governments is a significant first step and we encourage other provinces to participate in the proposed system.

Today's legislation includes authority for payments to eligible provinces and territories for costs related to the transition to the co-operative capital markets regulatory system. The co-operative regulator will better protect investors, enhance Canada's financial services sector, support more efficient capital markets, and more effectively manage systemic risk in national capital markets.

Along with British Columbia and Ontario, our government continues to invite all other provinces and territories to participate in the implementation of the co-operative system.

In recent budgets, the government has introduced a number of measures to strengthen Canada's regulatory regime for over-the-counter derivatives consistent with its G20 commitments. Canada's major banks, the largest participants in this market, are subject to effective prudential supervision by the Superintendent of Financial Institutions on their over-the-counter derivatives transactions. Major jurisdictions are deciding whether to let foreign banks transact over-the-counter derivatives in their markets based on Canadian rules or their own rules.

Bill C-31 would amend the Bank Act to create an explicit regulation-making power for banks regarding over-the-counter derivatives. This would facilitate the integration and consolidation of over-the-counter derivatives regulations with the co-operative capital markets regulator when it becomes operational. It would also make it easier for foreign regulators to assess the Canadian regulatory framework in their equivalency determinations, which would benefit Canadian banks when transacting with foreign counterparties.

Our government has taken significant steps to make our financial system more stable, reduce systemic risks, and ensure we have the flexibility and power to support financial institutions during a crisis.

For example, in budget 2008, our government modernized the authorities of the Bank of Canada to support the stability of the financial system. The bank used these enhanced powers to redistribute liquidity to financial institutions, a key element in preserving the flow of credit to Canadians and businesses during the so-called “credit crunch”.

Bill C-31 builds on initiatives such as this by proposing amendments to permit the Bank of Canada to provide banking and custodial services to the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Lastly, I want to briefly highlight how our government is making Canada an even better place to create and expand a business. For example, promoting the exploration of Canada's rich mineral resources by junior mining companies offers important benefits in terms of job creation and economic development right across the country, including rural and northern communities.

Economic action plan 2014 is building on the responsible resource development plan launched in economic action plan 2012 with new and renewed measures to support further investments in Canada's natural resource sectors. For example, the 15% mineral exploration tax credit helps junior mineral exploration companies raise capital by providing an incentive to investors in flow-through shares issued to finance mineral exploration.

The Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia noted that it is pleased to see the return of the mineral exploration tax credit in the budget: “Many of our members are having difficulty raising capital in these financially challenging times, and the renewal is much appreciated”.

To conclude, our government will remain focused on what matters to Canadians: jobs and economic growth. Ensuring Canada's economic advantage today will translate into the long-term prosperity of tomorrow.

International Development March 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, people in my riding are concerned with the health of newborns and their mothers around the world, especially in developing countries.

Since 2010 with the signing of the Muskoka initiative, Canada has been instrumental in helping drive global efforts to help mothers and children, pledging $2.85 billion to an initiative that will save the lives of 1.3 million children and 64,000 mothers.

Can the parliamentary secretary please update the House on the announcement that was made yesterday furthering our country's support for women and children?

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

Mr. Speaker, certainly we need to move forward with the bill, and swiftly. We have had years of discussions with the FNI regarding its aspirations for the recognition of the Mi'kmaq of the island of Newfoundland.

The parties to the agreements want to move as quickly as possible to, once and for, all complete the membership enrolment for the Qalipu Mi'kmaq, and the bill, being the last piece required to resolve this issue of the recognition, is something that both the Federation of Newfoundland Indians and the Government of Canada are anxious to do and to see it move forward.

We have to remember that Bill C-25 reflects the original intent of the parties as it was outlined in the 2008 agreement for the recognition of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq Band, and it supports the implementation of the 2013 supplemental agreement.

There is no reason not to move forward quickly, and we are moving ahead with this legislation now, making sure that all applicants are treated fairly and equitably during the review process. We want to make sure that everything is in place to act swiftly as soon as that enrolment committee makes the recommendation for the founding members list.

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

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has spent countless hours working on behalf of first nations and we certainly appreciate what she has done in that regard. Her heart is definitely behind her work and what she has been doing.

This agreement is supported on both sides, by the FNI and by the government. That is extremely important. We must remember that each application for membership in the Qalipu Mi'kmaq is being assessed on its own merits, and that is the way it should be. There is no quota for a maximum number of members who will be registered at the end of the enrolment process, but we need to ensure that all applicants are treated fairly and equitably. All applications, except those that have been previously rejected, will be reviewed.

Bill C-25 addresses technical requirements and provides the Governor in Council with the authority necessary to amend the schedule to the first nation band order. These are things that need to be done and certainty is required. We look forward to moving the bill forward.

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

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to express my support for this legislation. I want to use this occasion to underscore that our government and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians are united in the desire to achieve our mutual goal: to enable the Mi’kmaq Group of Indians in the province to build a strong foundation for Mi’kmaq cultural growth and development. This is something we have jointly worked to achieve for a number of years and are determined to bring to fruition. However, it can only be accomplished with the passage of Bill C-25. This is why we hope that all members of the House will stand up for the integrity and credibility of the band, to the exclusion of personal motives, and vote favourably for the expedited passage of the bill.

Unlike the Liberals who would put self-interest ahead of the integrity of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation, we have made major progress in advancing the shared goal of officially recognizing the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation as a band under the Indian Act. Let me remind the House that it was this government that finally created the first nation, to resolve a court action. We reached an agreement in principle with the Federation of Newfoundland Indians to create the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation in 2007 and signed a final agreement a year later, in 2008.

The 2008 agreement for the recognition of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation established a process to create a landless band and legally recognize its members as registered Indians under the Indian Act, providing them access to important federal programs and services previously unavailable to them. The order in council creating the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation was signed in September 2011. Both parties in the 2008 agreement intended that founding membership in the band would be granted primarily to individuals living in or around the Newfoundland Mi'kmaq communities named in the 2008 agreement. Of course, it was always understood that some people living outside these communities might become members of the first nation. However, it was also agreed by the signatories of the 2008 agreement that non-residents would be required to have maintained a strong cultural connection with the Newfoundland Mi'kmaq community. This means a sustained and active involvement in the community, despite not having a physical presence.

In the 2008 agreement, the parties agreed to a two-stage enrolment process for founding membership in the new first nation. The first stage, which ended in November 2009, was intended to identify founding members of the band. The second stage provided an additional 36 months to ensure that anyone who might be eligible to join the first nation could still apply and be assessed for membership. This was something both Mi'kmaq leaders and our government felt was fair and reasonable. What was unreasonable, and unexpected, was the approximately 46,000 applications that arrived in the final months of the second stage of the enrolment process. Only 23,450 people self-identified as aboriginal residents of Newfoundland and Labrador in the 2006 census; however, more than 101,000 people had submitted applications to join the band by the time the application process closed on November 30, 2012—which, if accepted, would represent 11% of all registered Indians in Canada.

Not surprisingly, this raised a lot of eyebrows on the part of both the government and the FNI, and questions regarding the integrity and credibility of the enrolment process. A much lower number of applications was expected. No one ever imagined the number would be in excess of 101,000. Clearly, there was a need for greater clarity about who actually qualifies for membership in the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation. This was essential to ensure there could be no misunderstanding about what is required to be eligible to become a member of the band. Only in this way could everyone submitting an application be treated fairly and equitably. Especially important, such clarity is vital to the integrity of the enrolment process. That is why the Federation of Newfoundland Indians and the government jointly agreed to explore improvements to the process. Both parties wanted to be sure that applicants would provide sufficient detail to establish their eligibility for band membership.

They wanted to ensure that the enrolment process reflected the original intention of the parties and provided adequate time for all applications to be carefully reviewed. To accomplish this, the federal government signed a supplementary agreement with the Federation of Newfoundland Indians in June 2013 to resolve issues that emerged in the implementation of the 2008 agreement. This has led to a comprehensive review, currently under way, of all of the applications received from the very start of this process, except those already rejected. The supplemental agreement signed last July does not in any way change the rules of the game. It maintains the original criteria for band membership contained in the 2008 agreement.

Potential applicants must still satisfy four key criteria, which, I want to underline, were negotiated with the Federation of Newfoundland Indians. These criteria were and remain as follows.

First, the individual must be of Canadian Indian ancestry. Second, the individual must be descended from a member of a Newfoundland pre-Confederation Mi'kmaq community. Third, the individual must also have self-identified, prior to the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation's creation, as a member of the Mi'kmaq Group of Indians of Newfoundland.

Fourth, and equally important, the individual must be accepted by the Mi'kmaq Group of Indians of Newfoundland, based on a substantial cultural connection. Acceptance is based on residency in one of the communities listed in the 2008 agreement or through frequent visits or communications with residents and by maintaining the Mi'kmaq way of life.

Both the Federation of Newfoundland Indians and the government believe that this is a fair and reasonable way to assess who is ultimately eligible to be a member of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation.

There was also full agreement that enough time must be provided for this process to unfold, to give all those with valid applications a fair chance to provide the information required during the review. Only when this comprehensive process is complete can the parties be sure that the names of those who qualify go onto the band's membership list. It is at that stage that Bill C-25 would be required. The legislation is crucial to the implementation of the supplemental agreement. The legislation before us today is the last step required to resolve this long-standing issue, something both the Federation of Newfoundland Indians and members of the government are anxious to do.

Ultimately, the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation act would provide the Governor in Council with the authority to amend the recognition order once the enrolment process resulting from the supplemental agreement is complete. This would allow the Governor in Council to add or remove names from the band membership list. As others have noted, it is possible that after closer examination, someone previously named as a founding member of the band might fail to satisfy the criteria I outlined earlier. Anyone who no longer qualifies for membership would subsequently lose his or her entitlement to Indian status, while those added would gain status under the act. This is only fair.

The House can rest assured that until all of this is sorted out, nothing will change. However, the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation is looking to us, as parliamentarians, to help provide certainty for the future of the band. Let us make sure that the band's membership list is able to be finalized by quickly passing this legislation before us today.

Natural Resources March 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, our government takes the safety of Canadians and the environment seriously.

That is why, through our responsible resource development plan, we implemented new safety measures for pipelines, including doubling the number of comprehensive audits, increasing the number of inspections by 50%, and implementing fines for companies that break environmental regulations.

Canada needs pipeline infrastructure to take advantage of our natural resource wealth. Can the parliamentary secretary update this House on new developments in this area?

Public Safety February 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, there are few criminal offences that are more horrific than sexual offences against children. While the overall crime rate is going down, sexual offences against children are going up. Shockingly, parents have no way of knowing where dangerous pedophiles are in this country.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety please tell the House what the government is doing to crack down on high-risk child sex offenders?

Petitions February 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I present a petition to the House of Commons from residents and constituents in Sarnia—Lambton concerning the reduction in Canada Post services.

Retirement Congratulations February 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today I pay tribute to a special person in my life, my husband Bill. Bill has retired after 40 years of service with the Wyoming Volunteer Fire Department, as a firefighter, deputy chief, and chief.

As has always been the case until recently, Bill was appointed because of his experience, training, knowledge, and leadership. The safety and well-being of all firefighters was his first priority. Under his leadership, the department evolved into one of the best trained, best equipped, and safest departments. Bill worked continuously and tirelessly to improve conditions for firefighters. He was also a strong proponent of critical stress training. Bill was extremely proud of each of the firefighters as they progressed through the various levels of training.

For a wife and mother of a firefighter, there is no greater comfort than knowing that one's loved one, often in a serious, life threatening situation, is in the presence of colleagues who are well trained and well equipped to keep the brigade as safe as possible.

From Will, Tina, Josh, and me, I thank Bill for all he has done. Congratulations on retiring. We are all very proud.

Petitions February 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition from constituents who are requesting the creation of a legislated ombudsman mechanism for responsible mining.