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Conservative MP for Sarnia—Lambton (Ontario)
Won her last election, in 2011, with 52.60% of the vote.
Statements in the House
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.
Supporting Non-Partisan Agents of Parliament Act February 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to give my support to Bill C-520, An Act supporting non-partisan agents of Parliament. I would like to thank my colleague, the member for York Centre, for introducing this private member's bill.
The purpose of this bill is to help ensure that conflicts of interest do not compromise the trust Canadians have in their parliamentary institutions or prevent these institutions from functioning as they were meant to. In other words, the bill is meant to ensure a non-partisan public service.
A non-partisan public service is one in which appointments are based on merit and are free of influential political influence. It is one in which public servants perform their duties, and are seen to perform their duties, in a politically impartial manner.
To this end, Bill C-520 is designed to prevent conflicts of interest that may arise or are perceived to arise between partisan activities and the official duties and responsibilities of an agent of Parliament or any person who works for an agent of Parliament.
Specifically, the bill would require every person who applies for a position in the office of an agent of Parliament to make a declaration with respect to past engagement in politically partisan positions. This declaration would state whether, in the 10 years before applying for that position, the person had occupied certain specified politically partisan positions.
In the case of persons who work in the office of an agent of Parliament and the agents themselves, a declaration would state whether they intend to occupy a politically partisan position while continuing to occupy the position of agent of Parliament or to work in the office of such an agent. The declarations would be posted on the website of the office of the relevant agent of Parliament.
In addition, the bill would require an agent of Parliament and the persons who work in his or her office to provide a written undertaking that they will conduct themselves in a non-partisan manner in fulfilling the official duties and responsibilities of their positions. What is more, the bill would provide for the examination of alleged partisan conduct.
Non-partisanship is certainly expected of all public servants, but agents of Parliament play a particularly vital role in government oversight. Agents of Parliament, such as the Auditor General, the Commissioner of Official Languages, and the Information Commissioner are a unique group of independent, statutory officers who serve to scrutinize the activity of government. They report directly to Parliament rather than to the government or an individual minister, and as such, they exist to serve Parliament in relation to Parliament's oversight role. Agents normally produce a report to Parliament to account for their own activities, and their institutional heads are typically appointed through special resolutions of the House of Commons and the Senate.
Given the close relationship between agents of Parliament and their employees with parliamentarians, it is critical that in carrying out their duties, they are independent of political affiliation. Bill C-520 seeks to ensure that independence. Indeed, the political impartiality of the public service is one of the foundation stones of our system of democracy. It is a time-honoured tradition that has served us well for some 100 years.
Today, almost a century later, Canadians expect a lot of their public service. They expect the government to pursue policies and programs that take into account and are responsive to public priorities. They expect the government to operate in an open, transparent, and accountable manner.
Through legislation, we strengthened the powers of the Auditor General, toughened the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, reformed political party financing, dramatically tightened lobbying rules, and beefed up auditing and accountability within government departments. As a result, Canada now has one of the most accountable and transparent systems of governance in the entire world, and this is something Canadians are rightly proud of.
As part of this regime, the values and ethics code and the provisions in the Public Service Employment Act protect the impartiality of the public service and agents of Parliament.
However, accountability and transparency in public institutions are things we can never take for granted.
That is why Bill C-520 is so important. It would add transparency to the existing regime. It would not only continue to toughen rules and uphold our culture of accountability, but it would also highlight our government's ongoing commitment to ensure that these values continue into the future.
In addition, Bill C-520 would be consistent with our commitment in budget 2013 to review and update public services processes and systems to ensure that the public service continues to serve Canadians well.
It would be consistent with the government's focus on transparency and accountability in the management of public assets, and it would also reflect the value of public service impartiality.
Our government fully supports the bill's intent to augment the existing regime in ensuring that agents of Parliament and their employees do not engage in political activities that conflict with, or are seen to conflict with, their official duties and conduct.
We believe it would be in line with the values that have served this country well in the past, and would position the public service to serve Canadians well in the future.
We will support the bill and call upon parliamentarians to join with us to ensure that Canadians have the government they need to succeed in a competitive world.