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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is service.

NDP MP for Sackville—Eastern Shore (Nova Scotia)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 54.10% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 October 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from the great province of Newfoundland and Labrador for his speech, but I just wanted to let him know that the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs just did a unanimous report with recommendations for the government in order to improve the new veterans charter. The Conservatives said we have to study it more, which means more delays. Now they bring forward an omnibus bill that includes everything but the kitchen sink.

I would ask the hon. member if he has read through the entire thing, or realized the word “veteran” is not anywhere in that bill whatsoever. How can the government cram everything into that legislation and completely ignore our veteran community in Canada?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act October 27th, 2014

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-633, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act (veterans independence program).

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand in the House today to introduce legislation to allow members of our RCMP who are retired, and their spouses, into the veterans independence program. Those in the military who are frail or who have an injury because of service can apply for the VIP, which allows them to stay in their homes longer by providing housekeeping and groundskeeping services. Unfortunately, for years we have tried to also allow this for disabled and infirmed RCMP veterans and their spouses, but have been unsuccessful. That is the purpose of this legislation. We believe that our RCMP veterans are equal to the heroes of our military and deserve equal access to a program of this nature. The VIP program is a very good program for our military. We would like to see it extended to RCMP veterans and their families.

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

Veterans Advocate September 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House of Commons to pay tribute to a great Canadian, Steinar Jarle Engeset.

Steinar was born in Norway in 1942. In 1966 he immigrated to Canada with his wife.

He became instrumental in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, for opening up the northern shrimp fishery. He created many jobs in that part of the country.

Steinar will be most known for his advocacy on behalf of Canadian veterans. He was born during the war and has never forgotten that it was the Canadians and our allies who liberated his country and his parents. Thus, Steinar arranged the first Convoy Cup.

The Convoy Cup is made up of the air force, Canadian navy and merchant mariners who sailed essential supplies to Britain at that time for the liberation of a free Europe.

What an honour it was to be with Steinar on his vessel as he did the sailpast of HMCS Sackville, Canada's naval memorial, where he personally took the salute from Canada's honoured merchant navy veterans.

I pay a special tribute from the House of Commons to a great Canadian and a great man in Steinar Engeset.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns June 10th, 2014

With regard to homeless veterans: (a) what programs from Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) are in place to assist homeless veterans; (b) what programs are in place by other government departments, if applicable, to assist homeless veterans; (c) what organizations are working in partnership with VAC to provide support to homeless veterans, broken down by province; (d) what is the annual breakdown of contributions issued to organizations working in partnership with VAC on veterans homelessness from 2009 to 2013 inclusively, broken down by province; (e) how much did VAC spend on veterans homelessness annually from 2009 to 2013 inclusively; (f) what are the details of VAC's evaluation of the effectiveness of their financial contribution and program delivery for the partnership defined in (c); (g) is VAC considering a plan for a national coordinated effort to support homeless veterans and, if so, what are the details; (h) how many homeless veterans have been identified annually by VAC, from 2009 to 2013 inclusively; (i) how many homeless veterans have been identified by organizations working in partnership with VAC annually from 2009 to 2013 inclusively, broken down by province; (j) how many homeless veterans identified in (h) and (i) are now in receipt of departmental benefits or services; (k) what is the breakdown of the type of departmental benefits or services the homeless veterans received from 2009 to 2013; (l) what are the planned expenditures by VAC for homeless veterans for the next five years; and (m) what are the planned expenditures by VAC for organizations working in partnership with VAC to provide support to homeless veterans?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns June 10th, 2014

With regard to disabled Canadian Forces veterans who are trying to obtain fair compensation with settlements under the New Veterans Charter (NVC): (a) how many Members of Parliament wrote to the Minister of Veterans Affairs with respect to fair compensation for injured veterans under the NVC, for each of the years from 2006 to 2014 inclusive; (b) what is the total amount of money spent by all government departments and agencies, excluding the Department of Justice, from October 2013 to the present, on the Equitas Society class action lawsuit, that is, the defence against disabled Canadian Forces veterans trying to obtain fair compensation with settlements under the NVC; (c) what is the total amount of money spent by the government to hire outside legal counsel from October 2013 to the present on the Equitas Society class action lawsuit; and (d) what is the total amount of money spent by all government departments and agencies on the Equitas Society class action lawsuit from October 2012 to the present, including all costs associated with the work of Department of Justice?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns June 10th, 2014

With regard to disabled RCMP veterans who are trying to end the reduction of long-term disability benefits by the amount of their Veterans Affairs Canada disability pension: (a) how many Members of Parliament (MP) wrote to the Minister of Veterans Affairs with respect to the issue identified above for each of the years from 2010 to 2014; (b) how many Conservative MPs wrote to the Minister with respect to the above issue for each of the years from 2010 to 2014; (c) what was the total amount of money spent by all government departments and agencies on the disabled RCMP members' class action lawsuit, including outside legal counsel; and (d) what is the estimated cost for settling the RCMP class action lawsuit?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns June 5th, 2014

With regard to homeless veterans: (a) what programs from Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) are in place to assist homeless veterans; (b) what programs are in place by other government departments, if applicable, to assist homeless veterans; (c) what organizations are working in partnership with VAC to provide support to homeless veterans, broken down by province; (d) what is the annual breakdown of contributions issued to organizations working in partnership with VAC on veterans homelessness from 2009 to 2013 inclusively, broken down by province; (e) how much did VAC spend on veterans homelessness annually from 2009 to 2013 inclusively; (f) what are the details of VAC's evaluation of the effectiveness of their financial contribution and program delivery for the partnership defined in (c); (g) is VAC considering a plan for a national coordinated effort to support homeless veterans and, if so, what are the details; (h) how many homeless veterans have been identified annually by VAC, from 2009 to 2013 inclusively; (i) how many homeless veterans have been identified by organizations working in partnership with VAC annually from 2009 to 2013 inclusively, broken down by province; (j) how many homeless veterans identified in (h) and (i) are now in receipt of departmental benefits or services; (k) what is the breakdown of the type of departmental benefits or services the homeless veterans received from 2009 to 2013; (l) what are the planned expenditures by VAC for homeless veterans for the next five years; and (m) what are the planned expenditures by VAC for organizations working in partnership with VAC to provide support to homeless veterans?

Veterans Hiring Act June 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I will give the government credit. It has moved the yardstick ever so slightly on the helmets to hardhats, for example, which was an American initiative brought into Canada, and there is some progress working on that.

However, let us not forget what the legislation says. The legislation says, for priority hiring, “If you meet the qualifications of the job. If you have psychological or physical problems, you may not be able to”.

We are hoping that with our recommendations tomorrow and with the government looking at an overall view of this, it will look at these veterans who are medically released from the military and understand that in order to place them in a public service role they may need additional training, they may need additional rehabilitation, or something else, in order to fit those needs. They may not meet the needs right away, on a résumé, but with time and training, they be able to do that.

I was recently in the United States for a one-day symposium on what the U.S. government is doing in hiring veterans. The State of Virginia, alone, in two years, hired over 50,000 veterans. One state and that many veterans. The way it did is was quite remarkable and I hope to be able to share that with my government colleagues in the committee when the bill comes to committee.

Veterans Hiring Act June 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as the official opposition critic for veterans affairs, I do not just deal with veterans in my riding. I deal with them right across the country. On any given day, I receive 50 to 60 phone calls, emails, faxes, and letters from veterans, not only in my own riding but right across the country, with concerns and issues.

That is not to say that some veterans are not getting very good service. I can assure members I have spoken with many veterans who are getting very good service from the Department of Veterans Affairs. That is the way it should be.

For the hon. member who asked the question, who by the way I think is one of the finest MPs in the House of Commons, all I want is for every veteran, every RCMP veteran, and their family members to receive the same quality service.

Today, I received a call from a gentleman in the Saint John Regional Hospital. There are 14 veterans' beds that are closed. They are not open. He knows of three veterans who served in World War II but because they did not serve overseas, they do not get access to those long-term care beds.

I just want to say, while I am on my feet, to the minister, for whom I have great respect, I am hoping that eventually we can have that conversation about long-term health care for the modern-day veterans and their families to ensure that they indeed get the same access to services that our World War II and Korean veterans received, as well.

Veterans Hiring Act June 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, sometimes when a lob ball is thrown, it is gets batted out of the House.

I can guarantee there are no security passes. Many constituents, including the Legion and the vets, including some Conservative members of Parliament, have been in my office, and they have had to use the phone. Oh, what a shock, that Conservative members of Parliament would be in my office and happen to make a phone call. In fact, they cannot live without their BlackBerrys constantly going off in my office.

The reality is Legion members have been in my office, and they have used the phone. I am a member of the Legion and the ANAVETS, and nine other veterans organizations. Does that mean every single one of them should be tainted by the fact that maybe they have been in my office, but only one of them should get to plug in their chair because he is a disabled veteran?

The reality is I really quite get a kick out of this, to be honest. If that is the extent of the hon. member's question, it is unbelievable. That shows the state of affairs in the Conservative Party of Canada. If that is the type of question we get from an hon. member of Parliament, who I have great respect for, who has served his country with great respect, something has happened to him now that he is a member of Parliament. To ask that type of question, it is really incredible.

I hope the member has a good night's rest and that tomorrow he understands that tomorrow should be a very good day for all of Canada's veterans.