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Conservative MP for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 48.80% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Constable Alain Daguerre May 8th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I too rise to inform the House of the passing of Constable Alain Daguerre of the House of Commons security services. He died on Monday of this week, at the age of just 37, after battling liver cancer.
Constable Daguerre was well known to many of us here on Parliament Hill, where he served for over 10 years.
I knew Alain and had the honour of representing him as his member of Parliament. I would like to thank him for protecting all of us here on a daily basis, and I would also like to thank his family for supporting him in his work. He provided a great service to his country, and he was a great family man.
On behalf of all Canadians, on behalf of us as parliamentarians and of his many colleagues here on the Hill, our thoughts and prayers go to Constable Daguerre's wife, Vicky, as well as his children, Nadia and Sébastien. Their husband and father will be missed.
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1 May 6th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, following up on my colleague's last comment about seasonal workers, I would like to know why it is that the member would be opposed to a seasonal worker taking an alternate job within the local region that is a good match for his or her skill set.
These are the parameters of the EI changes. The EI changes are not sweeping changes with no restrictions. The seasonal worker has to have a good skill set match with a job that is available or is being offered, and it has to be within a reasonable distance of where the person lives.
If there is a job offering in the local community, for example, why would the member be opposed to that seasonal worker taking that job when unemployed or at those times when the person is not employed during seasonal work?
Food Safety April 29th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I simply have to go back to the fact that my colleague continues to be confused. She was confused about the question she was asking tonight, and now she is confused when she says that the numbers are false, because they are not false.
In fact, I will reiterate the numbers. Since 2006, our government has hired an additional 700 inspection staff for the CFIA. That is on the CFIA website. This member is welcome to check it out.
In budget 2011, there was an additional $100 million in federal funding for food safety activities. That is fact. It is also fact that the opposition members voted against that measure.
In budget 2012, there was an additional $51 million for food safety activities. That is fact, and it is also a fact that the members of the opposition voted against that as well.
This member is confused, and I am glad that she recognizes that food safety is part of food security. However, she now needs to start standing with her colleagues to vote in favour of these important measures we are putting in place to improve food safety here in Canada.
Food Safety April 29th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, there is a bit of confusion. The question my colleague on the other side should be following up on deals with CFIA and food safety as opposed to food security. However, since she has raised the issue of food security, I would like to make a few comments.
A key part of food security is the actual production of food. Here in Canada, our farmers produce a high quantity of high-quality food, and we know this. Farmers feed our cities. Farmers feed Canadians. We actually over-produce a number of commodities. This member spoke about a food crisis in Canada. However, in our pork and beef sectors and in wheat, canola and soy, we over-produce in terms of domestic consumption. That is why it is so important that our government put in place free trade agreements. Those are the free trade agreements the opposition is opposed to and fights every step of the way. These free trade agreements are important, because they open foreign markets to our farmers who produce their high-quality products.
Therefore, I do not understand this member when she speaks about a food crisis here in Canada, when, in fact, we produce plenty of food to feed the people of Canada and to export to people of other nations.
The other point I want to mention is that food safety is indeed a key part of food security. I want to highlight the fact that Sylvain Charlebois, who is a well-known food safety expert, recently stated that CFIA's annual budget is far more per capita than any other industrialized nation's. I bring this up because the opposition refuses to acknowledge that food safety is part of food security. I say that because it is important to note that the opposition has voted against all our funding increases for the CFIA for food safety.
For example, in budget 2011, we committed $100 million over five years to build science capacity and to implement inspection modernization, including enhanced training. What did the opposition members do? They voted against those measures.
As the CFIA continues to modernize its inspection approaches, it will ensure that there continues to be enough inspection staff to protect the health and safety of Canadians. In fact, since 2006, the agency's field inspection staff has increased by more than 700. That is an increase of 25%. What did the members of the opposition do? They voted against all of those resource and financial increases for the CFIA to improve food safety.
In budget 2012 we provided $51 million over two years to the CFIA, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada to continue their food-safety activities. Our recent budget would strengthen food safety and our government's commitment to the health and safety of Canadians.
I would ask the opposition members to recognize that food safety plays a key role in food security. I would ask them to stand in their places and vote for the types of measures our government is bringing to reinforce and improve food safety here in Canada.
Public Safety April 19th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, we do have strong regulations in place. Our hearts go out to all those affected by this tragedy, but our government is committed to protecting the safety of Canadians and our agricultural industry. In fact, in 2008, we consulted with the fertilizer industry, and we brought in new regulations under the Explosives Act to protect Canadians. These regulations reflect our commitment to ensuring public safety and security.
Privilege April 15th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I rise today as a member of Parliament for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell and I am pleased that you have recognized me as such regarding this matter before you concerning member statements, also known as S. O. 31s, and the rights of members of Parliament, a matter which is of interest and which affects each member in the House.
As an elected member of Parliament, I greatly value our right to freedom of speech in the House. It is a right that is strongly protected and defended by the rules governing this place. O'Brien and Bosc on page 59 states that:
The rights accorded to the House and its Members to allow them to perform their parliamentary functions unimpeded are referred to as privileges or immunities.
Also, on page 89 it states:
By far, the most important right accorded to Members of the House is the exercise of freedom of speech in parliamentary proceedings.
It goes on to say:
[...] a fundamental right without which they would be hampered in the performance of their duties. It permits them to speak in the House without inhibition, to refer to any matter or express any opinion as they see fit, to say what they feel needs to be said in the furtherance of the national interest and the aspirations of their constituents.
It is evident that members have certain privileges and immunities to allow the maximum use of this freedom of speech. Some members have risen to indicate to you, Mr. Speaker, that there have been occasions where they have been denied the opportunity to raise certain subject matters in their S. O. 31 statements. It is clear that the House considers it extremely important for an MP to have freedom of speech to the fullest extent possible and that this fullest extent would naturally extend to the freedom to raise a subject matter on which to speak, as one cannot utilize the freedom of speech privileges and immunities established in the House if one cannot rise to speak in the first place. I believe this highlights the importance of the S. O. 31 issue presently before you.
S. O. 31s are one of the only opportunities that a member of Parliament has to speak to a matter that is not constrained by a debate already before the House. For example, when debate is on a particular bill or motion, an MP cannot raise a completely unrelated matter. I know you are as generous as possible, Mr. Speaker, in allowing latitude in terms of an MP's remarks in debate, but if the matter raised by the MP is not germane to the debate, he or she would be ruled out of order. In other words, when an MP rises to speak in the House, his or her comments must be relevant to the matter in front of the House at that time except when giving an S. O. 31.
The S. O. 31 offers a unique opportunity to an MP to speak on any matter and, as a result, MP privileges in this regard must be protected. Allow me to provide a concrete and relevant example of what I mean.
Last Thursday, March 28, the procedure and House affairs committee tabled a report in this place that rendered Motion No. 408 non-votable, a most surprising and disappointing determination. As the House knows, Motion No. 408 reads as follows:
That the House condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination.
Mr. Speaker, as you know, there are clear criteria that have been established by the committee on procedure and House affairs by which bills and motions may be determined to be votable or non-votable. When Motion No. 408 is reviewed with respect to these criteria, one readily arrives at the conclusion that Motion No. 408 is votable and should have been deemed so.
Motion No. 408 being a motion and not a bill is an expression of condemnation, the type of which the House has expressed many times on a wide variety of issues. By inviting the House to condemn discrimination against females, Motion No. 408 is within the federal jurisdiction and it does not violate the Constitution Acts. An independent analyst, whose responsibility it is to research and be knowledgeable in these matters, was clear that Motion No. 408 did not concern questions that were substantially the same as ones already voted on by the House of Commons during this current session of Parliament. As the member for Langley pointed out, no other piece of government or private member's business has called on Parliament to condemn discrimination against women and girls occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination.
Last, I would point out that there is widespread support for a motion such as Motion No. 408, and I think we saw this when the CBC televised its program on the airways.
Motion No. 408 is the first motion of its kind. It clearly meets the criteria for votability and it is therefore votable, and herein lies the problem and the importance of freedom of speech for S. O. 31s. In short, I do not support the determination that Motion No. 408 is non-votable. It is important to note as well that this determination of non-votability infringes on my right to vote on a matter before the House that should be votable. In fact, the right to vote on a matter is the natural extension of the right to freedom of speech.
In one sense, voting for or against a motion or bill is the final word in a debate. It is a decisive action upon a matter before the House, an action that is deliberately taken once all is said and done, so to speak.
Motion No. 408 should be votable and I believe many Canadians and members in this place know it should indeed be votable.
As I mentioned, the determination of non-votability infringes upon the natural conclusion of freedom of speech, that of being able to vote on a matter. Because of this, it is my hope that the member for Langley will appeal this determination of Motion No. 408 being non-votable to the House so MPs may reflect upon their rights and privileges and correct what has taken place.
The matter I have just spoken to relates to S. O. 31s, in that I am now receiving correspondence from constituents asking my view on this matter. Do I agree or disagree with the determination of non-votability? Do I defend this decision? Have I spoken publicly on this? This is indeed the challenge. If I were not to speak on this matter, it would be reasonable for my constituents to assume that I support the finding of non-votability, when this is clearly not the case. This would apply to my colleagues in all parties if they too disagreed with Motion No. 408 being declared non-votable and were prevented from saying so in this place.
Today I am fortunate to participate in the question of privilege raised by the member for Langley, but if there were no relevant question of privilege before the House, the only other opportunity to raise such a matter would be in an S. O. 31 statement. For this reason, a member of Parliament must have maximum freedom of speech in speaking to an issue such as this, but more important, being able to raise it in the first place. I say this because it is conceivable that, if a member were prevented from being able to speak about Motion No. 408 itself, it is equally conceivable that they could also be prevented from speaking about their views on the non-votability of Motion No. 408.
It would indeed be an infringement on the rights and privileges of a member of Parliament if members were not able to rise to clarify their position on such important matters, or to give voice to the concerns of their constituents.
Lastly, it is possible for the current S. O. 31 convention to change and I would suggest that it would be possible for you to manage S. O. 31s in the same way as you do petitions, Mr. Speaker. When the time comes to table petitions, it is you, Mr. Speaker, who recognizes MPs.
As Speaker, I have noted you very capably find the appropriate balance by rotating between members of different parties. I also note there is no pre-screening of petitions before they are tabled. A member simply rises and when recognized, tables a petition, and it can be on any subject.
I conclude by stating that I support the question of privilege raised by the member for Langley and that members must be afforded the greatest opportunity in latitude in being able to raise important matters and fully represent those Canadians they have been elected to represent.
Technical Tax Amendments Act, 2012 March 8th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, certainly the NDP do not have a good track record when it comes to supporting the financial initiatives of the government. I think of past budgets and the estimates process. Estimates have just moved through many committees, all of which were voted against by the NDP. Now we have some common sense tax amendments that build on other things we are doing.
I would ask my colleague why it is he thinks the NDP have voted against all of these measures. The fruit of these measures are seen in 50,000 new jobs created in the month of February and 950,000 new jobs since 2009.
I would ask my colleague for his thoughts on why the NDP absolutely refuse to support good common sense measures, such as these tax amendments that we have in front of Parliament today.
Agriculture and Agri-Food March 4th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, the one main concern of young farmers is whether they can earn enough money on the farm to raise their families. As I mentioned, the net cash income for Canadian farmers will increase by 14% in 2012, the highest level in 40 years.
One policy that we will absolutely not implement is a $21 billion carbon tax that would dramatically affect farmers, both young and old.
Agriculture and Agri-Food March 4th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, the exact opposite is true. Our agricultural policies are helping farmers to thrive. Let me provide some information from farm financial reports. The net cash income for Canadian farmers will increase by 14% in 2012, to reach a record of $13.1 billion, the highest level in nearly 40 years.
Young farmers want to know that they can raise their families on the farm, and under our agricultural policies, they can.
Veterans March 1st, 2013
Mr. Speaker, Canadians are proud of our veterans and their heroic efforts to protect our democratic systems and beliefs. Many of them sacrifice their lives or their safety in order to serve Canada.
I am proud to reiterate the important support that our government provides to veterans such as Mr. James Joyce, a World War II veteran from British Columbia who is visiting Ottawa today with friends from my riding of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell. Mr. Joyce served for four years in the Royal Canadian Navy on the frigate Poundmaker in the Atlantic and on the minesweeper Miramichi in the Pacific. Like all veterans, including World War II veterans in my own riding, he is deserving of our respect and admiration for his courage.
Our Conservative government listens to veterans. Under our Prime Minister and the Minister of Veterans Affairs, we have responded by delivering record amounts of funding and key programs. We recently put in place Helmets to Hardhats Canada, the new veterans charter and the veterans transition action plan to help veterans transition to civilian life.
I assure veterans of our government's commitment to providing services that meet their needs and those of their families.