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Conservative MP for Northumberland—Quinte West (Ontario)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 53.80% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Act March 7th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, this has to do with, quite frankly, liability, fairness, and equity.
Clause 4 in the bill provides certainty that no compensation or damages will be paid either by Canada, the first nation, or any other party to the individuals who are determined not to be members of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation once the enrolment process is completed. However, it does not prevent those individuals from appealing the enrolment committee determination pursuant to the agreement, nor does the clause prevent court challenges to the agreement or to the schedule to the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band Order.
Such a clause is not uncommon in this federation. Similar clauses are found in both the 1985 legislation removing discrimination from the Indian registration provisions of Bill C-31 and the recent Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act, which was Bill C-3.
Clause 4 supports the overall integrity and credibility of the membership enrolment process of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation by ensuring that applicants who are found not to be entitled to registration do not obtain compensation for the benefits that are only intended for registered Indians.
Once again, it relates to the first question of fairness and equity and making sure that our agreements strike the right balance.
Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Act March 7th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend has hit on some very important questions. The questions are, basically, fairness, equity, and living up to the commitments this country has to its first nations brothers and sisters. This is a perfect example of how, working with a first nations community and an Innu community, we can make sure that we do the right thing and that people who are entitled to certain rights and benefits in this country get those rights and benefits. This is a government that has been doing that since day one. I forget the exact number, but it is significant, if we compare that same time span to the age of this country, which is almost 150 years old.
The member is entirely correct. This is about fairness. It is about having a model we can use in other negotiations with our first nations brothers and sisters and the whole aboriginal community right across this country, from north to south and east to west.
I want to thank him for the question. He and I both know that this is setting us on the right path and is a good blueprint for future such agreements.
Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Act March 7th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to rise in this House to offer my support for Bill C-25, the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation act.
I will be sharing my time with my good friend and member for Kootenay—Columbia today.
In order to truly understand why this legislation is necessary, I think it is important to have an understanding of the unique circumstances and processes that all parties have gone through in order to bring this bill to this point.
When Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949, there was no agreement between the new province and Canada on if, how, or when the Indian Act would be applied to the province's Mi'kmaq, who lived primarily on the island of Newfoundland, and the Innu, who lived primarily in Labrador.
From the 1950s to the 1980s, Canada provided ad hoc funding to the province for social and health programs for the aboriginal communities living in that province. Over time, however, both the federal government and the first nation population expressed a desire for a more systemic application of the Indian Act system.
In 1984 the Indian Act was extended to Newfoundland for the first time, to the Mi'kmaq community at Conne River, known as the Miawpukek First Nation. In 2002 it was also extended to Innu bands in Labrador, the Mushuau Innu First Nation and Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation.
Initial efforts to improve relations between Canada and the majority of Mi'kmaq communities on the island of Newfoundland did not result in an agreement. In the late 1980s the Federation of Newfoundland Indians, an organization representing Newfoundland's Mi'kmaq, commenced litigation against Canada, seeking recognition for their members as Indians under the Indian Act and damages and compensation for unpaid benefits.
In 2008 Canada settled the court action through the Agreement for the Recognition of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band, which is the 2008 agreement that established a process to recognize the Mi'kmaq of Newfoundland as a landless band and its members as Indians under the Indian Act.
The intent of the 2008 agreement was to establish a landless band for the Mi'kmaq group of Indians of Newfoundland. The parties intended that the founding membership of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation would be granted primarily to persons living in or around the Newfoundland Mi'kmaq communities named in the 2000 agreement. While individuals living outside of these communities could also become members, the intent of the parties was that non-residents would be required to have maintained a strong cultural connection with a Newfoundland Mi'kmaq community, including a sustained and active involvement in the community, despite their absences.
The 2008 agreement provided for a two-stage enrolment process. The first, which ended on November 30, 2009, was intended to identify the founding members. The second provided for a 36-month process to guarantee that all those who were eligible would have an opportunity to apply and be added to the list of founding members.
After the end of the first stage, the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band Order, or recognition order, was issued on September 22, 2011. It was this order that established the Qalipu Mi'kmaq band's status as an official first nation.
As a result of the recognition order and three subsequent amendments that were made to this schedule, 23,877 individuals were listed as founding members of the first nation and became entitled to registration as Indians under the Indian Act.
By the time the second stage ended, on November 30, 2012, more than 101,000 applications had been received.
As a result of the large, unanticipated number of applications received—particularly during the last two months of the enrolment process, when over 46,000 applications were received between September 1 and November 30, 2012—both parties agreed to enter into discussions to explore improvements to the enrolment process to ensure that it reflected the original intention of the parties and to provide additional time to ensure that all applications could be reviewed.
Extensive discussions and negotiations between Canada and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians commenced in the fall of 2012 and resulted in the supplemental agreement, which was announced on July 4, 2013.
The supplemental agreement clarifies the process for enrolment and resolves issues that emerged in the implementation of the 2008 agreement, such as the fact that the number of membership applications far exceeded the expectation of both parties, that it was not possible to review all of the applications within the time limits provided in the 2008 agreement, and that the original guidelines for assessment of applications did not provide sufficient clarity and detail to reflect the original intentions of the parties concerned.
The supplemental agreement ensures that the enrolment process is aligned with the original intent of the 2008 agreement. It meets the objective shared by Canada and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians that all applications be treated fairly and equitably and in accordance with the criteria the parties originally negotiated to establish eligibility for membership in the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation. It does not change the founding members enrolment criteria set out in the 2008 agreement. Instead, the supplemental agreement provides clarification of the requirements for enrolment, additional documentation requirements for applications, and an extension of the 2008 agreement timelines.
Under the supplemental agreement, all applications submitted since the enrolment process began in December 2008 will be assessed or reassessed by the enrolment committee, except those that had previously been rejected. It is estimated that the review process will take approximately two and a half years. While we recognize that this is a substantial amount of time, it is necessary to ensure that the original intent of the agreement is honoured and that those individuals and only those individuals with Qalipu Mi'kmaq ancestry will be registered.
The requirement under the supplemental agreement to review all applications received, including those found to be eligible under the previous process, means that it is possible that a number of the 23,877 founding members will lose their membership and their entitlement to be registered as Indians under the Indian Act if they do not meet the criteria of the 2008 agreement, as applied in accordance with the original intention of the parties. This means that only individuals with genuine Qalipu Mi'kmaq heritage will be registered as Indians through the process.
This is part of the reason Bill C-25 is so important. It gives the Governor in Council the authority to amend the recognition order so that it accurately reflects those individuals who are rightfully entitled to Indian status and the benefits therein.
Certainty is required to ensure that the supplemental agreement can be implemented and can thereby ensure the integrity of the enrolment process and of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation. This certainly can only be obtained by implementing legislation that would provide the Governor in Council with the appropriate authority to make the required corrections to the recognition order and to ensure that persons who have Qalipu ancestry receive the rights and benefits they are entitled to.
For this reason, I urge all members to support Bill C-25 and impart to all members of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation the status that is rightfully theirs. Legislation is required to provide the Governor in Council with the authority necessary to amend the recognition order, or more specifically, to add names to or remove names of founding members from the schedule to the order after the enrolment process under the supplemental agreement is completed.
An amendment to the schedule to the order in council will be required to add the names of those found to be entitled to be members and to remove the names of those found not to be entitled to be members of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq first nation.
Status of Women March 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the Northumberland United Way will receive over $165,000 over the next 2 years for a Status of Women Canada program called opening doors: economic opportunities for women. This project will bring together local women and partners to examine services now available in Northumberland County and invest strategically where needs exist.
The Northumberland United Way will develop a community action plan for immigrant women, to address the challenges hindering immigrant women's economic prosperity. In addition to new strategies, a community action plan will build on existing strategies that several local agencies developed for women and girls. Furthermore, an immigrant women's council will be established to sustain the project into the future.
Our Conservative government is proud to partner with the Northumberland United Way and Northumberland County to help all women in my riding seize economic opportunities, enhance their prosperity, and strengthen the economy.
The Senate February 27th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, back in early November, just before the Liberal leader praised China's basic dictatorship, he publicly stated that his unelected and unaccountable senators voted freely.
Then, in another unbelievable twist, the Liberal leader stated the Liberal senators were no more. They were booted from the party, no longer welcome to fundraise or engage in Liberal political activities. Thus the independent Liberal senators became Senate Liberals, and now apparently Liberal senators again.
Just yesterday, as the Liberal senators turned Senate Liberals announced, in an apparent contradiction, that they would no longer have whipped votes, Liberal senator Mobina Jaffer was hitting the fundraising circuit at a new Bay of Quinte Liberal EDA.
Of course, this comes just after senators were spotted at the Liberal convention teaching their leader how to duck-and-cover out the back door. The Liberal leader's half-baked senatorial ploy is not fooling Canadians.
National Defence February 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the member for Ottawa Centre took time away from his own riding responsibilities yesterday to join a group of career protesters who oppose the expansion of CFB Trenton. Clearly, the opposition does not support job creation and economic growth.
Could the minister inform the House of the impact the CFB expansion will have in terms of economic prosperity for the citizens of Quinte West?
Supporting Non-Partisan Agents of Parliament Act February 10th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure today to speak to Bill C-520.
The bill is in line with other measures our government has brought forward to eliminate conflict of interest and to strengthen transparency and accountability in Canada's public institutions. I believe that everyone who thinks as I do, which is that we must always fight to strengthen and protect our parliamentary democracy, should be in favour of it.
Allow me a few moments to go over the content of this bill.
Bill C-520 would require every person who applies for a job in the office of an agent of Parliament to make a declaration stating whether in the last 10 years before applying for that job he or she had occupied specific political partisan positions.
The bill would also require anyone who works in such an office, as well as the agents of Parliament themselves, to make a declaration if they intend to occupy a politically partisan position while continuing to be an agent of Parliament or to work in such an office. The bill would also require that these declarations be posted on a website of the office of the agent of Parliament in question. In addition, the bill would require an agent of Parliament and those who work for him to provide a written undertaking that they will conduct themselves in a non-partisan manner in fulfilling their official duties.
This a good bill, because it would uphold Canada's most noble parliamentary traditions. It proposes to avoid conflicts of interest that are likely to arise or would be perceived to have arisen between partisan activities and the official duties and responsibilities of an agent of Parliament or his or her staff. It would achieve this by supplementing all other applicable, relevant laws that seek to ensure the same thing, and not by detracting from or replacing these other laws.
Non-partisanship is a well-recognized principle in our modern public service and is expected of all public servants. Agents of Parliament, however, play a particularly important role in government oversight. These agents and their staff must work in a visibly non-partisan way to maintain the confidence of parliamentarians and Canadians, so it is even more important that these public servants be seen as not having any political affiliations. To this end, the public service disclosure provisions in the bill are meant to provide enhanced transparency and accountability.
Let me add that the values expressed in this bill are consistent with the focus on transparency and accountability we have committed to since being elected to office in 2006. As members will remember, the first thing we did upon coming into power was put in place measures to ensure greater accountability and transparency in our public institutions. We introduced the Federal Accountability Act and its accompanying action plan. The act and action plan provide Canadians with assurance that the power entrusted in government officials is being exercised fairly and in the public interest, and they provide for serious consequences in cases of proven wrongdoing. The result was substantial changes to some 45 federal statutes as well as amendments to more than 100 others touching virtually every part of government and beyond.
There are many examples of such measures, but certainly one that affected us directly was the new lobbying regulations that came into force in September 2010. As members know, lobbying is communication by an individual who is paid to communicate with a designated public officer-holder on behalf of a person or organization in relation to the development, introduction, or amendment of a bill, resolution, regulation, policy, or program; the awarding of a grant, contribution or any other financial benefit; and, in the case of a consultant lobbyist, the awarding of any contract or the arranging of a meeting with a public office-holder. The activity is not illegal, but abuses of it are, and such abuses are clearly counter to our democratic values. That is why we brought in legislation to regulate it.
As a result, today, to avoid conflict of interest, the act ensures that parliamentarians and their senior staff are subject to certain prohibitions on lobbying as well to requirements for reporting it. The Lobbying Act has been a good thing for the integrity of Parliament, just as this bill being considered today would be a good thing for the integrity of Parliament.
This bill is also in line with the democratic and professional principles of the broader public service. This is expressed in the “Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector”. The code requires that public servants carry out their duties in accordance with legislation, policies, and directives in a non-partisan, impartial manner. Indeed, agents and employees must sign offers of employment stating that they will abide by the code, and transgressions of the code can result in penalties up to and including dismissal.
Finally, let me add that Bill C-520 is consistent with the commitment to impartiality articulated in Part 7 of the Public Service Employment Act. The act places responsibilities on public servants, deputy heads, and the Public Service Commission to uphold the non-partisan character of the public service. This bill would carry forward the tradition of upholding the finest principles of democratic government in Canada. Its focus on impartiality and the appearance of impartiality in the offices of agents of Parliament would ensure that parliamentarians and Canadians could be confident in the neutrality of the executive and legislative branches of our public service.
To sum up, our government is steadfastly committed to bolstering the political neutrality of the public service. We understand that agents of Parliament and their staff must work in a non-partisan way to maintain the confidence of Canadians and parliamentarians. Our values and ethics code and the provisions of the Public Service Employment Act are helping to protect their impartiality. This bill is designed to supplement and add transparency to the existing rules and regulations.
In economic action plan 2013, we committed to reviewing and updating public service processes and systems to ensure that the public service would continue to serve Canadians well. Bill C-520 is the latest step in this fine Canadian tradition, and I am asking that all members support this bill and all it stands for.
Canadian Armed Forces February 7th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, in December, at CFB Trenton, I welcomed back members of the Disaster Assistance Response Team after the completion of their 40-day deployment to the Philippines to provide humanitarian assistance following Typhoon Haiyan, and we let them know how proud Canadians are of them.
Then in January, at CFB Trenton, I welcomed back 88 troops from Afghanistan. These soldiers served for several months in Operation Attention, Canada's contribution to the NATO training mission in Afghanistan. About 100 members of the Canadian Armed Forces are still serving in Afghanistan, and they will be returning home in March 2014 upon the conclusion of Operation Attention.
On this red Friday, and every day, we thank our Canadian men and women in uniform for their bravery and willingness to serve, both internationally and at home.
Business of Supply February 4th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the first thing that comes out of the mouths of people in this place is that it should be non-partisan. This whole place is partisan all the time, right down to almost the glass we drink water out of. Any Canadian who believes for a minute that these things are not partisan really does not know how this place works.
The member referred to Mr. Snowden. Members across the way keep referring to what is happening in the United States. Canadian laws and regulations are specific, and they forbid these types of generalized viewing.
CSEC is mandated. The member said that whenever something is reported in the news, we have to do something. If we were under a Liberal government, I can see that every time a CBC, CTV, or whatever program claimed there was something wrong, it would strike a committee to do something about it right away. What kind of government is that?
We have had good oversight in this country for over 30 years. I do not know why the member does not accept that.
Business of Supply February 4th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question, but I think he should have availed himself of the testimony made before the Senate committee last night. Those questions were addressed.
Most people do not understand what metadata is all about. There was no specific Canadian targeted. There was no significant group targeted. CSEC wanted a generalized outlook on how many outgoing calls there were. Nobody was identified. I ask the member, before rushing to judgment, to read the testimony that occurred at the Senate committee. I think most of his questions would be answered.
As I previously stated to the member for Malpeque, we have been well served. One of the reasons previous Liberal governments did not do anything about creating some new entity was that they saw that this country was well served by the oversight committee that was created at the same time CSIS was created.
There is also a reason CSEC and CSIS report to different ministers. While they share some information, they are also kept as separate entities on purpose.