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Conservative MP for Fundy Royal (New Brunswick)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 58.10% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Privilege April 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to add to the initial response by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons to Thursday's question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Avalon in relation to the answer he received to his written Question No. 176.

First, I would like to challenge his question of privilege on the ground that he did not raise it at the earliest opportunity. The response to which he takes exception was provided to the House on March 6, 2014. While I can see that there was a two-week adjournment shortly thereafter, the hon. member then waited until the fourth sitting day after the March break, or three full calendar weeks after his question was answered, before coming forward with his question of privilege. In short, the member's question of privilege should fail on this ground alone.

Nonetheless, I would like to address the substantive issues he raised. The hon. member for Avalon has claimed that there is a prima facie case of privilege here based on his assertion that he, in the performance of his duties, has been intentionally interfered with, obstructed, and impeded. Yet the hon. member has not indicated which duties have been so impeded or in which manner he has been impeded in relation to those duties. This is simply a matter of being dissatisfied with the response that was provided.

Last week, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons quoted from page 522 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, on this matter. I want to add to this a few precedents.

Mr. Milliken, at page 3,255 of the Debates of February 6, 2003 said:

...as hon. members know, there is no provision in our rules for the Speaker to review the content of responses, nor would that be appropriate. In this regard I would simply state that any member not satisfied with the response provided by the government may raise supplemental questions either orally or in written form.

In his second ruling that day, Mr. Speaker, your predecessor said, at page 3,256:

It is not within the powers of the Chair to judge the adequacy of an answer.

Finally, Madam Speaker Sauvé said, in her ruling at page 12,836 of the Debates of November 17, 1981:

Furthermore, the quality of the answer as given is not generally within the responsibility of the Speaker, who should not be asked to pass judgment on the substance of an answer to a question, be it oral or written.

Before wrapping up, let me respond to the member's assertion that there has been a change in practice with questions answered by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. The hon. member told the House in his submissions:

I have placed a past order paper question concerning projects funded in part or in full for my riding through ACOA. On each occasion, the minister has provided a detailed list of all approved projects within the riding. This just is not the case.

I have a response from 2011:

Insofar as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency...is concerned, with regard to grants and contributions in the riding of Avalon from April 1, 2011 to December 10, 2012, ACOA does not track approved projects by federal ridings. Information on projects approved by ACOA in Newfoundland and Labrador can be found on the Agency's website, by search criteria and by geographic location....

Then it gives the website. So the hon. member's assertion that there has been some change is patently false.

The hon. member told the House that he has placed a past order paper question, and he was provided with a detailed list of all projects approved within the riding. Later in his arguments, he indicated, “The question I asked, in 2010, was answered and the information was provided”. If members were to check the records of the House for the third session of the 40th Parliament, which captures the year 2010, they would see that the hon. member for Avalon asked about a dozen written questions that calendar year. Two of them are identified as relating to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

On March 5, 2010, he asked written Question No. 91, which requested:

...projects approved for funding in Atlantic Canada...broken down by the provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador....

The government's response, in the range of 600 pages, was a table outlining approved projects, which were largely coded by province.

That same day, the member also asked written Question No. 92, which requested:

With regard to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and, more specifically, the Recreational Infrastructure Canada (RInC) Program administered by ACOA in Atlantic Canada:...(d) what were the names, addresses and submission dates of the applicants submitting an application...from the constituency of Avalon...?

While the government's response did include a one-page chart with specific projects, it is important to note the following qualifications that were in the body of that response. Firstly, the answer advised that:

...the names, addresses and submission dates of the applicants submitting an application...on or near the constituency of Avalon are included in the attached list....

Later, the nuance was followed up with this line:

It should be noted that the Agency tracks RInC projects by geographic location, and not by electoral district.

Again, we have the exact same response that we do not track by electoral district.

Let us come forward to the present day and written Question No. 176, which asked:

...what applications have been received from the riding of Avalon...including (i) the specific projects that were approved or rejected in each fiscal year...?

In response, I answered, and this is at page 3580 of the Debates:

...with regard to applications received from the riding of Avalon...ACOA does not track projects by federal ridings. Information on projects approved by ACOA in Newfoundland and Labrador can be found on the agency’s website.

As I said, nothing has changed. ACOA did not and does not track projects by riding.

The one-pager prepared in response to Question No. 92, probably because it was a more narrowly crafted question, seems to have been a courtesy extended to the hon. member for Avalon by doing a quick search of projects that were “on or near” his own riding. This is quite some distance from the four-year fishing expedition he presented in Question No.176.

This particular fishing expedition was even broader than the past one, because he was seeking information on all applications received, including those that were rejected. With respect to the latter category, I understand that answering it would have required the agency to figure out who might have been from Avalon and from there contact each one of them to see if they would agree to allow their personal information to be divulged in order to follow the Privacy Act and the principles of the Access to Information Act. There is simply no reasonable way of accomplishing this within the 45-day deadline he requested under the Standing Orders.

In my answer, the hon. member for Avalon is directed to the agency's website for a list of all approved projects in Newfoundland and Labrador. From there, the hon. member can generate a list, just like the one he would have had as part of the 600-page response he got in 2010, from the website.

Surely, the hon. member knows his constituency well enough to be able to assess from this comprehensive list which of the projects are located in his own riding and which fall into one of the six other ridings in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

In conclusion, the hon. member for Avalon has not raised his issue in a timely manner. He has not given any indication as to how he has been impeded. He has not argued anything here other than dissatisfaction with the response provided. Finally, he has blurred the distinctions between the 2010 questions he cited and his most recent question.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I believe you can easily rule that there is no prima facie case of privilege to be found here.

Questions on the Order Paper March 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the consumer price index, CPI, is an indicator of changes in consumer prices experienced by Canadian residents. It is obtained by comparing, over time, the costs of a fixed basket of goods and services purchased by consumers. Data by quintile are not and have never been compiled for the CPI on an ongoing basis, as the CPI is meant to represent a measure of overall consumer inflation.

Questions on the Order Paper March 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, iInsofar as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, (ACOA), is concerned, with regard to applications received from the riding of Avalon for fiscal years 2009-2010 through 2012-2013, ACOA does not track projects by federal ridings. Information on projects approved by ACOA in Newfoundland and Labrador can be found on the Aagency’s website.

Business of Supply November 7th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, in listening to the opposition members, I cringe to think of what they would do to our economy with their obvious disdain for our natural resources sector.

Where I come from in New Brunswick, natural resource exports play a huge role in our economy, whether it be potash, forestry, fisheries, or other natural resources exports. I am wondering if the hon. member can speak to the importance of the natural resource export sector to the Canadian economy and to all Canadians.

Committees of the House June 11th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 12th report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in relation to Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Museums Act in order to establish the Canadian Museum of History and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendments.

Taxation June 10th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to announce that today is Tax Freedom Day, the day Canadians can finally keep their hard-earned dollars. While I am sure that the NDP and the Liberals are disappointed, since they stand in the House day after day calling for higher taxes, our government believes that Canadians deserve to keep more of their hard-earned money. That is why, since taking office in 2006, we have reduced the federal tax burden to its lowest level in 50 years.

Could the Minister of State for Finance please inform Canadians how much earlier Tax Freedom Day is today compared to when our Conservative government took office?

The Canadian Museum of History Act May 28th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague's speech and I thank him for it.

One of the aspects of the new Canadian museum of history that we are hearing a lot of enthusiasm about is the ability for Canadians from coast to coast to be able to see some of these important artifacts of Canadian history without having to make the expensive trip to the national capital region. I wonder if the hon. member would like to comment on the benefit of the exchange between the Canadian museum of history and local museums in all of our communities.

Justice May 28th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, far too often the scales of justice were tipped away from the rights of law-abiding citizens in favour of the rights of criminals, while the interests of victims were ignored altogether.

Our government has taken action to right this wrong. We have put forward a strong tough on crime agenda by establishing tougher penalties for a wide range of crimes. We have introduced and passed the Tackling Violent Crime Act, which raised the age of protection and made it easier to keep dangerous, violent and repeat offenders behind bars. We passed the Safe Streets and Communities Act, which eliminated house arrest for serious and violent crime and toughened sentences for drug dealers. We passed the Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act, which clarified the rules related to citizen's arrest and defence of property and persons.

Canadians can count on our government to continue to protect victims of crime by holding criminals accountable for the crimes they commit.

Battle of the Atlantic May 1st, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to remember Canadian veterans who fought and gave their lives during the Battle of the Atlantic. Seventy years ago marked the turning point in this battle in a moment when allied forces finally gained the upper hand against the German U-boat threat.

The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest running battle of the Second World War and represents an outstanding contribution by Canadians to the war effort. Those who served during this historic battle will forever be remembered for their valiant service and remarkable bravery.

I hope that all hon. members will join me as we remember those brave men and women who fought to protect our values of peace, freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

Lest we forget.

Committees of the House April 30th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in relation to Bill C-266, an act to establish Pope John Paul II Day. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendments.