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NDP MP for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour (Nova Scotia)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 36.30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply April 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, you can have my time.

Petitions April 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have a number of petitions signed by constituents of mine from Dartmouth and surrounding areas. The petitioners are concerned about the cuts to Canada Post. They are concerned about postal services for themselves and for members of their community. They want to ensure those cut services are restored.

Fisheries and Oceans April 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' last in, first out policy has meant that inshore shrimp harvesters are being asked to shoulder an unfair burden of the deep cuts to quotas off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. These fishermen and their families have been depending on the shrimp industry since the cod stocks collapsed. Now this decision could decimate the inshore shrimp fishery.

Will the minister now agree to rethink the last in, first out policy?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 3rd, 2014

No, Nova Scotians are not worth less.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the member brings up a great point. The government says it is increasing health transfers by 6%, but that is in the total pot and it is being distributed on the basis of per capita. As a result, Nova Scotia is not going to get a 6% increase; it is going to get a 2% increase at a time when health costs are increasing by 5%.

Alberta is going to get an increase of $1 billion. Nova Scotia, where there is a high percentage of the aging population, which requires more health care dollars, is going to get less money from the government.

That is simply wrong.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that employers in Canada have not put enough skin in the game, as the member says.

I was around in 2007 in Nova Scotia and involved in the training field. We were devastated when the federal government pulled out of the national program that existed and dumped all of the responsibility on the backs of the provinces. It was complete chaos and it took a couple of years for the Province of Nova Scotia and other provinces to develop their own programs, infrastructure, and skills.

Now that they have done that and they are producing good skills and providing training for all levels, including the most vulnerable, the government comes along and says it thinks it will take it back because it has seen a political use for those dollars. What the government has done, despite what the minister claims, is put the funding in serous jeopardy that went to these labour market agreements and supported training for the most vulnerable.

That is the shame about the direction in which the government has gone. It has forced provinces to agree to take the money that was already on the table or lose it all.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, let me indicate at the beginning that I will be sharing my time. Unfortunately, I do not have much of it, but being a team player, I am sharing my time with the member for Gatineau.

Let me say how disappointed I am that once again debate on this important measure has been limited. We may get 10 hours altogether in debate at second reading on the bill, which means that the vast majority, two-thirds of the members in the House, will not have an opportunity to stand and represent their constituencies. It is shameful.

We are talking about a budget implementation bill of 350 pages, almost 500 clauses, and it amends dozens of bills. The budget for the department that I am the shadow critic for, Fisheries and Oceans, has a budget of $1.6 billion, and I am being given 10 minutes in the House.

The other day we had the opportunity to talk to the minister at committee on the main estimates, and I had 10 minutes that I had to divide among my colleagues in our caucus. The level of accountability by the government is absolutely shocking, frankly. We continue to see it.

One of the things that the Conservatives are changing is something that affects the region I am from, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. Not only are they getting rid of the Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation altogether, which is losing that voice, that on the ground voice, but they are getting rid of the board of ACOA. They are taking away the requirement that the CEO of ACOA is to report on the progress of that organization in contributing to economic development in the region every five years.

Talk about removing accountability at every step along the way. It seems interesting that ECBC, for example, is being disbanded, at a time when there is an investigation under way by the Auditor General into wrongdoings in the ECBC's decision to provide $4 million in new funding for a new marina at Ben Eoin. One might say that sounds familiar; it sounds a lot like what is happening under Bill C-23, the unfair elections act. Conservatives are getting rid of the provisions that would allow Elections Canada to press forward with charges against some of the Conservative members who have been under investigation for flouting the rules in the way they have prosecuted their own elections.

Again, it is a pattern by the government. It does not seem to give a hoot about democracy and things like fair elections, or about accountability. As I said, for a $1.6 billion budget at Department of Fisheries and Oceans, we get an hour altogether, and most of that is taken up by government in discussion with the minister. It is not good enough, as far as I am concerned, and as far as the constituents that I represent from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.

I have very few minutes, but I want to talk about some of the things that the government could have done. There are a lot of things that it did that I do not agree with. Some things I do agree with. However, there is a lot that the government did not take the opportunity to do. These are things like investing in innovation, economic development, and high-quality middle-class jobs. We had hoped that Conservatives would continue to build on an existing job creation tax credit for small and medium-size businesses. They decided not to do that.

We wanted them to develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with persistent structural youth unemployment and under-employment throughout this country, to create and help businesses create jobs for young Canadians, and to crack down on the abuse of unpaid internships to ensure young people are paid for the work that they perform.

There is a serious problem occurring in this country, where young people, whether getting out of high school or out of university, are having a terrible time trying to find jobs to match their skills. They are having a terrible time finding jobs to develop experience and pay their own way forward, whether it be supporting a family or going on to post-secondary education. The jobs are not there, and the Conservatives have not come up with a plan to help deal with that, other than the Canada jobs plan which does not help students. It was announced last year, and it is only now being agreed to by some of the provinces. It attacks labour market agreements that provide funding for the most vulnerable Canadians, literacy training and job-readiness training in my province of Nova Scotia and throughout the country.

Provinces were forced, frankly at gunpoint, to sign this deal, knowing they were going to be losing funding that they had already committed for these labour market agreements, supporting organizations like the Dartmouth Learning Network and others throughout my province, and programs throughout the country. It is extraordinarily short-sighted, and an example of the lack of appreciation that the Conservatives have for the complexities of job training in this country.

We had hoped that the government would provide explicit transparent criteria for the net benefit to Canada test in the Investment Canada Act, with an emphasis on assessing the impact of foreign investment on communities, jobs, pensions, and new capital investments. I have heard a lot of employers in my constituency asking me why the Americans can protect jobs in their country but Canada does not seem to care what happens to jobs in this country. People are extraordinarily frustrated that companies that compete in the United States are prohibited from doing that, while at the same time American companies come up and displace Canadian companies.

Finally, we had hoped there would be a study conducted into the methods to encourage value-added domestic production in the energy sector.

There is a long list of things, but one of the things I am particularly concerned about is the fact that the Conservatives failed to restore the ecoENERGY home retrofit program. It was an initiative that worked well and was an investment into the renewable energy sector. It was an investment in Canadians actually taking control of the amount of energy they use and it was a good way forward. In their lack of judgment, the Conservatives have decided not to move in that direction again.

Let me finish by saying how disappointed I am as a member of this House of Commons, the representative from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, that I participate in debate after debate where the current government is shutting down our democracy. It is taking away my rights as a member of Parliament to examine legislation, to examine budgets, to give voice to the concerns of my constituents on these issues every single day. The Conservatives have been doing it repeatedly.

I am hearing from the people in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour that it is not good enough. They want to ensure that every time I have the opportunity I send that message because they are going to be sending their own message in 2015.

Fisheries and Oceans April 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Kitasoo First Nation have been fishing Kitasoo Bay for thousands of years. They know how to manage their stocks and have told the minister loud and clear, “No herring fishing in that bay. The stocks need more time to recover.” Yet the minister ignored these warnings, ignored experts in her own department, and has directed commercial fishermen into the bay, creating a potential confrontation.

Why will the minister not listen to science, listen to the first nations, and protect Kitasoo Bay?

Petitions April 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, finally, I have a petition signed by a number of my constituents and people in surrounding communities calling on the government to stop cuts to our postal service.

Petitions April 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have another petition, signed by about 175 members of my constituency and the surrounding areas. With respect to veteran's services, they are asking the government to immediately address the mental health crisis facing Canadian soldiers and veterans by hiring the appropriate mental professionals, reverse its decisions to close Veterans Affairs offices, and prioritize and conclude the over 50 outstanding boards of inquiry on military suicides so that the grieving families may have answers and closure.