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Liberal MP for Cape Breton—Canso (Nova Scotia)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 46.40% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Social Development December 8th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, two mothers, already fighting cancer, had to fight the government in the courts for EI sick benefits that they were rightfully owed while on parental leave. Now, the government is fighting to prevent thousands of other women from claiming compensation for the same sickness benefits they have been wrongfully denied since 2002.
What is so appalling is that the government knows the women are right, and the minister knows that Rougas and Kittmer proved that. That is why he quietly settled with hundreds of other women.
Conservatives do not mind paying lawyers, but they do not like to pay sick mothers. Why is that?
Veterans Affairs December 5th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the government members should be appalled, not applauding, especially in light of the scathing Auditor General's report that showed some veterans waited months, if not years, for access to mental health services.
There is the lapsing of well over $1 billion promised for veterans services and now the rewarding of officials for denying services to our brave veterans.
Are they still prepared to clap for a minister whose sole legacy is the shafting of Canadian veterans? When will the Prime Minister take action and punt the minister?
Veterans Affairs December 2nd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, this has played out like a bad movie, and this minister has been the star in each of those scenes.
We have seen the video clips of him being chased down the hall by the wife of an injured veteran. We have seen him walk into a room full of decorated veterans—veterans bent over at the waist because of the weight of the medals on their chests—and lecture them.
We have seen 3,500 people marching on the streets of Sydney, Nova Scotia, veterans among them. These are men and women who marched into Europe, marched across Bosnia, marched into Afghanistan, and now they feel obliged to march for what is theirs.
When will the Prime Minister remove this minister?
National Fiddling Day Act November 28th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, Rodney is our former premier and great friend who runs the Gaelic College, and his buddy, Glenn Graham. His name is Rodney MacDonald. In Cape Breton, it is just Rodney. It is like Elvis; we do not even need the last name.
I am happy to speak to this, and I want to commend the senator for bringing this bill forward.
National Fiddling Day Act November 28th, 2014
We do, Mr. Speaker. The world's largest fiddle is in Cape Breton, at the waterfront in Sydney. It was built in 2005. Tourists from around the world come to have their pictures taken in front of it and enjoy the great fiddle music of Cape Breton and Nova Scotia.
I am happy that most members in my party are supporting this bill, because I think it is significant. It is something to be celebrated and it keeps the proud tradition of the fiddle out front.
We cannot always take it for granted. There is a great story that is part of the history passed down from generation to generation back in Mabou, which is the really the epicentre, the cultural soul, of the Celtic spirit in Cape Breton.
The story is that Father Kenneth MacDonald served as the parish priest back in the1860s for a number of years. He was not a big fan of the fiddle. He was not a big fan of a lot things, such as dancing and libations and so on. He thought that the fiddle was a bit evil, so he took it upon himself to go door to door and gather up the fiddles in Mabou.
It may have worked for a short time, but Mabou, as I said, is really seen as the focal point of fiddling, though not just fiddling. We are all very much aware of the Rankin family. A great fiddler with that family is John Morris Rankin. It really becomes a mecca, especially during the Celtic Colours festival every fall.
However, there was a time of decline even after the gathering of the fiddles. CBC ran a documentary in 1972 called The Vanishing Cape Breton Fiddler. It was produced by Ron MacInnis. It talked about the decline in the number of people playing the fiddle in Cape Breton at the time. Fiddling was thought to be on the verge of distinction, so some key people got together and vowed that they would not let this happen. They were Frank MacInnis from Creignish, Father Eugene Morris from Mabou, Burton Maclntyre from Whycocomagh, Archie Neil Chisholm, Father John Angus Rankin—who was one of the real driving forces behind it—Rod Chisholm, Judge Hugh J. MacPherson, Anne Marie MacDonald, Jeannette Beaton, Joey Beaton, and Ray MacDonald. This group got together and said, “We can't let this happen. We just can't let fiddle music die in Cape Breton”, so they embarked on a plan to pull together an organization.
From that was born the Cape Breton Fiddlers' Association. The Cape Breton Fiddlers' Association, a lot of it under the guidance of my good friend Betty Anne Matheson, puts on a major festival at the Gaelic College in St. Ann's, Cape Breton, year after year, which draws thousands of people and hundreds of fiddlers to come and learn, take workshops, and perform. Even those who have gone on to great careers and have been very successful in the music industry continue to return to this festival each year to be with their fellow fiddlers and to continue to learn and grow and share. As I said, that festival takes place each year.
They understood that they could not be complacent, and many in the fiddling community knew that. Some people have stepped up, guys like Eddie Rogers, who was originally from Guysborough but who has lived in Cape Breton for a number of years. He continues to work with many young fiddlers, inspiring the next generation of fiddlers. It is a tradition that is passed down from generation to generation, most times in kitchens but a lot of times in the dance halls and far beyond.
There is a great quote from the late and great John Allan Cameron. He said, “When I was growing up, the most important people in the community were the fiddler and the priest”. Anybody who comes from a rural community can certainly attest to the high esteem that great fiddlers are held in.
When we talk about some of the great fiddlers in Cape Breton, there is Winston Scotty Fitzgerald, who was a bit ahead of his time in recording fiddle music and a lot of the traditional fiddle tunes. He laid the groundwork for future generations.
There is Dan Joe MacInnis, from Big Pond, and Lee Cremo, a famous first nations fiddler from Eskasoni, and Carl MacKenzie. As I had said, from the Rankins, the late John Morris Rankin was an accomplished fiddle player.
This past year, we lost Buddy MacMaster. Although Buddy was born in Timmins, he moved to Judique at an early age. Buddy MacMaster was a phenomenal fiddle player, a beautiful, caring, and sharing man. It was through the commitment of these people that they continue to share and inspire young fiddlers. Of course, Buddy's niece, Natalie, went on and did not have a bad career herself. Natalie is an accomplished musician. She is married to Donnell Leahy, who himself is a fabulous performer. The list goes on, including Jerry Holland. Those are some of the greats.
We could not talk about fiddlers from the Cape Breton area unless we gave a shout-out to Ashley MacIsaac. I remember, in 2010, when we watched the opening of the Olympics in Vancouver, and we saw k.d. lang doing Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and just how inspiring that was. Then out came Ashley doing his rendition of Devil in the Kitchen. He not only lit up the opening ceremonies for the people in the place, but he lit up the airwaves as well. I had the great opportunity to see both Ashley and his cousin Wendy MacIsaac perform at the Celtic Colours opening gala early in October, and it was an incredible performance.
Hosting these events, and certainly having a day that recognizes fiddling, can only continue to help grow the art. I commend Senator Libbe Hubley for putting this bill forward. She is an accomplished fiddler herself. It will be embraced and enjoyed by many, far beyond the fiddling community. When we look at the impact of Celtic Colours on our community, and the thousands of people who come from around the world to enjoy Celtic Colours, we can see opportunities like that.
I was warned by a good friend of mine that I cannot be talking about fiddlers unless I give a shout-out to people like Hilda Chiasson, Dougie MacPhee, Tracy MacNeil, and Billy McPhee. It is like the pitcher and the catcher; they have to have a piano player too. We have to give a shout-out to the piano players. I do not know if there is going to be a piano players bill coming forward.
National Fiddling Day Act November 28th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I too am very excited about being able to join in this debate.
Tourism Awards November 28th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, this week, I was pleased to attend the Tourism Industry Association of Canada's annual awards night, where three organizations from my riding received nominations, including Cabot Links golf course, the Fortress of Louisbourg, and the Celtic Heart of North America marketing group.
Congratulations to Cabot Links for winning the Visa Canada Traveller Experience of the Year Award. Cabot Links is recognized as one of Canada's top golf courses and is ranked as the 82nd-best golf course in the world by Golf Digest magazine. Cabot Links runs along the breathtaking shoreline of Cape Breton and provides golfers with a true links experience, with panoramic views, fabulous accommodations, and a five-star menu.
To the incredible Ben Cowan-Dewar, his wife Allie, and their staff of almost 200, congratulations on this prestigious national award. Congratulations as well to the people of Inverness, and particularly to those members of the Inverness Development Association whose vision and determination were the impetus for this world-class project.
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge November 19th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, every day, more than three Canadians will die from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS or Lou Gherig's disease.
Many of its victims are in the prime of their life, such as Bill Corbett, the former Clerk of the House, and my former chief of staff, Richard Wackid, from the Liberal whip's office. We miss them dearly, as do many Canadians whose loved ones have succumbed to this disease.
Today, ALS Canada is in Ottawa to announce the result of the ice bucket challenge fundraiser in support of research.
We have seen television personalities, politicians, athletes and many other Canadians take up the challenge, including my own leader, the member for Papineau, who was very helpful in dumping a bucket of water over my head and my colleague's head, the member for Charlottetown.
I know many MPs in this House have also had water dumped over their heads to raise awareness and funds to fight this disease.
On behalf of my Liberal colleagues, and indeed all of us in the House, I congratulate ALS Canada for a job well done, and Mr. Speaker, I congratulate you for hosting this dedicated group of Canadians today.
Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act November 18th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciated the intervention by my colleague, the member for Ottawa South. It shed a great deal of light on many of the issues around the legislation.
However, getting back to his earlier question for the member for Yukon, I did not quite get the essence of the answer, or even if there were an answer by the member in response to the fair question posed about whether the senseless tragedy that took place here on the Hill recently could have been averted with changes to the regulations and laws.
I wonder if he has any sense as to where that rationale would come from?
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns November 17th, 2014
With regard to government funding, for each fiscal year since 2007-2008 inclusive: (a) what are the details of all grants, contributions, and loans to any organization, body, or group in the electoral district of Cape Breton—Canso, providing for each (i) the name of the recipient, (ii) the location of the recipient, indicating the municipality, (iii) the date, (iv) the amount, (v) the department or agency providing it, (vi) the program under which the grant, contribution, or loan was made, (vii) the nature or purpose; and (b) for each grant, contribution and loan identified in (a), was a press release issued to announce it and, if so, what is the (i) date, (ii) headline, (iii) file number of the press release?