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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
Homelessness March 24th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the bill being brought forward by my colleague today. He identified very clearly that this is another tool that would help to address the problem of homelessness. I see the merit in supporting this particular bill, which does not try to identify the definitions that are going to be required.
My question for my colleague is this. Should this bill be successful and pass, does he see the need for the government to broadly consult with those who have been working in this field for many years and who have the expertise? Rather than the government imposing a definition, does he see the necessity for trying to come up with something that works best for those groups that are impacted, to try to advance some solutions for this very important problem?
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns March 7th, 2014
With regard to Employment Insurance (EI) Processing Centres and EI Call Centres: (a) what goal has been set with respect to percentage of EI applications processed through automation; (b) what is the time table for achieving this goal; (c) what was the percentage of automation achieved in EI processing, for the fiscal years 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 to date; (d) for EI processing centres, (i) what was the number and percentage of term employees and the number and percentage of indeterminate employees, for fiscal years 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 to date, (ii) what is the variance in total employees and in the percentage of term versus indeterminate employees from one year to the next, (iii) what is the planned number of employees for fiscal years 2014-2015, 2015-2016, (iv) what is the rationale for any reductions in employees; (e) what is the service standard for processing claims that take longer than 28 days to process; (f) what has been the annual result in achieving this standard for fiscal years 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 to date; (g) what are the reasons for not achieving the standard in the years requested, if applicable; (h) what is the EI call centre agent workday occupancy metric and what is the government's rationale for this measure; (i) what has been the EI call centre agent workday occupancy target and result, nationally and broken down by province, for fiscal years 2011-2012, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 to date; (j) for EI call centres, (i) what was the number and percentage of term employees and the number and percentage of indeterminate employees, for fiscal years 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 to date, (ii) what is the variance in total employees and percentage of term versus indeterminate employees from one year to the next, (iii) what is the planned number of employees for fiscal years 2014-2015, 2015-2016, (iv) what is the rationale for any reductions in employees; (k) how many EI claims were processed for fiscal years 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 to date; and (l) with respect to the program indicator (percentage of initial and renewal EI claims finalized within 21 days from date of filing and 21 days of registration of revised EI claims), what was the standard and results achieved for fiscal years 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 to date and why was the standard not achieved?
Marine Mammal Regulations March 6th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to join in this debate as well. I have had an opportunity to discuss this with our fisheries critic, the member for Cardigan, who recommends that we support this legislation.
There are two aspects to this legislation, and they are the proximity of firearms and the impact of them on the ice.
I grew up in the coastal community of Glace Bay. My riding is predominantly coastal. Anybody who grows up along the coastline of Nova Scotia knows the perils of the ice.
There were not many playgrounds in Glace Bay in the sixties. It was a pretty modest community, and my neighbourhood was certainly modest. I had the great benefit of having the Atlantic Ocean about a nine iron away from my front door. In the summer, it was our swimming pool. In the fall, when the tide was coming in, we would race around the extending points trying not to get knocked over by the incoming tide. In March, the drift ice and the pack ice that came into the coast of Glace Bay became our playground, and we would go down on the ice, much to the chagrin of our folks.
The member for South Shore—St. Margaret's probably went home being wet up to the kneecaps. I recall getting a crack on the behind a number of times because I would be scootching. But I was a kid, six feet tall, and bulletproof. I did not understand the perils of the ice, but that is where we spent a lot of time as kids. My heart would be in my mouth if my own kids went down to play on the ice now.
Living close to the ocean, one becomes a bit ice-savvy and aware of shifts in the ice. A change in the direction of the wind or the wind picking up shifts the ice and opens up perilous water. It is easy to get in trouble.
One can only imagine sealers on the ice and the great peril they would be in if a boat were in close proximity. The shifting of the ice would place the sealers in peril.
I appreciated the comments by my colleagues from West Nova and Dartmouth—Cole Harbour that we look beyond the debate about the seal hunt. The seal hunt is a legitimate industry and should be treated as such. This is not a debate about the legitimacy or the necessity of the seal hunt. We are past that. All parties in the House support our sealers and the sealing industry.
I am very fortunate to have a progressive company in my own riding, Louisbourg Seafoods. Jimmy Kennedy is the owner, and Dannie Hansen is the CAO. They are looking at ways to better serve the sealers and access the great resource that we have with seals. They are very high in protein content. They are looking at ways to process that product and bring it to market, so that it gets the value it deserves.
I have been fortunate in my time in the House. Over the last 14 years, I have had the opportunity to sit on fisheries and oceans committee. It was six years ago when my colleague from South Shore—St. Margaret's was chair of the committee and my colleague from Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission was parliamentary secretary. We had the opportunity to go out on the ice.
We choppered out to a Canadian Coast Guard ship and we were able to monitor the hunt taking place. We brought with us a number of leading veterinarians from Prince Edward Island. They, along with us, were able to get on the ice.
The study itself was driven by the seal hunt and whether or not the harvesting practices were adequate.
The strong evidence that we were able to witness and the strong testimony that was shared with us by the veterinarians was overwhelming that this is indeed a humane harvesting practice and is something that we should not be fearful of. They referred to it as an abattoir on the ice. They said this is absolutely every bit as humane as any slaughterhouse in this country. That is one aspect that really stuck with me.
The other one was the peril that sealers place themselves in in order to take part in this fishery. They are out there in the elements. They are on the ice, and the ice is moving. They are exposed to those types of things. I was really impressed with just how nimble they were in getting around on the ice while they took part in the fishery, but it was obvious that the danger and the fear factor were great while they went about and plied their trade. Most were using the hakapik, but some were using firearms.
The bill addresses not just the ice and the movement of the ice, but it would also provide that additional buffer, that additional security for those who are using high-powered firearms in the harvesting of the seals.
I remember the conversation at the time at committee. We had wondered at the time whether a greater buffer should be placed between observers and those who were harvesting the seals. I recall those discussions coming out of that particular study and I believe a recommendation had been made there.
I think the bill being presented today makes absolute sense. It would allow for a safer work environment for those in the fishery as well as for the observers, who absolutely have a legitimate right to take part, to observe, to hold to account those who are in the midst of that harvesting. We certainly acknowledge and respect their right to be there, but it would also give them a much higher degree of safety as they go about their business and do the necessary observation.
I want the member and the House to know that we agree with the principle of the bill. I am sure that my colleague, the member for Cardigan, will continue to work with the member on it as it goes forward, but I am pleased to stand here today and recognize its merit and offer it support.
Winter Olympic Games February 24th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I stand to congratulate all Canadian athletes, officials, supporters, and families on a truly spectacular Olympic Games.
The gold medal win by our men's hockey team was the brilliant final chapter in the Canadian story. Our women's hockey team captured their gold by staging a comeback victory many refer to as one of the greatest in Olympic history.
Our nation stood proud as Canadian athletes distinguished themselves not only in the medal count but also where it really counts. They were modest in victory and gracious in defeat. There were the incredible stores, like the Dufour-Lapointe sisters, the Bilodeau family, the enormous generosity of Gilmore Junio who have up his spot to silver medallist Denny Morrison.
There was Justin Wadsworth, the cross-country ski coach who ran out to give a Russian skier a replacement for his broken ski so he could finish the race. And, of course, the beautiful spirit of Sarah Burke was ever-present.
We are a modest lot, we Canadians, but a proud people as well. On behalf of all our athletes, let me say to the rest of the world, in true Canadian fashion, “Sorry for being so awesome, eh”.
The Budget February 11th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I know the Minister of Finance is an avid golfer. He might want to consider taking a mulligan on this one.
Today's budget creates a totally disingenuous surplus through cuts to equipment for our troops, through the sale of assets at yard sale prices, and through an artificially high EI payroll tax. The minister knows full well that the EI account is set to balance at the end of this year, but by not letting the rates fall, he is leaving an added payroll burden on employers across this country and, in turn, stifling job development.
Will the minister reconsider this blatant mistake in policy and unlock the premium rates?
Veterans Affairs February 7th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, abysmal service levels are not exclusive to immigration. Over at Service Canada, departmental statistics show that the percentage of callers who have been hung up on is the worst they have been in seven years. In fact, 12 million callers were hung up on last year. The government has turned Service Canada into no-service Canada.
My question is for the Minister of Veterans Affairs. Is this the level of service Canada's veterans can now expect?
Veterans February 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary says that veterans will be able to get their services a kilometre down the road. What they will be able to get a kilometre down the road is one former Veterans Affairs counsellor taking over the responsibility of 17 counsellors who lost their jobs when the Conservatives shut down the office.
We are able to debate freely in this chamber because of these veterans' sacrifice. When will the government give them the respect they have earned and the services they deserve?
Business of Supply January 30th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Thunder Bay—Rainy River for his intervention. Sitting behind him is the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore, and I know that over our time in the House, he has earned my respect for all the work he has done on behalf of veterans.
Over my 14 years here, I have seen some terrible mistakes made by governments. This one makes absolutely no sense. I am sure my friend will agree.
They continue to say “600 points of service”. There was a letter received by one of my colleagues. The writer said that he and his wife went into Service Canada to renew their passports. The husband was a veteran, and he went over to the attendant and said, “I understand you people are taking over the files for the veterans. What are you going to be able to do to help me should I need that help?”
The person who attended him said, “I am not really sure. I took that training some time ago, but I know I have a 1-800 number here that you can call if you need any help”.
What kind of service is that for the men and women who answered the call of duty for this country? Does my colleague think that is a good level of service for them?
Veterans January 29th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, when the Canadian government asked them to march across Europe, they did. When the Canadian government asked them to march into Korea, Bosnia, and Afghanistan, they did. When they were asked to march into every hellhole on this earth, they did. They responded to the call.
Now, in their time of need, when they can march no more, what does the current government do? It shuts down nine veterans service centres and turns it back.
Will he reconsider this wrong-minded decision?
Government of Canada December 10th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, 'Twas the week before Christmas and the Prime Minister's cast;
Were haunted by the scandals of ghosts from his past.
The PM denied when the first ghosts came calling;
That was Duffy, Brazeau and Pamela Wallin.
They attacked allegations with yuletide vendettas;
By stretching the truth and talking poinsettias.
The next ghost wrote a cheque that caused quite a fuss;
In no time at all, he was under the bus.
They tried what they could to keep it from worsening;
But then Deloitte got a call from Senator Gerstein.
The emails police found that the boss wasn't sharin';
That was thanks to the ghost of Benjamin Perrin.
Rob Ford's an old ghost that no one's enjoying.
He's really not scary, more so just annoying.
But it's ghosts of the future, who could possibly threaten;
Think Tkachuk, Stewart Olsen and Marjory LeBreton.
Like Dickens' great tale of the bitter old miser;
We'd expect those in power to conduct themselves wiser.
The truth will come out, we hope and we pray
Cause Canadians know even Scrooge found his way.