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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is program.

Liberal MP for Cape Breton—Canso (Nova Scotia)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 46.40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 15th, 2014

With regard to National Parks: what are the dates, titles, and file numbers of all reports, memoranda, dockets, dossiers, or other records, since January 1, 2006, held by any department or agency, concerning the proposed Never Forgotten National Memorial at Green Cove, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 15th, 2014

With regard to the portions of the anti-spam legislation that come into force on July 1, 2014: (a) how many inquiries has the government received from companies about the new law; (b) what outreach activities has the government undertaken to help companies understand their obligations under the new act; and (c) how much money has the government spent to inform Canadians or businesses about the new law?

Regional Development June 13th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in question period in response to a question, the Minister of Transport said that she will work with Mayor Cecil Clarke to help out the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

So far, the Conservative government has walked away from its commitment to Mayor Clarke to provide fifty-cent dollars on municipal infrastructure projects. It has cut 160 EI processing jobs in his backyard, shut down the Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation, run away from the MV Miner, and shut down the Veterans Affairs office in Sydney.

Cape Bretoners want to know: is the minister working with Mayor Clarke, or is she just working him over?

Service Canada Mandate Expansion Act June 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am fairly new around here. It has only been 14 years. This is my 14th spring session, and people get cranky around this time of year. However, it amazes me that, on a bill such as this, the NDP would decide to take the approach that it has, rather than speak to the merits of the bill that would benefit a number of Canadians. If anyone is watching the debate at home, I am thinking it could be framed as juvenile at best.

I want to thank my friend and my colleague the member for Guelph for putting the bill forward. It is a practical bill. It is a common sense approach to something we have all had an opportunity to experience. I myself lost both my parents in the last six years. They lived productive and long lives, but it is a tough time to go through when they are up there in years. I lost my mom just two years ago. I am fortunate that I have two sisters and they looked after a lot of it. They looked after the business around it. Dealing with the estate settlement, closing up the home, and dealing with all that has to be dealt with, it is a real tough time. It is difficult emotionally, and it can be so frustrating to try to wrap up all that is involved. My sister Kim and my sister Darlene took on that responsibility. The brothers were very fortunate that they did step up.

I want to also thank my colleague from Guelph, who put forward the bill, for engaging me early on in the process, so we were able to address any concerns I had early on. We were able to do that early on in the bill, and I like the way it is presented now.

I appreciate the comments from the parliamentary secretary from the government. She has indicated that they are willing to look at this. She brought forward a couple of important points. We certainly do not want to duplicate services, but if we can streamline services and make them more efficient for the operation of government, but also for Canadians, then we are doing our jobs as legislators. Every chance we get to help the government, that is what we try to do over on this side.

The parliamentary secretary also indicated there are a number of processes that take place upon the filing of a death certificate. Provincially, the mechanisms kick in once those processes are initiated. Each individual is a little different. For example, when a veteran passes, it is necessary to make sure the various programs the veteran was engaged in are shut down. My colleague mentioned an EI recipient. If EI or CPP payments continue to be made past the death of an individual, it is tough to pay them back. The government would sooner be notified, so that it can bring that program to a close for that person and not have to go back and try to get money back because of overpayments. There is the passport office and all those issues that were brought up during my colleague's speech.

The funeral industry has continued to improve its services and work with families. It has been helpful, but again, what it can do and how it can provide support can only go so far.

I want to make reference to some comments made by my colleague from Guelph with respect to the Auditor General. I also want to address some comments that were made by the parliamentary secretary with regard to privacy.

With respect to the comments made about the Auditor General's report, if any piece of legislation embraces recommendations from an Auditor General's report then it stands a better chance of being good legislation. In the 2013 report on access to online services, the Auditor General outlined deficiencies in how the federal government handles death notifications. In the summary of his report he stated that:

There is limited integrated service delivery among departments....

The federal government does not coordinate other common activities. When a death occurs, for example, someone must contact each department separately and follow different processes, as this information is not generally shared and departments do not offer the ability to do this online.

It is important that we identify that.

With regard to the parliamentary secretary's concern around privacy, this legislation would respect the Privacy Act. I would like to read part of the Auditor General's report, for inclusion in the Debates:

We examined whether the four large departments we audited had developed ways to share information while respecting the privacy of individuals’ information, in an effort to integrate and improve service delivery. The Privacy Act establishes the way government institutions are to collect, use, and disclose personal information in the course of providing services. This Act is not meant to hinder information sharing, but rather to ensure effective protection and management by departments of personal information provided.

The 2004 Treasury Board Secretariat report on serving Canada's veterans noted that Canadians indicated they accepted that government departments should share information, but they noted they wanted to be asked for their consent before this occurs. That is what this legislation is all about. These are Canadian citizens saying they want their information to be shared so that they are able to wrap up their business with the Government of Canada. This speaks to that and outlines it well.

My colleague also mentioned the system now employed in the United Kingdom, Tell Us Once. I am the father of three boys. It would have been a great way to raise three kids, only telling them once. For me, it is more like telling them a thousand times and then they catch on. Tell Us Once is something to which we should aspire. This program has obviously served the U.K. well since its initiation. The fact that it will save $300 million over 10 years cannot be ignored.

I am pleased that the government has indicated it is interested in getting this legislation to committee to learn more about it and how it could be moved forward. My colleague from Guelph has said he is open to reasonable amendments, and I know he is sincere in that. I hope that, if the NDP sees the merit in this, it would also support it. I hope the government will support this legislation. My colleagues in the Liberal Party look forward to getting this to committee because it would be of benefit to all Canadians.

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act June 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciated the comments put forward by my colleague from the NDP.

The government has maintained that the proposed legislation is in compliance and satisfies the Supreme Court Bedford ruling. A lot of people do not agree with the government in that case.

When the Conservative member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley was speaking to some party faithful in Parrsboro just last week, he said the Conservatives will not put up with the Supreme Court decision. This was the comment he shared, which no doubt was a little home cooking for the base. However, he went on to say, “We don't care what the constitutional lawyers say”.

Does this sort of peel back the veil on what has been put forward by the government? Does my colleague believe that this peels back the veil and tells us what the legislation is really all about, which is to appease the Conservative base?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns June 10th, 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 province of Alberta, providing for each (i) the name of the recipient, (ii) the location of the recipient, indicating the municipality and the federal electoral district, (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?

Government Appointments May 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Public Integrity Commissioner ruled today that John Lynn made four blatantly partisan Conservative patronage hirings. After this damning report, the minister was forced to fire Mr. Lynn.

In light of the seriousness of this offence, will the minister now go further and ensure that the patronage appointees that Mr. Lynn hired are not rolled into the professional, independent, non-partisan public service?

Government Appointments May 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that the commissioner found that Mr. Lynn seriously breached the code of conduct when he hired Nancy Baker, Allan Murphy, Ken Langley, and Robert MacLean based solely on political ties to the Conservative Party. All were hired to executive positions and all were appointed without a competitive, merit-based process. These tainted political appointments will become permanent in a matter of weeks when Bill C-31 makes them part of the public service.

In 2012, the Public Service Commissioner revoked two rigged appointments at ACOA P.E.I. Will the minister show leadership and do the same with these rigged appointments at Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation?

Government Appointments May 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner's investigation into ECBC's John Lynn is complete, and the verdict reads “guilty”. He found that Mr. Lynn committed serious wrongdoing in making four blatant patronage appointments of people with strong Conservative ties. ECBC is being wound down, and Mr. Lynn, who has not been to work in a year, is in line to receive an embarrassingly large severance.

In light of this damning report, will the minister ensure that Mr. Lynn is not rewarded with taxpayers' dollars for committing “... a serious breach of a code of conduct....”

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns May 16th, 2014

With regard to contracts under $10,000 granted by Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency or Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation since January 1, 2013: what are the (a) vendors' names; (b) contracts' reference numbers; (c) dates of the contracts; (d) descriptions of the services provided; (e) delivery dates; (f) original contracts' values; and (g) final contracts' values if different from the original contracts' values?