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Conservative MP for Saint John (New Brunswick)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 49.70% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Business of Supply January 29th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, obviously the member missed the point I tried to bring forward in my speech, and I apologize for not being able to articulate that more effectively.
However, the point was that it is about delivering results. That is the point I was trying to make. The Prime Minister of this country has delivered results over and over again. As my colleague has said several times here today, there have been more than 300 meetings with various premiers since he came into office, and results were delivered over and over again.
That is where Canadians are seeing the benefit. They are seeing benefits for their own individual needs in their own individual provinces. That is what Canadians want. They want action on the issues they face personally. As far as photo ops go, we can leave them for the leader of the third party.
Business of Supply January 29th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from my colleague. I have had the benefit of serving the people of my province at the various levels of government. I served at the municipal, provincial, and now federal level.
When I served at the provincial level, I served in the capacity of the chief of staff to the premier, as well as being a minister of the Crown. When I was chief of staff to the premier, we had the benefit of dealing with three different prime ministers during that timeframe.
I have to say that, throughout all of those meetings we had with those prime ministers, any of the work we got done, any of the results we achieved, any of the progress we made for the province of New Brunswick was basically done in one-on-one meetings.
I have to be very frank. Every province is different. Every province's needs are different. When we sat down on a one-on-one basis with the prime minister, the premier, the chief of staff from the prime minister's office, and the chief of staff from the premier's office, we were able to iron out the details. We were able to get the job done and delivered for our constituents.
As I said previously in my speech, that is what Canadians want. They want us to put aside the rhetoric. They want us to put aside the photo ops, as my colleague said. They want us to deliver results for them.
Business of Supply January 29th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate, as the member said, the opportunity to convince him of the respect the government has for the relationship with the provinces.
We certainly respect the positions of the provinces and want to ensure that they have sustainable, dependable funding. As the member refers to, one of the things we have done is have discussions with respect to the health transfers. We have guaranteed that the provinces will see growth in that health transfer, going forward. We have made sure to continue to build upon that growth. People can depend on that, not like with the governments in the past that cut transfers to programs, such as social programs and health funding, which are so vital to the lives of the provinces and their citizens.
Our government has done no such thing. We continue to grow the transfers to the provinces. We are very proud of that. When we talk about respect, there is no better way to demonstrate respect than by keeping our word, and that is what this government does.
Business of Supply January 29th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from the member opposite. I do appreciate his bringing it close to home for me, because that is where all politics belong. All politics are local.
When he talks about the relationship between the province and the other partners, whether it is the municipalities, first nation communities, or the like, he is so right that they talk about wanting to have a relationship upon which they can depend. People want results. They want results when they work together with different partners. As I said in my speech, we are delivering results and have been delivering results.
When the member takes it back to the energy discussion and debate, he is right when he talks about the energy east pipeline and the benefits that would come to my riding in particular, to the refineries and to the community as a whole. The citizens from my riding are excited about the prospects that lie with the energy east project. They are excited about the potential we have to play such a huge role in the building of this great nation, bringing this nation together. One of the things they are so happy about, when they talk about the energy east potential, is that this government put in a definite timeline to have this project approved. This government did that. It is not a discussion that will go on and on. This is a government that has developed a practice of delivering results, and this is a perfect example of having a definitive timeline when it comes to projects such as this.
Business of Supply January 29th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to stand in the House today and respond to the motion brought forward by the hon. member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville. I want to begin by reassuring the hon. member that our government has worked, is working, and will work in close co-operation with the provinces and territories.
In addition, even a rough consideration of our current system makes clear that our government's overall approach to partnership with the provinces and territories is based on the principles of fairness and co-operation. Those principles are also the foundation of our economic action plan.
Our Canadian federation works. It is a federation founded on co-operation, mutual understanding, and compromise and it has served us well for generations. It has offered us a standard of living among the best in the world.
Fortunately, our government not only believes in a principled approach to federalism in Canada's intergovernmental relations but also acts on the basis of these principles. Let us look at how these principles were applied in guiding our government's response to the worst fiscal crisis to sweep the globe in generations, that is to say, our economic action plan.
It is also important to bear in mind that the action plan not only ensured that stimulus resources flowed out on time and on target to help Canadian businesses and families through these challenges at a time when stimulus was needed the most, but that it was also focused on making strategic investments that leveraged the unique advantages of regions and sectors across Canada to support longer-term growth, create and protect jobs, raise living standards, and assist those most in need.
Developing an effective stimulus package meant that governments in Canada had to work together. Approximately 40% of the stimulus set out in the action plan consisted of joint actions of federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments. Together, by providing over $63 billion in timely fiscal stimulus, Canada's action plan made important investments that contributed to Canada's long-term economic prosperity while supporting those most affected by the global recession.
The fact is that since we introduced the economic action plan to respond to the global recession, Canada has recovered both more than all of the output and all of the jobs lost during the recession. Real GDP is significantly above pre-recession levels. That is the best performance in the G7.
Canada's economic resilience and job growth also reflect the actions our government took before the global crisis in lowering taxes, paying down debt, reducing red tape, and promoting free trade and innovation.
However, our government understands that our job is not done yet, and in our efforts to continue Canada's economic success story, infrastructure plays a critical role.
In the short term, investments in infrastructure create jobs for the construction industry; in the long term, they position us to succeed in the competitive global economy. Our government's investments in infrastructure have been historic. Through the $33 billion Building Canada plan, the government has helped to build over 12,000 provincial, territorial, and municipal projects from coast to coast to coast.
Economic action plan 2013 included $70 billion for public infrastructure over the next decade. This includes the $53 billion new Building Canada plan for provincial, territorial, and municipal infrastructure. This plan is unprecedented. It is the largest and longest federal infrastructure commitment in Canadian history.
A key part of that plan is the gas tax fund. This is federal money that goes to municipalities to support their infrastructure priorities. It was originally a temporary program, but when we saw how important it was to Canada's cities, towns, and villages, we took action: we made it permanent, we doubled it, and we indexed it. It grows annually now, representing an additional $1.8 billion in funding over the next decade.
In November 2014, the Prime Minister announced an additional $5.8 billion investment to build and renew on-reserve schools and federal infrastructure assets across the country. This funding will support the modernization and repair of important infrastructure assets to create jobs in communities across Canada and to contribute to Canada's long-term economic prosperity. Many of these projects could not have been accomplished, or will not be accomplished, without the co-operation of every single province with our government.
Let me now address today's recommendation for a first ministers conference.
The member must be unaware, apparently, that the federal, provincial, and territorial finance ministers generally meet semi-annually to discuss priorities in the lead-up to budget preparations, as well as meeting after the tabling of budgets in all jurisdictions.
Further, deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers meet with their provincial and territorial counterparts on a regular basis to discuss issues within their respective areas of responsibilities, including taxation, economic and fiscal matters, and fiscal arrangements. For example, work on retirement income adequacy over the 2009 to 2013 period required the creation of additional ad hoc committees at the ministerial, deputy minister, assistant deputy minister, and working group levels.
Another example is the work with provinces on harmonizing the provincial sales taxes with the federal GST, most recently with Ontario, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island. These discussions demonstrated how the department moves from organized multilateral forums to bilateral discussions in order to achieve a long-standing priority with interested jurisdictions.
While the hon. member's party continues spinning its wheels trying to breed acrimony and sow discord, the Government of Canada has been actively and successfully building on a stronger and more prosperous Canada by working with the provinces day to day and meeting by meeting, in accomplishment after accomplishment.
This practice is something that we employ quite regularly in my riding, in my province, and in my communities. All three levels of government work closely. It is about getting the job done. It is about working together and it is about seeing results.
That unheralded co-operation is enhanced by real support for Canadians in all regions where it counts the most: in dollars. In fact, major federal transfers to provinces and territories will total $68 billion in 2015-16, an increase of $3 billion from the current year and almost 63% more since 2005-06. The government is ensuring that they will continue to grow. Specifically, equalization will grow in line with the growth of the economy: the Canada health transfer will grow at 6% per year until 2016-17 and also in line with the growth in economy starting in 2017-18, with a minimum assured growth rate of 3% per year. The Canada social transfer will continue to grow at 3% annually in 2015-16 and in future years.
As the hon. member can see, comparable treatment for all Canadians is fundamental to the government. That is why, through budget 2007, the government legislated an equal per capita cash allocation for the CST and, beginning in 2014-15, the CHT. To ensure that no province or territory is unduly affected by the CHT change, economic action plan 2012 put in place protection to ensure that no province or territory experiences a decline in its CHT cash entitlements relative to its 2013-14 cash levels.
Programs that help address fiscal disparities among provinces and territories are important components of Canada's system of fiscal federalism. That is why the government continues to provide significant and growing support through both equalization and territorial formula financing programs.
Let me also remind the hon. member that equalization payments are determined based on the province's ability to raise revenues at national average tax rates, also known as its fiscal capacity, compared to an average of all 10 provinces. Therefore, a province's ability to raise revenues varies with its underlying economy conditions, and a subsequent decrease in equalization payments reflects a relative strengthening of a province's economy compared to other equalization-receiving provinces.
Equalization amounts for provinces are based on a legislative formula and change from year to year, based on a province's economic strength relative to other provinces. That is a good-news story, and it is exactly how equalization is supposed to work.
I can reassure the hon. member that provinces can continue to count on long-term, growing support from this government as we work together in this uncertain global economy.
That relationship is what provinces want. Provinces want to know that they can depend on what the federal government is telling them is coming their way. They do not want to be surprised. They want sustainable funding. They want dependable funding. This government has demonstrated over the last nine years that we have been able to provide that support and provide that level of sustainable funding that they require to move forward and to provide for their constituents. This is what the provinces need.
In my past life, as I generally refer to it, I was a provincial politician. I understand how important the relationship with the federal government is. We used to come and meet with federal ministers. I was a provincial minister, and the idea that the opposition members have of ideal federalism certainly did not work out that way in practice. I remember being at those meetings. They make it sound as though they sat around and discussed the issues, brought forward solutions, and acted on them. That is not exactly how it worked. I remember very clearly those days when I sat there, as a provincial minister of agriculture, fisheries, and aquaculture. I remember very clearly the situation. A federal minister would walk in the door and basically say, “This is how it is, and you guys deal with it”. There was no relationship, as they suggest, wherein they walk in the door and sit down, we all work it out together, leave hand in hand, and happily go on our way and everything works out great. That certainly was not the case.
What happened was that the Liberals had a heavy-handed approach that they employed the whole time they were in government. We saw this through the downloading they did on provinces. I remember those days when transfers were cut. I can remember those days when equalization was cut and health care funding and social transfers were cut. It was unbelievable.
They talked about themselves as great fiscal managers. They talked about what they did for the economy here in Canada. Well, they downloaded those issues. They put the problem off onto someone else, yet they like to tell us here today that they worked it all out together. If it had been worked out together, that would not have been the solution. That is not how it would have worked out. If those discussions were as they try to portray them, their portrayal of federalism is something that is almost a fairy tale. It is unbelievable, the way they remember it. It would be nice if that were how it was, but that is not how it was.
The provinces can depend on our government. They can depend on the transfers that come from our government. They can take the word of our government and take it to the bank. That is what the provinces want and appreciate. That is what the relationship should be between the federal, provincial, and municipal governments. It should be a relationship that is built on trust and sustainable funding. We have delivered that over and over again.
To conclude, the facts show that our government is keeping its word. Contrary to what the hon. member may believe, we are co-operating with the provinces and territories. I can assure the member that we demonstrate that every single day. With total transfers at record highs, growing predictably at a sustainable and affordable rate, we are providing unprecedented support to the provinces for the delivery of the health and social services on which all Canadians rely. Even during the global economic crisis, our government increased transfers to the provinces and territories to help Canadians across this great country of ours, and they can continue to count on our government as the days go forward.
I would therefore urge the hon. members to act as Canadians expect all members of the House to behave, to work together in good faith, mutual respect, and understanding to build a better life for all Canadians, as we are doing and have been doing through our economic action plan. I would encourage all members to reject the motion before the House.
Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act December 11th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, many of the previous speakers have suggested that the only factor the government should have considered in setting the boundaries was the result of public consultations.
I want to ask the hon. member if he would not agree that the views of the Northwest Territories should be considered as well. Should we not consider the investments and rights of the mining companies who employ the people? There has to be more taken into consideration than just the results of the public consultations.
Corrections and Conditional Release Act December 4th, 2014
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-642, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (high profile offender).
Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce my very first private member's bill in this House. I feel confident that my colleagues will see the wisdom of these amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. The amendments are meant to address the concerns of any community that is home to a halfway house that houses high profile offenders after their release.
In my riding of Saint John, a situation arose last year when three such offenders were released to a halfway facility without warning to the community. This prompted a wave of fear throughout the community that I am sure is not unique to Saint John, but it was nonetheless unsettling.
This bill asks that an offender's name and photograph be posted on the Correctional Service website, along with any previous convictions, date of release, destination, and any conditions attached to the statutory release.
The bill also requires that Correctional Service Canada provide communities with notice of the proposed release of any high profile offenders, hold public consultations with community representatives, including police, and take into account the views of the host community.
I look forward to hearing the views of my colleagues on these proposed amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. I also hope that it addresses the concerns raised by my constituents in Saint John.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
Committees of the House November 26th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans in relation to Bill C-555, An Act respecting the Marine Mammal Regulations (seal fishery observation licence).
The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendment.
Justice November 4th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, in June, Canadians across the country were shocked and horrified as they learned of the tragic and cowardly acts of violence carried out against RCMP officers in Moncton, New Brunswick.
Constables David Ross, Fabrice Georges Gevaudan and Douglas James Larche dedicated their lives to the protection and safety of their communities and paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
On Friday, the person responsible for these heinous crimes was given a life sentence, with no chance of parole for 75 years. Could the Minister of Justice please inform the House how this sentence was made possible?
Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 28th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, my riding is Saint John. I just want to clarify that, because people in my area are very particular about that. I just want to make sure that members understand very clearly.
We see a lot of potential with this trade agreement, from my area in particular, from Atlantic Canada's perspective, and from New Brunswick's perspective. New Brunswick is the largest, most export-oriented province for percentage of GDP per capita in the entire country. We are very dependent on trade, and we see a huge potential here. We have opportunities that go far beyond what most could imagine. We see a growing marketplace with great demands, and we look forward to meeting those demands.