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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was atlantic.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Egmont (P.E.I.)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 53% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Prebudget Consultations December 12th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, one of the topics we discussed in the finance committee was the government's decision to eliminate the GST visitor rebate program.

As recently as last Thursday, the minister of the revenue agency was before the committee and I asked her if the government had changed its mind on rescinding that decision and she said not that she knew of.

Yesterday morning, the minister of tourism for Prince Edward Island announced that the Minister of Industry informed him and other tourism ministers that there was a change in the visitor rebate program and that at least part of it would continue to be applied.

Could the parliamentary secretary tell us whether that is true? Why does the government not extend it to all tourists, not just to those who come in on conventions?

Business of Supply November 7th, 2006

Mr. Chair, that view is really not shared by the people on the ground who are actually asked to do the work. They are saying themselves that they are overworked and they do not have enough support to deal with the problems that are coming back from the theatre of war.

On a different question, we know the Afghan national army is in the process of being trained to take over from NATO forces, as are the police forces in that country. We hear very good reports about what the Afghan army is doing alongside our soldiers in the Kandahar region. We have read some emails from our soldiers and they point out that the Afghan contingents are really doing yeoman work in helping us clear out the Taliban. However, on the police side, there appears to be a lot of corruption and a lot of inadequate service by the police. Whether it is because of training or not, I am not sure.

Could the minister give us an update on how long it may take to have the Afghan army and the Afghan police be in a situation where they can take over from us in those particular regions that we, the British and the Dutch are--

Business of Supply November 7th, 2006

Mr. Chair, just to follow up on the question from the member for St. Paul's, the minister knows that the committee has been to Petawawa. He probably has a report from the members on the government side about what we learned on that very interesting trip to the base.

As the member for St. Paul's stated, the number of personnel to take care of our soldiers when they return from Afghanistan, Bosnia, or wherever they may have been, at this particular base seems to be very inadequate. I believe there are nine mental health people in Petawawa, whereas Valcartier has 35 and Edmonton has 29, and yet most of the returning soldiers are going into Petawawa. Why would those numbers make any sense? Also, the amount of domestic violence, divorce, and so on, the readjustment that our soldiers have to make coming out of a theatre of war and re-entering a domestic situation in this country can be quite traumatic and could take a lot of time. Yet the personnel do not seem to be there.

When we were talking with the padres and the caregivers and so on at the base, they seemed to be overworked, understaffed and really stressed out themselves because of the huge workload that they have in dealing with our returning soldiers.

Why have the resources necessary to take care of our returning soldiers not been provided on that particular base?

Canadian Forces November 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, this is an appropriate day and week to talk about the tremendous job our armed forces are doing for Canadians. They are serving us with honour and pride under very serious conditions in many theatres around the world.

I and other members of the House of Commons defence committee recently visited CFB Petawawa to meet the personnel who are responsible for training most of our present contingent of soldiers serving in Afghanistan, ably led by Colonel Denis Thompson, Commander, 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group. We met with Base Commander Lieutenant-Colonel David Rundle. We met with some of the returned wounded. We met with spouses of our soldiers presently serving in Afghanistan. We met with doctors and caregivers, padres, nurses and counsellors who help with the readjustment required on the soldiers' return.

What we found was a highly professional, dedicated and uncomplaining group of Canadians training for a life and death struggle with the forces of the Taliban. They are putting their lives on the line for us and for the Afghan people and they are doing so with inferior infrastructure and training facilities and understaffed rehabilitation personnel.

There are--

Privilege November 1st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I want to call your attention to the ruling of Speaker Lamoureux referred to in Marleau and Montpetit at page 84.

--that parliamentary privilege includes the right of a member to discharge his responsibilities as a member of the House free from threats or attempts at intimidation.

I am trying to perform my duties as a parliamentarian described on page 186 of Marleau and Montpetit as representing constituents and getting action out of government, and yet find myself subjected to false accusations.

The elimination of the visitor rebate program has very grave circumstances for the constituents I represent. It means real job losses in the city of Summerside. It was announced as a complete surprise after no consultation with me, other parliamentarians, affected individuals in Summerside, or indeed the tourism industry across this country. I am attempting to find answers for my constituents and represent their interests here in Ottawa through legitimate parliamentary channels.

To conclude, Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to examine the merits of this question of privilege with respect to the remarks of the Minister of National Revenue on the grounds I have outlined above. The minister has given an inaccurate representation of the facts in a blatant attempt to impede my ability to effectively represent my constituents.

Mr. Speaker, should you decide that there is a prima facie case of privilege, I am prepared to move the appropriate motion.

Privilege November 1st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege concerning remarks made by the Minister of National Revenue in yesterday's question period.

Yesterday during question period the minister responded to a set-up question from the member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley that “since 1999, the Liberals cut 459 CRA positions in Summerside alone”. It is my belief that these comments raise a prime facie question of privilege as they are an inaccurate representation of the facts and a blatant attempt to impede my ability to effectively represent my constituents.

My first concern is the minister's assertion that past Liberal governments have cut 459 jobs at the Summerside tax centre. This is an absolute misrepresentation of the facts. There was no significant decrease in permanent jobs at the Summerside tax centre under the Liberal government. The centre was established in 1993 with a core 400 to 500 permanent jobs. The minister knows that there are considerably more than that presently employed at the Summerside tax centre. In fact a combination of permanent, contract and term positions can fluctuate up to 1,100 jobs at certain times of the year.

The minister's statements were a false representation. In fact, if the minister's statements were true that 459 jobs had been eliminated, the centre would be closed.

Second, I spoke with the minister before her meeting with the mayor of Summerside. I asked her before this visit about the situation at the tax centre. At that time she assured me that he, the mayor, would be travelling back to Summerside, and I quote what she said, “a happy man”. I took from that that she had solved the problem on her own and that she had convinced the Minister of Finance to rescind the cuts and the jobs had been reinstated. Obviously that did not happen.

To continue on this point, I have taken this issue to the Commons standing committee, this is true. My colleagues on my behalf took it to the Standing Committee on Finance. Following confusing media reports on the effects changing government policy would have on the tax centre and to ensure that all stakeholders were aware of the full implications of the decision, my colleagues moved a motion at the Standing Committee on Finance that requires the committee to fully investigate the local and national implications of the elimination of the GST visitor rebate program.

Again, I find it incomprehensible that the minister would not think that a parliamentary motion by Liberal MPs at a standing committee of this very House did not constitute bringing this issue to the fore. As a former member of the finance committee, one would think that the Minister of National Revenue would have more respect for the committee process and would recognize this as a legitimate function of my parliamentary duties.

I am just halfway through, Mr. Speaker.

Rural Mail Delivery October 27th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, today I want to emphasize the importance of keeping rural mail delivery routes and rural post offices open across the country.

I come from a region and represent a riding that is predominantly rural. Any break in rural delivery for us would be disastrous.

In 1993 the Liberal government brought in a moratorium on rural post office closures and now it is the Liberal Party again that is standing up to protect rural mail delivery. On Wednesday this House unanimously adopted a motion calling on the Minister of Transport to restore traditional rural mail delivery. Yesterday, when asked when and what kind of action could be expected, the minister could not provide a straightforward answer. His spokesperson even admitted that they do not have a detailed plan, budget date or a target date yet. She said, “It's just going back to what it was”. Canada Post is singing a different song. I do not know who is calling the shots here.

There is no plan by the government and no leadership on this file. Canadians living in rural Canada must have their mail delivery restored. There must be an end to Conservative dithering.

Government Programs September 27th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, a Tory federal government is poison for the city of Summerside, P.E.I.

In 1989 the last Mulroney government closed CFB Summerside, the only military base in the province of P.E.I.

Now this rapidly aging minority Tory government is closing the GST rebate program which is delivered out of the tax centre in Summerside, a tax centre that the province, the city and all Islanders fought to get as an offset in lieu of the military base.

This unnecessary cut will eliminate 60 permanent jobs, 30 term jobs and 50 casual jobs. It will be a heavy blow for the families and the economy of P.E.I.

In addition, members of the tourist industry from Victoria, B.C. to St. John's, Newfoundland are decrying the elimination of the program, saying it is a critical blow to the industry already suffering a severe downturn. This was a decision made with absolutely no consultation with the provinces or the industry.

The president of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, Randy Williams, said, “This is a more serious blow to the industry than 9/11 and could result in bankruptcies for tourism businesses in Canada”.

Cancer Screening Programs June 13th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, recently the MP for Cumberland—Colchester credited a free cancer screening clinic here on the Hill for detecting a mole diagnosed as malignant melanoma. He was lucky to have the screening and can now continue to enjoy his life.

The big cancer killers are lung, breast, colon and prostate cancers and, with the exception of breast cancer, there are no adequate screening programs in any province or territory in Canada despite scientific evidence that screening would be an effective tool to reduce both the incidence of cancer and deaths from cancer.

We as a nation continue to spend most of our health dollars treating cancer and very few dollars screening and preventing cancer. This policy has to be reversed. How long can we ignore scientific evidence that screening for cervical, prostate, breast and colorectal cancers saves lives in large numbers?

In rural areas, with the shortage of physicians, these screening programs are becoming a vital necessity. Swift and decisive action must be taken by Ottawa and the provinces to put these programs in place without delay.

National Hockey Day Act June 12th, 2006

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-321, An Act respecting a National Hockey Day.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce in the House an act entitled “An Act respecting a National Hockey Day”, which is seconded by the member for Cape Breton—Canso.

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Salmon River, Nova Scotia for winning the Kraft Hockeyville contest last night. It was a very interesting exercise that the Kraft Hockeyville went through. I think most Canadians were very pleased with it, particularly those communities that participated in the contest. It demonstrated the great commitment Canada has to the game of hockey.

The act respecting a day of recognition for hockey, which would be celebrated on the third Friday in February, would designate a day of recognition to commemorate the sport of ice hockey. This day would also strengthen women's and children's involvement in the sport, encourage the participation of citizens and their communities and provide for a stronger identity shared on a national level.

The idea for a national hockey day grew out of the Hockeyville contest and came from the village of O'Leary, which managed to make it to the last five communities in the contest. I wish to congratulate it for their idea.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)