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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was province.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Conservative MP for St. John's East (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 47% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees of the House December 13th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. I want to thank all members of the committee for their cooperation.

Veterans Affairs November 22nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, on Remembrance Day Canadians often reflect upon the sacrifices made by so many of our war veterans. However, over the years a small group of veterans has gone unrecognized.

The U.K. ministry of defence has identified about 200 veterans including soldiers from Newfoundland serving in the British army who underwent chemical agent testing in England. They have gone unnoticed.

Can the Minister of National Defence please inform the House what he is doing to rectify this situation?

Committees of the House November 20th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in relation to the supplementary estimates 2006-07.

Remembrance Day November 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, this coming Saturday is November 11, when Canada will once again honour those who have died fighting for our country.

The parliamentary democracy we enjoy today has evolved over the last 100 years. However, that evolution has only been possible because at critical times in our history, men and women of courage have been willing to stand up for freedom and have been willing to fight and die for it. The Newfoundlanders who died at Beaumont-Hamel were all volunteers, free people all.

The same can be said for those Canadian troops who have paid the supreme sacrifice during the current UN mission in Afghanistan. These courageous men and women have left home and family to travel to a foreign land, fighting in an effort to provide a peaceful way of life for a country living in turmoil.

On November 11 we honour them all. “At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we shall remember them”.

Fisheries and Oceans October 26th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, on Monday evening, another foreign fishing vessel was caught misreporting its catch on the Grand Banks just outside Canada's 200 mile limit. It was clear that the vessel had over-reported its actual catch of shrimp in order to later catch an illegal amount of Greenland halibut, a species under moratorium.

Can the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans tell the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and all Canadians what has happened since? Is that vessel still breaking the rules in NAFO waters?

Committees of the House October 2nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (adoption), with amendments.

I have the honour as well to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration entitled “Stateless Vietnamese Refugees in the Philippines”.

Finally, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration entitled “Audit of the Canadian Security Intelligence Services Immigration Services”.

Committees of the House June 22nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, entitled,“Immediate Moratorium on Deportation of all Undocumented Workers”.

In accordance with the provisions of Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government provide a comprehensive response to the report.

Business of Supply June 15th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, over the years the federal government's budgets have been balanced and, as a result of that, many good things have happened. It has not been all bad over the years. However, we must remember that the budget was often balanced on the backs of the provinces and on the backs of seniors.

When we look at the fact, as I mentioned a moment ago, that $25 billion were cut from the health care budget over the years, seniors suffered tremendously because of that.

We need a commitment from government that we will continue to look at our budgets in terms of health care and in terms of helping seniors and that should be a priority for any government.

Business of Supply June 15th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, affordable housing is very important. I assure my colleague that Canada's new government is taking meaningful action to address the need for affordable housing, including affordable housing for low income seniors. Our government's plan includes funding in the amount of $1 billion. A note that I received today includes the amount of about $1 billion for an affordable housing initiative. In collaboration with provincial, territorial and local partners, we are in the process of delivering on that initiative. Affordable housing is important and it needs to be addressed.

The member talked about health care and health care for seniors. Governments over the years have failed seniors in many ways and we are all aware of this. It has not always been upfront or noticeable, but we have failed seniors in many different ways. When we look back over the years, the reduction in the transfers to the provinces has had a tremendous impact on provincial budgets. We can also look at the fact that $25 billion were cut from the health care budget over the years. I think it would be fair to say that seniors are the major recipients of health care and, therefore, when these programs are cut, it is bound to have a major impact upon seniors generally.

I could not agree more with the member. We do need to do more for seniors but we must be vigilant of health care transfers and so many different things.

Business of Supply June 15th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say a few words on this motion. It is a very important motion that calls upon Parliament to address some issues that have been neglected for a very long time.

Seniors' issues are very important and we should all be supportive of policies that are directed toward seniors. If we are lucky enough and if we live long enough, all of us without exception will become seniors. Some of us in this House are already seniors. It is inevitable that we will all find ourselves in that position. In addition, of course, we have to be very respectful and very caring of the people who have gone before us in building our communities, building our society, and making their own unique contribution to the betterment of all.

The motion covers a very wide range of issues. It talks about creating a seniors charter so that the rights of every senior would be enshrined to ensure they receive adequate support in a number of areas. The member mentioned a number of areas in her motion that are very important to seniors, such as income security, indexed pensions, affordable housing, wellness through health promotion, dental care, palliative care, pharmacare, and affordable recreation. These are all important issues for seniors generally, and in enshrining all of these and in developing these programs, seniors themselves would have the opportunity to have input.

As I said, all of us without exception can look at this kind of list and say that we support these measures because they are very laudable goals that should be pursued on behalf of seniors. I am particularly pleased with some of the initiatives that the government has already taken on a number of these issues.

As a government, we realize the dilemma in which many seniors find themselves today. Many are on fixed incomes, but still the cost of living continues to go up. The cost of electricity is forever on the rise. The cost of home heating fuel is always going up. In these two particular areas, I think it would mean an awful lot to seniors who have to live on a fixed income if they could have some kind of guarantee that their electricity bill would be reasonable or that home heating fuel would not go up by 50%, 60% or 70%, as it has over the last couple of years. If these costs were to remain stable, it would mean an awful lot to the average senior.

Of course, today we have to talk about drugs and medical care for some seniors. The costs for these can be draining for an individual on a fixed income. Seniors very often have to go to family members to get help. That should not be happening in this day and age.

I believe that every now and then we have to assure seniors that certain government benefits are guaranteed and will always be guaranteed. I am talking about things like the Canada pension plan, old age security and the guaranteed income supplement. These are fundamental guarantees of income security in retirement years. We as a government have to assure seniors for their own mental well-being that we will not reduce these benefits in any way, shape or form. As a matter of fact, not only do we have to assure seniors that we will not reduce these benefits, but we have to give them some assurance that we will build on these benefits to ensure that seniors maintain a decent and respectable quality of life.

I am encouraged that a move is afoot which would see the federal government working with the provinces to examine the possibility of allocating a portion of any future surpluses to the Quebec and Canada pension plans. What better way to allocate additional moneys than for government to put these surpluses into these plans?

Seniors were very much a part of creating the good times that we enjoy today. Why should they not be the recipients of these good times as well? After all, seniors have sacrificed to pay into the pension plans for their retirement years. As a result, they certainly deserve to keep a greater portion of their hard-earned money to put into additional disposable income.

That is why in its budget the government is helping seniors in what I feel is a variety of different ways. In the budget, the amount of pension income that can be deducted from income tax went from $1,000 to $2,000. About 2.7 million taxpayers will be affected positively by that measure. In addition, it is going to take about 85,000 pensioners off the tax rolls altogether. That is a positive step. Hopefully we can look forward to other measures along these lines when subsequent budgets are brought down.

Of course, we are all very much aware that the GST will be reduced by 1% effective July 1. There is a promise of a further 1% within a five year period. Albeit the average senior is not going to be able to bank too much money from that, but it will be a saving on every purchase that a senior makes.

All these measures mean savings for seniors, of course, but I really believe there is a measure the government is currently working on that would mean a great deal for seniors, an initiative that would truly send a message to the average senior and would reinforce our commitment to seniors. That is the establishment of a national seniors council.

I am aware that the government is working toward that goal. It would be a council made up of seniors and seniors' organizations. That body would have a mandate to advise government on the needs and concerns of seniors all across the country. In addition, of course, seniors would have the comfort of knowing they have their own organization that reports directly to government on issues that affect them.

I noticed in the motion that the member would like to see an ombudsman for seniors put in place, who would report annually to Parliament and make recommendations on issues related to seniors. I think that would be a very good idea. However, I believe that when we put in place a national seniors council, which the government is determined to do, this body would report on issues related to seniors and, although I do not know, it probably would negate the necessity for an ombudsman.

The opposition motion also talks about education and training for seniors with respect to programs for seniors and issues that affect seniors generally. Education and training are very important in raising the awareness of issues that affect seniors. For instance, I am aware that the federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for seniors, along with the RCMP, have produced a public education kit to help seniors' organizations raise the visibility of elder abuse. The whole issue of elder abuse is a very important issue. The government provides about $7 million in permanent annual funding for an initiative on elder abuse, which is good as well.