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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was veterans.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for West Nova (Nova Scotia)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 63% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Small Craft Harbours November 27th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is the opening day of Canada's most lucrative fishery. I wish the thousands of hard-working lobster fishers, who will be heading off the shores of southwestern Nova Scotia, a safe and prosperous season.

As the owner of 37 small craft harbours in West Nova, the federal government is responsible for ensuring that those harbours are safe and accessible for our fishing fleet.

However, due to years of neglect, many of these small craft harbours are in disrepair or do not have enough berthage to accommodate the increasing size of vessels that are a result of a successful fishery.

Our government has invested in the harbours in West Nova, but much more good work needs to be done to ensure our fishers have safe and accessible infrastructure.

By continuing to invest in our harbours, the federal government will help the fishing industry get its world-class seafood off their boats and to global markets, and help local communities, like those in southwestern Nova Scotia, thrive.

Cannabis Act November 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from New Brunswick for the excellent work that he does in Parliament.

It is an important discussion to have with communities across the country. I understand that there can be apprehension to the sorts of changes that are taking place. However, the most fundamental and basic principle is that the current system is not working. This is a matter of public health and public safety.

The way that we are going to make the system better is by ensuring that there is a regulatory framework in place that makes it harder for young people to access cannabis, and that gets the criminal element out of profiting from selling these drugs and taking advantage of vulnerable people.

Our government is committed to doing that. That is what I have heard from constituents I have talked to about this, that we have to get it right. We have to make sure that the proper regulatory framework is in place. The government is listening to those consultations and, importantly, putting those consultations into a framework that will work for all Canadians, keeping Canadians safe, keeping young Canadians safer, and ensuring that we have the right tools and training for our police forces to enforce the law.

Cannabis Act November 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, we did hear lots of interesting testimony at our committee. I appreciate the question the member is asking.

However, it is important to keep in mind a couple of things. First of all, the current system is not working. It is not working as we have the highest cannabis usage rate by young people in the entire world. Second, we also have to recognize that the criminal elements that are involved are profiting greatly from the current system.

As part of Bill C-45, the government, rightly, put in place a framework through which we can ensure that we are able to combat the scourge of drug-impaired driving on our roads, which is happening now. We know that there is an effect that will take place if people are fearful that they will get caught, that if they are using cannabis and driving they will be caught, and that if they are impaired, they will be prosecuted.

With regard to some of the comments my friend made regarding the tools and the training that police officers need, the government has put substantial resources behind the legislative framework to ensure police officers have the tools and the training they need. It is almost $300 million for that alone to be rolled out in due course. It is very important and vital that we get this right. The government is committed to doing it. It will be reviewed in three years' time. The money is there to make sure that the police have the tools and the training they need.

Cannabis Act November 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak in support of Bill C-45 at report stage debate. This historic legislation represents a positive first step in the complex process of legalizing, strictly regulating, and restricting access to cannabis.

Since the introduction of the bill, it has been emphasized that the approach proposed by the bill is grounded in the basis of public health and public safety, including the goal of keeping cannabis away from young people.

Consistent with the commitments to protect the well-being of Canadians, our government introduced companion legislation, Bill C-46, which targets those who drive while impaired by drugs. This distinct piece of proposed legislation would strengthen the criminal law response to drug-impaired driving and help to increase the safety of our public streets and roads.

In its consideration of Bill C-45, the Standing Committee on Health heard from the Ontario Public Health Association that “impaired driving is a leading criminal cause of death and injury on our roadways, and cannabinoids are among the most common psychoactive substances found in deceased and injured drivers in Canada.”

Despite having made progress in deterring and reducing the amount of alcohol-impaired driving over the past decades, statistics indicate that drug-impaired driving is actually increasing.

I am fortunate enough to be a member of the Standing Committee of Justice and Human Rights. We studied the companion legislation to Bill C-45, that being Bill C-46. It is obvious that there is a problem on our roads today with drug-impaired driving, and the problem under the current system keeps getting worse.

According to Statistics Canada, of the more than 72,000 police-reported impaired driving incidents in 2015, almost 3,000 of those were related to drugs. This may not seem like a large proportion, but when we consider that this is double the amount of drug-impaired driving incidents since just 2009, the upward trend becomes very worrisome.

According to a recent publication by the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, 20% of cannabis users self-report as having driven at least once within two hours of using cannabis.

Another recent study based on the Victoria healthy youth survey in British Columbia indicates that 64% of males and 33% of females who were heavy users of cannabis reported that they drove while drug impaired.

The Ontario student drug use and health survey of 2015 reported that the percentage of drivers in grades 10 to 12 who reported driving after consuming cannabis was higher than those who reported driving after consuming alcohol. This survey further indicated that an estimated 29,500 adolescent drivers in Ontario alone drove within one hour after consuming cannabis within the previous year.

I think I can speak for all of us when I say that I find this to be very troubling. The fact that driving while impaired by drugs is currently a criminal offence punishable by a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 on a first offence does not seem to be a sufficient deterrent for an increasing number of drivers.

However, the penalty is not the whole answer anyway. What is clear to me and what the preponderance of the evidence demonstrates is that it is the fear of getting caught that acts as the real deterrent to impaired driving.

Given the current statistics on cannabis consumption before driving, I am fully supportive of the government's approach to strengthen the criminal law framework addressing drug-impaired driving. The proposals on impaired driving would authorize a new tool for police officers to better detect drivers with drugs in their body. These devices would determine whether a driver had certain drugs in his or her oral fluid, including THC, which is the impairing compound in cannabis.

The presence of THC in oral fluid is a strong indicator that cannabis was recently consumed and therefore provides useful information to a police officer who is conducting a roadside investigation. Again, what is essential here is that people will know they will be much more likely to get caught if they drive while impaired by cannabis. This will act as a real deterrent and keep our roads safer.

While reviewing Bill C-45, health committee members heard from the public safety minister who recognized “Essential to this new regime is engagement with and support for police and border officers to ensure that they have the tools they need to enforce the law.”

To this end, the government recently announced an investment of $274 million to support law enforcement and border efforts to detect and deter drug-impaired driving and for enforcement of the proposed cannabis legalization and regulation scheme.

Provinces and territories will be able to access up to $81 million over the next five years for new law enforcement training and to build capacity and enforce new and stronger laws related to drug-impaired driving.

The impaired driving bill also proposes new legal limit offences for drugs and driving. Once these offences are enacted, the crown would no longer have to prove that a driver was impaired by a drug if an analysis of their blood showed that they had a prohibited level of drugs in their body. This legal efficiency would provide a much more timely way to prosecute and punish those who choose to mix impairing drugs with driving activity.

I am pleased to note that one of the proposed offences prohibits certain levels of alcohol and THC which, as I indicated earlier, is a particularly impairing combination of substances. This proposed offence would send a strong message against driving after mixing cannabis with alcohol.

In my view, the proposals to address drug-impaired driving are a positive reflection of the government's broader approach to cannabis legalization in that they represent a cautious, public safety-driven response with the ultimate goal of public protection.

To reiterate the remarks of the Minister of Public Safety to the health committee:

...cannabis impaired driving is happening on our streets right now. The faster we get the right tools, the funding, the training, and the legislative and regulatory authorities in place, the safer Canadians will be. Legislative delay does not make the problem go away or get better.

At committee, amendments were adopted to require a review of both Bill C-45 and Bill C-46 three years after coming into force and to table reports before Parliament on the results of these reviews. This would allow the government to clearly communicate the impacts of the new legislation and to determine whether future changes are necessary.

I am pleased to recognize the substantial efforts of the government to fulfill two of its key platform commitments to legalize cannabis and also, importantly, to create new and stronger laws to apprehend and actually deter those who would otherwise drive while under the influence.

In conclusion, it is critical to underscore the objectives of Bill C-45, which is designed to legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis. With the highest usage of young people using cannabis in the developed world, it is clear the current system is not working. We must make it harder for young people to access cannabis, take business away from criminals, and put public health and safety front and centre. That is what Bill C-45 does and that is why all members should support this important legislation.

National Defence November 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, Canadians understand we live in a complex and ever-changing global security environment. They expect the government to work diligently to make the world a safer, more peaceful, and more prosperous place for them and their families.

This past weekend, the Minister of National Defence wrapped up the ninth annual Halifax International Security Forum, which gathered approximately 350 defence leaders from around the world.

Could the Minister of National Defence please inform the House on the outcome of this year's forum?

Remembrance Day November 8th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, in the days leading up to Remembrance Day, many veterans visit schools to talk to students about the meaning of November 11.

Last Friday, I was honoured to attend a Remembrance Day ceremony organized by the Maple Grove Education Centre's Memorial Club. This student-led club participates in dozens of ceremonial events each year with the help and guidance of one individual in particular, Mr. Joe Bishara. For over three decades, Joe has been teaching youth in the Yarmouth area about the true meaning of respect, sacrifice, volunteering, and leadership. I thank Joe for his dedication and hard work in helping veterans tell their stories and ensuring students learn about the freedoms and values we hold dear as proud Canadians.

On November 11, I encourage everyone, especially our youth, to wear a poppy, attend a Remembrance Day ceremony, and take the time to thank a veteran from his or her community. Lest we forget. N'oublions jamais.

Criminal Code October 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am a member of the justice committee and sat through the hearings on this important bill. We heard over and over in testimony that it is the fear of getting caught that will be the most effective way to reduce impaired driving on our roads.

Can my colleague explain how this bill would increase the likelihood of people feeling more fearful that they would get caught if they are impaired drivers, and how that would reduce the incidents of impaired driving on our roads?

Cape Saint Mary Lighthouse Park September 28th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, on August 30, I travelled to Cape Saint Mary in my riding of West Nova to announce financial support from the Government of Canada to help create Cape Saint Mary Lighthouse Park.

Thanks to the leadership of the Municipality of Clare and the dedicated support of many community volunteers, Cape Saint Mary Lighthouse Park will provide a focal point for showcasing the breathtaking views, beautiful sunsets, and rugged coastline along St. Mary's Bay. The park will also be home to the community's lost at sea memorial, which will commemorate the many local fishers who have lost their lives while trying to support their families back on dry land.

I want to congratulate the committee, which was so instrumental in moving this project forward.

I look forward to celebrating its achievements at the official opening of the park later this fall, and I congratulate it on a job well done.

Export and Import Permits Act September 28th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-47 would introduce controls on brokering the transfer of arms from one foreign country to another. I know the member has talked about other concerns, but I wonder if he would recognize the importance of this measure to combat the illicit trade in conventional arms and the human rights violations associated with it. Does he agree with that?

Export and Import Permits Act September 28th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, acceding to the Arms Trade Treaty would allow Canada to be part of the first international treaty aimed at tackling the illicit trade in conventional arms. Could the member touch a little more on why it is so important for Canada to address this issue and to be part of a treaty that is so important to the globe?