- His favourite word was debate.
Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for South Shore—St. Margaret's (Nova Scotia)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 43% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Fisheries and Oceans June 19th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question. Of course, I will not thank him for the last part of it, which I frankly disagree with.
It is worth noting that it was our government that reopened the food fishery in Newfoundland in 2007. We did that based on the precautionary principle.
Certainly the minister is looking at all options to make sure that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have the opportunity to get their cod fish for the winter.
Canada Revenue Agency June 10th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, CRA and our government expect all Canadians and all corporations to pay their fair share of Canadian tax.
What the hon. member is talking about is again sheer nonsense. We have more international auditors. We have a greater effort to catch tax evaders, not just individuals but companies as well, who are using offshore shelters to protect themselves from paying Canadian tax.
We expect everyone to pay their fair share of tax and we intend to ensure that happens.
Canada Revenue Agency June 10th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, that question is absolute nonsense. Our government has always had zero tolerance for tax evasion.
Let the numbers and the record speak for themselves. From 2006 to March 31, 2014, CRA audited over 8,600 international tax cases, identified over $5.6 billion in additional taxes, taxes that are being collected.
Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd Parliament June 9th, 2015
Mr. Chair, it is a real pleasure to rise and speak in the House tonight.
In 10 minutes, it is hard to put across one's entire career in politics, whether a short-lived career or one that has greater longevity. However, for my political career, June 2 marked 18 years. I remember coming to this place 18 years ago as a young parliamentarian, quite frankly green as grass, and walking onto the green floor of the House of Commons, which of course, represents the grassroots.
It is not just representative of the grassroots of Canada, but it goes back to another era and another time, to the time of the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede. King John, of course, was granting greater taxation abilities to the knights and nobility. Because he was the king, he forced the knights and nobility to dismount and stand on the grass, and that is where the expression “grassroots” comes from. It was because they were standing on the grass sod.
We know, in today's terms, that it was a very elite group, certainly the cream of society, whereas in this place, under true democracy, everyone—even myself, a kid growing up in rural Nova Scotia—has an opportunity to come to the House of Commons of Canada. It is a great gift to be passed to other Canadians.
I think back to my nomination speech, and we all went through one. We all got our supporters out and dragged them to a fire hall or town hall somewhere and got them all to vote. I cannot tell members what I said in my nomination speech. I really have very little idea, because I was extremely nervous. However, I do remember quoting Robert Service from The Shooting of Dan McGrew, and I think it stood me in good stead for this job. It was probably the only part of my nomination speech that was delivered fairly well. I quoted this part:
When out of the night, which was fifty below, and into the din and the glare,
There stumbled a miner fresh from the creeks, dog-dirty, and loaded for bear.
He looked like a man with a foot in the grave and scarcely the strength of a louse,
Yet he tilted a poke of dust on the bar, and he called for drinks for the house.
I always felt that put me in the right frame of mind to come here, because this is a very adversarial chamber at times, with quite a rowdy crew at times. At times, we could be mistaken for that barroom in that piece of poetry written by Robert Service.
However, in all honesty, there are many times when we work more collaboratively and actually do a good job, and I think everyone comes here with the right intent. Regardless of our political affiliation, people come here for the right reasons. Sometimes they get led astray a little bit, but the majority of us are here for the right reasons, doing a good job on behalf of our constituents and on behalf of the country.
I wrote down “politics can be frustrating, demanding, perplexing, and gratifying”. I think all of my colleagues would recognize those words. However, we are all here because we have partners in life, family, friends, supporters, and all of the volunteers who have been kind and generous of their time, and who allow us to stand in this chamber and discuss the events of the nation.
Certainly, I need to first of all thank my family, my wife Judy, our six kids, my brothers and sisters, and my friends who have been supportive over the years. I know we are not allowed to draw attention to anyone in the gallery, and I have no intention of doing that, but I am pretty sure that my wife Judy, my sister Marsha, my brother-in-law Charlie, my friends Peter and George are probably watching this tonight.
I need to recognize my staff in the riding: Kim who has worked for me as long as I have been a member of Parliament, Jennifer, Shauna, who has now left and is working in New Brunswick, Cathy, who works in the Barrington office, and Ben, who works in my Ottawa office. They really are the glue that holds us together. As important as the support and love of our families are, members could not do this job, as was mentioned earlier this evening, without the quality, expertise, and professionalism that our staff shows us every single day. That includes former staffers, many of whom have gone on to great careers in political life themselves.
I want to take a moment to talk about the volunteers. All members, whichever side of the House we work on, have got here because of the hard work of dozens, hundreds, and perhaps even thousands of volunteers. Here in Canada, we are a volunteering society. People volunteer at their local legions, churches, and food banks, but it is somehow a dirty word to say that someone volunteers in politics. Quite frankly, shame on us, because those volunteers are the other part of the glue that binds this democracy together. We need to recognize them and thank them for their contribution to the work that goes on, whether it is the Parliament of Canada, the provincial and territorial legislatures, or the municipalities. We could not do this job without them.
I want to thank all of my colleagues. I am not going to name everyone and I do not mean to steal the Minister of Justice's line, but we were elected at the same time, on June 2, 1997, and at that time we were a small band that had come to Ottawa trying to make big changes. It took us a long time to do that, but quite frankly, because we put the two parties together, we are standing here today not just as retiring members of Parliament but retiring members of Parliament in a government that has made real, serious change to this country, for the better.
I want to recognize and thank the Prime Minister for putting his faith in me and allowing me to serve as parliamentary secretary. That is something I will always appreciate. I was able, in that role and capacity, to work on some large files, which I never would have been able to do otherwise.
Private members' business was mentioned earlier. When I first got here, I was looking at reducing or eliminating the capital gains on privately owned woodlots in Canada, and I was able to bring that forward in a private member's bill. The government of the day did not see fit to pass it, but it did bring in the legislation itself and it became law. I also had a private member's bill on fisheries capital gains. We brought that in as an election promise and did it. It has been a huge boost for private woodlots and fisheries.
I also had the great honour of working on the Heritage Lighthouse Preservation Act with folks like Barry MacDonald from Nova Scotia. We were able to preserve forever a number of ancient lighthouses in Nova Scotia, one in particular on Cape Sable Island in my riding. The Minister of Justice and I were able to make the announcement on the other one just outside of my riding, the Sambro Island light. The Sambro Island light is the oldest lighthouse not just in Nova Scotia, Canada, or North America but in the western hemisphere. That is a piece of heritage that we were able to help preserve.
I want to say to all of my colleagues, family, and friends that it has been an honour and a pleasure to serve.
Canada Revenue Agency June 4th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, we have a very fair tax system in Canada. When the auditors choose to audit any individuals or any company in Canada, that audit is carried out in a professional manner.
In this case, the individuals were found to be in compliance, and they should be satisfied with that result.
Mr. Speaker, seven minutes is not nearly long enough to speak on the Sambro Island lighthouse, but I will take what time I have. I want to echo the words of my colleagues who have spoken on this issue before me in the House. Canadians have spoken clearly. Our lighthouse heritage matters and needs to be protected.
Like Bill C-588, the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act originated as a private member's bill, and its principles resonated so clearly with parliamentarians that it was enacted unopposed. I would say, just to clarify the record, that it had a couple of opportunities to move first from the Senate and then to the House of Commons before it actually was approved, and I do not believe that anyone has recognized late Senator Mike Forrestall's support of that bill. It really was his idea and dream. Unfortunately, he did not live long enough to see it fulfilled, but he was certainly the keystone for that private member's legislation.
When the act finally came into force, Canadians responded by nominating nearly 350 lighthouses for designation through a petition process established by the act, and our government is proud of the progress that has been made over the five years since the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act came into force. Today there are 74 designated heritage lighthouses that are protected for the future. As impressive as these results are, it is gratifying to know that many more lighthouses will be considered for designation in the months and years ahead as Fisheries and Oceans Canada concludes agreements to transfer historic lighthouses to responsible new owners who have demonstrated their ability and desire to implement a sustainable, long-term plan for the conservation of their local lighthouses.
Sambro Island lighthouse is one of those lighthouses that occupies a special place in Canada's maritime heritage. It was established in 1758 and is the oldest operating lighthouse in the Americas. It is located on Sambro Island, at the entrance to Halifax Harbour, and is surrounded by a dangerous maze of rocks and shoals. This lighthouse has guided countless people to safety while also being a silent witness to numerous shipwrecks and sea battles. For generations this lighthouse has served its purpose well by guiding mariners into and out of one of the largest, most impressive natural harbours in the world.
Its construction was designated by the Government of Canada as an event of national historical significance way back in 1937, so its special heritage value has long been recognized. More recently, the Sambro Island lighthouse was designated a classified federal heritage building in 1996, and through that designation it enjoys the highest level of heritage protection accorded to federal buildings. It should be reassuring for all to know that the heritage character of this important lighthouse already enjoys strong protection under the custodianship of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Since 2008 we have invested nearly $40,000 in the lighthouse, which includes repairing concrete, painting the tower base, and sealing a concrete walkway.
As reassuring as this is, it is important to note that the heritage character of the Sambro Island lighthouse is currently protected. Our government also wants to see it designated and protected under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act and join the growing family of heritage lighthouses being created by the Government of Canada in partnership with community groups and other levels of government all across Canada. Sambro Island lighthouse merits designation under this act.
It is also important to note that Sambro Island lighthouse is not under any imminent threat of neglect or demolition. As a classified federal heritage building, the Sambro Island lighthouse is currently afforded the same level of protection as would be offered under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. Nevertheless, our government is determined to find a viable, responsible owner for the Sambro Island lighthouse, a new owner who has a vision for a sustainable new use for Sambro Island, with its iconic lighthouse and related light station buildings, and the wherewithal, of course, to make that vision a reality. Our government will help make this happen.
We recently announced that we are making a significant investment of more than $1.5 million in the lighthouse over the next two years. It should be said that this funding will go toward rehabilitating the foundation, floor, walls, beams, and lantern deck; fixing issues related to erosion, cracking, and stone work; rehabilitating the original lantern; installing a heating system; and painting the lighthouse.
We are pleased to make these important investments in the Sambro Island lighthouse to serve its more than 250-year history and to continue to ensure that Canadian waters are kept safe and that Canadian heritage remains strong.
I was able to participate in that announcement along with the Minister of Justice, and the day we made the announcement, stakeholders applauded the new investment.
I would like to quote Stephanie Smith, president of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society, who said:
We're extremely excited about this announcement today. It's an important first step in the long-term preservation of our historic lighthouse. We look forward to continuing to work with all levels of government and our community to make sure that this national treasure is taken care of for generations to come.
I would like to add a few more comments about the Sambro Island lighthouse. I commend the member for Halifax for bringing this piece of legislation forth, and I want to recognize my colleague who quarterbacked the original lighthouse preservation bill to give community groups the opportunity to actually have some say and control over the future of the lighthouses in their communities.
I want to recognize the Sambro Island group that has put a business plan together and is continuing to work on a business plan for the future of the lighthouse as it takes the lighthouse over. I want to recognize the past-president of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society, Barry MacDonald, for not only his hard work over the years but for his ongoing interest in making sure that the oldest lighthouse in the Americas continues to be protected.
Privilege May 12th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on a few of the comments I have heard. The first comment I heard, and quite frankly disagree with, was that somehow instead of visiting dignitaries coming to the House of Commons they should go to Rideau Hall and meet with the Governor General. Those comments came from a party that does not believe in the Governor General or the monarchy. I have my own particular opinion on that item, but I would like to hear the hon. member reply to that.
The other issue is that very real question about security and the rights and privileges of members of Parliament and the Senate, and the responsibility of security to try to balance that. I expect there will be some slippage and some mistakes made along the way, but that is why we as parliamentarians need to involve ourselves in this ongoing process, because it is a new world we live in since October.
We have to find the proper balance. However, to achieve that proper balance, it is also incumbent upon members of Parliament and Senators to respect the security officials here who may not know each of us by name, or may not remember our faces. We need to carry either our pin or an ID. I would like to hear his opinion on that.
Lighthouse Preservation May 8th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize Barry MacDonald, past president of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society.
Barry's tireless work in lighthouse preservation has been instrumental in protecting historic lighthouses across Nova Scotia and across the country, safeguarding them for future generations.
He also provided his expertise during the drafting of the 2008 Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, important legislation that created a process for designating and preserving historically significant lighthouses across Canada.
Most recently, Barry and society members have been champions of the Sambro Island lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in the Americas. Since 1759, the Sambro Island light has guided countless people to safety, away from the dangerous rocks and shoals that surround the island, and onward to Chebucto Head and into Halifax Harbour.
Because of Barry and the support of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society, I am certain that the light will continue to be part of our history.
I thank Barry for all of his service and dedication to lighthouse preservation across Canada.
Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act May 7th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I represent one of the largest and most valuable fisheries ridings in the country. Our landed catch, along with West Nova, the neighbouring riding, is somewhere in excess of 20% of the entire Canadian fishery on all three coasts.
If the member were to ask the fishermen in my riding, they would tell her that there is lots of enforcement. There is a process in place, which the hon. member is very aware of. They have to hail out before they leave to go fishing and they have to hail back in. There are on-board inspections. There is an inspection when they come to the wharf. It is very difficult to break the rules in Canada. Also, there is much more electronic surveillance available. A good part of the fleet carries a black box, so they have geographical positioning at all times, so fisheries and oceans can track those vessels. They know if they are fishing up against the line, if they are not allowed inside the 30-mile line, or if they are supposed to fish outside the 50-mile line. We know where they are at all times.
In answer to her question, enforcement is extremely important, but enforcement tools are more robust and far reaching than they have ever been.