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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was tax.

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

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act May 7th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member that this is a global problem. This problem is not as bad in the North Atlantic as it is in some areas of the world's oceans, especially off of Africa and in Southeast Asia, but it is not as if it is not a problem off the east coast and west coast of Canada. It is a problem.

What the bill would allow is for the first time we would be able to encourage those countries where the vessels are flagged to force the owners, through pressure from international agencies, to bring those vessels ashore. If there are no illegal fish on board, good for them. If there is, it could be seized and reasonable penalties could be applied.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act May 7th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the whip of the Conservative Party.

I am certainly pleased to be here today to speak to this important piece of legislation, Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

As has been stated by my hon. colleagues, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a very serious problem both around the world and here at home. It is one of the main impediments to the achievement of sustainable fisheries worldwide, and it depresses the market prices for our fisheries exports.

As a Nova Scotian and a former chair of the fisheries committee, I understand the critical importance of our fishing industry and the role it plays in our economy, both at the local level and national level. Hard-working, law-abiding fishermen are committed to ensuring that Canada's marine resources are sustainably harvested and continue to be available for future generations. We invest in extensive fisheries science and monitor the status of fisheries and make decisions on how much catch can be allowed in a given season to ensure the health of the fishery.

However, those vessels that undertake illegal fishing operations have no regard for the sustainability of the fisheries they target. Their only concern is fishing as much as possible and selling that catch in the global market. We must stand up for our fishermen by supporting efforts to combat illegal fishing. We need to pass Bill S-3.

In Canada, we appreciate the critical importance of protecting our shared fishery waters. This includes our leadership efforts to ensure sustainable fishing practices and enforcement in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, and let me be clear that the bill before us today would not impact the management of NAFO, as the amendments relate to the activities at port, not at sea. Plus, our leadership in this organization demonstrates our country's commitment to sustainable fishing.

As part of our NAFO enforcement efforts, our inspectors make use of a comprehensive approach, including the use of satellite vessel monitoring systems, port inspection, daily catch reports and surveillance overflight information to target offenders.

We are seeing results. Due to our conservation measures, illegal fishing has been deterred, and the number of citations has been decreasing overall in the last 15 years, with only nine citations issued in 2014.

Turning back to the bill before us, the international community has been working to develop global tools to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities. I am proud to say that the Government of Canada is part of this global movement.

As a nation with a robust fishing industry, Canada has a strong interest in protecting fish stocks and ensuring that fishing regulations are respected. The goal of the port state measures agreement is to prevent a vessel that has been fishing illegally to land its catch and for the illegal catch to enter the market. The agreement needs 25 parties to come into force. So far, 11 countries have taken the steps needed to ratify or otherwise become parties to the treaty, and another 16, including Canada, have indicated they will become parties as well.

With the existing Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and its regulations, Canada already has a robust port state control regime for foreign fishing vessels, and these amendments would make our regime even stronger. Even without the agreement, these amendments are important for improving Canadian fisheries enforcement efforts.

The proposed legislative changes have a practical necessity as well. The first concerns authorities related to the port access of foreign fishing vessels. As my hon. colleague has stated, the proposed changes establish an enforcement system that would apply when a foreign vessel has been directed by its flag state to enter a Canadian port. In this case, Canada would issue a specific permit for the sole purpose of inspection and enforcement.

It may be the case that the flag state may want Canada's assistance to conduct an inspection and to gather evidence. In such cases, allowing a vessel into our ports to gather this evidence would be more effective at combatting illegal fishing than keeping that vessel out of our ports.

As illegal fishing is a global threat to sustainable fisheries, the sharing of information on illegal fishing operations is essential for our partners to work collectively to address this international threat. We need to know who the criminals are to ensure that they are prevented from landing their catch.

The amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act would clearly lay out information to be shared with our international enforcement partners. Here at home, Bill S-3 would give clarity to the ability of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency to share information related to the importation of fish and seafood products.

Another category of changes contained in Bill S-3 concerns import prohibitions and related authorities. Under the proposed changes, it would give authorities new, practical tools to enforce prohibitions on illegal fisheries.

Currently, fisheries officers are limited to inspecting wharves and ships. Obviously, global trade is changing and fisheries officers need to be able to inspect all areas where fish may be kept. Those areas include warehouses, vehicles, or through a point of entry, such as an airport. These amendments would allow fisheries protection officers to seize illegally caught fish in these places and seek their forfeiture in the event of conviction for their illegal transportation.

The amendments would also ensure that the punishment fits the crime. If a court finds the person guilty of an importation offence under the act, significant fines would apply. Over and above these penalties, the court could also order an additional fine equal to the financial benefits the defendants gain from committing the offence. This would ensure that fines do not simply become a cost of doing business.

Fishing is a global industry, and our government recognizes this reality. Some of our key fisheries export markets, such as the European Union, have already ratified and implemented the port state measures agreement. Others, such as the United States, will soon be on board. These amendments would apply the same global standard in our ports as our key trading partners.

In conclusion, Bill S-3 would strengthen the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, aligning it with the new global standard articulated in the port state measures agreement as part of meeting our international obligations.

The bill would allow us to protect the livelihoods of legitimate fish harvesters in Canada more effectively by limiting the amount of illegal fish that enter the world markets and that undermine the profits of responsible law-abiding fish harvesters. Our government is committed to ensuring sustainable fisheries and maximizing economic opportunities for our harvesters. Part of that commitment is supporting the global fight against illegal fishing.

In closing, I urge all hon. members to join me in supporting these critical amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. This is a piece of common sense legislation that I think all sides of the House can support. It would enable our fisheries officers to actually board foreign vessels not just at the wharf, but also when that fish has been landed at the wharf and is en route to a market somewhere in Canada or North America.

The importance of this should not be understated. It would be one more tool in the tool belt of our enforcement officers. They have a tough job as it is. This would enable them to shut down overfishing, and specifically foreign overfishing. It would allow them to go on board foreign vessels. It would encourage those flagged owners of those vessels to force those vessels to port in Canada, and would allow our fisheries officers to go on board.

This is a win-win not just for enforcement in Canada, but it is a win-win for the global fisheries and sustainability everywhere.

The Environment May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am a bit surprised by the hon. member's question. I think he is aware that charities must respect the law and that CRA has a legal responsibility to ensure that charitable dollars, donated by charitable Canadians, are used for charitable purposes.

I also think he is aware that CRA audits occur at arm's length. They are conducted free of any political influence or interference or motivation. The CRA charities directorate acts independently.

Lyme Disease Awareness Day May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today in recognition of Lyme Disease Awareness Day.

Lyme disease is a debilitating illness that can be transmitted to humans through the bite of a blacklegged tick. The disease is on the rise across Canada, particularly in my home province of Nova Scotia. However, our government is taking action to combat this potentially fatal disease.

We consider the health and safety of Canadians one of our top priorities. We are currently working with provincial health authorities and other partners to inform Canadians of the risk of Lyme disease. We are increasing health transfers to the provinces and these funds can help further combat Lyme disease.

I had the honour of participating in the debate on a national Lyme disease strategy last year, and I am proud to say that this bill would help protect the well-being of all Canadians.

As member of Parliament for South Shore—St. Margaret's and a resident of Lunenburg county, I am very aware of how much Lyme disease affects us all.

Agriculture and Agri-Food April 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, testing has confirmed that H5 avian influenza is on a number of farms in Ontario.

We are working closely with the province, industry and producers. CFIA has placed the farms under quarantine, and has established appropriate control zones in accordance with international protocols.

CFIA will continue to keep the public informed of developments through its technical briefings.

Taxation April 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I urge the NDP to actually read the budget, because this week the Minister of Finance tabled a great budget for middle-class Canadians. It is a balanced budget, just as we promised, and it cuts taxes for Canadians, just as we promised. For example, the new family tax cut and enhanced universal child care benefit will benefit 100% of families with kids, including in NDP ridings, the vast majority of these benefits going to low and middle-income families.

The Liberals and the NDP will take this away and raise taxes on small businesses and workers. Under our government, there will be no mandatory job-killing, economy-destabilizing, pension tax hike, not for employees and not for employers.

Agriculture and Agri-food April 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, for the hon. member's benefit, a fully commercialized Canadian Wheat Board increases competition in the sector by giving farmers another buyer competing for their grain.

I know the hon. member does not want to hear the answer, but I really would like to deliver the answer. The investors are injecting $250 million into the company and have plans to develop a coast to coast grain handling and shipping network.

Growing infrastructure and new delivery points means lower delivery costs for who else? Farmers. The new Canadian Wheat Board includes a farmers trust, which offers farmers an opportunity to build equity simply through their deliveries of--

Transportation April 20th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, what I said, I thought quite clearly, was that all business entities in Canada were expected to pay any applicable taxes that they would have owing.

The CRA is always working to identify and address underground economy activities wherever they may occur. The CRA's capacity to combat the underground economy is as strong as ever. Its comprehensive, multi-year strategy is building upon years of experience and success, and places great emphasis on collaboration and co-operation between all levels of government, industry and other stakeholders.

It is our government's priority to maintain the integrity of our tax system and to ensure a level playing field for all Canadians. Our actions in that regard are a testament to that commitment.

Transportation April 20th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague's comments and she really has two issues. One issue is whether Uber is a legitimate company. The other issue is about businesses paying income tax. Quite frankly, it is the responsibility of all businesses and all Canadians to pay any taxes that are applicable.

Participation in the underground economy hurts everyone. We all understand that. It not only undermines the competitiveness of honest businesses that abide by the law, but it also undermines our government's efforts to reduce the tax burden for families and businesses.

Uber drivers are required to report all income earned through Uber and to comply with any GST/HST reporting requirements, like all Canadians. It is the responsibility of every driver to understand his or her legal and tax obligations.

Failure to comply with these obligations can lead to serious consequences. Drivers who do not register and collect GST/HST or who fail to comply with income tax obligations as required, may be subject to interest and/or penalties, depending on the circumstances, in addition to having to pay the tax that should have been paid in the first place.

Combatting the underground economy is a priority for our government. Through the implementation of our new three-year strategy, “Reducing Participation in the Underground Economy”, the CRA is taking action to reduce the social acceptability of and participation in the underground economy.

As well, the Minister of National Revenue recently announced a new underground economy advisory committee, comprised of representatives from key industry stakeholder organizations. It is the first of its kind. These measures will protect the fairness and integrity of the tax and benefit system and ensure a level playing field for all businesses and taxpayers, while allowing us to continue to provide tax relief for hard-working Canadians.

The regulation of taxi services falls outside of the CRA mandate. Therefore, the aspect of the question dealing with regulation is not one on which we can actually comment. However, we recognize that the underground economy is an issue of significant concern for our provincial and territorial partners. We are committed to continuing to work closely with the provinces and territories and engaging with other key stakeholders to ensure we achieve our common goals of tackling the underground economy in a meaningful and lasting manner.

Let me be clear. The rules apply equally to all Canadians. Unscrupulous business owners of any business, or in any industry or in any business sector participating in the underground economy and not paying their fair share of taxes will be held responsible, and there will be consequences.

Business of Supply April 20th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member's speech. I have several questions. All I am hearing is doom and gloom from the opposition. The reality is that the Canadian Coast Guard did a very good job, along with the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, to respond to an oil spill.

From what I can see, the WCMRC was officially activated at 8:06 p.m. and crews arrived on the scene at 9:25 p.m. That is an hour and 19 minutes. That is only three hours after the original sheen was on the water and they could actually locate where the oil was coming from, and the vessel involved.

Immediately a boom was put around that vessel which contained 80% of the spill by the next morning, and recovered 80% of the spill. The next morning, the only oil on the water was estimated by both Canadian and American authorities to be less than a third of a litre.

You can sit over there and criticize the Canadian Coast Guard all you want and you can say that this is the end of the world as we know it, but on the east coast of Canada, you get a response like that from the Coast Guard, you get your oil spill cleaned up, and you get back to work.