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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was lot.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for West Nova (Nova Scotia)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 47% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Bay of Fundy March 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, as I said in the House last April, the Bay of Fundy is the only Canadian contestant left on the international stage of 28 finalists to become one of the new seven wonders of nature.

The Bay is going head to head with renowned sites such as the Grand Canyon and the Amazon, but with enough votes we can win.

Until recently, votes were only accepted online. Now people can vote as many times as they want from a mobile phone by texting the word FUNDY to 77077. Each vote costs 25¢ and will count as one vote for the Bay.

As Terri McCulloch from the Bay of Fundy Tourism said, “If everyone spent $1 and voted four times, the Bay would have a terrific chance on the world stage”.

I am once again asking all members of the House to support this initiative and to encourage their constituents to vote for the Bay online and by text. Voting will continue until the contest's conclusion in November.

Voting for the Bay is voting for Canada.

Canada Winter Games February 11th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, this evening the Prime Minister will join many other Canadians in the city of Halifax and the wonderful province of Nova Scotia in celebrating the opening ceremonies of the Canada Winter Games.

One year ago, the curtain rose on the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Over the coming days, our next generation of world-class athletes will be competing in my home province.

The Olympics spread excitement and pride right across our country. From coast to coast to coast, Canadians allowed themselves to be inspired by our athletes, whose commitment, determination and spirit demonstrated that the pursuit of excellence is in fact a very Canadian trait.

I look forward to the next generation of Canadian athletes who will be pursuing excellence at the Canada Winter Games and some day will be wearing our nation's colours at other major sporting events. Congratulations to the organizers and the volunteers, and best of luck to all athletes at the games.

Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act February 7th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I am certainly pleased to rise in support of Bill C-55. I am just trying to get over the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore's suggestion that he might possibly vote for a budget. It came as quite a shock. I was caught off guard here for a moment.

This is an important step forward in dealing with the very important issues that veterans have raised. As a matter of fact, those who attended the veterans affairs committee today heard the ombudsman encourage us all to move on and get this bill forward. The reason we want to move it forward is, although it does not answer all the questions, it brings these incredibly important issues forward and makes these payments available to those veterans as soon as possible. Therefore, I encourage all members to support the bill and get it through.

This new enhanced veterans charter act only fulfills a promise made by the Minister of Veterans Affairs to improve the financial benefits available to injured Canadian Forces members and veterans. However, it also reflects how this government listens to our veterans.

The measures I speak to today amend the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act proposed by the previous government, commonly known as the new veterans charter. The act received royal assent in 2005, passing unanimously through both this House and the other place.

At the time, it was a groundbreaking piece of legislation. It focused on giving our service men and women the tools to live healthy and productive lives once out in the civilian world. We are hearing that more and more, not about the payments on a regular basis but the support mechanisms, the compensation, and the initiatives that help these brave men and women get back into regular life and live a good, normal life for as long as they possibly can.

Experts agree with the approach. Various advisory councils agreed with this approach as well. We knew at the outset that developing new legislation for our new generation of veterans would not be without its challenges. Today we are five years into the new veterans charter and have gained valuable insight and experience.

We rarely acknowledge that there are legitimate concerns with the charter and we are responding to them in real and meaningful ways. Although it will not all be fixed at once, this definitely is a very important step forward. That is why we have introduced these changes that will benefit thousands of veterans over the coming five years. These improvements underscore our government's deep commitment to repay the growing debt we owe Canada's veterans and their families.

Following extensive discussions with veterans right across the country, we have proposed our first step in moving the veterans' concerns forward.

The bill contains three key financial benefits that will improve the life of thousands of new veterans.

First, it improves access to the permanent impairment allowance under the new veterans charter and the exceptional incapacity allowance under the Pension Act.

Second, it introduces a $1,000-a-month supplement for severely injured veterans who are unable to be gainfully employed and who are already receiving the permanent impairment allowance.

Finally, it gives Canadian Forces members and veterans a choice on payment options for the disability award.

One of the key features of the new veterans charter is the disability award, or lump sum payment as it is better known. Certainly, we have talked about this at length in the past few months.

For the record, I am not sure how much clearer I can be than to say that the disability award is for pain and suffering. I would like to say this in no uncertain terms. The disability award is not a pension. It is not a monetary pension set for that purpose. It is to recognize the pain and suffering these terrific people have gone through.

Each of these improvements is designed to address concerns we have heard from veterans and their families, other stakeholders, as well as through our own evaluations. They spoke and we have listened. Now we are acting, just like we said we would do all along.

Allow me to provide some detail on each of these important initiatives.

The permanent impairment allowance and the exceptional incapacity allowance provide monthly support for veterans whose disabilities result in permanent and severe impairments. They also recognize that serious injuries such as amputation, loss of vision, hearing or speech, or severe and permanent psychiatric conditions are not only physically devastating but can result in diminished employment potential.

It takes very little imagination to see that they can affect a person's ability to earn a living. As we know, that inability to support one's self can be just as devastating to one's health as the physical injury.

These allowances were a progressive move but in retrospect access was too limited. Currently, only a handful of veterans receive it, and clearly it is not providing the support and financial independence it was supposed to provide. By adjusting the eligibility criteria for these allowances, thousands more veterans will be eligible to receive monthly financial support.

The permanent impairment allowance provides $536 to $1,609 per month to seriously injured veterans, depending on the extent of their injuries. Our determination to stand by our veterans and men and women in uniform does not end there. These new changes also offer up to $1,269 per month under the exceptional impairment allowance.

Many individuals with serious disabilities can and do continue to work with the help of rehabilitation and other supports. Some, however, simply cannot. Additional measures in Bill C-55 offer an extra $1,000 per month to veterans who receive the permanent impairment allowance and who cannot return to work at all at full potential due to the severity of their impairment.

While the new veterans charter in place today is a great foundation, we recognize the need for adjustments in legislation to address the shortcomings we have only come to realize through experience.

Through consultation with veterans and their advocates and with good research and study, we now know what can be adapted and adjusted to better fit the evolving needs of modern day veterans and their families. Veterans themselves have told us what we need to do and we are doing it.

A perfect example of that feedback is how we have made some changes in the regulations for the earnings loss benefit, another financial support under the new veterans charter.

Changes to our regulations will guarantee recipients of the monthly earnings loss benefit a minimum of $40,000 per year, no matter what their salary was when they were serving in the Canadian Forces. This important change will benefit veterans who were released early in their careers when they held a low rank in the military or for those veterans who were released years ago when military salaries were much lower.

Finally, this legislation would provide veterans with a choice of how they wish to receive their disability award.

This tax free disability award was established to recognize the pain and suffering caused by a service-related injury. As I mentioned earlier, it does not replace a pension. In fact, it was a completely new benefit in 2006. There was never recognition for the non-economic losses associated with an injury prior to the new veterans charter.

This new legislation would allow veterans to choose whether to receive their disability award as a lump sum, in annual payments, or a combination of each. Furthermore, at any time, veterans who so choose may change their minds and receive the remaining amount as a lump sum payment.

This action was taken because veterans themselves asked for it. The decision demonstrates our government's commitment to amend and improve elements of the new veterans charter. It is not about turning back the clock but instead responding to sound advice and recommendations, so that we have a strong array of programs geared to the needs of our modern day veterans.

This government's priority is to ensure that Canada's veterans and their families have the support they need when they need it. We are committed to extending these supports as soon as possible, and we urge the House to join us in giving veterans what they need to live their lives with honour and respect, comfort and dignity.

The minister has worked hard on bringing forward a lot of changes. We have heard a lot about the many changes over the past year. We heard the many concerns that were expressed and we are responding to those in a timely fashion. As well, changes are taking place within the department to better adapt to and respond to the needs of our veterans on a first case basis.

Along with what else is going on, we believe that this initiative today is not the end of the journey, but is a strong start in response to those important priorities veterans have brought before us over these past few months.

Canadian Museum of Immigration February 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, today our government, represented by the hon. Minister of National Defence, was proud to officially open Canada's new museum of immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax.

Until now, Canada has not had a national museum dedicated to recognizing the women, men and children from all over the world who chose Canada as their home.

The new museum is located at the historic Pier 21 site on the Halifax waterfront where today one in five Canadians can trace their lineage. Pier 21 is the second national museum outside our nation's capital.

No country in the world has benefited more than Canada from free and open immigration. As the Prime Minister said in Halifax at Pier 21 last June:

In every Canadians make major contributions to our culture, economy and way of life....Anybody who makes the decision to live, work and build a life in our country represents the very best...

This museum is for them. Congratulations.

Veterans Affairs December 2nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, we are moving on this and there is more detail to follow. I know the hon. member will be patient enough to listen.

I would remind her that this was the only government that acted to deal with the victims of Agent Orange. The previous Liberal government refused to even look at the issue. Therefore, it is a bit hypocritical being critical of what we are doing today.

Veterans Affairs December 2nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, all of these concerns have been raised and reviewed very carefully by both the government and certainly by the minister. It is our full intention to take care of all of those who have been impacted by Agent Orange and we will follow through on that.

Defence of Hong Kong December 2nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 69th anniversary of the defence of Hong Kong. It was in December 1941 that nearly 2,000 Canadians found themselves unexpectedly in a devastating conflict. Many of those who survived were taken as prisoners of war. Despite the incredible courage and perseverance of these men and women, in the end, more than 1,000 Canadians were either killed or injured.

Although this loss was devastating and claimed many lives, it also displayed the great Canadian spirit. These men and women were not victorious in defeating the enemy but were certainly victorious in proudly showing the Canadian grit and determination to the world.

We must always remember not only their sacrifices, but also the pride with which they represented our nation. We honour their legacy by caring for the World War II veterans who are still with us and all those who came after them.

Our government is here for veterans and here for Canada.

Sydney Harbour November 30th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, we understand the importance of the Sydney harbour dredging. As a matter of fact, we have ministers working on that very file right now. Although it is not a Transport Canada issue, it certainly is a matter of importance to the government.

Once again, as I have said about members getting things done, I want to congratulate the member for Saint John for successfully concluding the deal on the harbour bridge. The Prime Minister was there and certainly people from the province of New Brunswick. What a great effort and what a great success story that was.

Sydney Harbour November 30th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a very important topic. Our ministers are engaged in conversation on this top priority in Cape Breton and that will continue.

I do want to commend the member for Saint John for bringing that great news to Saint John in terms of the harbour bridge. It just shows what can happen when a hard-working member gets to work and requests the government to get something done.

November 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the maximum lump sum disability award recognizes pain and suffering and is worth over $270,000. It is only one part of the new veterans charter.

Veterans in need have access to a broad range of programs. The improvements tabled by the minister broaden the benefits and the access to some of these programs.

If the legislation is adopted, on top of the lump sum disability award, our most seriously injured veterans who are no longer able to work will receive at least $58,000 a year. These changes will impact thousands of veterans.

The new veterans charter is designed to be there for our veterans when they need it and we are here for our veterans.