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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was veterans.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Conservative MP for New Brunswick Southwest (New Brunswick)

Won his last election, in 2008, with 58% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Questions on the Order Paper November 25th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the Privacy Act prevents the government from disclosing personal information regarding specific individuals. Regarding the eligibility criteria for the veterans independence program, VIP, most clients who receive VIP are members or former members of the Canadian Forces or were civilians supporting the war effort during World War I or World War II.

These individuals may qualify for VIP if they have a health-related need for the services, and are: a client who needs VIP as a result of a disability pension(s) or award(s) attributed to an injury incurred during service in the Canadian Forces; veterans or civilians who served in the war effort during World War I, World War II and Korea, who qualify due to low income and health care needs; overseas service veterans, theatre of war service, who require personal care assistance at home and are on a wait-list for a departmental facility or contract bed; totally disabled former prisoners of war; or an overseas service veteran who is at home on a wait-list for a priority access bed.

In 2002, the Department of Veterans Affairs agreed to assume full responsibility for the provision of health care benefits and services to retired regular pensioners, retired civilian pensioners, and still-serving members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, RCMP.

According to the agreement between Veterans Affairs Canada and the RCMP, only benefits and services required for the treatment of pensioned conditions can be provided. These benefits consist of any medical, surgical or dental treatment provided by a health professional; surgical or prosthetic devices or aids and any home adaptation that is required to accommodate the use of these devices or aids; and drugs.

This agreement does not encompass veterans independence program home care services.

Veterans Affairs November 25th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I wish to table, in both official languages, the 2008-09 annual report of the Veterans Ombudsman.

Veterans' Week November 5th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, today is one of those special days in this place when members from all sides of the House will speak with one voice, and that is to honour those who have allowed us to live in the best country in the world.

There will be no disagreement and no debate. There will be only one message: a sincere thank you to the generations of men and women who have worn our uniform, who have defended our way of life and who have made Canada strong and free and proud.

As we launch Veterans' Week, we think of the extraordinary contributions that ordinary Canadians have made in two great wars, in Korea, on peacekeeping missions, on military operations and in Afghanistan today, missions that have distinguished our soldiers, Canada's soldiers, as the best in the world. They are the best trained, the most disciplined and the most professional.

We live in a country blessed with peace, a country built on the values of generosity, democracy, human rights and the rule of law and we owe much of it, if not all of it, to our men and women in uniform, past and present.

In this place, words are all we have to express our gratitude, just words to describe their sacrifice, but words fail to capture the brutal inhumanity of war and the tragic loss of so many young lives on a scale that none of us can imagine.

Words cannot describe the sacrifice on Vimy Ridge or at Beaumont-Hamel. They cannot describe the horrors on the shores of Normandy, in the mountains of Italy or in the hills of Korea. They cannot capture the atrocities in Rwanda or Bosnia, and words alone cannot begin to tell the untold stories of Canadian bravery and determination.

In December 1941, a valiant group of Canadians arrived in Hong Kong with few supplies and no backup. Yet they stood in the face of relentless Japanese attacks for 17 long days. Again, words cannot describe the cruelty that eventually led enemy soldiers to overrun a makeshift hospital and assault and murder nurses and bayonet our wounded soldiers in their hospital beds. This all happened on Christmas Eve. These are actions that defy any level of human behaviour, even in war.

Our Canadian men and women still stood their ground with uncommon courage until the next day, Christmas Day. On Christmas Day, those still alive or still standing were taken prisoner of war. “Prisoner of war” does not begin to describe what happened to these young Canadians. It fails to describe the sheer torture and brutality that they endured. The term “prisoner of war” only proves that even in war we sanitize the language.

These Canadians were forced to perform slave labour on a starvation diet. It was truly a prescription for death. What continues to amaze me is that some of our soldiers walked away; they walked away from those camps on September 9, 1945, after 1,355 days. Almost 2,000 men and women had sailed to Hong Kong and more than a quarter of them never returned home, and some who did survive had to be carried out, only to die on the voyage home. Their story is worth retelling because after all of these years, some 65 years later, many of the horror stories from those camps remain untold.

The survivors of the Battle of Hong Kong still cannot and will not talk about everything that happened. Those still with us today will occasionally share a story with each other, but they have never told their families, their loved ones or their friends the whole story.

I keep asking myself this: How did these men and women, how could any human being, survive such suffering; what kept them going?

When we ask George Peterson, one of the men who did survive and one of those who did walk away, he will use only one word and he will tell us that they lived on hope. More precisely, they existed on hope. They did not live, they existed. They came from a country they loved and wanted to return to. They believed in a free world and in the mission. Most importantly, they had made a solemn promise to their loved ones that they would come home no matter what.

These stories remind us that the full cost of war is not limited to those Canadians who lie buried overseas. The full cost of war lives on from generation to generation and it continues to be paid today.

Mr. Speaker, you and I and many members of the House grew up with children of that generation of soldiers, children who grew up in families with fathers who struggled with the invisible cost of war, brought up by parents who suffered in silence.

What is truly astonishing is that even those who endured such hardships, even those who still bear the emotional scars of war, came home to build this country. Their contributions did not end on the battlefields. They came home and started businesses, they pursued careers, they went to work, they paid their taxes, they made the Canada we know today. They made our country. They made Canada great.

That is the remarkable story of our veterans. When we are in their presence, when we are sitting at a table and sharing a meal with one of these once young soldiers who are now in their twilight years, we realize that they are not just ordinary people. As we watch a frail and arthritic hand break bread, and just the way they look at their food before they eat it, the way they never take a meal for granted, we realize that these men and women are different. They are special. They are our nation's truest heroes. They did not seek the headlines, but they wrote the true story of our country, Canada.

Men and women like them are still writing that story, the Canadian story, and they are still risking everything to defend our way of life.

Each of us in this chamber knows it. Every one of us in this place has met families of our fallen soldiers from Afghanistan. When we are in their presence our eyes are instinctively drawn to that tiny silver cross that tells the whole story. These families have paid the ultimate sacrifice. When our eyes meet their eyes, we cannot help but wonder how pain and pride can coexist simultaneously in one set of eyes, but they do.

As we reach out to them, just a simple handshake is not going to cut it. These are truly powerful moments, because we know that for anyone who has lost a loved one the pain they bear is real and never goes away.

As we have heard in this place so often, for someone who has lost a loved one, every day is Remembrance Day. Yet amid such sacrifice, it is also true that, almost without exception, each one of these family members will tell us that if they were to do it over again, nothing would change, nothing. They still believe in Canada. They still believe in the mission and, most important, they loved and believed in their fallen sons and daughters, husbands and wives.

In the next few days all of us in the House will return to the towns and villages that we represent. We will go back to the men and women who sent us here and with them we will gather at our cenotaphs and at our memorials. The bugle will sound and pipes will blow and we will lay the wreaths and we will observe the silence. During that time of quiet reflection, we will thank them, we will remember them and we will say a silent prayer for those who continue to serve.

Lest we forget.

Business of Supply October 1st, 2009

Madam Speaker, I think that point is worth making and emphasizing. Again, it is the Liberals' attempt to have it both ways. They criticize us for not doing something, and when we do it, they criticize us again. In other words if we are spending they criticize us, and if we are not they criticize us.

It is not a very credible argument, but that is typical of their position, because they simply do not have their act together. They do not have their act together within their own political party and they do not actually have any policies. For example, if an election were triggered, what would be the ballot question in the election? What would be the question?

The Liberals have no policies based on which people can actually say that their plan is better than our plan. In other words, we are comparing two documents. The problem is we have a document Canadians can look at, and it is actually working. They do not have a plan.

What would they actually be campaigning on in the next election? Would it be change for the sake of change, or would they want an election because no one else in Canada wants one, and therefore we should have one? There is no logic to anything they are talking about.

However, I think the member has really hit the nail on the head. The Liberals attempt to talk out of both sides of their mouth, and they do not see anything wrong with that. If they have to flip-flop on a policy today, they will do it. We often say, if they have to swallow themselves whole on any given day as a result of something they did the day before, no problem, they will do it. They swallow themselves whole every day.

Eventually their new leader, and they have had five leaders in five years, had better watch his step because he will be gone too.

Business of Supply October 1st, 2009

Madam Speaker, this is the typical hypocrisy of the Liberals. Of course, I am not referring to the member who just spoke. We have a very good relationship with her as critic of veterans affairs and me as minister. She does a good job as critic.

However, in terms of economic policy and where the Liberal Party is going, some of the lines that it uses make no sense. On the one hand the Liberals are saying spend more money, and then on the other hand in the same conversation they say they are concerned about the deficit.

I think our track record in comparison to that of the other countries of the world speaks for itself. We are moving out of the recession more quickly simply because we have managed through this better than any other country in the world. That is simply because of the government of the day. We are focused on doing it. We know what we have to do and we are getting the job done.

Again, the Liberals cannot have it both ways. They cannot say--

Business of Supply October 1st, 2009

Madam Speaker, I am going to attempt to lower the temperature. We will get back on track in terms of our debate and hopefully it will be an uninterrupted few minutes.

Before I begin, I want to inform you, Madam Speaker, that I will be splitting my time with the member for Yellowhead or possibly the Minister of Health. The minister is not in the House yet, but the member for Yellowhead is prepared to proceed if the Minister of Health does not arrive in time.

I want to begin by speaking about yesterday in the province of New Brunswick. I am going to digress a little bit, but yesterday was a historic day in New Brunswick. As members from New Brunswick know, we installed a new lieutenant governor in the province. It was a great event because we now have the first aboriginal lieutenant governor in the province of New Brunswick in our proud 225 year history. As everyone knows, that person is Graydon Nicholas.

It was an honour to be there yesterday with all those others who were gathered for this historic event. As many of us know, Mr. Nicholas is a man of great character. Those of us from New Brunswick who know him will say as much. He is a man of great intellect and humility, and that showed yesterday in his speech before the gathered audience. Madam Speaker, as you well know, the premier was there.

One of the reasons why I wanted to mention this event is simply because being there and giving a speech on behalf of the Government of Canada during that ceremony made it one of the greatest days in my political life, to be very honest. It was a very generous day and the generosity of New Brunswickers really showed. It was a historic day for New Brunswick and a historic day, in a sense, for me. I was very honoured to give that speech on behalf of the Government of Canada.

We are in a minority Parliament and surprises happen in a minority Parliament. It was made possible only because two of my colleagues on the other side of the House looked upon this event as something that they wanted to attend. They wanted to be there and allowed me to pair with them, which allowed me to be there, very honestly. Otherwise, I would not have been there. I want to identify those two members of Parliament: the Liberal member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe and the NDP member for Acadie—Bathurst.

All three of us were very honoured to be there. That is the type of cooperation that makes this place work. That is the type of cooperation that we expect across the country with our provincial partners to allow our stimulus package to work. We are not in this alone. We are in this with the municipalities and the provinces. The only ones who are not with us are those people over there. I cannot understand that. It just does not make any sense. As they say down south, it does not make a lick of sense, and it does not.

Let me go through some of what has been said by one of our strongest critics over there, the member for Parkdale—High Park. He is trying to make a fight out of the money that has gone to my home province of New Brunswick, suggesting that it was not a fair distribution of money. That is where we really take exception to what he is saying. He has implied, for example, that our government in the province of New Brunswick, again partnering with the province of New Brunswick, was wrong to invest a combined $46.8 million in the Port of Belledune.

One only has to be a resident of New Brunswick, regardless of living in the north or south, to realize the potential of this port. What would be wrong with this investment? There is nothing wrong with it. The only reason he takes exception to it is because he says that it is in a Conservative riding.

The artificial political boundary that exists in and around Belledune and Bathurst, and the member forAcadie—Bathurst will say this, is the result of the Liberal gerrymandering back a number of years ago to try to create these boundaries in favour of their candidates versus those from some other party.

If they go talk to the member for Acadie—Bathurst, who is an NDP member of Parliament, he will say, without a doubt, that he is one of the biggest supporters of this project, because that is the project that is important to him.

Talk to Rayburn Doucette, a former cabinet minister in the Province of New Brunswick, a Liberal cabinet minister. This is the most important project in his life as manager of that port. More importantly, talk to the premier of the province of New Brunswick who said that this is a transformational project in northern New Brunswick.

We did it for the right reasons. We did it for the people of the province of New Brunswick. This member of Parliament is from the big city of Toronto, and there is nothing wrong with big cities, but I do not think he understands New Brunswick and how we work together to get things done. I am not sure how he does it in his political world, but we work together to get things done in New Brunswick. That is just one example.

I was in the House when the Leader of the Opposition spoke this morning. This is important. This is where the boys and girls on the other side of the aisle might start shouting me down. When the Leader of the Opposition got up today to speak, he started out by asking what we get for this stimulus spending, code word deficit spending. What are we getting?

I wonder where the Leader of the Opposition has been for the last six months. We know where he has been for the last 35 years. He has been out of the country. I almost believe that for the last six months he has been out of the country. He checked out of the hotel early.

We know what we have been doing. The people of New Brunswick, and I am speaking particularly of New Brunswick in this case, know what we are doing back home. We know what we are doing in Ontario. I will focus mostly on New Brunswick. We can focus on other provinces, which I am sure the member for Nunavut and the member for Yellowhead, depending on which one rises following my speech, will do when they get up to talk.

They go into the nitpicky little things such as criticizing us, for example, for having three environment ministers in four years. Well, those folks over there have had five leaders in five years. They cannot get their act together. There is internal squabbling within the party now, as we well know.

Basically what they are attempting to do now is force Canadians into an election that we do not need and that Canadians do not want. It is that simple. Why do it?

No one can figure it out. Their own members cannot figure it out. They were about 15 bodies short last night for the vote, and they will probably be about 12 to 15 bodies short for a vote tonight. They simply do not have their act together.

We are getting rave reviews across the country and from the world. Basically every think tank, every political party and every government in any other part of the universe is saying we are handling this worldwide recession better than any country they live or work in. In other words, in comparison to those other nations, we are doing the best, full stop, no question about that.

What would Canada gain by having an election? The truth is nothing. We do not need it. We do not want it.

We are going to come into the House tonight and vote against that motion. There will be at least one other party in this House that is going to vote against it, too, because they have an interest in helping the unemployed who do need help. They have an interest in building the economies of these provinces and regions within our country which need that type of help.

The support we are providing is the difference between moving out of a recession or staying in one. If we get mired in the type of recessions that we have seen in the past because of very ill-advised policies, Canada will go nowhere.

We are leading the world on this, and we will lead out of this ahead of all the other countries simply because of the leadership of the Prime Minister, our caucus members, our cabinet ministers and particularly the Minister of Finance.

We are proud of what we are doing. We are just going to continue doing it with the help of the intelligent people on the other side of the House who are prepared to stand in their places tonight and support the Government of Canada.

Questions on the Order Paper June 19th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, in response to a) and c) Financial support for travel to receive treatment benefits is authorized in the Veterans Health Care Regulations, VHCRs. The VHCRs include a deduction of $5.00 for each trip from the cost of taxi travel. However, the VHCRs also allow for $5.00 deduction to be waived whenever there is any reasonable concern that this deduction may negatively impact the client's ability to access needed treatment benefits. The deduction may be waived if the client's mobility or cognition is severely impaired, or it would seriously impede the client's ability to access treatment benefits.

The relevant policy was reviewed in 2007 and as a result, a policy statement was sent to the field in 2007 to clarify the intent of the policy and ensure staff were applying section 34.2, the regulatory authority to waive the deductible for aging veterans dealing with multiple and complex health needs who require frequent visits to treatment centres. The relevant policy allows for the full benefit of doubt given to the veteran and recognize that a deductible for those in lower income situations has the effect of creating a potential barrier to seeking needed medical care.

In response to b) The department does not track information specific to deductions on the repayment of taxi fares. In 2007-2008, there were over 90,000 payments for taxi fares processed for a total of close to $1.9 million paid to veterans.

Veterans Affairs June 2nd, 2009

Mr. Speaker, we took action where her government would not. The former minister who sat in the front row admitted it was too tough for her government to do, so the Liberals just did not do it.

The fact is what we did was very fair and it was generous. I do not want the member to forget that, under the pension process, the file is still open. They still apply under the Pension Act of Veterans Affairs.

What we did was very fair and very generous. We acted where the Liberals refused to act.

War Veterans Allowance Act June 1st, 2009

Mr. Speaker, this is unexpected good news. I think we are willing to take the House leader of the opposition up on that, but, and I think the member would understand, there is a technical correction that has to be made to the bill, which I should refer to his officials, our officials and the House leader officials so we can ensure that is considered before we expedite speedy passage of the bill. However, I appreciate the generosity. I think once officials get together, they can determine how we best proceed.

War Veterans Allowance Act June 1st, 2009

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-33, An Act to amend the War Veterans Allowance Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)