House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was transport.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Essex (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada Post May 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I remind the member that Canada Post is an independent, arm's-length, crown corporation that is run by a board of directors and a CEO. They are responsible for their operational decisions and their day-to-day decisions.

I remind the member that Canada Post delivered 1.4 billion fewer letters in 2014 than in 2006. It has a responsibility to not be a burden to Canadian taxpayers. This government expects it to follow through on its commitment to be fiscally sustainable.

Canada Post May 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, that member will know that Canada Post, in 2014, delivered 1.4 billion fewer pieces of letter mail than it did in 2006. That is causing difficulties with its financial balance sheet.

It is proceeding with a five-point plan, which includes the extending the community mailboxes to the one-third of Canadians who still have door-to-door. It has a responsibility, under law, to not be a burden to taxpayers. We expect nothing less than that from Canada Post.

Taxation May 13th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, constituents in my riding of Essex know that it is fair to provide support that benefits all Canadian families with children. That is why our Conservative government has balanced our federal budget, and we are now helping Canadian families balance theirs. Thanks to the family tax cut and universal child care benefit, 100% of families with children will be better off.

However, the Leader of the Liberal Party wants to take away the universal child care benefit, he wants to take away income splitting and he wants to take away the tax-free savings account. He even said “benefiting every single family is not what is fair”.

He will raise taxes on the middle class. Our government will not let that happen.

Ferry Services to Prince Edward Island May 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his annual Chicken Little motion that he brings before the House once again.

Canada is a maritime nation with vast coastlines. Ferry services have allowed for greater economic development and the building of stronger and more integrated communities.

Ferry operators employ Canadian businesses to help ensure Canadians receive the safest and most efficient ferry service possible. According to the Canadian Ferry Operators Association, ferry services directly employ over 8,400 people with well-paying jobs and indirectly help generate over 22,600 jobs throughout Canada.

Moreover, as important components of regional transportation networks, these ferries connect families, bring tourists to the far corners of our country and ensure businesses in remote communities have opportunities to connect to larger markets every day.

Our government recognizes the benefits that ferry services provide and supports ferries from British Columbia to Newfoundland and Labrador.

It is for these reasons that I am pleased to rise and have the opportunity to speak on private member's Motion No. 591 on ferry services between Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island and Caribou, Nova Scotia. The motion before us today proposes that we recognize the importance of the Wood Islands to Caribou ferry service, that all future contracts with the ferry operator are at least five years in length and that we maintain or exceed current service levels.

I can assure this chamber and Canadians that our government does support the Wood Islands to Caribou ferry service. Our support is long-standing and consistent.

This ferry service was first established in 1941 when the federal government began providing support for the service through Northumberland Ferries Limited, which has remained the ferry operator for all of these years. While the Wood Islands-Caribou ferry is only an eight-month service, it helps to meet the diverse transportation needs of Prince Edward Island's economy. During the 2014-15 operating year, the ferry moved over 353,000 people and over 15,000 commercial vehicles across the Northumberland Strait. It is an important component of the island's economy. As such, our government has provided $100 million in funding to support the continuation of service since 2006.

Another way our government supports the ferry service is by leasing the two terminals and chartering the two ferries used on the Wood Islands to Caribou route, the MV Holiday Island and MV Confederation, to the current operator for a nominal amount. However, the MV Holiday Island, built in 1971, and the MV Confederation, built in 1981, are aging. These ferries have required significant investments over the past four years to maintain safe and reliable operations.

Our government has invested over $10 million in the past four years to undertake a number of repairs on the terminals and ferries, including a main engine replacement for the MV Holiday Island. Our government has made these investments because it recognizes that important economic and social infrastructure has developed and been enhanced by the presence of the ferry service.

Finally, our government further supports the island through its contribution towards the Confederation Bridge. To support this alternative transportation route, this government provided $61.7 million in funding toward the bridge in 2014.

Our government's commitment to ensuring safe and secure transportation linkages in the Atlantic region is further highlighted by the approximately $150 million our government has provided to support the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec to Souris, Prince Edward Island and the Saint John, New Brunswick to Digby, Nova Scotia ferry services.

I would like to note that a new vessel was purchased in October 2014 at a cost of $44.6 million to replace the MV Princess of Acadia on the Saint John to Digby route. This vessel will ensure the continued safe and reliable operation of another important eastern ferry service, while creating jobs and economic opportunities in the region. The competition to name the vessel closed in February, and so I know everyone is looking forward to learning the winning name and a date for the ferry's entry into service.

Also, on les Îles de la Madeleine, our government heard the need for a year-round link to the islands. In 2009, our government extended the 10-month service to year-round service.

As announced in July 2014, our government is working toward developing a long-term sustainable approach to supporting eastern Canada's ferry services. This initiative, along with our government's announcement of a $58-million investment in the three eastern Canada ferry services until March 31, 2016, has created an opportunity to establish a sustainable, long-term approach to supporting these ferry services into the future. Our government is using this time to engage the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, and ferry operators to further this initiative that is in the interest of all Canadians.

I understand the member for Cardigan's desire to ensure that the region continues to be served by a reliable and efficient ferry service. However, our government is conducting this work because ferry services are facing challenges. Pressure on ferry sustainability is following a worldwide trend. Domestic and international ferry operators are responding to these pressures through new and innovative approaches. These new approaches could be implemented in a way that would allow our ferry services to be more efficient while also improving the passenger experience. There is a need to understand and learn from these approaches to ensure that the eastern Canada ferry services continue to meet the high standards Canadians expect.

To conclude, our government is committed to supporting the Wood Islands-Caribou ferry service through a long-term, predictable, and sustainable approach.

Our current objective, however, is to ensure that our government has the time to complete its examination of options to determine the right level of service under the right parameters to support the long-term prosperity and economic development of the region.

Motion No. 591 would impede our government's ability to do that. It is for this reason that our government cannot support Motion No. 591.

Ferry Services to Prince Edward Island May 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have had the great pleasure of extending a Nova Scotia vacation into Prince Edward Island, specifically by way of the ferry that the member mentioned.

In his speech the member noted a number of significant investments made by this government since 2006. I believe it is over $100 million in that particular ferry now. He did forget to mention the over $1 billion that we put into Marine Atlantic, and more coming.

He called these things “good things to do”. He did say he was “pleased”. He was so pleased, but he could not bring himself or his colleagues to vote in support of any of the appropriations to make the ferry meaningful.

The member knows very well that this government is looking at the long-term sustainability of our ferries, including this one, but based on his past performance, can he tell us whether he is just going to vote against any of that support anyway?

Air Transportation May 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to ensuring that Canada's aviation security system supports economic growth.

If screening has to be carried out at non-designated airports or if it is not required for security purposes, another source of funding must be established. The minister asked her officials to develop a mechanism whereby non-designated, low-risk airports are able to obtain security screening services on a cost-recovery basis.

Safe and Accountable Rail Act May 7th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, that was not an established fact at committee. I know that the opposition members hinted that they thought that was the case. Officials who were repeatedly queried on that could not divulge, because of proprietary concerns, what level of insurance the railway companies carry.

We know from the Canadian Transportation Agency that the $1 billion that is instituted is supportable in the current insurance market and that it will be strict liability. No one has to go to court to prove fault or negligence against a railway company in the case of an accident where dangerous goods are involved. That is a tremendous step forward when it comes to improving rail safety in this country.

Safe and Accountable Rail Act May 7th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, that is an important question.

With respect to an industry that has tremendous integration, as we can imagine, these railway locomotives and their rolling stock travel across the border and back many times carrying all kinds of goods and services to keep our economies moving. What is important in terms of an integrated approach is on the regulatory side, the way we look at design specifications, for example, for the new robust tankers that will replace the old DOT-111s, and ultimately the CPC-1232s in carrying crude oil, strong standards that are united to deal with the issue of these tanker cars that move back and forth.

Our liability and compensation regimes are different, though. For example, in the United States, if there is a railway accident involving dangerous goods, the government or any other party would have to go to court to prove their claims against a railway company. We just do not think that is the right approach.

What we have adopted after consultations with important stakeholders is an approach where we have both shared liability with railway companies and the shippers themselves. The railway companies will be required to carry strong levels of insurance, be they short-line or class 1 railways, and no provable claims against that. We do not have to go to court to prove a claim against that.

Should the costs of compensation exceed the railway company's insurance, we have the supplemental shippers fund that is not capped, but gives us strong room to grow to ensure that the polluter pays in the unfortunate case of an accident.

Safe and Accountable Rail Act May 7th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I only wish there were more facts involved in that particular intervention.

As the member will know if he studies the estimates, investments in front-line safety in every single mode of transport are up this year. That is in marine, rail, air safety, every single mode.

The department has suggested what resources it needs. Obviously, that is what the main estimates are for. There are also supplementary estimates should it become clear that the department needs additional resources to carry out its mandate.

Make no mistake that Bill C-52 is the product of extensive consultations, particularly when it comes to the liability and compensation regimes. We have heard from the railway companies that they would rather not have strict liability insurance. They do not want the strict measures that are in this particular bill. I would expect that from the railway companies. That is fair enough; they can take that position. The government, though, after that consultation and after listening to their position has determined that they will face tougher insurance levels, that there will be strict liability and therefore we will not have to prove their claims in court up to the maximum level of their liability.

Shippers also will share in that particular liability and compensation regime. They did not want to do that either, but we know that is the right way to go. Canadians support us in enhancing our system.

Safe and Accountable Rail Act May 7th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I think all of us in the House would agree on this. The practice of using slow speed by railway companies is no substitute for proper track maintenance. We expect rail companies to ensure that their property is well maintained in that way.

When it comes to the regime that has been instituted with respect to liability and compensation contained in Bill C-52, we did extensive consultations. One of the things that we are grappling with as a recent phenomenon has been the tremendous growth in the transport of crude oil by rail. By crude, I mean the many different forms, including the highly-flammable Bakken formation oil as well. That was the particular dangerous good involved in the tragic Lac-Mégantic derailment. We wanted to ensure we had an adequate regime for that.

The member will know that the bill does contain a provision in it for the regime to be expanded at any point in the future to deal with other dangerous goods, should that be determined necessary.