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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was going.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Tobique—Mactaquac (New Brunswick)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 63% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Intern Protection Act February 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles for her comments and for putting forth the bill.

Having been part of the finance committee when it studied youth employment, I know that has been a persistent issue for several decades now and that in the last number of years that rate has come down from what it was from 1993 to 2005, but I have a couple specific questions about her bill, and one is a clarification.

I think there are many cases where people will pursue, and want to pursue, an unpaid internship. I do not think she is saying that is a problem. It can go ahead, as long as these people are protected. I see that proposed subsection 178.1(2) in her bill, under “written notification”, seems to cover that, so I just want her to clarify that she is not saying that there should not be any unpaid internships, just that there should be protection for the employees.

The second thing I want to ask her about is proposed paragraph 178.1(1)(a), which states:

the training is approved by a secondary or post-secondary educational institution or vocational school and the completion of the training contributes to a degree or diploma.

What about a situation where a person maybe pursues an internship to expand his or her capability or to go into another area? That might not necessarily be approved by a school. I wonder what the protection is for the student who wants to pursue that.

National Potato Lover's Month February 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it seems fitting as we celebrated Valentine's Day this weekend that we also remember it is heart health month and National Potato Lover's Month. We should not forget the importance of the humble potato in our diet, and the significant levels of potassium in potatoes that are critical for our body and crucial for heart function.

Just this last week, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research stations in Fredericton and Lethbridge conducted their annual variety release day. The research at these two locations is important as we develop new varieties that are not only resistant to pests, but also attempt to make the potato even healthier.

Canada has a great number of agriculture producers and growing regions in the country, including a large area of my riding of Tobique—Mactaquac. We also have processors like McCain Foods, which produces one of every three french fries sold around the globe.

Everyone is working hard to produce high quality food for Canadians in addition to healthy choices for our diets. I would like to thank our researchers, our farmers and farm families and processors like McCain that continue their efforts to have a dynamic value chain for potatoes in Canada.

While we may not be able to give our hearts to the humble potato, it sure can give a lot to our hearts.

Petitions February 3rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of a number of the residents of Tobique—Mactaquac who would like to bring to the attention of the House their concerns about the ability of family farmers to produce the amount of food required to feed their families and communities.

The petitioners are urging the Government of Canada to adopt international aid policies to support small family farmers, especially women, and to recognize their essential role in fighting hunger and poverty.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, in fact, that tax break was established for the credit unions in 1972, when they were very small. They were very much like Canadian-controlled private corporations. They have grown since, which put them on an unfair playing field with other businesses of that kind. Therefore, the idea of that specific measure being addressed in 2013 is not a problem for me.

As the member has probably noted, if he has been visited by the credit unions, which we all have, they have proposed something, which is part of our pre-budget consultations, to potentially address some of the concerns they have. As member-driven organizations that rely on retained earnings, credit unions have much more of a struggle raising cash, because they cannot have share offerings or anything like that. As they get larger and come under the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions and things like Basel III requirements, it is going to be important for them to actually be able to build up their retained earnings. They have proposed some measures that could be helpful on an enhanced retained earnings tax, which is something we should consider in the future.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question, and it is a good one.

In the previous budget, we talked about having a preference for apprentices working on housing projects and other infrastructure projects, which is going to be very important. However, there are going to be some things we will have to work with the provinces on as well.

As the member would know, some of the efforts the federal government will make on apprentices to do some things will be very helpful, but in some areas, the provinces have ratios of apprentices to journeymen. The federal government will have to work with the provinces to make sure that we implement this correctly. I look forward to seeing that in the very near future.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-43, the second budget implementation act.

I would like to start by thanking my colleagues on the finance committee from all the parties. It has been what I would call, at best, a hectic fall with the committee actually working on not only the budget implementation act but also a fairly aggressive schedule with respect to the pre-budget consultations. Some of those things have wrapped up in the last week and some will be wrapping up this week, and so I do want to thank them for that.

I also want to thank our great chair, the hon. member for Edmonton—Leduc, who does such a great job in chairing that committee. He is very fair-handed and he works very well with all his colleagues.

I would like to talk about three or four provisions of the bill and then, in whatever time I have left, I would like to spend some time countering some of the things I have heard in debate today and try to give some assurance to people about the objectives that would be accomplished.

The first thing I would like to talk about is the extension to apprenticeship loans of the tax credit for interest paid on student loans.

As we know, with apprentices, about 80% to 85% of their training is called “on-the-job training”. Somewhere in the order of 26,000 people would benefit each year from the provisions in this agreement. That is important because when we look at the study we did on youth unemployment in Canada, it is a little over 14.2% right at this point in time, which is not as high as it has been in the past, but youth employment has been a stubborn issue for successive governments over the past number of decades.

One of the things we saw in the study done in 2013 is that 50% of students, if they had the choice, would actually want to go to university and only 20% would actually want to pursue a trade. That is unfortunate because there are incredible industrial and manufacturing opportunities available for our young apprentices and tradespeople.

This is one of these efforts, with the expansion of the loans and the interest to apprentices in the trades, that would create more interest for people to go into the trades.

The second thing I would like to talk about is clean energy generation. Part of the bill would also include the expansion of the accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation that would expanded to water current energy and to equipment that would gasify eligible waste fuel.

Earlier this morning, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley said there is nothing in here on the energy, the environment, or anything like that. When we encourage companies with an accelerated capital cost allowance to actually invest in this type of equipment, that feeds all the way up the pipeline, in terms of the R and D in the sector, as well, because more of these types of energy generation that are being supported through aggressive capital cost allowance would also provide the opportunity for that to happen, as well.

I also want to talk briefly about the small business job credit, about which there has been a lot of discussion today.

The reality is that $550 million would go back to small businesses. I was in committee and heard the Parliamentary Budget Officer's report, but at the end of the day, CFIB is the leading spokesman for small business in Canada, and it said this would create not only 25,000 person years of employment but also additional training to help small businesses grow their businesses.

When we look at New Brunswick where probably 80% or more of the businesses have fewer than 10 employees, we see we are talking about a significant number of our small businesses that would be able to take advantage of that. I know my New Brunswick colleagues, including the member for Saint John, would really be happy to hear that.

The last issue I want to talk about is the credit unions and the point that was brought up previously.

I believe we have somewhere around 300 credit unions actually in Atlantic Canada, and the credit union movement is very strong in terms of loans to the agricultural sector and to small business in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, as well. The ability for these credit unions to go beyond their provincial scope and to come under federal regulation is important, and this would allow them the tools to do that.

We did have representatives from the credit unions actually come to committee. They said one of their major concerns was not necessarily the legislation but ensuring that the phasing in and coming into force of it was stretched out over a period of two years, because that would allow them at least the opportunity to engage with the department and make sure there were no unintended consequences to this. I think it was a very fair proposal they made.

Now I would like to go back to a few things I heard earlier today that are important to get back to. The member for Victoria talked about tax evasion. Some of the aspects of the budget continue to close loopholes and other tax-related things.

It is also important to talk about the number of auditors. There has already been an increase of about 750 auditors at CRA. CRA is realigning its operations because we are trying to actually collect more taxes. In fact, up to March 31, 2014, the CRA audited 8,602 international tax cases, identifying over $5.6 billion in additional taxes that are being collected. In addition to that, we continue aggressive action on the file with respect to tax treaty networks and developing those, as well as tax exchange agreements. Those are all very important aspects in saying that our government is very much on the job when it comes to tax evasion.

The next piece I would like to talk about a bit is the Public Health Agency of Canada and some of the changes in the bill. I heard a lot of talk this morning that the chief public health officer in some way would be neutered by this change. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, when we look at the comments that were made, we see that the Public Health Agency of Canada now has somewhere around 2,000 employees and a budget of some $600 million.

The chief public health officer, Mr. Taylor, provided us with his comments. Mr. Taylor has done a fine job as a chief public health officer. In fact, the legislation we are proposing today is codifying what the agency has been doing since 2012. It makes sense to have an administrative arm and a deputy minister level to be looking after the administrative side. Mr. Taylor very clearly said he did feel his role to talk about health issues to Canadians; and his mandatory requirement to report to Parliament is still very much in place.

We had comments to that effect from some of our witnesses who also came to committee. A couple of witnesses did express concern, Mr. Culbert and Mr. Hoffman. When the chair, the member for Edmonton—Leduc asked some very pointed questions with respect to the actual legislation, asking if they saw any portion of the legislation that would prevent the public health officer from actually reporting, they said they did not think so, but they were not sure.

I rely on the testimony of Mr. Taylor very much, because he is the one who has operated in this environment in the last couple of years and he is the one who actually knows how this would work because he has seen it actually work for the past couple of years.

Those are very important changes, and it is very important that we continue on because it is very important, too, as part of a budget bill to ensure that a $600 million agency each year is properly administered. We do not want a distraction between the administration of the affairs of that public health agency and the important role the chief public health officer plays.

There are tremendous benefits in the budget implementation act, Bill C-43. There are some very important administrative and legislative changes being proposed in the bill. Even though there were some amendments proposed at committee, certainly all they would have done was take away from the good things that would be done.

There is strong effort on the tax credits for the interest paid for apprentices. It is an awesome thing to get more people involved in apprenticeship. Also, clean energy generation and some of the great things in part 4 would move us forward on continued economic growth in Canada.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, one of the things I would like to ask my colleague about is the credit unions.

The credit union is a pretty dynamic force in our rural communities, as I am sure it is in rural communities in his riding. I know in Atlantic Canada there is a tremendous number of credit unions that serve a need that a lot of the big banks do not anymore. One of the provisions in the bill would allow mergers across provincial lines. So it would allow more scope for the credit unions to actually work a little more in the nation.

One of the comments of the credit union folks when they did come to committee was specifically about the implementation timeline. There was not any argument from them with respect to the legislative aspect; however, they were concerned about the coming into force time and the regulatory environment on that coming into force, so that they could actually solicit their members. It is important in a member-driven organization, as the member would know, to do that.

Generally in the committee, there was a lot of sympathy for the two years. I think finance had indicated to the credit unions that it was somewhere around a two-year implementation period. There was no argument with the legislative aspect; it was the coming into force provision.

Is the member aware of that? Would he support a good consultative process in the next two years to make sure that is brought in correctly?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to mention that under the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act, there is also the ability of the federal government to create regulations to actually deal with some of the more complex development that would happen in first nations communities.

Similar to this, under division 16, the Canada Marine Act changes, we are basically saying the same thing. There are complex developments in these port complexes, so the ability to create these regulations will be important to achieving the exact objective my colleague is talking about, which is environmental stewardship.

It also is very important that it incorporates by reference all the major acts, such as the Environmental Assessment Act and the Fisheries Act, and that provincial legislation can also be very much a part of this.

I would just ask the member if he believes that it is important for these complex development projects to create the regulatory authority so that we can manage them properly.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the hard-working member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, for all the great work he is doing in the fisheries conservation program. It is tremendous work, and a lot of our conservation organizations are taking advantage of that program.

My colleague across the way just talked about division 16. What it would allow it to do is incorporate other acts in this, such as the Environmental Assessment Act and the Fisheries Act and others. It would also allow for the recognition of where the provinces have a role to play in the environmental area. As well, with the efforts that have recently been undertaken by this government over the past number of years, it would make sure that we have one person for the regulations. We do not need four or five people doing the same thing, which is what we tended to have previously. There was an overlap in all this legislation.

Given the member's experience, I wonder if he could comment on the effectiveness of having one regulator on top of things.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my colleague did talk a bit toward the end about youth employment. Certainly as part of our study in the finance committee on youth employment, we did see that it is a stubborn issue that has been a real challenge over the past number of decades. One of the things that we talked about in committee was the idea that too few of our young people were encouraged to go into the trades, which have a somewhat negative stigma to them. Unfortunately, as a result of that, we have missed a generation of tradespeople who are not available to do work in our country right now.

One of the provisions of the budget would extend the existing tax credit for interest paid on student loans to interest paid on a Canada apprentice loan. Does the member not believe this is a great thing for young people, in order for them to pursue a trades education and to be able to provide people for the work that we are going to have to do in the future, in particular construction work and that type of thing? Does she not believe that is a good initiative in this budget?