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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

Business of Supply February 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would have to disagree with the previous speaker from Sudbury. As I pointed out earlier, data from the Canadian Bankers Association says that 75% of these transactions are taking place at people's home banks where, in many cases, there are no transaction fees. That is what people are doing.

However, at the end of the day, there is convenience, and for that convenience to be out there, someone has to be willing to make that investment. If the investment is not made, guess what? There is not going to be any ATM in that location at all. I am not sure how seniors are going to feel then if they have to drive 30 or 40 miles to go to a bank because of the hollowing out of the ATM market in rural areas.

Business of Supply February 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to rise to speak to this motion today.

I guess it will not be totally surprising to indicate that I will not be supporting this motion, and I do not believe that most of my colleagues will either. It is not necessarily because of the arguments put forward by the member for Sudbury, but because I think that separating the banks from everything else is not realistic. We have to look at our ATM and ABM network as an integrated network of not only banks but also the private providers that we often see out there.

On that basis, there are a couple of things at stake, such as convenience and the competition issues. However, I think there would be unintended consequences of merely trying to throw a fixed fee on this network.

I would also say that I believe our government is going about this correctly in regulating in a smart way via the information that is out there for our consumers to make wise and informed financial decisions. Number one is the regulatory approach that we are taking, but I also want to talk for a few minutes about our comprehensive financial consumer code, which we are out consulting about right now.

Over the past number of years it has been interesting to watch the proliferation of technologies. Banking has changed significantly. I remember not so many years ago, a few decades ago, that some of our farmers and other people would leave their house in the morning with a pocket full of cash and then come back at the end of the day and check the amount in the other pocket. They would know whether they had made a profit that day if there were more money in that pocket. Also, back in the days when my father was in the provincial legislature in New Brunswick, I remember that he always carried cash and hardly ever did anything on a credit card or anything of that nature. He always had cash.

To me, when we look at the proliferation of technologies, I think we have definitely made things much more convenient as time has gone by. We can see that with the number of transactions and the data from the Canadian Bankers Association on those transactions. When we look at cash withdrawals from 2005 to 2012, they have gone down, and so have deposits and bill payments. As we go to electronic commerce and online banking, we are starting to see those changes.

I agree with some of the points made earlier in that there are some cases where a business only takes cash, and in those cases we certainly need it. However, when we look at these types of things, we can look at being a futurist as well.

It seems to me that at some point in time we will live in an era where we might have a chip, perhaps in our rear end or somewhere else, potentially. As we go through a store, it would be scanned and the money would be transferred. If there would be a charge for that, then the NDP would be really bummed, I can imagine.

That is just speculation, but I would love to be a bit of a futurist to know where this will go. From the strides we have made in the past number of decades, we can certainly anticipate that we will very much be a non-cash society, and probably very quickly.

When we look at the economics of the ATM, regulating a fixed fee such as this is misguided, because we forget about the convenience aspect of ATMs. Here, one of the points made by my hon. colleague across the way was about his store not having an ATM and there being no bank ATM in his community. In my community there is no bank ATM either. I live on the outskirts of Fredericton where there is no bank ATM. However, there is an ATM at my local convenience store and the surcharge is $2.25 to use it. I asked how much the ATM was used, and the answer was “significantly”. It is used a lot, which is somewhat surprising, but in some ways it is not.

As I said before, what people fail to take into account is the cost. In each of these cases, there is a cost to purchasing the machine, and this particular person is sharing in that cost. There are a lot of private white label ATMs. Space in a store costs money, as does the communications and encryption that goes along with these types of transactions. There is a cost to the physical security required, although there may be a bit of control when the machine is located inside as opposed to outside a store. Signage, advertising, fraud and upgrades also cost money. In most cases vendors in convenience stores, at least in this person's case, actually guarantee the float for the ATM as well, so there is an opportunity cost with respect to the vendor's own money being used to ensure that the machine is stocked with cash.

From that standpoint, if there were no surcharge in place, there would be no ATM at that location. Would the bank put in an ATM at that location? Around the outskirts of towns in my riding, some Irving convenience stores have a bank ATM because there is volume and when a store gets volume, transaction costs can be kept down.

I would argue that capping would affect the integration of these ATMs. If banks eventually cannot service some of these lower volume areas, they are going to get out of that business. They would sell those ATMs, which would go to a private operator, and the resulting surcharges could be anything, even extensive.

We should be a bit careful when we say that we want to have a fixed fee like this because there could be dire consequences. It was not too many years ago that the only choice that people had in some small rural communities and other places was to physically go to a bank. That bank would be open probably from 9 to 4, not some of the business hours banks have today. They would actually have to go and wait in line and take out who knows how much cash. However, that being said, there is an opportunity cost for those people from convenience stations. They can go to a place very close by and not burn gas to go maybe 30 or 40 miles at $1.25 or $1.30 a litre. They are better off than they would have been had they gone to a bank in the community.

Therefore, let us be careful and ensure that we do not do something with unintended consequences, which I believe would mean that we would maybe have fewer ATMs.

In the late 1990s, the U.S. had a big debate about this. It was proven that as surcharges went up, the ATM network actually expanded. More ATMs went into places like convenience stores, and private operators were doing that. This is one of the items they ran into.

Without an adequate return, these surcharges would discourage the deployment of ATMs to our rural areas as an example, and that would mean less choice. That would mean there will be slower growth, a limited number of the access points, and in effect, maybe some of the ATMs will be sold to non-owners.

The second point I would like to make is about regulating in a smart way and doing it from an information standpoint. The point was made that if people want to take out their own money, then it should be free. If a person takes cash out of an ATM in a convenience store and it is not a bank ATM, that person must realize that the money is coming out of his or her account but is not his or her cash. As I previously pointed out, the cash belongs to the vendor who loaded up the machine, so there is a cost to that transaction. It is not as simple as saying that is double-dipping.

With respect to the regulatory side, we have had some success over the past little while on this. I would like to comment on a couple of things that have happened in the dialogue with the banks. We have actively engaged the banking industry on the issue of ATM fees and have stressed the importance of consumer choice. One of the comments made before was about seniors, the disabled, and students. The banks have reacted to that and have responded by expanding some of their ATM networks near colleges and universities to help students avoid fees. The banks have also started unveiling low-fee accounts for seniors and students and are improving access for the disabled.

That is not all. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has provided consumers with information on banking costs, such as ATM fees. The more information that is out there, the more informative it will be for the actual consumer, because there are cases when consumers actually back away because they are provided that transaction fee. When they actually see it and are asked if they want to go ahead with the transaction, many people decide not to.

From a regulatory standpoint, that is why we have taken those numerous steps. For instance, recently the Minister of Finance announced new prepaid products regulations. A comment was made earlier about prepaid cards.

I would also like to comment on the work actually being done, as we announced in economic action 2013, on the comprehensive financial consumer code. The main goals are to better protect consumers of financial products and to ensure that they have the necessary tools to make proper financial decisions. The tools must be adaptable to suit the needs of consumers today.

As I pointed out, there has been light years of change since even a few decades ago. I remember when people taking a trip would actually go to the bank and get travellers' cheques and sign all the cheques and take them with them. I am not as young as I look. We would take all these travellers' cheques or take out big wads of cash. At the end of the day, these debit cards have provided us with a much more secure environment, so there is an opportunity cost as well.

However, we also want to provide an exclusive and comprehensive consumer protection regime. That is why this consultation we are doing with the public will be important as we develop similar products and services to replace a fairly wide and broad mix of legislation and regulations. The consultation process is on the way. That will be a better way for us to address some of the impacts we might run into.

It is important that we look at these ATMs and ABMs not just on the bank side but as a network. As I pointed out, the integration of these services is very much in play. In our rural areas, there is an impact from these private producers.

In conclusion, I would point out a couple of things. One is the regulatory side. The government is tackling this with the right approach. We are trying to keep taxes down for families so that they have more money in their pockets. That is a responsible approach.

I also think it is important for us to ensure that when we regulate, we regulate in a smart manner and not in a way that will hurt competition. Maybe we need to look at ways to provide more competition in the market and more ATMs as opposed to putting a cap on fees, which could lead to unintended consequences for consumers.

I will close on that, and I am open to questions from the opposition.

Emergency Response in Wapske January 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, on January 7, just after 6 p.m. eastern time, a CN Rail train derailed in Wapske, New Brunswick, a small community just outside Plaster Rock. Thankfully there were no injuries to rail employees or any residents as a result of the accident. A large part of that was due to the great work of the many first responders, both career employees and volunteers, who quickly reacted to the incident to provide fire control, resident evacuation, and ongoing site management.

I want to thank all the people who so graciously provided for the evacuees while they were away from their homes, the mayor and village staff, and all of the region's volunteer firefighters. Most notably I would like to thank Chief Tim Corbin, of the Plaster Rock fire department, who played a key leadership role in ensuring a fast response to the accident. This shows the importance of volunteer fire brigades to our rural communities and their commitment to the training required to get the job done, no matter what the situation. I am sure we will see many of these folks in a few weeks, contributing their volunteer time again as the world comes to Plaster Rock for the World Pond Hockey Championship.

On behalf of all the good people of Tobique—Mactaquac, I thank them for all they do to contribute to and ensure the public safety of our communities.

Finance January 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, since 2006, our Conservative government and our Minister of Finance have brought forward eight consecutive budgets to promote a low-tax plan to create jobs and economic growth in Canada, including over one million net new jobs since 2009. But the economy remains fragile, and Canada is not immune to those economic challenges beyond our borders. We need to move forward with a low-tax plan for jobs and growth, not an NDP plan of higher taxes and massive deficit spending.

Would the Minister of Finance inform the House as to when our government will present budget 2014?

Le Club Richelieu de Grand-Sault Fundraising Drive December 9th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, as we approach the holiday season, I want to congratulate Le Club Richelieu de Grand-Sault on granting the wishes and meeting the needs of young people in the region every Christmas for 60 years.

For years, it has been collecting funds and investing them in playgrounds for children, recreational facilities and performing arts throughout the community, and the club also started the Guingolée Richelieu, a fundraising drive that brings Christmas cheer to nearly 200 families.

This program collected over $30,000 this year. I specifically want to thank Robert Violette for opening his business and Violette Ford, which has been taking care of the logistics of personalizing and distributing all the gifts for years.

I sincerely thank Le Club Richelieu de Grand-Sault and all its members for their dedication to the community and for ensuring that Christmas is a happy time for all our children.

National Child Day November 20th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, today marks the celebration of the Universal Children's Day and Canada's 20th annual National Child Day. I would like to take this opportunity to remind the House that the protection and welfare needs of Canadian children who are most vulnerable are a priority for our government.

Yesterday the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs responsible for Consular and the Minister of Justice launched the new vulnerable children's consular unit. This new unit includes an increased number of specialized case management officers and specialized policy advisers who will provide better support in cases like child welfare, abduction, and forced marriage. The vulnerable children's consular unit will help resolve these difficult and complex cases more quickly, it will help prevent them, and it will improve interdepartmental and federal-provincial collaboration.

We are proud of Canada's leadership status in international children's issues, and this is just another way that our Conservative government is moving forward to protect and support Canadian children and parents.

Financial Administration Act November 6th, 2013

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-549, An Act to amend the Financial Administration Act (unlegislated tax measures).

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to table my private member's bill today to amend the Financial Administration Act for unlegislated tax measures. The bill would amend the Financial Administration Act to provide that the Minister of finance table each year a list of tax measures that the government publicly announced its intention to legislate but that have not been legislated.

The objectives of the bill are to ensure our tax laws are clearer, improve the efficiency of implementing those tax laws, and assist the taxpayer in the understanding of those tax laws. In short, it would help to address the many problems created for individuals, small and medium-sized businesses, tax professionals, and the Canadian Revenue Agency that result from a huge backlog of unlegislated tax measures.

I want to thank the member for West Nova, a former provincial finance minister, very much for seconding the bill. I ask for the support of all members of the House to make sure this happens for tax fairness across Canada.

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

Offshore Health and Safety Act October 31st, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Cariboo—Prince George, who was once a member with me on the natural resources committee. I very much valued his input, especially in the forest sector, where he was very knowledgeable. It is a very strong industry in his riding as well.

He is right. Just as an example, in Nova Scotia, in late 2000 its GDP was 3% and approximately 4,745 people worked in the offshore sector. Therefore, the number of jobs that this actually creates is important. Following that idea, I can point to a situation in my riding. There is a future mine development. The people are very engaged in discussions with first nations to create employment opportunities. That is one segment of our population that is growing and this represents an opportunity for our workers. There is a tremendous impact for our economy. Making regulatory certainty, like we are in the bill, is an important aspect for investment and to make our economy grow.

Offshore Health and Safety Act October 31st, 2013

Mr. Speaker, my colleague took a bit of literary licence with what I said. I said that the chief safety officer and safety officers on construction sites could actually do that. It would not necessarily be a worker just deciding that he could do that. A certain appeal mechanism would have to happen.

We have shown a lot of leadership in taking this on and putting it in the bill. Typically, the provincial government has control over occupational health and safety for a lot of workforces. The fact that these are in this bill and we are doing it suggests to me that our government recognizes this is very important.

The complaints of the opposition of what was done in Bill C-4 is just a red herring.

Offshore Health and Safety Act October 31st, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-5 today.

I would like to let members know that I will be splitting time with my hon. colleague from Vegreville—Wainwright, who was just re-elected as the chair of the natural resources committee yesterday in a hard-fought election, and I am sure he will continue on with his good work as part of the natural resources committee. I want to welcome all my new colleagues to the natural resources committee as well.

The genesis of Bill C-5 is a story from way back in the late 1990s about an accident. Due to a faulty door design, a worker was tragically killed in that accident. When we moved on—and there were court cases and other things going on—we realized that there was a gap in the oversight.

On one side, we had the operational aspects, which were looked after by the accord acts between Newfoundland and Labrador and the Government of Canada, as well as Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada. The other side of it, the occupational health and safety aspects of this, which covered the workers and the workplace, was typically governed by provincial legislation. So here we have a set of legislation to look after one piece of this and another side looking after the other piece when it was in the offshore. However, there was a gap as to just exactly which piece of legislation covered this particular incident where this worker was tragically killed.

With that in mind, I will fast forward a few years to where the provinces and the federal government started to actually discuss how to close that gap. The only way to do that, which was agreed to between the provinces and federal government, was to decide to put jurisdiction under the accord acts for the occupational health and safety when it came to the offshore. In that way the rules would be clarified, and this legislation is very much targeted to fix the ambiguity in that legislation.

We have a piece of legislation here that is 263 pages long, and it is very technical. To look further into the background of it, pages 26 to 118 and pages 147 to 239—almost 200 pages of the 260—are associated with moving the occupational health and safety legislation into the accord act to make sure it would be covered and that the ambiguity would be eliminated.

The provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador now have undertaken and passed legislation in their legislatures, and it has received royal assent. The provinces have done their part on this. Bill C-5 is our part to bring this up to speed.

As the speaker from Halifax noted, this has been a 10-year process between the provinces and the federal government. It began way back in the 2002-03 timeframe when this was meant to be negotiated.

As many of us have learned in the House, even some who have not been here very long, when it comes to negotiating these agreements between the provinces and the federal government, sometimes it takes a little while to do, especially when we think of moving a whole piece of occupational health and safety regulation, or any other piece of legislation, from provincial to federal jurisdiction, or possibly vice versa. Those were some very important things that had to be done as part of this legislation, as well as the negotiations, which had to take place over those 10 years.

We know that working offshore, workplace health and safety has to be paramount. We have to create a situation where it is safe for the workers.

I have never worked on or even been on an oil rig, but I know members of our caucus who have, and it is a challenge. There are many things we can control and many things we cannot. Out at sea on an oil rig, weather conditions and the remoteness of the workplace are just two of the challenges that come to mind.

To address these safety concerns as well as the equipment, on the east coast all offshore activity is regulated by one of two offshore boards. It is either the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board or the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board. No oil and gas activity can occur unless the responsible board is satisfied that the planned activities are safe for the workers and for the environment.

Companies must clearly demonstrate that they have identified all health and safety hazards associated with exploration or production activities. They must also show these risks have been carefully evaluated and that they can be properly managed.

I have heard a few comments in the House earlier with respect to some of the powers. The chief safety officers would actually work under the offshore boards, but when we read through the bill we see that the powers they would have are tremendous. Having been involved in construction projects, working with safety officers in those environments, I have no question that if there is ever one person on a construction site who can shut it down for a reason, it is a safety officer. If there are safety concerns for any of the employees, they are paramount. Obviously, if we do not have employees, we will not get the work done.

When I was working on a construction project in my utility days, I knew safety officers who took great delight in some cases that they could actually shut projects down if they were not safe. That is very important for us to remember. Not only do they have those powers, but they are also able to investigate, to compel information from the producers and to get warrants to search places such as personal spaces that may be available on work sites. Those are all very important things that chief safety officers can do, and there is an appeal mechanism in place as well.

The proposed changes are going to address these long-standing gaps, but the accord acts are still the cornerstones. They have been in place for 20 years. They started out with revenue sharing and so on, but now they are responding to these issues based on that one accident.

We worked closely with the provinces on this, in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, to identify the gaps in the current legislation, and these amendments are top priority for the government and our provincial partners, as evidenced by the provinces already passing this legislation.

By modernizing these occupational health and safety provisions of the accord acts, we are working continuously to further strengthen Canada's robust offshore regime, and we must continue to work at that. It is a never-ending process. As technology changes, as new types of exploration happen, we have to make sure our safety and our environmental regulations keep up. That is the responsibility of the government, a responsibility we take seriously.

Furthermore, these changes would help protect offshore workers by investing within the accord acts a strong occupational health and safety regime. Most importantly, it would help us develop a modern new safety regime, one that is clear and that is uniquely tailored to the needs of Canada's offshore industry.

We are making good on our commitment. The provinces have made good on their commitment by already passing this legislation in May. I am really pleased to hear in earlier speeches in the House that members of the opposition will be supporting this going to committee. It is a very technical bill. As I mentioned before, it is more than 300 pages, and there are a lot of occupational health and safety aspects in it, very important things that are going to be good for workers, that will make it a safer environment for them to work in, including the transportation to and from the rigs. I am really pleased to hear that, and I look forward to receiving the bill at committee.