House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was farmers.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Liberal MP for Bay of Quinte (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2021, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Belleville Chamber of Commerce February 22nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to offer a sincere message of thanks to a committed business leader from the Bay of Quinte, Mr. Bill Saunders.

The Belleville Chamber of Commerce has enjoyed 152 years of service. For the past six years, Bill has been the voice and visionary leading the chamber forward. It serves over 600 local businesses and continues to expand. In reflecting on the operational successes of his term as CEO, I am reminded that across Canada, there are equally committed leaders like Bill who persistently fortify local commerce networks by building relational connectivity between community members. These leaders work hard to provide crucial foundational support for businesses of every scale. Our communities and our economies are made stronger for their dedicated efforts. For this reason, I encourage all of my hon. colleagues to join me in applause on behalf of each and every Bill Saunders found in their own ridings.

National Defence December 14th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, after three governments, four prime ministers, and 14 years since the project began, I was proud that our government has successfully acquired fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft. These aircraft play a critical role, carrying out search and rescue operations to respond to Canadians in distress across our vast country of over 18 million square kilometres.

Can the Minister of Public Services and Procurement please inform the House what this announcement will mean for all Canadians?

Committees of the House December 9th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, entitled “Reaching Out: Improving Service Delivery to Canadian Veterans”.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 2nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, when we talk about time frames and planning in infrastructure, we all know that infrastructure is built for a 20- or 30-year period. In past experiences, to get infrastructure launched, it is usually three or four years to get a shovel in the ground. From past experience, when we look at a city intersection and tell the staff that they have been given all the resources and money to complete that infrastructure, by the time they do the needs study, environmental study, it takes a long time to implement programs and get them out. Therefore, it is about planning in a cycle.

My daughter attends Queen's University in an MBA program. She phoned me the other day and asked me a similar question. She said that we were planning outside the election cycle. Well, it is about looking at what the total infrastructure is, making plans out of that cycle, and building in a 10- or 15-year plan to totally create a plan that does eliminate infrastructure deficits.

If the hon. member, or any member, wants to run their next election on cancelling the infrastructure program or not extending it past our mandate, I would invite them to do that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 2nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his question and for his municipal experience. I know that he and I have talked about our municipal experiences.

Members are well aware of capital risk. When we look at Ontario, it has an infrastructure program that gives loans to municipalities, and gets away with that capital risk.

Smaller projects are sometimes less risky and easier to obtain funds for. However, for bigger projects that are Canada-wide or projects that need financing, it is time to look at that capital risk. If we, through the infrastructure bank, can get these projects pushed forward and get private investment, we cut down and reduce that capital risk for cities to get these projects done on time and on budget. This is what we are trying to do.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 2nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-29, the budget implementation act.

Prior to my role as the member for the Bay of Quinte, I served for eight years as the mayor of the City of Belleville. My municipal experience gave me a full appreciation of the impact that infrastructure has on our communities.

The city of Belleville, having a population of 50,000, and being a small urban municipality, has many infrastructure deficits. Investments in infrastructure provide communities with safe roads, clean water and air, efficient transportation networks, and so much more. Our infrastructure needs have outpaced our investments for decades, and at significant cost.

The perfect storm is here. It is hurting our communities. It is very important that we keep driving investment and finding new alternative ways to support the needs of our communities.

Neglected aging infrastructure directly contributes to traffic congestion, which pollutes the air and stifles the productivity of our workers and businesses. It contributes to boil water advisories that affect the health of entire communities. It means that our seniors have a harder time accessing essential services, and that some of our population have great difficulty finding safe and affordable places to live.

As I have personally experienced, underfunded infrastructure puts our cities at a competitive disadvantage. When competing to attract top companies, either the local market or the global market, it is hard to create good-paying jobs without proper infrastructure.

The City of Belleville was like so many other communities across Canada, starved for infrastructure funding and facing a mounting infrastructure deficit. Upon being elected as mayor, I began to see first-hand just how large this infrastructure deficit was in our community, and how it was growing with no real plan to fix it.

Speaking with my colleagues at AMO, association of Ontario mayors, 444 of us excluding Toronto, I realized that most municipalities in Ontario had aging infrastructure. I was finding in my community that we were not unique. Small urban communities and cities across Canada were in a similar position. There was simply no infrastructure funding to meet the needs of municipalities. The tax system with municipalities is basically property taxes and user fees. Municipalities provide 66% of our services in Ontario, yet collect only around 8¢ on the tax dollar.

The City of Belleville, an average small city, has over $3.5 billion worth of assets. This includes roads, bridges—69 bridges, I believe—public facilities, water, waste water plants, which were all built in the forties, fifties and sixties. However, they never had an asset management plan to keep these structures in repair.

After examining this asset management plan, I realized that our city was in trouble. We had approximately 350 in terms of millions of dollars in a past deficit that was hidden, a deficit that was not on our books, and a deficit that kept growing out of control. It was a construction deficit that was increasing at the time between 5% and 10%. We had interest rates that we were able to acquire at approximately 2.5% locked in. It is all about capital risk. Being a small business person myself, one of the biggest problems is obtaining capital, locked in, at an amount that could get rid of the risk.

With Infrastructure Ontario, we were able to build a plan, and our solution was a build Belleville plan. This was the second infrastructure plan to try to alleviate some of the infrastructure that was stockpiled to the city over the last 25 years.

The rationale is simple. Each year that the cost of infrastructure repairs are left and not taken care of, they increase. All of a sudden, a $300-million deficit becomes a $330-million or $340-million deficit. With infrastructure, we are not quite sure what the costs will be, so it is floating.

Coming up with a plan for locking in our capital risk, recognizing that interest rates were low, it was time to launch a plan and try to convince council that we needed to mitigate the risk of bridges collapsing. We had to mitigate the risk of not having a waste water plant that was capable of meeting our industry.

City council supported build Belleville and the $91.5 million loan for the first stage of infrastructure upgrades and maintenance. The build Belleville plan was featured in many trade publications, including Canada Business Review, Municipal World, The Undergrounder and ReNew.

The program not only attracted the attention of magazines and media, it attracted a great deal of attention from municipalities. In 2008, I was asked to speak at AMO, to all mayors about the plan.

My city is also in the plan. It expanded our industrial park by extending roads and services to build our economic base. It has put us in a very great position now to attract industry and create more jobs.

This past August, I met with local mayors to announce over $7 million in federal gas tax funding. This is specifically for municipal infrastructure projects. More recently, I held an announcement event at our local college, Loyalist College, for a $1.6-million federal investment toward a $3.2-million renovation of the Northumberland wing and health and wellness centre. The wellness centre hosts the school's highly respected practical nursing program and state-of-the-art clinical simulation lab.

This investment will make for greater energy efficiency, which has positive impacts both on the environment and the school's operating budget. Of course, it will significantly improve the learning environment and hopefully keep our youth and our community educated, and help in the workforce.

These are good reasons why it is so vitally important that we continue to work with our municipal and provincial partners across the country to develop a long-term infrastructure plan that meets the real needs of all communities across Canada.

Our government will provide more than $180 billion over 12 years for public transit, green and social infrastructure, and trade and transportation. These investments will have a dramatic impact on all communities across Canada, including small communities and rural regions. The plan provides unprecedented levels of funding for projects across the country, projects that will help create long-term economic growth; build safe, inclusive, and sustainable communities; and support a low-carbon, green economy.

Budget 2016 launched the first phase of our infrastructure plan, which will invest a total of $11.9 billion. This includes $3.4 billion for public transit systems, $5 billion for green infrastructure projects, and $3.4 billion for social infrastructure, which includes affordable housing.

During my community pre-budget consultations, our not-for-profit agencies could not stress enough the importance of investment in safe and affordable housing. The first phase of this investment makes possible repairs and upgrades to long neglected critical infrastructure. Bilateral agreements were signed with all the provinces and territories, and more than 750 projects have already been improved.

Projects are already under way in our rural and smaller communities such as: waste-water upgrades in Red Deer, hard surfacing of the Trans-Labrador Highway, upgrades to the town of Lanigan's water facilities in Saskatchewan, rehabilitation of bridges in the Northwest Territories, a new Pond Inlet small craft harbour in Nunavut, and a water treatment plant upgrade in my neighbouring town of Deseronto.

We have also made major investments in infrastructure projects for public transit that once complete will help drastically reduce congestion in our cities, and get all moms and dads home earlier, hopefully, to spend time with their families and to get their families safely home. They are things like the light rail transit in Ottawa, the Toronto Toronto Commission surface track replacement program, the Waterloo Fairview Mall transit terminal, and the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site, for a total investment of $267 million.

I had the great honour, on a hot summer day, to be with a great Conservative member, the member for Simcoe North, in Peterborough to cut the ribbon on the announcement of the Trent-Severn system, which affects my community, as the Trent Port Marina in Quinte West is the start of the Trent. I invite everyone to visit the Trent Port Marina in their boats this year, and come and enjoy our wineries and our cities.

Equipping municipalities with the resources they need and access to low-risk capital is essential to sustain and grow our communities, providing the building blocks they need to thrive and succeed. Infrastructure is an essential component for healthy, vibrant communities, and creates the conditions for sustainable economic growth and development. Investments in infrastructure are investments in our future and that of our children.

Agriculture and Agri-Food November 22nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, Canada is one of the world's largest pork exporters and represents 20% of the world's pork trade.

Maintaining and opening up new markets to pork is critical to the Canadian hog industry, which drives economic growth in many rural regions across the country.

Could the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food update us on what our government is doing for the Canadian pork industry?

Winemaker November 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I share with you another remarkable accomplishment from my riding.

Norman Hardie, a winemaker in Prince Edward County, has received global recognition for his county chardonnay. These accolades are a reflection of Norman's winemaking expertise and artistry, as well as the rich agricultural land that is home to Ontario's newest wine region.

His 2013 county chardonnay has been placed in categories that include “Matt Kramer's Most Exciting Wines of the 21st Century (so far)” and the 2016 WinAlign National Wine Awards of Canada platinum category. This year, his county chard ranked as the top chardonnay on the list.

I send my sincere congratulations to Norman Hardie for his passion and dedication to his craft. The international attention he is receiving is further raising the profile of the county, and inspiring budding winemakers in the area.

I encourage all of my colleagues to look for Norman's critically acclaimed wine, or tour the many wineries in Prince Edward County for a truly memorable experience.

Public Safety October 28th, 2016

Madam Speaker, in September, the Ministers of Public Safety and Justice launched the online portion of the government's consultations about our national security framework.

Hon. members have been encouraged to seek the views of their constituents on the subject. Last week, the public safety committee travelled the country, listening to Canadians.

Can the Minister of Public Safety please update the House on the status of the consultations, and can he tell us how the public input will inform the government's approach?

Hugh O'Neil September 28th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to stand before the House today to honour a man who profoundly touched the lives of so many. The late Hugh O'Neil, fondly known as “Mr. Quinte”, dedicated his life to the service of others.

Hugh had an unwavering passion for his community. Aside from being a loving husband to his wife Donna and a devoted father, Hugh was a tireless volunteer, an educator, a member of provincial Parliament, and a cabinet minister.

Since his sudden passing last September, the deep admiration and respect for Hugh O'Neil continues to be felt in my riding. As a tribute to his dedication to the community, I am proud to announce that the Hugh O'Neil friendship garden will be created in Quinte West. The official sod-turning ceremony took place this last Monday.

Hugh O'Neil leaves a lasting legacy that will continue to inspire generations to come. May he rest in peace.