House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was post.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for St. John's East (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees of the House June 19th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 26th report of the the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, entitled “Improving Settlement Services Across Canada”.

I would like to take a moment to thank the clerk, Evelyn Lukyniuk, and analysts Julie Béchard, Isabelle Lafontaine-Émond and Madalina Chesoi for their excellent work at the end of the session to deliver our report on time.

I would also like to thank the retiring member of Parliament for Dufferin—Caledon, who was the previous chair of this committee and provided excellent advice and support during his entire tenure on the committee this session.

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

Committees of the House June 17th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour today to present, in both official languages, the 25th report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, entitled “Adapting Canada's Immigration Policies to Today's Realities”. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

I would also like to thank the member for Don Valley West, the parliamentary secretary, for his work chairing this committee to help develop this report; and all the members, including the vice-chairs from the Conservative Party and the NDP who travelled to Tanzania and Uganda in order to obtain witness testimony for this comprehensive report.

Diabetes Awareness Month June 17th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to have this opportunity today to rise and speak in favour of Motion No. 173 to create November as diabetes awareness month. People at home might be wondering why I have an opportunity to speak to this motion, given that it is close to the hearts of so many members of Parliament. I am sure they would be interested to know that my own private member's bill was preempted by work that was already being done by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

I have had the opportunity to share my private member's bill with a number of members in the House. The member for Surrey—Newton and I were able to work together to make sure that his Sikh Heritage Month bill made it to the Senate and was passed by both Houses in time for declaration prior to the rising of the House.

I was able to work with the member for Cumberland—Colchester, on a couple of occasions, to make sure that his private member's bill for the repatriation of indigenous artifacts was also able to get through the House and be called into law.

People might be aware that in the last few weeks, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands was able to get Bill S-203, on preventing the captivity of whales and dolphins, through the House by my offering my slot to her on one occasion, and with one of the members from the New Democratic Party.

Therefore, when the member for Brampton South asked if I could help with providing an opportunity to get to second reading on her private member's bill, I was more than happy to help.

One of the reasons is that I have a close connection to diabetes in my family. Just over three years ago, my cousin Jimmy Grouchey passed away from complications of type 1 diabetes, alone in his home in Arizona. Both of my parents come from large post-World War II families. My mom had nine siblings growing up, and my dad had four siblings and two half siblings. The family we were closest to were the Groucheys, because we shared a summer home together. We would vacation together in the summertime, where Jimmy, Christina, David, Jennifer, Jon, Dan and I would have a really great time.

People with diabetes have to manage their disease, and certainly when they are living on their own, complications can result. Jimmy was always a go-getter, fun-loving and free-spirited. With the moratorium on the cod fishery, like many Newfoundlanders, he moved abroad to pursue his career. He had different careers, in sociology, as a patent agent, and in 2009, he became a nurse. He worked in North Carolina and then finally in Arizona.

Lack of awareness about this disease and the complications associated with it can be devastating for families. Jimmy passed away from that. He would have turned 50 on Monday of next week. I wanted an opportunity to tell Jimmy's story and share with the House that families can be affected by this. It is not just statistics; they are individuals and families like mine.

Our government recognizes the impact that diabetes has on roughly three million Canadians who live with it and the 200,000 new cases that are diagnosed each year. I would like to thank the member for Brampton South for her work in bringing this forward to the House. It is important to recognize and raise awareness about it.

By having awareness of diabetes front and centre, fewer people will succumb to the complications. Fewer people will allow themselves to get to the point where they develop type 2 diabetes. More people can have access to prevention methods. More people will have access to care. While friends may not be aware that they have type 1or type 2 diabetes, the month itself will provide an opportunity to have that discussion, to let people know some of the symptoms of someone who might be in an insulin crisis and how to provide them with the help they need.

Our government has been supporting various measures. In 2016-17 alone, we invested $47 million in diabetes research. We recently announced a $30-million partnership with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. There are various members in the House who have helped to coordinate the multi-party caucus that led to this. It is not just those on this side of the House who are in favour of diabetes research.

When the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation comes to the Hill, members from all parties are present to listen to the stories of the ambassadors selected for their work in their cause across the country. It is great to meet those 10-year-olds, eight-year-olds, children of all ages who come from our ridings across the country to Parliament Hill to advocate for their cause. I am happy to participate with members on this side of the House, and I am sure that members from all sides of the House are happy to do so as well.

Also, in partnership with organizations in the private and non-profit sectors, as well as other levels of government, we are testing and scaling up interventions in communities across the country to prevent chronic disease, including diabetes. These interventions focus on common risk factors such as unhealthy eating and on physical activity.

Our government will continue to strongly support healthy living and diabetes prevention, including healthy eating, physical activity and smoking cessation. In thinking about my own health, I remember when the member for Brampton South had an opportunity to encourage some special medical testing on the Hill last year for members of Parliament, through the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

I had the opportunity to go to this mobile trailer, which provided heart rate monitoring, blood glucose level monitoring and a survey questionnaire, and members of Parliament who had a chance to participate had a deep dive into their health. The results of that were very interesting, and I learned a lot about what I could do to make myself healthier, but also how I could help my kids lead healthier lives as well. They are both far fitter than I am, and when we go jogging they are often about a minute a kilometre ahead of me, but they get me out. We also try to make sure we maintain an appropriate balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in our diet. I would like to thank the member for Brampton South for the opportunity to have that extra teaching here on the Hill.

According to the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System, supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada, over three million Canadians, or 8.6% of the population, have diagnosed diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the body loses its ability to produce or to properly use insulin, a hormone that controls blood glucose levels.

Canada is famous for its role in the early work on determining that lack of insulin is the cause of diabetes, as well as treatments to provide insulin to people who are suffering with diabetes so they can have that cure. Canada is the perfect place to recognize November as diabetes awareness month. It is probably long overdue; it probably should have happened at the same time when the cure was found.

I am thankful for the work of the member for Brampton South. I encourage all members of this House to support this private member's motion. It would provide Canada an opportunity to yet again raise public awareness, encourage additional research and funding for diabetes, and remember family members like Jimmy Grouchey, a family member of mine who passed away just over three years ago and who would be turning 50 next week.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1 June 5th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I do have the fortunate opportunity to work with the member on the citizenship and immigration committee, where we had the opportunity to study not only divisions 15 and 16 of part 4, which he spoke about, but other aspects in the estimates as they relate to budget 2019 and, of course, budget 2018.

In budget 2018, we brought in measures for biometrics to better engage with our partners, including the United States, in identifying people who come across the border. As the member knows, this will allow us to have some type of a path for the repatriation of people back to the United States who come across the border irregularly. Hopefully, it will be a mechanism that the minister will be able to negotiate with his foreign counterparts, a mechanism to have people who cross irregularly to be sent back at a regular crossing, because with thousands of kilometres of borders, it is not possible to render people back without someone to receive them on the other side. If they come irregularly at one point, there needs to be a mechanism to send them back, and I look forward to hearing what is able to be negotiated.

However, with respect to budget 2019, $1.18 billion over five years is committed for things like border security and improving the asylum process. The member has identified some problems with the asylum process, but I wonder if he is favourable to our approach on strengthening border security itself, and whether he feels that these reinvestments in border security, after previous years of cuts, are worthwhile.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1 June 5th, 2019

Madam Speaker, earlier in the night, I had some interesting questions for the member for Sherbrooke on the issue of different mechanisms in the budget to help homeowners with affordability.

The debt issue is obviously important, not just to people in his riding but across the country. While home values are rising and the amount of debt and leverage associated with home ownership is up, my understanding is that non-mortgage-backed debt is actually in a slight decline. As long as we are trying to support housing prices, make homes affordable for people and protect them from defaults on mortgages, if we see a decline in non-mortgage-backed loans and credit card debt, is that not a sign that the economy is doing well, and should the member not support these initiatives?

Committees of the House June 3rd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 24th report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, entitled “Main Estimates 2019-20: Votes 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 under Department of Citizenship and Immigration and Votes 1 and 5 under Immigration and Refugee Board”.

Status of Women May 30th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, in the glorious National Arts Centre, Labatt Breweries and Equal Voice brought MPs from all recognized parties together to compete over two causes close to all of our hearts: the first, local craft beers, and the second, more women in politics. Now, it was no surprise to me when a crisp, citrusy Hefeweizen from Newfoundland carried the day. My brewmaster, Mill Street's Jacoba Mol, made sure of that.

The surprise was the makeup of the room. The cause of gender equality needs allies. Women already get it. A more diverse table makes better decisions, and we need more women in politics. Last night was my first Equal Voice event with more men than women, so much so that I felt the need to pass the mike when the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London was the only woman MP at the table.

I thank Equal Voice for this refreshing event and for my Labatt 50 draft tap trophy, which is fitting, because 50% is our goal.

Accessible Canada Act May 28th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, as the minister would be aware, a number of different interest groups have come to MPs across the country during this period. Certainly I have heard a lot from people who are advocates for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. I wonder if the minister can confirm that she believes that the Senate amendments would adequately address those who have been calling for additional protections for American sign language, langue des signes québécoise and international sign language, and, if not, if she has identified any gaps and how those might be addressed in the regulations.

Petitions May 14th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table a petition presented by constituents in my riding, related to a ban on cosmetic animal testing. The petitioners note that a ban on cosmetic animal testing would not harm or impact current cosmetics products for sale in Canada, because the European Union, of course, banned it in 2013 and its market continues to grow.

The petitioners call for a harmonization of our laws with the European Union's laws, and as well for support for Bill S-214 from the Senate, regarding the ban on the sale and/or manufacture of animal-tested cosmetics in Canada.

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act May 10th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill S-203, an act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts, also known as the act for ending the captivity of whales and dolphins.

The bill proposes changes to three acts: the Criminal Code, the Fisheries Act and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, an act whose name did not advantage of creative acronym design.

I want to begin by first stating that I am indeed, like Canadians across the country, in favour of the bill and I know this government supports this bill.

I actually deferred my opportunity to speak on my own private member's motion, Motion No. 196, and work with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands in order to help advance this important legislation before the session ends. Who knows, maybe I will not get the opportunity to speak on my motion, but I know this is very important to Canadians. Seeing it so close to the finish line, it felt like it was the right move to make. I am honoured by the small role I may have been able to play in advancing the common good across party lines and between the other place and this place.

I also want to highlight the Liberal members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, who passed the bill unamended at committee.

The bill has progressed thanks to their leadership and is now even closer to being passed after years of debate in the Senate.

There is no doubt, as we have come to learn more about the living needs of whales and other cetaceans, that keeping them in captivity is simply the wrong thing to do.

Support for a ban on keeping whales in captivity has grown and is continuing to grow, not only in Canada, but around the world.

Canadians can see some of Canada's most majestic marine animals in their natural habitat all around Newfoundland and along all our coastlines from St. John's, Newfoundland, and Vancouver Island to the Arctic and Chaleur Bay.

We know from research on these animals that living in captivity is far from being in their best interest and that is why Canadians across the country have shown continued support for the banning of whales in captivity.

I would also like to add that while the banning of whale captivity is not yet in legislation, the practice has been in place for years in Canada, and our government continues to support this.

Licences for the capture of live cetaceans are issued only by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard for scientific research or rehabilitation.

In the past 10 years, as we have heard, only one licence has been issued for the rehabilitation of a live-stranded pseudo-orca calf.

Our government has also taken notice of the growing concern to ensure cetaceans are not being captured for the sole purpose of being kept for public display. That is why our government introduced Bill C-68, which is currently before the committee in the other place, and we hope will be reported out of the committee next week. It contains amendments that would prohibit the captivity of whales and would allow the minister to put in place regulations to ban the import and export of cetaceans.

Today, there are only two facilities in Canada that house cetaceans: Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and the Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia.

Marineland is a commercial facility with approximately 60 cetaceans. Most are belugas with one being a killer whale.

The Vancouver Aquarium is a not-for-profit facility and has one cetacean at its facility, a 30 year-old Pacific white-sided dolphin that was rescued from the wild and has been deemed to be unfit for release back into the wild. The Vancouver Aquarium works with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to rescue and rehabilitate marine mammals in distress.

We know we must do more to keep protecting cetaceans. That is why we need to send a clear message through legislation that whales do not belong in captivity. Today we are debating the importance of keeping whales in the wild, but I also want to emphasize the importance of ensuring their marine habitats are protected.

Over the past few years, the government has made real investments to protect and conserve our marine environment. In 2016, the Prime Minister announced $1.5 billion dollars for the oceans protection plan, which has since funded 55 coastal restoration projects, helped to address threats to marine mammals from vessel noise and collisions, increased our on-scene environmental response capacity and much more.

As part of budget 2018, this government also announced $167.4 million for the whales initiative, which has further funded recovery plans for endangered species, such as the southern resident killer whale, the beluga whale and in my area of the world, the North Atlantic right whale.

Our government continues to take action to protect our environment. We recently announced new standards for marine protected areas to ensure that ecologically significant areas are not disturbed by oil and gas exploration. This measure was introduced in response to the recommendations of an independent expert advisory panel on marine protected areas. This announcement was well received in Canada and around the world.

Our move toward protecting important marine environments will help ensure a good future for a healthy ocean and the health of marine species such as whales and dolphins. However, I really cannot say enough about the oceans protection plan; infrastructure; coastal restoration; the abandoned, derelict and wrecked vessels programs; arctic marine protection; science and research and the pilotage review.

In my riding of St. John's East, there is an institute called the Marine Institute. I had the good fortune to be there in September 2011 with the minister of fisheries and oceans and the Canadian coast guard at the time, now our good friend from Beauséjour who is on leave, the former minister of veterans affairs, now the Minister of Indigenous Services, and my good friend and colleague the member for Avalon to announce important work that is being done to restore marine habitat in Avalon using expertise that comes from the university in my riding, the Marine Institute.

We announced a program to re-establish the eel beds in Placentia Bay to increase that habitat. That is where lots of species, including scallops, shrimp, cod and whales, start their lives. It is important to protect these areas to improve the health and ability of our oceans to be fully functioning in certain areas where they have become damaged due to industrial activity.

This particular project is small in comparison to the overall total. It is about $7.4 million. Although it was announced on my wedding anniversary, my wife was not too upset. We had an opportunity to celebrate later. The money is actually already being spent. Last summer, scientists were able to go into Placentia Bay, do the diving and begin that restoration work in Placentia Bay that will pay dividends for years to come.

It is wonderful to work with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands on this. As we did a little social media earlier, a lot of people came back to me and asked some important questions on how our government can be supporting industrial activity in the oil and gas sector and at the same time support environmental protections. They felt that it was counterintuitive or perhaps even contradictory. That could not be further from the truth.

The only way the government can move forward, protect the environment and fund the transition of our economy to a clean economy is with economic growth from our traditional sectors in resource development. We must continue to work on the demand side, and this means the purchasing decisions made by consumers and how they engage in their daily lives, and at the same time allow our natural resources sectors to engage in environmentally responsible development so that we can tap into export markets.

We cannot allow countries that do not have good environmental records to capitalize on oil and gas profits from their exports and not allow our industry to thrive. That is why our government, at the same time it is doing all this great work to help whales in the wild and help prevent whale captivity, is also funding the Trans Mountain expansion and has recently approved, with many conditions, continued exploration for two projects on the northeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador for oil exploration. ExxonMobil and Equinor now have the opportunity this summer and over the course of the next decade to drill exploratory drills in our waters, subject to conditions that protect the right whales and protect our oceans. We will use this prosperity to fund things like the oceans protection plan.

In closing, let me say that I am very pleased to be here today to join with Canadians from coast to coast to coast who have come out in favour of ending the captivity of whales. Whales have been kept in captivity for too long, and that has to change.

Whales do not belong in captivity; they belong in the wild. I encourage all members to support this legislation.