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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was meeting.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Liberal MP for Miramichi—Grand Lake (New Brunswick)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Health of Animals Act February 26th, 2021

Madam Speaker, I was pleased to hear the speeches by the hon. members and I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-205.

I understand the intent of this bill. I understand the farmers and the fact that the animals under their care have been distressed by intrusions. I understand the reasoning of the hon. member for Foothills who is addressing this issue of biosecurity. I have a great deal of respect for him. We sat at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food and I deeply respect his knowledge and concerns for the agricultural sector.

The government agrees that biosecurity measures are crucial for protecting the health of animals and ensuring their welfare. We must protect the mental health of farmers and the marketing of farm products.

We obviously agree with implementing solid biosecurity measures. As we have already heard, effective biosecurity is a shared responsibility between the federal government, the provinces and the territories, as well as the farmers.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which is responsible for enforcing the Health of Animals Act and regulations, is working in close collaboration with the provinces and the industry on biosecurity standards and other issues related to animal welfare.

Cases of unlawful entry are currently dealt with by existing legislation. However, Bill C-205 proposes to amend the Health of Animals Act to prohibit trespassing on farms and other facilities.

Let us unpack this a little. As I just said, instances of trespassing or unlawful entry are currently dealt with by existing legislation, whether under the Criminal Code or provincial or territorial laws. Trespassing on farms and such premises is already addressed in several provinces. In addition, provincial governments in Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have increased trespassing fines dating back to early 2019.

Let me provide an example. Alberta Bill 27, The Trespass Statues (Protecting Law-Abiding Property Owners) Amendment Act, came into force December 5, 2019. That bill amends several acts. The Occupiers' Liability Act was amended to better protect property owners from civil liabilities for injuries to trespassers where the owner has reasonable grounds to believe the trespasser is committing, or about to commit, a criminal offence. The Petty Trespass Act and the Trespass to Premises Act were amended to increase the maximum fines to $10,000 for a first offence and$25,000 for a subsequent offence, as well as possible prison time for up to six months, and $200,000 for corporations that help or direct trespassers.

The Petty Trespass Act was amended to broaden locations where entry is prohibited without notice to explicitly reference land used for crops, animal rearing and bee keeping. The Provincial Offences Procedure Act was amended to increase the maximum amount a court may order for loss or damage to property to $100,000.

Of even more pertinence is Alberta's biosecurity regulation, Alberta Regulation 185/2019, which also came into force December 5, 2019. That regulation was made under existing authorities of the Animal Health Act and is intended to protect animals from potential disease introduction and stress associated with breaches of security protocols.

The regulation prohibits unauthorized entry into premises where livestock are housed without the need to give notice, such as posted signage, and where other species of animals, such as laboratory animals, are kept when notice is given orally or in writing. The regulation contains a novel prohibition against aiding, counselling or directing a person to commit an offence. The regulation provides an avenue for a grieving party to request restitution from the convicted party for loss or damage to property and the costs of remedial action that may be taken to address the potential harm of the biosecurity breach, such as veterinary care, medication, cleaning and disinfection.

In relation to break-ins, the Province of Alberta had previously made reference to provisions of the Criminal Code, section 348. This section codifies breaking and entering with the intent to commit an offence, breaking and entering and committing an offence, or breaking out of a place after intending to or having committed an offence. Section 321 of the Criminal Code defines “break” for the purpose of the break and enter provision. It makes clear that “breaking” does not need to include damaging property, and can simply mean opening a door. However, under Alberta legislation, if the concern is related to use or enjoyment of property, then the offence in question is likely to be mischief.

To recap, not only do provinces have trespassing legislation, but several provinces, like Alberta, have passed legislation specifically focused on protecting farms, and I think it is important to respect provincial jurisdiction.

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, the trespassing activities targeted by Bill C-205 are already captured under the mischief offence, subsection 430(1); namely, the obstruction, interruption or interference with the lawful enjoyment or operation of property. Penalties depend on the nature on the property, and whether the mischief caused actual danger to life. Punishment includes fines of up to $5,000 and up to two years in prison. The trespass offence in section 177 of the Criminal Code, against loitering or prowling at night near a dwelling or house without lawful excuse, could also be applicable in such cases, and is punishable by summary conviction by a maximum term of imprisonment of two years less a day and a fine not exceeding $5,000.

The point is that there is the Criminal Code and there is existing provincial legislation, some with higher fines. This type of legislation and enforcement largely rests with the provinces.

In closing, in addition to instances of trespassing or unlawful entry being dealt with by existing legislation, biosecurity measures already exist on Canadian farms and premises. We do not want to reinvent the wheel, but we want to find the right balance with the bill and discern the best way forward considering that legislation and biosecurity measures already exist. If the bill before us makes it to the agriculture committee, I look forward to discussing it and finding ways to create that balance. I absolutely agree that we can improve biosecurity in places where animals are kept, but I cannot support the text of the bill as written, given some of the challenges it raises.

Not only does existing legislation already address instances of unlawful entry, but biosecurity measures are also in place on Canadian farms and other such facilities. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Jackie Vautour February 16th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, a week ago, a legend in my riding passed away: Jackie Vautour. To some, he was a national hero. In 1969, with his family and 250 other families, he resisted expropriation from the tiny Acadian community of Claire-Fontaine by the provincial and federal governments for the creation of Kouchibouguac National Park.

In 1976, Jackie and his family, having refused to leave, were forcibly removed from their homes and their houses and properties were bulldozed to the ground. Jackie and some of his family returned to live in the park in scruffy huts and outbuildings where he remained for most of the rest of his life.

Historians have said that the battle waged by Jackie and other former residents against the Kouchibouguac expropriation helped shift Parks Canada policies such that people are no longer forced off their land to make way for national parks.

Jackie is back home. May he rest in peace.

Irish Heritage Month December 11th, 2020

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Etobicoke—Lakeshore for this great initiative. Thousands of families from my region of Miramichi, including my own, have Irish roots. That is why we claim the title of the Irish capital of Canada. Miramichi has also Canada's longest running Irish festivals, including the celebration for St. Patrick's Day.

Would my hon. colleague agree that Irish descendants from my region and across the country will be totally on board with celebrating their heritage for the full month of March?

Telecommunications December 10th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to say that, with help from the federal government, Xplornet is now able to offer its customers in New Brunswick high-speed Internet. This includes customers from Blackville, Baie-Sainte-Anne, Acadieville and St. Margarets in my riding. I know that the government has created a network of resources, including universal broadband funds, that will benefit communities such as ours in getting connected to this essential service.

Can the minister tell the House what else New Brunswickers can expect when it comes to the future of connectivity?

Award of Distinction December 4th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to highlight the dedication and hard work of three nurses from my riding of Miramichi—Grand Lake. RNs Jacqueline Hare and Carolyn Sutherland, and LPN Jessica Marshall were all recognized by Horizon Health Network as recipients of the 2020 Award of Distinction in nursing.

Awarded posthumously, Ms. Hare was a recipient in the leadership category and was praised for her passion and dedication in client care, where she helped so many in her 30-plus year career.

Ms. Sutherland, an ER nurse, was honoured for her mentorship and ability to lead and guide staff in the chaotic environment of the emergency department.

Finally, as a nursing novice, Ms. Marshall was honoured for her sympathy, patience and dedication to her patients.

Now more than ever, we need to acknowledge and thank the hard-working health care professionals in our communities. I am very proud to have such wonderful nurses selflessly serving the Miramichi area. I congratulate all of them.

Committees of the House November 27th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, entitled “Main Estimates 2020-21”.

Committees of the House November 20th, 2020

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food in relation to the motion adopted on Thursday, October 8 regarding the business management risk program.

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

Telecommunications November 18th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, today more than ever, Canadians need to be connected to high-speed broadband Internet. That is essential because more and more Canadians are working, attending school and accessing important services such as telehealth from home.

Can the Prime Minister provide an update on the universal broadband fund and how it will improve connectivity for all Canadians?

Veterans Affairs November 6th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, from November 5 to November 11, Canadians will be marking Veterans' Week across the country. The pandemic has changed things, but through virtual ceremonies, social media and more, Canadians will still have the opportunity to pay their respects to our veterans.

Can the Minister of Veterans Affairs please speak more on the importance of Veterans' Week?

Business of Supply November 3rd, 2020

Madam Speaker, I am curious as to whether the member would agree with me that all the ideas being presented here today are good ideas as to how we can improve and bring in new measures to help Canadians. Does he not think this could be discussed at committee? We could really debate this and bring in witnesses instead of perhaps paralyzing the committees with work that is really not necessary. That is where it should be discussed. I would like to hear the member's comments on that.