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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

Committees of the House June 7th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 18th report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food concerning the votes in the main estimates 2019-20 that were referred to the committee.

North Shore Regiment June 7th, 2019

Madam Speaker, yesterday marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the largest seaborne invasion in history.

On that day, the men of the North Shore Regiment landed on the beaches of Normandy, and many of them did not return home to New Brunswick. One such soldier was Major Archie MacNaughton, a farmer from Black River Bridge. Archie enlisted during the First World War and did not hesitate to do so again in World War II. His story has inspired a new Heritage Minute, a short film that honours the wartime contributions by New Brunswick's storied North Shore Regiment.

This story inspired more than 200 students and teachers in my riding, who, along with Lieutenant-Colonel Dufour and the current North Shore Regiment, went on a D-Day anniversary trip. Along with my constituents in Miramichi—Grand Lake, I am extremely grateful to these brave young men who made the ultimate sacrifice more than 75 years ago so that we could live in freedom and prosperity. We will remember them.

Criminal Records Act May 30th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

We chose to suspend rather than expunge criminal records for simple cannabis possession. People will not have trouble getting a job with a record suspension unless they commit other offences. Suspension is the simplest and quickest way of doing things. It opens doors for all those who want to pursue a career and live the same way every other member of society does. We believe that this will solve the problem.

Criminal Records Act May 30th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, my colleague and I have certainly worked well on many topics at the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

The law was only passed last October, and there is still a lot of data collection to take place. We also know that what was there prior to that law being passed did not work. It has not worked for generations. I can recall my days in the early seventies when people who used cannabis were stigmatized. At the time, people called them hippies, or whatever. A lot of them are my friends and are people who are in good standing in society today. We know that we have to do things better, because some of them have criminal records that prevent them from doing good things in life.

There is still a lot to do. There is still a lot to learn and to possibly modify as we go along. However, it is the right path, and I am confident that this is good for society.

Criminal Records Act May 30th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House and add my voice to today's report stage debate regarding Bill C-93, the government's cannabis pardon legislation.

Let me say at the outset that I will continue to use the term “pardon” in my remarks, rather than “record suspension”.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank my hon. colleagues for their contributions to the bill. I appreciated the thoughtful discussions we had on Bill C-93, both in this chamber and at committee. Those discussions and the close scrutiny the bill has undergone have helped shape the version that is now before us.

For those convicted only of simple possession of cannabis, Bill C-93 would streamline the process for getting a pardon in two main ways: It would waive the normal waiting period of up to 10 years, and it would eliminate the $631 application fee. In other words, under Bill C-93, people in this group would be eligible to apply for a pardon immediately after completing their sentence, and they would not need to pay the application fee.

The ultimate goal is to make it easier for them to reintegrate into society and have a better shot at a happy, productive and fulfilling life. Indeed, in the words of the Minister of Public Safety, the bill would have “life-changing impacts for people dealing with the burden and the stigma of a criminal record for cannabis possession.” I cannot overestimate just how significant a pardon is for those with a criminal record.

Registered nurse Louise Lafond explained it eloquently and succinctly in her testimony before the committee last December. Speaking on behalf of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, Ms. Lafond compared the ability to apply for a pardon to “being able to turn that page over. The X [the criminal record] is still there, but they are able to pursue paths that were closed to them.”

That is why this bill is so important, and I am pleased that the review process at committee has resulted in a slew of worthwhile amendments. I commend the committee for working together so harmoniously to adopt those amendments. The already solid bill that was introduced by the Minister of Public Safety is today even better as a result of this tremendous work.

In particular, the changes strengthen the fairness aspect that is at the heart of the bill. One example is the series of amendments proposed by the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth and adopted by the committee. These amendments, all of which are connected, would allow people to apply for record suspensions even if they have outstanding fines associated with cannabis possession.

To be clear, those fines could still be enforced civilly, but the individual in question could have the criminal record set aside. As my hon. colleague said, those individuals “might have difficulty covering those costs, and that could pose a barrier to people who are applying for record suspensions.” It is a concern that has been raised by advocates and stakeholders, and it has now been addressed by the amendments in question.

Amendments introduced by the member for Toronto—Danforth also waive all waiting periods associated with cannabis possession convictions, even if people have other convictions on their record. They would still have to wait the full waiting period for those other offences, but if those waiting periods have all elapsed, they will not have to wait any additional time due to their conviction for cannabis possession. In other words, if a fine for simple possession of cannabis is still outstanding, that would not stop someone from being able to proceed with a pardon application.

Another important amendment was moved by the hon. member for Brampton North. As originally drafted, Bill C-93 allowed a member of the Parole Board of Canada to refuse a pardon application on the grounds that a conviction for simple possession of cannabis is relevant to good conduct. This could have created a situation where someone with a theft conviction from five years ago is denied pardon because a board member determined that a conviction last year for simple possession of cannabis demonstrated poor conduct.

With cannabis possession now legal in Canada, and people now freely, openly and legally consuming cannabis, that is unfair and, quite frankly, absurd. It goes against the government's intention to ensure that convictions for simple possession of cannabis do not continue to create barriers to reintegration.

I am so pleased to note that this part of the bill was amended at committee. The amendment would ensure that a conviction for cannabis possession was not taken into account as part of the good conduct review for people seeking pardons for other criminal offences. Ultimately, this would mean that people with other convictions on their records would not have convictions for simple possession of cannabis affect their ability to obtain pardons for other offences. This would be good for the applicant. It would also be good for society.

This brings us to the report stage amendments we are debating today. The first has to do with an amendment at committee by the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner. The amendment would allow someone who had checked police stations and courthouses for records and come up empty-handed to provide a sworn statement that he or she had been convicted of only simple cannabis possession. Unfortunately, it would then require the Parole Board to check those same police stations and courthouses to ensure that the records were not there so that the board could be satisfied that it was truly only a simple cannabis possession charge. Under this amendment, the board would still need to see the record. Having local police and court staff perform another search in the same place would be a duplicative waste of effort. While well-intentioned, this amendment should be undone by the report stage amendment.

I would like to once again thank my hon. colleagues for their efforts in getting us to this point in the process on Bill C-93. I strongly support this important piece of legislation in its current form, and I encourage all hon. members of this House to do the right thing and pass it at third reading when the time comes for a vote.

Committees of the House May 28th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 17th report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, entitled “Support for Indigenous Peoples in the Agriculture and Agri-Food Industry.”

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

Committees of the House May 28th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 16th report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food in relation to the mental health challenges that Canadian farmers, ranchers and producers face.

I would also like to note that this non-partisan study is probably one of the most important studies we have ever done. We hope the government will accept our recommendations.

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

Oceans Act May 13th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, nearly two years after it was first introduced, I have the honour to speak to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, a bill that has the support of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Before I get to the collaborative motion we are debating today, in response to the message received from the other place a little over a week ago, I would like to correct some inaccuracies that have come out in members' comments on this motion.

First, the member for Sherbrooke said that we have protected just 1.5% of our marine areas to date, that we missed our 2017 target and that, according to him, we are on track to miss our target of 10% in 2020. With all due respect, the member's figures are completely wrong. Perhaps he was talking about the former Conservative government's record. I assure the House that those figures do not apply to this government, and I would like to clarify the facts.

To date, under the direction of the current Liberal government, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and our Prime Minister, we have protected 8.27% of our marine and coastal areas, compared to only 1% under the previous Conservative government. In fact, before reaching 8.27%, we announced in October 2017 that we had reached the objective of 5%.

With respect to the environment and the protection of marine biodiversity, our government is implementing the measures Canadians want and expect. In spite of what the member for Sherbrooke said last week, we have effectively reached our objectives and we are on track to reach our 10% objective in 2020.

The member for Sherbrooke also stated that the current government's standards for marine protected areas were not very high. I would like to remind the House that last month, at the Nature Champions Summit in Montreal, the government and the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard showed great leadership by announcing new standards for marine protected areas in order to strengthen conservation and the protection of important marine habitats.

The announcement means that marine protected areas will operate a bit like national parks and ensure a high level of protection of the environment by banning four industrial activities in these zones, namely oil and gas activities, mining, discharging, and bottom trawling. This approach is consistent with the recommendations of the National Advisory Panel on Marine Protected Area Standards.

In fact, Oceana, the main marine protection agency, said that this announcement of standards for marine protected areas is a great step forward and will help ensure appropriate protection for Canada's most important marine areas; that marine protected areas meeting these standards will help protect fragile habitats that provide nursery, spawning and feeding areas for marine wildlife from harmful practices such as oil and gas activities and bottom-contact gear; that it is also a critical step toward rebuilding abundance and restoring our oceans to health, which will benefit coastal communities for generations to come.

The day the announcement was made, Megan Leslie, former NDP member, tweeted the “announcement by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on new standards for marine protection: no oil and gas, no mining, no bottom trawling.” She said she was at a bit of a loss for words. The tweet ended with emoijs of applause, trophies, and celebration.

The government's achievements in marine environmental protection really do deserve to be celebrated and applauded. The government is committed to protecting the environment, and that is just what this motion and bill are meant to do.

Now that I have corrected certain inaccurate statements made during last week's debate, I would like to talk about this motion on the Senate amendment.

The message we received from the other place just over a week ago contains one duplicative amendment. If adopted, it would make the interim protection process more complex and costly than the process of designating a permanent marine protected area.

That would go against the purpose of the bill, which is to provide protection to our marine areas more quickly while ensuring that exhaustive consultations continue. However, the government is also listening. We understand the concerns of the honourable senators in the other place, and we agree that the provincial and territorial governments, as well as the communities that will be most affected by an interim or permanent order concerning a marine protected area, should always be consulted and be part of the process.

That is why we proposed an amendment to the Senate amendment that takes the concerns that have been raised into consideration. First, the amendment requires the minister, when making an interim protection order, to publish a report indicating the geographic location and any other relevant information, including social, cultural and economic information.

The amendment goes even further. As we have always said regarding the duplicative Senate amendment on consultations, since consultations are already explicitly required and covered by sections 29 to 33 of the Oceans Act, the minister would also be required to publish information on past consultations.

The government has listened, and we know we can move forward in the right way with this bill and the proposed amendment.

The purpose of this bill is simply to provide another tool to protect marine environments by creating a mechanism that will enable the minister to freeze the footprint of activities currently under way in an area until a definitive designation is revoked or until it receives a permanent marine protected area designation.

On average, it takes between seven and 10 years to establish a marine protected area. All this bill would do is temporarily protect an area until permanent designation can be obtained, which is something Canadians support. Considering the important aspects of marine environments that need protecting and the fact that it takes between seven and 10 years to establish a marine protected area, if we want to ensure long-term protection for an area, we need to adopt this bill. This common-sense measure establishes certain protection standards until such time as an area is designated.

I would add that this bill has been before both houses for nearly two years now. The House committee alone met nine times to discuss it and heard from 36 witnesses representing a broad range of important interest groups.

Earlier I talked about last month's announcement by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard about new standards for marine protected areas and the support we have received on this issue not only here at home but around the world. Clearly, there is now tremendous support for protecting our oceans, so what are we waiting for? Let's adopt this bill and protect our oceans for our children and grandchildren.

I live near the coast, and we are already seeing major changes happening very fast. Over the past four or five years, the Gulf of St. Lawrence has warmed up faster than any other marine environment on the planet. We must act now to save species and the environment.

Public Safety May 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, as everyone is aware, flooding has greatly affected many communities from Ontario, Quebec and in my own province of New Brunswick, including my riding of Miramichi—Grand Lake, where last year's crest was the highest on record. We have surpassed that mark.

Our government responded quickly to the province's request for support by deploying our armed forces and other resources.

Since most Canadians are aware of the devastating effects of climate change, could the Prime Minister tell us how our government plans to protect our communities in the long term?

Joël Guimond April 10th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to celebrate the leadership skills of Joël Guimond, a young man who attends Étoile de l'Acadie school in my community, Rogersville.

At the beginning of this school year, Joël went to meet his teacher and chat about summer vacation. He noticed that his teacher greeted each student using their first name. The next day, Joël got to school five minutes before the first bus to join his teacher. Ever since, Joël has been at school before the first bus, remaining at his post until the last bus arrives. He greets every student with a hello or a high five and a friendly smile.

All the students appreciate Joël's simple daily gesture, and they all greet him in return. What Joël and his teacher are doing helps promote staff and student wellness.

Their wonderful initiative resulted in a daily routine that makes their school a welcoming and friendly place where life is good. Rogersville prides itself on being a welcoming community, and Joël and his teacher have truly taken that value to heart.