House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was french.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Liberal MP for Sudbury (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 41% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 May 9th, 2017

Madam Speaker, on March 22, our government delivered its second budget and today I rise to talk about the ways in which budget 2017 is meeting the needs of my riding of Sudbury and, indeed, all of northern Ontario.

Budget 2017 continues on our government's plan to strengthen the middle class, the heart of Canada's and Sudbury's economies, and makes responsible investments. These will provide Canadians and Sudburians with good, well-paying jobs and opportunities in our new innovative economy. Budget 2017 makes smart investments to help adult workers retrain and upgrade their skills, adapt to changes in the new economy, and help young people get the skills and work experience they need to start their careers.

Budget 2017 invests in seniors and in youth.

We are investing in social housing, as well as making investments to support our veterans and first nations. These kinds of investments are needed for communities like Sudbury, which has achieved some measure of success.

For starters, budget 2017 provides a further $25 million in core funding for FedNor, the federal economic development agency for northern Ontario, over the next five years. The increase will boost FedNor's base budget to $46 million a year, reversing years of budget cuts.

Last fall, I worked with my colleague, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, the member for Thunder Bay—Superior North, to draft a growth strategy for northern Ontario. One of the things we heard loud and clear was that northerners want a budget increase for FedNor. They want to reverse years of Conservative government cutbacks. The recommendation to increase FedNor's budget was also supported by our northern Ontario caucus.

I was very pleased to see that our recommendation was taken into account in the budget and that our growth plan for northern Ontario is moving forward.

This is just the start of the good news, because there is a lot more for northern Ontario.

We are very pleased that budget 2017 is advancing Canada's efforts to build a clean economy. It is investing almost $22 billion in green infrastructure, including initiatives that will support the implementation of a pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. Sudburians understand that a strong economy and a clean environment go hand in hand.

As I have said in this chamber many times before, my riding of Sudbury is an established global leader in the innovation of mining and of mining technology.

Sudbury has built quite a reputation. We are leaders in the mining sector. Our methods are more effective and proven than those anywhere else in the world.

Sudbury companies have been providing clean tech solutions to mining challenges for a generation, and now we are marketing these clean tech solutions all over the world. Today, Sudbury's mining and clean tech cluster consists of more than 300 companies. They employ almost 14,000 skilled workers and experts. Sudbury alone generates approximately $4 billion in revenue each year.

Increasingly, these mining supply and services companies are testing international waters. They are making inroads in the United States, Latin America, Africa, Europe, and Russia. The Sudbury companies behind these projects are using innovation to drive economic and environmental benefits. They are using innovation to create jobs and help strengthen this vital economic engine for Canada. They strengthen Canada's middle class in the process.

I want to share something that makes me even prouder: our government believes in the potential and power of green technologies, which create jobs and fuel innovation.

The global market for clean technologies is already more than $1 trillion per year and it is growing. It is creating well-paying, secure jobs for Canadians. Clean technology has contributed to the fight against climate change and it makes our economy more sustainable. I am proud that our government understands this potential.

This is why our recent budget makes significant investments in clean technology, including $200 million in support of clean technology research in Canada's natural resources sector, $12 million for a clean growth hub that will improve access to federal resources in labs for Canadian entrepreneurs and innovators, and more than $14 million to track our progress so we can report to Canadians. Canadian companies are capturing their share of the emerging global market for mining innovation in clean technology, and we support their efforts. We support them from waste management to biofuels to greener solutions for the oil and gas industry.

This is just the beginning of what budget 2017 means for Sudbury and northern Ontario.

Almost 10% of Sudbury's population is indigenous. There are several dozen first nations communities in northern Ontario, including some of the most remote communities in Canada. Budget 2017 includes a $4-billion investment into on-reserve infrastructure. This much needed investment will provide housing, health centres, and water treatment systems to communities that need them the most. As well, first nations people living off reserve will have access to a $225-million investment over the next 11 years. These investments will go toward needed repairs, renewals, rental subsidies, and new construction. These are important investments being made in first nations communities across northern Ontario.

Already this year, I have had the privilege of announcing $10 million for seniors' health and children's welfare for first nations people in northern Ontario. On top of that, on behalf of the Minister of Health, I was pleased to announced a $1-million investment to support the work of two top researchers in the Health Sciences North Research Institute at Laurentian University.

Their work will focus on finding new ways to address two serious challenges, specifically aging and dementia in first nations, Inuit, and Métis populations.

As well, I was proud to stand with the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to announce an investment of more than $9 million to help first nations in northern Ontario raise their children in healthy and safe environments.

Our government will invest more than $11 billion under its new national housing strategy. These investments cover initiatives designed to build, renew, and repair Canada's stock of affordable housing. They will ensure that Canadians have adequate and affordable housing to meet their needs. This includes $225 million to improve housing conditions for indigenous peoples, as I have just said.

Through budget 2017, our government is advancing reconciliation as well with the indigenous peoples. It is advancing reconciliation through investments in infrastructure and first nations and Inuit health, through actions to strengthen indigenous communities, funding to support education and training, and measures to promote language and culture.

What I heard most often when I was going door to door before the 2015 election is that Sudburians wanted their federal government to start investing in social housing again. Our government heard that message. Our government has taken the necessary steps and is showing leadership on this.

In fact, housing is the largest single commitment in budget 2017. Our government's commitment is to rebuild, renew, and repair Canada's stock of affordable housing, and we will do that. Those initiatives include responses to indigenous housing crises on and off reserve. It is also promising more money for the provinces and municipal partners to spend on their own housing priorities.

Our government will create a new pooled investment fund that would pool resources among many housing partners, including the private sector. The fund would also expand an existing lending facility for municipalities and for the construction of new affordable housing.

One of the first things I did as an MP was to meet a number of housing service providers in Sudbury. I was shocked to learn that the Greater Sudbury Housing Corporation alone has a backlog of deferred maintenance of more than $10 million. The corporation also has an ambitious energy management plan. The plan would retrofit most of the properties to make them more sustainable, energy efficient, and comfortable. A $3-million investment would pay itself back in 20 years. These are exactly the kinds of projects our government needs to be investing in, and I want to help get these off the ground in Sudbury.

There is so much more in budget 2017 to support middle-class Canadians and those working hard to join the middle class.

There is help for unemployed people to access the training and employment support they need. Budget 2017 boosts the federal support by almost $3 billion over the next six years.

For the people of Sudbury looking for work, this means more chances to update their skills, gain experience, or get help to start their businesses. It also means more support, such as job counselling, for planning their career.

In addition, we are identifying skills gaps with employers and exploring new and innovative approaches to skills development with the provinces. Adult students can face challenges in pursuing learning. Part-time students from Sudbury, as well as adult students with dependent children, will be eligible for Canada student grants. This means more non-repayable assistance for adult learners and workers. It will help them manage the high cost of post-secondary education. It will help them in balancing the financial pressures of raising a family.

As a tax lawyer, I understand the importance of a fair and equitable tax system. Our government has committed to undertake a wide-ranging review of tax expenditures. The review's objective is to eliminate poorly targeted and inefficient tax measures. The review will allow our government to identify opportunities to reduce tax benefits that unfairly benefit the wealthiest Canadians.

Under budget 2017, we are making changes to simplify the tax system by making existing tax relief for individuals and families more effective and accessible. For example, since our new Canada child benefit was implemented, more than 7,400 families in Sudbury alone have benefited from increased payments.

It is quite the investment for families in Sudbury.

The other side of the taxation coin is collections. When some choose not to pay their fair share of taxes, it places an unfair burden on the tax system, and on other Canadians.

Those are only some of the measures that are in the budget. I will take any questions on it, because I am so proud of the budget, which is investing in Sudburians and Canadians across Canada.

Regional Economic Development May 4th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, northern Ontario is a vast region with communities of all sizes scattered throughout the area. Promoting economic development is a challenge in this region. However, northern Ontario has many advantages and considerable potential.

There is a large potential to be unlocked in the region with the many emerging innovative ideas and companies from the region. Can the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development let us know what steps he has taken to promote local regional economic development in northern Ontario?

Curling Champions May 3rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I want to share with the House a recent unprecedented sporting achievement in Canada.

On April 22, two teams representing northern Ontario, a boys' team and a girls' team, were crowned Canadian under-18 curling champions in Moncton, New Brunswick. It is very rare for men's and women's teams from the same province to win curling championships in the same year. What makes this achievement rarer is that both rinks are from my riding of Sudbury, from the Sudbury Curling Club.

The girls' team was made up of Jessica Leonard, Sydnie Stinson, Kate Sherry, skip Kira Brunton, and coach Steve Acorn. The boys' team was made up of Shane Robinson, Nicholas Bissonnette, Max Cull, skip Jacob Horgan, and coach Gerry Horgan.

Congratulations to Team Brunton and Team Horgan. Sudbury is very proud of our 2017 Canadian under-18 curling champions.

Role of Co-operatives March 24th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak to the essential role that co-operatives play in Canada’s economy and recognize the significant contribution that they make by creating jobs and growth for the middle class across Canada.

With approximately 9,000 co-operatives and mutuals in operation, this sector controls assets estimated at $415 billion and employs close to 200,000 Canadians. Co-operatives are a business model that has a track record of success in providing economic benefits to Canadians. They generate jobs for middle-class Canadians and growth in communities across the country.

According to recent data, Quebec has the highest share of incorporated co-operatives, followed by Ontario and Saskatchewan. Because of their ability to fulfill the collective need of individuals through pooled skills and resources, co-operatives have also proven to be an important tool for economic development in Canada’s official language minority communities.

In 2012, co-operatives had almost eight million memberships and paid out $607 million in dividends to their members and communities. In addition, there were over 26,000 volunteers involved in the day-to-day operations of co-operatives.

It is clear that co-operatives offer many advantages to communities across Canada. The flexibility of the co-operative business model allows them to operate as a not-for-profit organization or a registered charity. It also means that co-operatives work in many sectors in Canada's economy.

According to recent statistics, 42% of co-operatives surveyed were in the real estate sector, 14% were in wholesale and retail, 8% were in the agriculture, forestry, fishery, and hunting sectors, and 8% were in the health care and social assistance sectors.

Co-operatives are also active in the financial sector. For example, the Mouvement des caisses Desjardins, of which I have been a member since I was eight years old and which has more than 10 branches in the riding of Sudbury, as well as Vancity play a very active role in a solid financial system by providing choices to consumers and offering healthy competition.

The vast majority of financial co-operatives are provincially incorporated and regulated. This sector is made up of more than 600 credit unions and caisses populaires serving approximately 11.3 million Canadians. On the insurance side, there are approximately 100 insurance mutuals.

Some of our country's most recognizable and successful businesses are co-operative enterprises. The list of the top 50 non-financial co-operatives in this country includes a variety of businesses operating in a range of sectors.

Canada's co-operatives make a significant contribution to our economy, whether it is the Federated Co-operatives Limited; a petroleum refinery based in Saskatchewan; La Coop fédérée, an agrifood enterprise located in Quebec; the Red River Co-op, a gas bar and retail outlet in Manitoba; Mountain Equipment Co-op; the Eat Local Sudbury Co-operative in my riding; or the Co-opérative Régionale de Nipissing Sudbury in northern Ontario.

One noteworthy example that many of my colleagues will recognize is the Agropur Dairy Cooperative, based in Quebec, mentioned by my colleague. This organization represents dairy farmers not only in Quebec but also in southern Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. This co-op processes an incredible 5.7 billion litres of milk annually in its 37 plants spread throughout North America.

Agropur's success is reflected not only in its economic impact, with an impressive $5.9 billion in sales, but also in the well-being of the people it serves, including nearly 3,400 dairy farmer members and their 8,000 employees.

While these co-operatives operate in different sectors, they all share the same common principles, including voluntary and open membership, democratic member control, economic and democratic participation by co-op members, autonomy and independence, education, co-operation among co-operatives, and sustainable community development.

These organizations are addressing critical needs, whether it be economic, social, or cultural, in the communities in which they operate. Perhaps what is most encouraging is that Canada's largest co-operatives continue to thrive, as demonstrated by consistently growing revenues and total memberships and employment.

In addition, the 2014 small business financing survey conducted by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada revealed that co-ops have a higher survival rate than private sector small and medium-size enterprises. Their longevity can be explained in part because they operate with a strong connection to their communities and have a long-term and purpose-driven vision that looks beyond purely economic growth.

As some of Canada's most successful co-operatives have demonstrated, the model is flexible and innovative and has the potential for further growth here in Canada. That is why I believe it is important to support Canada's co-operative sector and to help co-ops access the business supports they require.

Through federal departments such as the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and its regional development agencies, financial support is available through a range of programs and services that help co-ops start up, as well as in their growth and expansion.

As some of Canada's most successful co-operatives have demonstrated, the model is flexible and innovative and has the potential for further growth here in Canada.

To sum up, I recognize the value that co-operatives provide to the economy and I continue to support them. Accordingly, I support Motion No. 100 moved by the hon. member for Brossard—Saint-Lambert, from Quebec, in memory of Mauril Bélanger, who was a staunch defender of the co-operative movement.

McEwen School of Architecture March 24th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, today I am sharing news of an exciting new educational opportunity in my riding of Sudbury, a new school of architecture in Canada, the first in a generation: the McEwen School of Architecture of Laurentian University.

The School of Architecture features prominently against downtown Sudbury's skyline, and I had the honour of officially opening it in January. This building makes Sudbury one of the most innovative cities in Canada.

I am proud to say that there are already as many first nations students enrolled in the McEwen School of Architecture as there are first nations architects across Canada. What will this new generation of architects from Sudbury do? It will change the world one sketch at a time.

Congratulations to the president of Laurentian University, Dominic Giroux, and his team for their vision.

A special thanks to Rob and Cheryl McEwen for supporting education, students, and Sudbury.

Sudbury Superstack February 9th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, when built in 1972, the Sudbury superstack was the largest chimney in the world. Today, the mining company Vale has reduced emissions so much that it no longer needs the superstack. Last month, Vale announced that it was ending the use of the superstack in 2020. This is a story of progress, of doing things better, smarter, safer, and more efficiently.

However, Sudbury's real story of re-greening and regeneration, of rebirth, began because the superstack was built 45 years ago. Mining is in Sudbury's bloodstream, and the superstack was a mighty symbol of our industry.

Sudbury is an excellent example of the great strides that can be made in environmental protection and economic development.

Sudbury has gone from the pollution capital of Canada to one of the most innovative, green mining clusters in the world.

Is Sudbury a shining example? Yes, it is an example that a strong economy and healthy environment go hand in hand.

Forty-five years ago, bigger was better. Today, smarter is better.

Official Languages December 7th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, Canadian Heritage wrapped up its series of official languages round tables that will shape the government's new action plan. These cross-Canada consultations are an example of our government's leadership on official languages.

Can the Minister of Canadian Heritage share some more examples of the government's accomplishments in this area over the past year?

Sudbury Volunteer November 30th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, Hockey Canada is the governing body for grassroots hockey throughout the country. It oversees programs from entry-level competition to the world championships and the Olympic winter games.

Recently, Hockey Canada held its annual meeting and re-elected Sudbury's very own Joe Drago as chair. Joe is a life member of the Canadian Junior Hockey League, a recipient of the Sudbury Community Builders Award, and a leading member of the Greater Sudbury Sports Hall of Fame, but Joe's contribution to our community goes well beyond hockey.

He's been a member of the board of our local hospital and hospital foundation for nearly 30 years, a member of the Salvation Army advisory board, of the Alzheimer Society, and of the House of Kin, an organization that provides housing to out-of-town families travelling to Sudbury for cancer treatment.

I thank Joe for his hard work in support of our favourite sport and for everything he does. Joe makes Sudbury proud.

Gisèle Chrétien November 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I think we all know one of those rare gems who transform their community with their leadership. In Sudbury, Gisèle Chrétien's commitment to our community has made it a great place to live.

A tireless volunteer, Gisèle supports causes in the fields of health, education, economic development, and French-language services. She was the driving force behind the establishment of Collège Boréal and was its president for almost a decade. Gisèle has also served as the chair of the board of directors for TFO and Health Sciences North. She founded support groups for children living with diabetes, sat on the boards of the Children's Aid Society and Chamber of Commerce, and even published a book about leadership.

Just recently, she was awarded the 2016 Prix de la francophonie de l'ACFO du grand Sudbury, in recognition of her work. Gisèle is living proof that one person's commitment can enrich an entire community.

Congratulations and thank you, Gisèle.

World Mental Health Day October 18th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, October 10 is World Mental Health Day. This day marks a yearly opportunity to raise awareness and end the stigma that is still too often tied to mental health issues. It is also an opportunity to celebrate some incredible people who are doing great work to help Canadians.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the work of Patty MacDonald. Patty has been the director of operations at the Sudbury/Manitoulin Canadian Mental Health Association since 2002. She has been working to deliver services and raise awareness about mental health in Sudbury for more than 25 years.

I thank Patty, her teammates, and countless others throughout the country who have been doing their best to improve the lives of those who struggle to overcome mental health challenges.

World Mental Health Day also marks an occasion to bring the discussion about mental health issues to this place and for all of us to reflect on what must be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.

Let us hope a national strategy on mental health can soon be developed.