House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was military.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Sackville—Eastern Shore (Nova Scotia)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Veterans Affairs January 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, for the record, he is my 11th minister in 17.5 years, and these problems still continue. However, I do congratulate the hon. member for Durham for his new post as veterans affairs minister. I also thank him for his service to our country.

Having said that, as a veteran and as the Minister of Veterans Affairs, does he now believe—because the Prime Minister and the former minister would not answer this question—that the Government of Canada has a social, moral, legal, and fiduciary responsibility to care for those men and women it asks to put themselves in harm's way?

Veterans Affairs December 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, while the government sends our brave men and women off to war, it refuses to admit that when they come back with physical or mental challenges there is a moral and social obligation to care for them. It has lawyers in B.C. right now arguing the point, spending thousands of Canadian tax dollars, that there is no moral or social contract for our veterans.

Does the parliamentary secretary believe or does he not believe that there is a legal, fiduciary, moral and social obligation to care for the heroes of our country?

Veterans December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, when young men and women from Canada go off to war, they and their families need to know that their government and country will care for them in the event they become physically disabled, mentally challenged, or make the ultimate sacrifice.

Yesterday, I asked the Minister of Veterans Affairs, does the government have a sacred obligation to care for them? He would not answer it.

My question is directly for the Prime Minister of Canada. Does the Prime Minister of Canada believe that the government has a judicial, legal, moral, and social obligation to care for the heroes of our country?

Veterans December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the only reason that I, as a Dutch foreign Canadian, get to stand on Canadian soil is because 5,700 Canadians and our allies are laying beneath Dutch soil.

When we send our heroes off to war, they expect to be cared for, and their families, when they come back injured, either physically or mentally. Yet, the government is spending thousands of dollars on lawyers defending the argument that there is no moral or social contract to care for our veteran community.

My question to the minister is very simple. Yes or no, do you or do you not believe, through you Mr. Speaker, that you have a fiduciary, legal, moral or social obligation to our veterans?

Veterans November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, on my desk right now I have a file from a veteran in B.C. who was denied VIP service. I have another one from Ontario who was denied a hearing aid. I had a World War II veteran who was denied a lift so that he could go up and down his stairs.

Why? The department says that it simply cannot finance these types of initiatives, yet we find out that over $1 billion has been sent back.

I would like to ask a question directly to the parliamentary secretary. Has he no shame that these veterans and many others go without, while the government transfers $1 billion back to the finance department for its useless tax schemes?

Veterans November 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to publicly thank the Department of Veterans Affairs for tweaking the benefit package of the late Corporal Nathan Cirillo so that his family will receive all of the benefits of a regular force person, as he was a reservist. The problem is that many other reservists who become injured or die in the line of duty will not get the same benefits as those of a regular force person who is injured or dies in the line of service. The major veterans' groups, all veterans' advocacy groups, the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, and the ombudsman have asked repeatedly that reservists who are injured or die in the line of duty get the same benefits as regular force members.

When will the government honour those recommendations and do the right thing for the reservists of our country?

Veterans Affairs November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the minister and the Conservative government that when the member for Outremont becomes the Prime Minister of Canada, we are going to fix these problems once and for all for the veterans of our country.

We have reservists who are treated differently from people in the regular forces and we have many RCMP members who cannot get the help they need, yet the money is there in the budget to help these men and women. The government closed veterans' offices across the country as a cost-cutting measure and returned that money back to the finance department.

The veterans of this country and their families are sick and tired of the delays in the benefits that they require. A benefit delayed is a benefit denied. When will the government allocate those funds to help the heroes of our country?

Veterans Affairs November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, from the time the government took power in 2006 to the end of 2013, $1.1 billion of appropriated money from the budgets of the government has not been spent on the Department of Veterans Affairs. It sent that money back to the finance department for its future tax schemes for the wealthy in this country.

On my desk, I have the files of veterans who have been denied hearing aids and denied access to hospitals. We have an increased rate of suicide. Many veterans are now homeless. Over and over again, veterans across the country are suffering great difficulty.

The money is there in the department to be allocated for these heroes of our country, yet the minister returns that money to the finance department. My question is, why?

Veterans' Week November 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to stand in the House to pay tribute to Canada's honoured veterans on behalf of the New Democratic Party, our leader, and in fact, Canadians across the country.

This year marks the commemoration of the 115th anniversary of the start of the Boer War, the 100th anniversary of World War I, and the 75th anniversary of World War II.

I cannot help but think of some of the names of individuals who have served. Captain Paul Triquet earned the VC in Italy. Herb Peppard, part of the Devil's Brigade, from of Truro, Nova Scotia, served valiantly with the American allies as well. Tommy Prince, an aboriginal veteran, served not just in World War II in the Devil's Brigade but also in Korea.

Last night the minister and I were at a wonderful event for Helen Rapp, who has, unfortunately, passed on. She was a young woman who lied about her age so that she could serve her country in World War II. Last night the City of Ottawa and Mayor Jim Watson honoured her with a street named after her. I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that if I had the money, I would buy a house on that street, because she really was an amazing dynamo of woman.

There are other people. Jack Ford, of Newfoundland and Labrador, was the only allied person to survive the Nagasaki bombing in Japan during World War II. He lived to be 90 years old, up in Newfoundland. There are people like Louise Richard, who served in the first Gulf War; Captain Nichola Goddard, the first woman to die for Canada in combat; Ed Carter-Edwards, of Ontario, who survived the Buchenwald concentration camp as an airman serving his country; and many other people. These are just some of the names of the people who were willing to give up their lives for the sanctity of Canada and the sanctity of the free world.

I cannot tell members how proud I was when I woke up this morning and realized something I had not realized before. My father once told me that we immigrated to Canada because after being liberated from a prisoner of war camp, he said, “If they have a military like that, imagine what kind of country they come from”.

I stand in the House today as a representative of Nova Scotia. The Minister of Veterans Affairs is from a country that was liberated by Canadians. The official opposition critic is from a country that was liberated by Canadians and their allies. That is what Canada is all about.

Canada is a beacon of hope. Canada is a beacon of light. Right now, wherever our servicemen and women are when they are serving around the world, young people are looking up and saying, “I wonder what kind of country they come from”.

It is truly an honour to be able to pay our respects to the men and women who have given their lives. There are over 117,000 Canadians, buried in over 72 countries around the world, who fought for peace, freedom, and democracy. If anyone ever wanted to know whether their sacrifice was worth it, I am here, so it was well worth it for my family to come to Canada in that regard, although the Conservatives may not think that.

Every day I wake up and see that Canadian flag, and when I am in Ottawa and I see the national cenotaph, and I think how honoured I am to be in this great country.

Allow me to pay my respects to the great memory of Nathan Cirillo, a young man, 24 years old, with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Hamilton. No, he did not deserve to die. That man deserved to live a full and fruitful life, all the way into old age, and to look after his son. However, because of an act of violence, which was uncalled for, this man standing sentry at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier gave his life for all of us. I know that everyone in the House of Commons, and all Canadians, will never ever forget that man's sacrifice.

Nor will they forget Patrice Vincent, who was in a parking lot with his friend, when a madman killed him with his vehicle. He had 28 years of service in the military. He was a well-decorated veteran and a soldier. To give up his life like that is just unconscionable.

We, as Canadians, thank them for their services. We thank them for their sacrifices, as we do all their brothers and sisters who have also given up their lives. We also consider their families, the invisible force behind the force. Without the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles, and grandparents, they would not be able to do the job Canada asks them to do.

I salute the men and women who serve our country. I salute every one of their families. I salute, on behalf of a grateful nation, the cadets who one day may become military people. They are our future heroes.

As they say in the Legion:

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Veterans Affairs November 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank him for the comments, but I do remind the minister that every day for those who serve our country is Remembrance Day.

One of the most important things is to ensure that our disabled veterans and their families, and those of the RCMP, have the benefits that they require in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, the bureaucracy that is within the department delays many veterans' benefits. Again, a benefit delayed is a benefit denied.

The Legion recommended most of these recommendations. The ombudsman recommended these recommendations years ago. When is the government, once again, going to move on these recommendations so that all of us can help the people who serve our country so valiantly?