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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was farmers.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act No. 1 May 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank that member for his service to our country and for that good question.

I think the member is touching on a key point. The recommendations that were made by the veterans affairs committee were unanimously accepted, and here is the fruit of what the veterans affairs committee actually recommended contained in the budget implementation act.

Why are these measures in the budget implementation act? It is because the Minister of Veterans Affairs has made a commitment to veterans and their families that these measures will pass through the House before the end of this session. That is why they are in the budget implementation act.

I am calling on members of the opposition parties to vote in favour of these measures to support our veterans, their families, and serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act No. 1 May 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we have brought about tremendous improvements in service at Veterans Affairs. We have announced record levels of funding and new benefits all the way around to serve veterans and their families.

My point today is that we have a budget implementation act in front of the House right now that needs to be approved. I am asking this member, who actually served in the Canadian Armed Forces, to support these very real, very tangible benefits that would help veterans, serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and their families.

The opposition should vote in favour. Instead of throwing up these smokescreens, they should vote to implement these measures.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act No. 1 May 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, do members see what I mean by political games? The measures contained in Bill C-58 are in the budget implementation act, and the budget implementation act is here in debate and is going to committee right after the break week.

My opposition colleagues will have the opportunity to vote in favour of these tangible, credible, and real benefits for veterans, serving Canadian Armed Forces members, and their families, but they choose not to. Instead, they throw up a smokescreen and chaff, saying that it is not being done the way they want it to be done.

I say to put those political games aside and instead focus on the benefits that would be delivered to our veterans, serving members, and their families and vote them into law. They should join the government in serving our veterans and serving Canadian Armed Forces members, our men and women in uniform.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act No. 1 May 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the budget implementation act, such an important piece of legislation for veterans.

As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, I am pleased to say that the Minister of Veterans Affairs tabled in this House Bill C-58, support for veterans and their families. The provisions contained in the bill are so important for veterans that they are contained within the budget implementation act itself.

The budget implementation act is a major step forward in our work for our Armed Forces members, for veterans, and for their families. With the bill, our government would address unintended gaps in the new veterans charter.

In addition, the bill would satisfy recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. Last June, the committee issued a report with recommendations to improve the new veterans charter. That report was based on input from over 50 veterans and veterans organizations that appeared at the committee. The report was unanimously accepted by all members of all parties on that committee.

Here is the problem for the Liberal and NDP members of Parliament. The measures in the budget implementation act address recommendations presented by the Veterans Ombudsman, by the veterans affairs committee, and by veterans and veterans organizations, yet for some incomprehensible reason, the opposition is fighting these initiatives, initiatives that would benefit our veterans and their families, instead of helping to pass them into law.

The Minister of Veterans Affairs is serving veterans extremely well. He has held a high number of consultations. He has reached out to veterans and veterans organizations, and over the last number of months, he has announced many significant initiatives for which veterans have been asking.

Within the first few weeks, the minister laid out his priorities for Veterans Affairs: having a focus on caring, compassion, and respect; having a veteran-centred service attitude; ensuring a seamless transition from the Armed Forces into Veterans Affairs; and providing service excellence. It is these priorities that have borne tangible fruit. There have been major announcements to improve government services and benefits for serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces, for veterans, and for their families.

I would like to briefly highlight some of those significant and important announcements, which are contained in the budget implementation act.

The retirement income security benefit would provide moderately and seriously injured veterans with continued assistance in the form of monthly income support payments, beginning at the age of 65. This was a direct response to the Veterans Ombudsman's recommendation. In fact, when the minister made this announcement, the Ombudsman said, “I encourage all Parliamentarians to pass this new pension benefit without delay”.

The minister also announced that the earnings loss benefit would now be calculated the same way for reserve force members as it is for regular force members. With this announcement, reservists would now receive earnings loss benefits equal to those of their regular force counterparts.

Alice Aiken, the director of the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research, said:

This really speaks loudly and clearly to the reservist veterans that the minister in fact does have their 'six', and is willing to go to bat for them, and take care of them.

This is another announcement that was supported by the Veterans Ombudsman.

Building on this momentum, the minister then announced that the eligibility criteria for the permanent impairment allowance would be expanded to allow more veterans to benefit. More seriously injured veterans would now be eligible for more financial support.

Another significant and important announcement the minister made that is also contained in the budget implementation act was the new family caregiver relief benefit. Our government recognizes the vital contribution of caregivers, often the spouse or another family member, to the health and well-being of seriously injured veterans. This new benefit would provide an annual tax-free grant of over $7,000 per year to allow caregivers to take a well-deserved break while ensuring that their loved ones continued to receive the support they needed.

So far, I have been speaking of benefits and initiatives that were a direct response to the recommendations made at the veterans affairs committee. In other words, they are benefits and initiatives that the Liberal and NDP members of Parliament should have no hesitation voting in favour of.

However, the Minister of Veterans Affairs took the opportunity to offer a new benefit that went beyond what the committee and others had asked for, and of course, I am speaking of the critical injury benefit. The critical injury benefit would provide $70,000, tax free, to the most severely injured and ill Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans. This benefit is intended to address the immediate impact of severe and traumatic service-related injuries or diseases sustained by our Armed Forces members and veterans.

I think Mr. Phil Ralph, the program director of Wounded Warriors Canada, said it best when he said:

Any time you have a benefit that is going to add to the suite of benefits for veterans, it's a good thing. And the minister has done a good job at filling a whole bunch of gaps in the last couple of weeks.

These announcements are about respect for serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces, respect for veterans, and respect for their families. Our government recognizes its obligation to our Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans and is determined to enact and implement these measures as soon as possible. The purpose of these measures, which is contained in the budget implementation act is:

...to recognize and fulfill the obligation of the people and Government of Canada to show just and due appreciation to members and veterans for their service to Canada.

The Minister of Veterans Affairs has made a commitment to veterans that these initiatives, benefits recommended in an all-party report from the veterans affairs committee, would pass through the House before the end of this session. To fulfill our obligation, we have included these new benefits in the budget implementation act to ensure that they pass and can be implemented as soon as possible. I certainly look forward to bringing them into force so that serving members and veterans can actually benefit from them.

However, it is most unfortunate that the Liberals and the NDP are playing political games with our armed forces members, veterans, and their families regarding these new benefits. Earlier this week, the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore attempted to move a motion to send Bill C-58 to the committee, which would actually have disrupted the passage of the budget implementation act and the bringing into force of these important benefits I am speaking of this morning.

Here is the dilemma. There are real and significant financial benefits contained in this budget implementation act that would improve the lives of serving Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans, and their families. They are benefits that the opposition has asked for and has said it supports, yet when it comes time to vote on them and actually move them into law and make them a reality, the Liberal and NDP members of Parliament say that they will not vote for them.

As I said, it is shameful that the NDP and Liberals are playing these political games to the detriment of our veterans and their families. It is important to highlight to those watching this debate that the NDP and Liberal MPs will not just stand by while we move these benefits into law but will actively vote against them. Think about that for a moment. Opposition MPs are going to actively try to defeat these initiatives for veterans that are contained within the budget implementation act. They would rather that veterans and their families get nothing at all than receive these new benefits. It makes no sense at all, and it would disadvantage our veterans for the opposition's own partisan purposes.

Men and women in uniform and veterans have confidence that our Conservative government would not only propose these key benefits but would also do everything possible to ensure that they are actually brought into effect. They know that they can count on us to bring this through to a successful conclusion.

In closing, I would say to my Liberal and NDP colleagues that veterans, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and their families are watching closely. With this in mind, I would ask my opposition colleagues to reverse their current position and to instead vote in favour of the key new initiatives contained in the budget implementation act. They are initiatives that would benefit our serving members, veterans, and their families.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 14th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the question I have has to do with balancing the books and eliminating the deficit. The reason I am asking is because this is important to Canadians. As MPs, we are asking Canadians to balance their books. They want to see the government balance its books.

The Liberal track record is not a good track record. Just have a look at the Province of Ontario, and I think we will see how challenging it is for a Liberal government to balance the books.

I would like to ask the member if the Liberal Party will commit to having a zero deficit in its budgets, particularly when it is talking about delivering so-called benefits to Canadians. Will it maintain a balanced budget?

Veterans Affairs May 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, our government recognizes its obligation to our armed forces members, veterans, and their families, and it is determined to enact and implement key measures contained in the support for veterans and their families act as soon as possible.

The Minister of Veterans Affairs has made a commitment to veterans that these initiatives, benefits recommended in an all-party report from the veterans affairs committee, would pass through the House before the end of the session. To fulfill our obligation, we have included these new benefits in the budget implementation act to ensure that they pass and can be implemented as soon as possible. The veterans measures are being sent to the veterans affairs committee for study.

Unfortunately, the opposition is now playing games with our armed forces members, veterans, and their families regarding these new benefits. Veterans are watching closely, and they want to know if the Liberals and the NDP will vote in favour of the key new initiatives as contained in the budget implementation act, initiatives that would benefit our serving members, veterans, and their families.

VE Day May 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, today is the 70th anniversary of VE day, marking the official end of the Second World War in Europe.

More than one million brave soldiers left their homes, their families and their friends to serve Canada during the Second World War. Tragically, more than 45,000 were never to return and another 55,000 were injured.

Despite its small population of some 11 million people at that time, Canada punched well above its weight and became a significant military power by the end of the Second World War, and we emerged as a key player on the world stage. The important sacrifices made to defeat evil will have a permanent place in history.

VE Day reminds us that freedom comes at great cost. It has never been free. As we mark Victory in Europe Day today, and everyday hereafter, we will remember those who gave so much.

The Netherlands May 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, May 5 marks the 70th anniversary of Liberation Day, the day when the Nazi forces occupying the Netherlands were pushed out and a starving people ravaged by war was liberated.

During the nine-month offensive, more than 7,600 Canadians lost their lives and many more were wounded.

Thousands of Canadians lie buried far away from the homes and families they left behind. Today, the bonds of mutual respect and friendship between our communities and countries endure, forged by the sacrifices made in the name of freedom and strengthened by our shared values of freedom, democracy and rule of law.

To the Canadian veterans who played such a crucial role in the liberation of the Netherlands, we will never forget their sacrifice.

Veterans May 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that under our government, we have opened 600 new access points for veterans to service Veterans Affairs Canada benefits. In addition, we have opened nine new offices to provide new mental health support to veterans and their families, and the minister just announced recently the hiring of 100 new case managers and over 100 new disability benefits employees.

Why are the New Democrats turning their backs on veterans when it comes time to vote for important new measures like the ones we are announcing?

Veterans May 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, Veterans Affairs always strives to improve support for Canada's veterans and their families. Recently, the Minister of Veterans Affairs announced that over 100 new case managers and over 100 new disability benefits employees are being hired to improve processing times. Within our economic action plan 2015, there is a long list of benefits that we are offering to veterans and I would like to know why this member is voting against those benefits.