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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was great.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Cape Breton—Canso (Nova Scotia)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 74% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Questions on the Order Paper November 5th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour authorized the use of the attestation for Canada summer jobs for 2018 on December 6, 2017.

With regard to (b) to (e), the department is not in a position to provide a response those questions, as information related to legal advice is protected by solicitor-client privilege.

Pensions November 2nd, 2018

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Vimy for her hard work on behalf of those Sears workers. It was great. We can all agree here in the House that Canadians benefit when there is growth in the economy. Where we differ here from the Conservative opposition is that we do not believe any growth should take place on the backs of workers. We want workers to get a fair shake in this country, and that is why we announced yesterday the doubling of benefits in the wage earner protection program. That will benefit her Sears workers. I am proud to be part of a government that takes action for Canadian workers.

Canada Post Corporation November 1st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, our government believes in the collective bargaining process. Our mediators have been on the ground. The minister has been in contact with both sides. We continue to hope that the two groups come together with a final outcome.

I would hope my colleague from the NDP would understand that it is not the place of the Government of Canada to put its thumb on the scale when it comes to contract negotiations.

Points of Order October 31st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the process certainly was not enhanced when members of the Conservative Party were feeding vodka to their staffers, who were singing and had to be escorted out by security. Putting the security people and the clerks in that situation was unbelievable.

It was one of the most shameful and deliberate attacks on the democratic process of those types of groups and they should apologize to the House for it.

Points of Order October 31st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I too attended that meeting last night. I am going to start my 19th year in this place in two weeks and I have never seen anything like that in my 19 years here. Obviously what happens with these groups is that members are free to go in and are masters of their own destiny. The group of members that assembled was certainly ready to make a change in the leadership, which was brought to the floor of the meeting.

It was almost scary, but I have never seen this play out like that before. I saw young staffers in that room. I was going to say they were being “ginned up” but I know they were not. When one checks the video—

Canada Labour Code October 16th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated previously, there are some federal corporations and even some federal sectors that have been ahead of the federal government on this. They have gone out and developed their own policies around this. They know that a workforce that shows up for work and is in a safe, healthy, supportive and positive environment looks forward to going to work each day. When we see that happening, it is a productive workforce. Many of those sectors have gone forward and developed their own policies around that, but with the federal legislation, I think it would be a matter of growing and learning. As the whole issue around harassment and abuse has come to light of late, we believe the bill will have a great impact down the road.

Canada Labour Code October 16th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the member for Edmonton Strathcona, who recently announced she would not seek re-election, will be missed in the chamber. She has always been thoughtful and well prepared in her interventions here, especially on environmental topics, but really on a broad range of things. She has been a great member of Parliament.

There has been a mishmash of policies. Debi Daviau, from PIPSC, summed it up pretty good. She liked the new bill and said that it was a major improvement. She said that public servants have a process that just does not work and that it is very difficult to address harassment through the existing mechanisms, as the process is largely internal and left to the discretion of management.

What the legislation would do is formalize a lot of the stuff that has been out there. I think it will have a significant impact on the broader workforce in this country. I was impressed that many of the people and organizations that testified during the committee's work on the bill were really ahead of where the government has been. Many of the banks have very well defined programs and policies in place, which have been part of their culture for many years. There will be some sectors that will obviously be playing catch up.

Beyond this, there is always the Canada Labour Code. We can agree that we are very fortunate that the Canada Labour Code is that safety net for all workers in this country. There are exceptions and anomalies, but by in large, the Canada Labour Code is one that allows workers in this country to go to work and feel safe, that they are going to have a good opportunity to return home at the end of the day.

Those provisions within the code would still be in place and will always be there, but the five-year provision for revision has been an excellent part of this legislation. The member mentioned what is going on south of border, and there is nothing more troubling. For Lent this year, I gave up watching CNN and screaming at the television. It is great for the soul. When we look at cyber-bullying and how the workforce has changed over the last number of years, the five-year review will be of benefit and has really enhanced this legislation.

Canada Labour Code October 16th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, there were a number of amendments brought forward. The Senate proposed 10 amendments. We accepted four outright and amended a fifth going forward. We would hope that the Senate sees the merit and the rationale why we will not support the other five. As the member for Foothills indicated, a number of amendments were from the NDP member for Jonquière.

Another amendment was put forward by the Conservative Party. I am not sure if it was the member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis or if it was the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster who put forward that particular amendment. We felt that it was well reasoned, well argued and added to the legislation. At committee the vote was unanimous to accept that amendment. We think it will further enhance the legislation.

Canada Labour Code October 16th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand and contribute to this debate today.

We are having a fairly productive debate on the legislation. The fact that it is being supported by all parties in the House is good news. It is good news that has been reported. The editorial in the Hill Times identified and applauded all members for coming together. It said “MPs from all sides of the House are getting behind this landmark legislation” and that “should be applauded.” Of course, the Hill Times is the de facto authority on what should and should not happen on the Hill, so I thank the Hill Times for that.

I have some prepared comments, but first I want to ensure this is not a silver bullet. It has been referred to as landmark legislation. I think we can agree that it has been proven necessary and it is a tremendous step forward, but so much more has to be done.

Just recently, I was able to meet with Canada building trades and we talked about women in the workforce. We talked about under-represented groups in the workforce, indigenous Canadians, women, young Canadians, persons with disabilities, and how today's workforce could better reflect today's society. We talked at great length about recruiting those groups to the building trades, but it goes beyond that.

As a party and a government, we have done some very positive things and have put programs out there that encourage those under-represented groups to engage and get the training and support they need as they develop the skills to become important and contributing members of the workforce.

However, it is important as well not only to recruit, but to retain those workers. When people invest in themselves to take that training, when a company invests in them to provide that training to have good, skilled and productive workers, then it is important that the culture around those workers is a positive and enabling culture that allows those workers to grow, prosper and be more productive. Therefore, it is not just the recruitment, but the retention of those workers is paramount. The building trades themselves have tried some very novel and progressive measures, but we still see only 4% women in those trades.

I had the opportunity to work in Fort McMurray for 10 years. For the first couple of years, I worked with LiUNA in the Great Canadian Oil Sands, now Suncor. It was an opportunity to see a part of the world that has been such a great asset to our country. The oil sands have really been a nation builder. When I think back to those days, sitting around the lunchroom table or on the shop floor, there was not a whole lot of diversity. I do not know if the culture would have been one that would have promoted or helped to nurture any type of diversity.

We are faced with a great predicament. Youth unemployment rates in the country are at a 40-year low right now. More young people are working and unemployment rates are at record lows.

This presents a whole new problem, which is where we get our workforce and how we grow our workforce. How do we make sure that those under-represented groups have the opportunity that has been denied to many, for many years? Giving them that opportunity is positive for the individual. It is positive for the company. It is positive for the Canadian economy.

We have to do what we can to make sure they are given the opportunity, that they have the skills they need to perform the job, and that the culture they work in is positive and supportive. This proposed piece of legislation takes us on a path toward helping to find that place where everybody on that shop floor or in that office space stands as an equal, is respected and is treated with dignity.

The witness list for the committee was pretty impressive. I was at most of the meetings, and one of the things I was most taken by was the testimony from those who had experienced sexual harassment and sexual assault. Their testimony was given to the committee. It was absolutely confidential. It was very compelling, moving and disturbing.

Every member around that table from all parties paid notice to this. Hopefully, those horrible situations that those witnesses shared with us will be of benefit to other Canadians as we go forward.

To get to my prepared comments, I am pleased to be among those rising today to speak to Bill C-65. As some of my hon. colleagues have mentioned, our government believes that the bill we have put before the House today is an exceptionally strong piece of proposed legislation that will make a real difference in the lives of thousands of Canadians working in federally regulated workplaces and right here in our own workplace on Parliament Hill. We also firmly believe that this proposed legislation will make a difference in the lives of many who hear our government's message of support and who feel encouraged by our refusal to tolerate these toxic, destructive behaviours any longer.

It takes a great deal of courage to come forward. We can all agree that the #MeToo and Time's Up movements have helped reduce some of the stigma associated with being a victim. We have made progress over the course of the last year, since workplace harassment and violence came into the spotlight and more people started to speak about their experiences and to speak out against these behaviours. However, there is still much work to be done.

The reality is that many individuals still fear coming forward. Some fear reprisal at work or even losing their job. Some fear embarrassment. Others fear they will not be taken seriously, or that they will be blamed. Many individuals fear all of these things, and when they weigh the risks against the benefits when deciding whether or not to come forward, they decide that it simply is not worth it, because they believe that in the end it will not make any difference anyway. That is unfortunate.

Unfortunately, history has proven that these fears are completely founded. This is why we need Bill C-65. I believe this proposed legislation is exactly what is required to help put these fears to rest once and for all, and to empower those who feel powerless in the wake of the reprehensible transgressions of others that we can no longer afford to tolerate.

It is a strong piece of legislation that has been made stronger over the course of the last year, since it was first tabled. The dedication of the members in the House and the others who contributed their careful study of the bill, as well as the generosity of the many witnesses who informed that study, have resulted in important amendments. Amendments were made as the bill passed through the chamber, and several more were proposed as it passed through the Senate.

As detailed by several of my hon. colleagues, our government supports a number of these amendments. The amendments we are accepting help us to strike a balance between what different stakeholders told us at committee. We need a strong bill that can reflect real cultural change, that provides employees with the protections and support they need, and that provides clear direction to employers on what they are required to do.

However, as mentioned, we do not support all the amendments. While all of the other chamber's proposed amendments stem from laudable goals and are certainly noble in their principle, we believe that some would be ineffective in practice, particularly those amendments that could compromise the clarity of the bill's intent. The need for such clarity was emphasized by various stakeholders, including employers and employees' representatives, time and again during the committee meetings.

I hope the Senate will consider our reasoning and understand our rationale. I truly believe that we have done our best in our role as parliamentarians to make this the strongest bill possible. We are now at a point where we must make a decision that will move the bill forward, bringing us one step closer to royal assent and ultimately implementation of this important legislation.

We need the bill in place as soon as possible. This is why I urge all in this chamber to vote in favour of the message our government intends to send back to the Senate. We cannot afford to wait any longer for the bill to be in place, and the reality is that implementation will take time. Anyone who has been in this chamber for any length of time can certainly appreciate that. Beyond the practical challenge of putting into place the regulations and completing the necessary outreach and education, it takes time to effect the kind of lasting cultural change we hope to accomplish with Bill C-65.

On another practical note, I would like to remind my hon. colleagues that the bill could be amended down the road if it becomes clear that adjustments are necessary. In fact, one of the amendments our government is proposing to accept would facilitate such a course of action.

I am referring to the Senate's proposed amendment to have the minister's annual report contain statistical data related to harassment and violence categorized according to prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Information that is categorized according to prohibited grounds of discrimination under CHRA includes such information as race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability and others.

The collection of this information, provided voluntarily to avoid encroaching on the privacy of those affected, will enable us to identify with greater certainty whether or not Bill C-65 is fulfilling its intended purpose. This will particularly affect individuals who generally experience higher levels of workplace harassment and violence, such as those who identify as members of the LGBTQ2 community. Any members who were in the chamber earlier today, when my colleague from Edmonton Centre gave his speech, will remember that it was pretty enlightening.

We find that certain groups and individuals continue to experience higher levels of harassment and violence. We could look at ways to better protect them in the future. What we need right now is better protections for employees in federally regulated and parliamentary workplaces and we need those protections in place as soon as possible.

With these points in mind, I once again urge everyone here today to help move this bill forward by voting in favour of the message to be sent to the other chamber. Canadians are counting on us to do this. I ask all to consider that as we go forward with the vote on this legislation.

Canada Labour Code October 16th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, my NDP colleague voiced concern about whether resources would follow this legislation. I will put on the record for clarification that in budget 2018, our government announced it was providing $35 million over five years, starting in 2018-19, with $7.4 million per year ongoing to support Bill C-65. That money would be used to develop training programs for labour program inspectors; create an awareness campaign; provide educational materials, tools and workplace priorities; hire additional labour program investigators; put in place an outreach hub accessible through a 1-800 number; and support regulatory development and enforcement activities. I want to ensure he understands that those would be available.

Beyond that, what came out in much of the testimony was the importance of changing our culture. One piece of legislation will not do that. I would ask the member if he sees a shift and different approach throughout workplace culture happening and evolving.