House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was jobs.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley (Nova Scotia)

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

Statements in the House

Social Development May 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, our government is working hard to improve the lives of Canadians with disabilities.

On top of the measures I mentioned earlier, we are also extending the enabling accessibility fund to improve accessibility in workplaces and other facilities across Canada.

These expanded criteria will support the disabled people the member across is asking about. We are also supporting many organizations dedicated to the well-being of persons with disabilities, helping them connect with available jobs and equipping them with the skills and training they need.

The 50 workers I spoke about earlier have been providing excellent service to Canadians for over three decades now, and thanks to this government they will be able to continue their great work and keep on inspiring us all.

We will continue to be there for the disabled community. We will continue to support the accessibility fund.

Social Development May 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her question, but I also want to thank the hon. member for her advocacy for disabled people across the country. I welcome the opportunity to address this important issue brought forward by the hon. member for Montcalm.

First, I would like to remind the member that, as soon as the Minister of Employment and Social Development heard about a situation in his riding, he immediately pulled everybody together to find a solution to keep Canadians working. They found that situation swiftly and corrected the issue very swiftly. As the minister said of the 50 hard-working Canadians with intellectual disabilities who have been serving the government well for the past 35 years by sorting, recycling, and shredding sensitive government documents, their determination and dedication to work despite their limitations inspires us all, and we certainly need to continue supporting them and disabled Canadians across the country.

That is why the minister quickly announced that their contract would be renewed for at least three more years. As for their salaries, my hon. colleague would know that they are set by the association and not by the Government of Canada. We partner with many organizations like this across Canada that help Canadians with disabilities get good jobs and fully participate within their communities.

Our government is proud of our improved registered disability savings plan that is available to more than 100,000 Canadians with disabilities. We are also proud of the Canada disability savings grants and bonds, which help Canadians with disabilities save money for their future. We believe that all Canadians, including Canadians with disabilities, should have the opportunity to contribute to our country's economy and contribute positively to their community.

Yes, disabled people are still very under-represented in the workforce, and this is concerning, but we are working at ensuring they have access to better jobs. That is why our government, through economic action plan 2015, would invest $40 million annually in the opportunities fund for persons with disabilities. Not only that; we would also invest $15 million over three years into the ready, willing, and able initiative of the Canadian Association for Community Living, which helps connect persons with disabilities with jobs. In my own experience as a parliamentary secretary, I have seen programs like this support literally hundreds of disabled Canadians, connecting them with available jobs.

Currently, there are more than 800,000 disabled people in the country who are unemployed. Of those people, 400,000 have some form of post-secondary education. Conversely, we have employers across the country who are saying they cannot find qualified employees to take jobs. I encourage them all to look within the disabled community. We have able, ready, and willing employees there who want to work and who have a drive to work and be self-sustainable in their lives. It may take some accommodation in the workplace to employ a person with disabilities. It may take a little flexibility by the employer and maybe by the employee to ensure she or he can fill that job. However, I know from talking to employers who have employed disabled Canadians, as recently as a month ago, that they say that when they put the accommodations in place and support those workers they get very good workers. This money would be in addition to the $222 million per year to better meet the employment needs of Canadian businesses and improve the employment prospects for persons with disabilities through a new generation of labour market agreements for persons with disabilities. That is $222 million.

In closing, we are getting the job done for the disabled community in this country. I thank the member for her interest and her support for that community. We will continue to support employers and employees as they move to jobs in Canada.

International Development May 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the estimates contain all of government spending. All one has to do is check the estimates to see how much money the government is spending. Budget 2015 reaffirms our government's commitment to helping people who live in poverty and responding to humanitarian crises, and this response has been strong.

Our main estimates clearly show the blueprint for the department's annual planned spending. It is right there. Humanitarian assistance has increased 62% this year over the year before, and since 2003 we have nearly doubled the amount of aid to low-income countries over the previous Liberal government.

We are pleased that economic action plan 2015 announces the government's intent to leverage development-focused private investments through a development finance initiative. This will enhance Canada's ability to advance its international assistance objectives by partnering with the private sector to address critical financing gaps in developing countries.

The estimates show all of this clearly. Our Conservative government is reducing taxes on the middle class while delivering aid in a way that is accountable to Canadians and effective for those in need.

International Development May 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for her question tonight during adjournment proceedings.

From the beginning, Canada has been at the forefront of international response to help the people of Syria and to help the people of Iraq. Most recently, in May, the Prime Minister announced additional Canadian humanitarian assistance funding for both Syria and Iraq, whose people continue to suffer from the ongoing conflict.

Millions inside Syria now require assistance. Millions more have fled to Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, not knowing if they will ever be able to return to their homes. Compounding this problem even further, terrorist groups such as the so-called Islamic State have flourished in such an environment, expanding and threatening stability of the entire region.

These situations represent some of the most difficult and complex humanitarian crises ever faced by the international humanitarian community. Canada has been among the top donors to respond to the United Nations' call to step up humanitarian efforts in both contexts. The top priorities are protection for civilians, including from sexual and gender-based violence, and shelter, food, and access to health care and basic humanitarian services.

Already in 2015, Canada has allocated $80 million in humanitarian assistance funding in response to the crisis in Iraq. Since the beginning of 2014, we have committed $107.4 million to respond to the needs of Iraqis affected by the violence, and this makes Canada the fifth largest humanitarian donor to this crisis—the fifth largest, from a country with a small population like Canada's.

Specific to Syria, as of May 2015, Canada is the sixth largest single country donor to the humanitarian response. Since the onset of the crisis, Canada has allocated over $503 million in support of the humanitarian response, with the most recent funding announced earlier this month by the Prime Minister himself.

It is concerning that opposition MPs fail to acknowledge the real threat posed by ISIS and jihadi terrorism to our country and our country domestically. We take this very seriously.

The military measures we are taking against ISIL do not in any way preclude humanitarian actions. There is no either/or. There is support for both. We will combat ISIS militarily, and we will support the victims of ISIS in a humanitarian way.

Canada has been at the forefront of the international response to the crisis in Iraq, as well as Syria and the surrounding area, since the beginning of each crisis. We will remain at the forefront.

In conclusion, we have helped nearly two million people, provided shelter and relief supplies to more than one million people, and helped to educate more than half a million children.

In Syria, Canada's support has meant 16 million people have access to safe drinking water, 4.1 million Syrians have access to food assistance, and emergency assistance is provided to nearly three million refugees in neighbouring countries.

We are getting the job done when it comes to humanitarian assistance during this crisis in the Middle East.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act May 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, 45 seconds will be all it takes.

We have regulations in this country. We do not allow people to walk the streets with machine guns. Hunters do not use machine guns in the streets to hunt animals. In Canada, there are sensible firearms regulations. That is what this bill is all about. It is about common sense.

I have no idea what the member opposite is talking about. Hunters and anglers in this country, people who like to be in the outdoors, want solid firearms regulations. They want to be able to follow the rules. All we are doing is passing sensible regulations to ensure that they are treated fairly, because these are honest, hard-working people.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act May 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, if it looks like a duck, it quacks like a duck, and it floats like a duck, it is likely a duck. What New Democrats are talking about is the resurgence of the long gun registry in this country. Does it matter how we track the guns, if we are tracking the guns? That is the point that the Leader of the Opposition is trying to make. He likes to say one thing in one part of the country. When he is in the east, he likes to talk about bringing back the long gun registry and tracking everybody's guns and weapons, but when he is in the west or the rural parts of this nation, he says he would never bring back the long gun registry. We see the hypocrisy in that.

Everyone can count on our government to be consistent and clear that no matter where we are in this country, whether it is downtown Toronto or in the Yukon, we will never support the resurgence of the long gun registry in Canada.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act May 25th, 2015

Well, Mr. Speaker, the parties opposite like to talk about supporting first responders, but when it came time to vote for the firefighters tax credit, of course, they voted against it.

In terms of firearms legislation, all one has to do is to look at some of the changes we have made to make sure we crack down on criminals in this country that were not supported by the members opposite.

After the tragedy last year in Moncton where three RCMP officers were slain, we brought forward legislation that ensured the perpetrator of that heinous crime was going to serve three consecutive life sentences. Previous to that legislation, that person would have only served one life sentence, or three life sentences at the same time. We made changes. Those parties across the way voted against that. If they had their way, that person would have been out in 25 years and would have been in his fifties. Now he will be in jail until he is 98 years old.

We stand up and support our first responders. We will take no lessons from them about how to support our police officers, our firefighters, our search and rescue officials in this country.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act May 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to discuss Bill C-42, the common sense firearms licensing act, but first I would like to say that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Yukon.

For far too long, law-abiding firearms owners have been treated like common criminals in Canada. They have received this treatment simply for enjoying the Canadian heritage activities of hunting, sport shooting, or simply living off the land.

In fact, former Liberal cabinet minister Allan Rock even said when he came to Ottawa that he came with the firm belief that the only people in Canada who should have firearms are police officers and the military. What a slap in the face for the rural parts of this country.

Our Conservative government could not disagree more with Allan Rock. We believe there should be laws in place to combat the criminal use of firearms, but we also believe that one should not need a law degree to engage in a hobby that is as old as Canada itself.

In other words, we believe in safe and sensible firearms policies. That is why we have taken action to get tough on gang members who are illegally in possession of a firearm. It is also why we have made sentences tougher for those who use firearms to commit crimes. That is why we have made it a specific offence to engage in drive-by or other reckless shootings.

It is also why we scrapped the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. It is why we have taken needless regulations off the books. It is also why we are here today to discuss this important common sense piece of legislation.

I would like to discuss some of the key measures that the bill advances. We will simplify the licensing system by eliminating the possession only licence and converting to a possession and acquisition licence. This will, upon royal assent, give 600,000 people in this country the ability to purchase firearms. That is good news for law-abiding gun owners and good news for business in Canada.

Further, the bill would provide for a six-month grace period at the end of a five-year licence. This would allow individuals who forget to renew their licence to come back in compliance with the law without fear of becoming a criminal simply for making a mistake.

Additionally, the bill would require first-time gun owners to participate in a Canadian firearms safety course and pass that test. Members might think this has always been the case, but previously individuals did not have to participate in a class in order to get their licence. We believe it is important that all gun owners have a solid understanding of how to handle their firearms safely.

Some have said that this will lead to those who have held a possession only licence for many years to have to take this course in order to receive their new converted licence. It is absolutely not true, not intended, and is not the case.

What is more, the bill would end the needless paperwork surrounding the authorization to transport restricted firearms. Rather than requiring endless forms and red tape, the bill would effectively make a gun owners licence also the authorization to transport. Some have raised concerns that this provision will lead to some sort of concealed carry notion, which is also absolutely not true. All safe handling procedures will remain in place, such as disabling the unloaded firearm and placing it in a locked container prior to transporting it.

In addition, the bill would end the arbitrary and discretionary authority of chief firearms officers in Canada. Firearms laws should be applied consistently across Canada. There should not be discrepancies between one province to another. It is ineffective and causes a lot of confusion for law-abiding citizens of this country. Unelected officials should not be making decisions that potentially impact the property rights of millions of Canadians.

On top of that, the bill would end the problem of arbitrary and unfair reclassification of firearms, which we saw as recently as in the last couple of years. Last February, thousands of Canadians were rendered criminals overnight by a mere stroke of some bureaucrat's pen. There was not one elected official who had been consulted about this decision. Our government disagrees with the decision specifically, and also disagrees with this process generally. That is why this bill would give the elected government an oversight mechanism to reverse ill-considered classification decisions made by bureaucrats.

Lastly, the bill would strengthen the Criminal Code provisions related to firearms prohibition orders. When someone is convicted of a serious domestic violence offence, they would automatically be barred from possessing firearms. There is a sound reason for that. According to police-reported data, in 2011 there were almost 95,000 victims of family violence in Canada, accounting for one-quarter of all victims of police-reported violent crimes. Between 2000 and 2010, two-thirds of spouses accused of homicide had a family history of violence involving the victim. That is why this bill is so important. It would reduce red tape for law-abiding hunters, farmers, and sport shooters, but it would also refine our gun control system, making it more effective and more sensible.

We have heard where the other parties stand. The Liberal leader has said that if he had to vote again today, he would vote to keep the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. The Liberal member for Trinity—Spadina said that emotional reasons from firearm advocates was not enough evidence to continue to allow ammunition to be sold to the Canadian public. The NDP leader has been clear about his desire to bring back the long gun registry, recently calling the data contained therein “useful data”. However, he seems to know that Canadians from the west and the north have no time for such bureaucratic schemes. Speaking in the Yukon, the NDP leader said that he would not consider bringing back the registry. Which is it? I guess that depends on who the leader is talking to: the press gallery here in Ottawa, or the average everyday citizen of the west or the north.

It is about making firearms policies safe and sensible. It is about good old-fashioned common sense. I am proud to stand up to support this legislation, and I hope every member of this House will do the same.

Canada is a large and diverse country with a historic background of hunting, angling, and outdoor life. This legislation supports law-abiding citizens from coast to coast to coast, and I ask all members of this House to stand up and support it.

Cadets May 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, last weekend I had the opportunity to attend three ceremonial review programs for the cadet program in Cumberland Colchester and the Musquodoboit Valley. I cannot tell members how impressed I was with the level of discipline and decorum displayed by these young ladies and gentlemen.

I was particularly proud that both the Truro navy league cadets and RCSCC 88 sea cadets were recognized as the most improved cadet corps in Nova Scotia. I congratulate to them all, and well done.

Cadets invite all youth from ages 12 to 18. The program focuses on citizenship, leadership and fitness. Cadets, of course, are proud citizens of Canada. They are healthy in mind and body, and they are the leaders of tomorrow. What is more important is that when they engage in cadets, they have a lot of fun.

Cadets is one of the few remaining youth activities in our country that people and young people can participate in free of charge. To all of the staff, parents and others involved in cadets, I express my thanks.

An Act to amend the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (Sambro Island Lighthouse) May 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, let us imagine people travelling across the ocean, from the old world to the new world, 200 years ago, and living through storms and the violence that can be the Atlantic Ocean, both in summer and in winter but particularly in winter.

After four or five days on a boat, not really knowing exactly where they were, at the other end of the night, they would see a light, a beacon of hope that symbolizes not only land but a future for them and their family who are travelling to immigrate to a new world. That would be the story of many of my ancestors, the MacDonalds and the Armstrongs and the Tuckers and the Haymans, coming across from Europe to the new world.

Fast forward 100 years or so to just after the turn of the century, when literally thousands and thousands of soldiers left Canada to travel to fight against the Germans in World War I. For many of them, the last thing they would have seen, looking back at their homeland, not ever knowing if they were going to return safely, would have been that light.

Fast forward again another 50 years, when we had many settlers come from Europe post-World War II, people like my mother-in-law, who came over as a Dutch settler at the age of four, travelling with her family, a family with hope in their hearts, looking for a new, better life, escaping the ravages that were realized during World War II. Travelling across that ocean, literally millions of immigrants coming to Canada over the years, for many the first thing they would have seen of North America, the first thing they would have seen of this new life, would have been that light.

That is what we are really here to talk about today, and I congratulate the member across for her diligence in working towards this particular piece of legislation.

We have a rich lighthouse heritage. Canadians passionately want to see this heritage protected for the benefit and enjoyment of not only past generations like the ones I have spoken about but for future generations of Canadians. Lighthouses speak to who we are and where we have been. We are one of the world's great maritime nations and lighthouses are a part of that historic nature of our country.

This is why this House adopted the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act in 2008. My colleague, the member for South Shore—St. Margaret's has been a strong advocate for this legislation and continues to be, for lighthouses across the country. Although he is retiring this year, one of his legacies will be the Lighthouse Protection Act. I congratulate him for that.

This is why Canadians nominated nearly 350 lighthouses to be considered for designation and protection as heritage lighthouses. Our government is determined to designate and protect as many of our lighthouses as possible under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. To date already, 74 heritage lighthouses have been designated under the act. A good number of these, 42 are still required as aids to navigation on our coasts and inland waterways and will remain under the custodianship of the Government of Canada.

They include some of Canada's most significant symbols of our maritime heritage. Some examples are the Cape Spear lighthouse on the Atlantic Coast near St. John's, built in 1835; as well as the Fisgard Lighthouse on the Pacific coast near Victoria, built in 1860. There is also the Triple Island lighthouse on the North Pacific in British Columbia, recognized nationally for the logistical challenges involved with its construction, and the Cape Race lighthouse on the southern Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland and Labrador.

However, in many places in Canada, historic lighthouses are no longer needed to deliver Canada's extensive marine aid and navigation program. In these cases, our government has in place mechanisms to facilitate the acquisition of treasured historic lighthouses by community groups, other levels of government and, in rare cases, individuals. These different people, organizations and levels of government can breathe new life into these symbols of our nation by giving them a new use.

Identifying new owners for historic lighthouses that are no longer needed by the federal government is not just sound fiscal policy. We all know that the best protection for any heritage building is its continued use, and this is no less true for lighthouses than it is for houses, banks, schools, churches or other built markers of our shared heritage, our shared national identity.

Through the implementation of the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, viable, responsible new owners have been invited to submit proposals to acquire historic lighthouses that are no longer needed by the federal government, and to commit to protect their heritage character on behalf of all Canadians. The response from Canadians to this challenge has been nothing short of extraordinary. To date, community groups and other levels of government have submitted proposals to acquire more than 150 of Canada's historic lighthouses and to protect their heritage character. The majority of these proposals are considered viable, sustainable plans following review by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which is a testament to the commitment of Canadians to conserve their heritage.

Currently, of the 150 proposals we have received, there are 32 heritage lighthouses that have been designated, which will ensure the protection and conservation of the heritage character of these historic lighthouses on behalf of Canadians and for the benefit and enjoyment of generations of Canadians yet to come. Some of these 32 heritage lighthouses that will be managed by new owners are symbols of our small but proud and indomitable maritime communities that line our coasts and inland waterways.

Yes, lighthouses such as the ones I have mentioned have economic value as well, as anchors for local and regional tourism, but the spirit that drives their conservation is more than economic. Canadians want to protect these properties because they speak to who we are. They are tangible, evocative markers of our maritime heritage.

Other designated heritage lighthouses that will be managed by new owners are symbols of larger maritime communities. The Brighton Beach Range Front lighthouse, acquired by the City of Charlottetown, is but one example.

These are some of the great examples of Canada's lighthouse heritage. The Government of Canada and Canadians are grateful to the new owners of these and other heritage lighthouses. They have embarked with the Government of Canada on a great project to secure a bright future for Canada's lighthouse heritage. Their commitment to conserve their local heritage and determination to identify and implement sustainable long-term plans for their lighthouses are inspirations for us all.

The government is committed to work with these community organizations and other levels of government to bring these visions to reality so that they too can join this great family of designated heritage lighthouses that the Government of Canada and Canadians are building together.

This is hallowed history of the oldest operating lighthouse in the Americas and part of Nova Scotia's heritage, and I am referring, of course, to the Sambro lighthouse. For generations, this sentinel of the sea has helped illuminate the safe passage of countless mariners off the treacherous waters of Chebucto Head. The Sambro Island lighthouse has been in operation for over 250 years.

Over the years, members of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society, the Sambro Island Lighthouse Heritage Society and the local community have worked diligently to preserve, protect and promote this storied structure and educate people about its historical significance. In recognition of its importance, the Sambro Island lighthouse was declared a classified federal heritage building. In more recent years, it has also been commemorated by Canada Post and the Royal Canadian Mint.

Our government wholeheartedly agrees that the Sambro Island lighthouse merits designation as a heritage lighthouse under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, but we want to do more than just designate the lighthouse. We need to do more. The Sambro Island lighthouse deserves a bright, secure future so that Canadians can enjoy and appreciate our very own heritage for generations to come.

To do this, the Government of Canada must continue in its quest to find a viable, responsible new owner for the lighthouse who can articulate and implement a solid plan that will set this proud symbol of our shared maritime heritage on a course for another two and a half centuries of marking one of Canada's greatest harbours. Hopefully, it will stand strong for much longer than that.

The Sambro Island lighthouse has derived strong local, regional and provincial support from across Canada. It relishes the benefits of a valuable custodian in Fisheries and Oceans Canada and of a government that recognizes and acknowledges its immeasurable historical importance. The government is committed to working with Canadians to create an enduring, sustainable future for the Sambro Island lighthouse and for many lighthouses across this country.

I thank the member for this legislation, and I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak to it today.