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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is terms.

Liberal MP for Kings—Hants (Nova Scotia)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 71% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Treasury Board Secretariat December 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the annual report to Parliament for the fiscal year 2016-17 entitled “Benefits and Costs of Significant Federal Regulations, and the Implementation of the One-for-One Rule”.

This report highlights the net benefit of important regulations made by the Governor in Council in 2016-17 and serves as a public report for the one-for-one rule, as required under the Red Tape Reduction Act.

Public Services and Procurement December 12th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, we have tremendous respect for the important work done by our hard-working public servants. We have actually re-established a culture of respect for our public servants. When we formed government, all collective bargaining agreements had expired with Canadian public servants. Some had been expired for four years. We negotiated in good faith, to the point that today 90% of public servants in Canada have collective bargaining agreements. That has been done in good faith with our public servants, and we will continue to work hard to serve Canadians with our world-class public service.

Taxation December 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, that was part of broader agreements for government advertising. However, it is notable that our government has actually reduced government advertising from that of the Conservative government, of which the member for Milton was a member. In fact, that government spent, during its tenure, almost a billion dollars on quasi-partisan government advertising. Not only have we reduced government advertising costs, but we have also changed the rules to make sure no government abuses government advertising to promote political interests.

Access to Information Act December 5th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I said that the previous government had not acted to modernize the Access to Information Act, and that is accurate. He spoke to other initiatives.

Joe Clark, a Progressive Conservative prime minister, was the first to bring forward access to information in 1979, but it was actually made law by the next government, the Pierre Trudeau Liberal government, in 1983. There is some cross-partisan authorship with respect to access to information, but we are the first government to—

Access to Information Act December 5th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the committee adopted a dozen amendments to strengthen and clarify our government's intent to improve and reform our access to information system.

I can remember when we were in opposition and when I was in committees with members of the NDP. I think they would remember as well those times when no amendments would be accepted by parliamentary committees. Committees were viewed as branch plants of ministers' offices.

We are strengthening the parliamentary role and the independence of committees to modify and indeed strengthen laws. That is exactly what has happened here, with a dozen amendments being accepted and adopted by the government. She asked why the committee did not pass amendments from the NDP. That is a matter for the committee. Maybe they were not very good amendments.

However, the fact is that the committee did adopt 12 amendments. We are going to work with committees on a number of issues and legislation because we believe committees can strengthen those. Perhaps the NDP can—

Access to Information Act December 5th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, after more than 30 years, we are the first government to modernize the Access to Information Act.

We know that the NPD do not like proactive disclosure. They did not like it when our Prime Minister led the way by proactively disclosing members' expenses when we were in opposition. They still do not like proactive disclosure today. In a way they are being consistent, but I do not agree with their position. They do not see the urgency in modernizing this legislation. We will continue to work toward modernizing the Access to Information Act. After more than 30 years, it is high time that we did just that.

Access to Information Act December 5th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, in the debate this morning, we have heard a couple of things from the New Democrats. One is that they have said they want this legislation withdrawn. They do not want to move forward with modernizing the act. They have made their minds up. For them the debate is over. They are against this. Then they say that they want more debate on it. Their position has ossified and it has not changed. Therefore, that is a signal to us that it is time to move forward.

The New Democrats are saying on one hand that they have made their minds up, that they are against this and from their perspective the debate is over. On the other hand, they say they want to have more time to consider it. If they have already made their minds up and their position is not changing, as they have said, then I am curious as to why they want more time to debate it. Surely to goodness we can reach a decision. Our government has reached a decision. It is high time to modernize Canada's Access to Information Act. After 34 years, we are the first government doing it and we are going to get it done.

Access to Information Act December 5th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, we believe that modernizing Canada's Access to Information Act is important. We have heard from the New Democrats that they do not believe it is important to do this. They would rather not make this kind of progress. We have heard from the Conservatives that they do not believe it is a priority. It is a priority. We have been waiting for 34 years to do this and our government is actually getting it done.

Access to Information Act December 5th, 2017

First, Mr. Speaker, by giving the Information Commissioner order-making power, she can demand that a government department or agency provide information. The government department or agency would have 30 days in which to either provide the information or challenge her in court, with a decision ultimately being rendered by a judge. Government departments and agencies are not going to challenge the Information Commissioner in court without feeling they have a reasonable chance of defending their claims. This would provide the Information Commissioner with real authority that she has not had in the past.

In fact, the committee passed over a dozen amendments, which will help further strengthen, clarify, and make perfectly clear our government's intent to strengthen the access to information regime. There have been over a dozen amendments accepted, which is probably more amendments accepted by a government from a committee than the previous government did in nine years. We have taken this seriously.

For instance, we have heard from representatives of indigenous claims organizations and have addressed those concerns four square. We will continue to engage Parliament respectfully and strengthen the legislation.

Access to Information Act December 5th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, my friend and colleague is doing a great job as Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and I appreciate her work and support on an ongoing basis.

The previous government, the Conservative government, was the first government in the British Commonwealth to be found in contempt of Parliament for not providing information to Parliament. The Conservatives were heavily shrouded in secrecy during their regime. We have opened up government. We are raising the bar in openness and transparency, as we did in opposition.

One thing I want to also explain is the degree to which we have listened and are acting on what we have heard. For instance, we have heard concerns raised by indigenous organizations, including the National Claims Research Directors. This is why our government strongly supports amendments that have been made at committee, which would directly address those concerns. For instance, large or broad requests, or ones that simply cause the government discomfort, will not constitute bad faith, in and of themselves, on the part of a requester. We know the importance of access to information with respect to claims settlement and we want—