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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was particular.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Liberal MP for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Lost his last election, in 2021, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Protection of Freedom of Conscience Act May 29th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I am wondering if my colleague has done his research about the Canadian Medical Association and if he has its opinion of it. I know he mentioned the college of physicians and surgeons and I find its response on that somewhat alarming. How does the CMA feel about that, as well as about a remedy for people who feel that they are ruled against in their profession when they feel that they have conscientiously objected to something that is important to them?

Business of Supply May 7th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, in answer to this, the hon. member will talk about similar themes to those he just talked about, but before he does that, I would like him to address one very important thing. He has been here a while. Several years ago, as a commitment to the people of Canada, it was stated that a re-elected Conservative government led by Stephen Harper would “reduce the federal excise tax on diesel and aviation fuel by half, from four cents per litre to two cents per litre, reducing the price of transportation”.

Why did the former Conservative government not do that?

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1 April 10th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member had qualms with the Paris Agreement. Her party voted for it and she voted against it. I am wondering if she would like to have a chance to talk about that.

Petitions February 27th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present this petition on behalf of many Canadians, primarily from Ontario. I would like to initially thank Dee Gordon for her work on this and for bringing it to this House. The petition is calling for a pan-Canadian strategy on autism spectrum disorder, ASD, a pervasive disorder that affects one person in 88 in this country. It is characterized by social and communication challenges and a pattern of repetitive behaviours and interests. ASD is lifelong and certainly is of great importance to many families with young children suffering from ASD.

Interparliamentary Delegations February 20th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the discipline in this House is absolutely fierce, but I thank members for pointing that out to me.

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union respecting its mission to Romania, the next country to hold the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, and its participation at the fourth part of the 2018 Ordinary Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, held at Bucharest, Romania, and at Strasbourg, France, from October 8 to 18, 2018.

Interparliamentary Delegations February 20th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, a report from the Canadian Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union respecting its participation in the mission to Romania, the next country to hold the—

Aboriginal Cultural Property Repatriation Act February 19th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the person responsible for Bill C-391, the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester.

The repatriation of cultural property and ancestral remains lost by indigenous communities under a range of circumstances is a significant issue for indigenous communities all across the country, as we have heard from several others in the House.

It is also an important factor in the relationship between those communities and cultural institutions in Canada and around the world, such as museums. I say “around the world” because important aspects of Canadian indigenous culture are not found just in Canadian collections; in fact, many important items were removed to foreign lands by explorers, missionaries and academics early in our history. I have an example of my own that came to a successful conclusion just recently, and I will touch on that issue in just a few moments. The se items exist in public and private institutions around the world in the United Kingdom, France and the United States of America.

How can a national strategy support this process of repatriation? The most important part of developing this type of strategy is to hear from all stakeholders who have experience with repatriation and hear what has worked for them and what has not, hearing about best practices from the people who have experience with this sort of procedure, including the government. We also need to hear from those who would engage in repatriation but do not feel they currently have the capacity to do so. Perhaps personal history for them dictates that they should have a say in what is going on, and we certainly do want to hear from them. We consider them as very important stakeholders in this process of repatriation.

Without prejudging what all the stakeholders might say, Bill C-391 needs to make sure the government, in developing a national strategy, has enough flexibility to listen to what it will hear during the consultations and what to take into account.

We are here to consider Bill C-391. The bill does not legislate rules for repatriation, of course. That is an important point, and one of the strengths, one of the great things about this particular bill.

We have heard from members of indigenous communities that they do not want the government to create the rules or add elements of bureaucracy to what should be a direct dialogue between them and the people involved directly in the repatriation, certain export experts and historians alike. This is a big part of the bill that opens up the dialogue to others and would allow the people who share a common history to have direct input.

Bill C-391 speaks to the role of the federal government in repatriation.

I would like to point out that the bill no longer includes a definition of what is meant by “aboriginal indigenous cultural property”. That is a very important point. It is a commonly used term, but it is not defined in law. It is not even defined in the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Definitions can be complex things. No matter how comprehensive we try to make them, something will always be unintentionally excluded, or they become so general as to be meaningless or hard to interpret. As well, if we define in a piece of legislation a concept that is not defined elsewhere, people can still refer to it for reasons that were not intended. The result of removing the definition is that the scope of the strategy and what it covers would still be determined, but would be done together with stakeholders when strategy is developed, not ahead of the time when other people become involved. The bill would give the government enough flexibility to listen to stakeholders and to be guided by what it hears. That is essentially the spirit of what we are trying to achieve through Bill C-391.

I think we would all agree that these are the first steps in a long path toward reconciliation, a path that we are still on. Bill C-391 signals that next step.

I want to remind everyone here that it is not the kind of thing that took place in other countries at the time. It was based on collaboration and dialogue. The principles it advocated were negotiated solutions, taking place on a case-by-case basis.

What role has the government continued to play since the task force? The government introduced a category. Given the comprehensive range of consultations, to plan meaningful consultations, undertake them, analyze what is heard and develop the options for a strategy will take time. If all that had to happen within two years, the consultation phase of the process would be severely reduced, and this is too important an issue not to take the time to do it right.

I will talk about my situation once again. Back in the early 1800s, a situation took place that led us to today. We are talking about a situation just shy of 200 years ago. A native group was established on the Island of Newfoundland centuries ago called the legendary Beothuk. The last known Beothuk passed away in 1829. Her name was Shawnadithit. She passed away in St. John's. She succumbed to tuberculosis. She had members of her family involved in a situation that took place near the town of Buchans and Buchans Junction at Red Indian Lake.

In the mid-1820s, a group of explorers travelled up the Exploits River to seek out the natives. A confrontation took place and one individual Beothuk named Nonosbawsut was shot and killed by the explorers.

At that time, a lot of conflict was taking place and the Beothuks succumbed to that and also to disease. Two Beothuks were buried in that area. Cormack the explorer found the remains of the two Beothuk and he took their skulls back to Scotland, where he was from, for academic study. For close to 200 years, those skulls remained in that museum, not even on display.

Several years ago we had a ceremony commemorating the Beothuk and we brought up the idea of these skulls being repatriated. We contacted the Government of Scotland, through the U.K.'s Royal Museum, and asked it to repatriate the skulls. Within the last month, the Government of Scotland said it would do just that. It engaged the Government of Canada, after responding to a request from the Department of Canadian Heritage. Now we are embarking upon the journey for these skulls to come to Canada and then to Newfoundland. What we do at that point involves stakeholders.

As I mentioned, the spirit of Bill C-391 talks about the collaboration of stakeholders. Five indigenous groups within Newfoundland will have their say. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador will have its say and all the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will have input into this.

What is the best way to commemorate the spirit and memory of the legendary Beothuk of our province, my province, the province of the member for St. John's East as well? This is incredibly important to us. Do we take the remains back to the place where they perished? Do we do an initial study? All these issues have to be discussed. What has happened here, what is the most essential component of this is that these people who lived in Newfoundland for centuries, the legendary Beothuk who unfortunately do not exist today, have to be commemorated in a way that is completely and utterly respectful to how they lived and how they would want to be remembered.

For that reason, I strongly endorse Bill C-391 and the spirt of what it would do. For the member for Cumberland—Colchester, this is a fine point, a cherry on the top of a fine career, I might add. He has established a fantastic bill and I congratulate him. Through the examples of the repatriation of the Beothuk remains, Bill C-391 should be supported by all of us. I am sure it would be supported by all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Business of Supply February 5th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, one of the projects that interested me for quite some time was, of course, energy east, and I know her party supports energy east. If Quebeckers come out and say they do not want pipelines through their backyards, as the expression goes, would she fight against energy east?

Elections Modernization Act December 12th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, this is one of the final times we get to speak in this House. We have been doing this since 2004. I want to thank my colleague for his speech and his insight with respect to the legislation.

I want to go back to the last election and when we talked about democratic reform. I will let my colleague talk about the position we took in 2015, which he has already done and will do again. However, I want to talk about the position of the New Democrats for a moment, because it is a one-sided argument. I do this with the utmost respect.

My problem with the New Democrats and their position in the last election is simply this. They wanted to propose not only democratic reform and not only proportional representation but an exact prescription as to how that would be initiated. It is called mixed member proportional representation, MMP. It was something that was run by the electorate of Ontario a while back and in other jurisdictions.

This is what they based it on. In 2002, there was a Canadian law commission study that was done, across the country, on how we could reform the democratic process. It said that if we went by way of proportional representation, MMP would be the system to use. I am not saying that would not be a good thing to have in this country. One-third of the people would either be taken from a list or appointed by a leader, and two-thirds would be directly elected, much like we are here, and our ridings would be much bigger. There would be two levels of MPs in this country. However, it was very prescriptive.

They spent two hours, in 2002, in St. John's, Newfoundland, talking about this system, and now it was going to take that two hours and impose it on the people. I found it at the time to be overly insincere. In actual fact, it could not have been done within four years, because so many people were not consulted about that exact system. If they had opened up the conversation post-election, that would have been better.

Elections Modernization Act December 12th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, in normal speak, we would probably call this a hoist amendment. On this side of the House, we call the hoist amendment part of the 2015 election. One of the reasons why we hoisted the Conservatives was the fact that the Fair Elections Act of 2014 was such an egregious mess. In many cases, it was really an insult to section 3 of the charter, the right of all Canadians above the age of 18 to vote.

One of the issues the member spoke of was with respect to the voter information card. How we draw logic that allowing people to use their voter identification card as a piece of ID is a regressive measure in democracy defies all logic.

I remember when a certain Conservative member from Mississauga said that he saw an actual abuse of the voter information card, only to find out he made it up. It was all make-believe. It was like this once upon a time a voter information card was abused. The whole thing was an absolute shambles from when it started until the very end.

If the Conservatives want to brag about the 2014 Fair Elections Act, or the unfair elections act, depending on what side of the House one is on, and if this bill does not go far enough to cut down on foreign intervention or interference in our elections, why did they not do something about in 2014?