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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

Main Estimates, 2018-19 June 14th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, in many cases I find the same instances. What happens is that a lot of people make mistakes and get caught in a system where they fall through the cracks. Then they come to us and it becomes a longer process for them to receive their refund.

The paper issue was also a big one, which we returned to in many cases. People want to have the paper return instead of just going online. I am from a rural riding, and some communities do not even have high-speed Internet. That makes it even worse.

Connect to innovate is a program we invested in just a short time ago, which is trying to bridge that gap. I hope that down the road we can bridge that gap for low-income earners as well.

In the meantime, for the 1-800 number, what happens is that we bring them into our office and we do it in front of them on the computer if need be. The member is right. That should be rectified. I do not know of any particular instance, and due to privacy laws I cannot talk about it.

The final point I would like to make is that the new horizons for seniors program was developed, implemented, and put in the House, and in this country, by former prime minister Paul Martin.

Main Estimates, 2018-19 June 14th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for this time to speak on this particular issue today. I know we have a long evening ahead of us, but if members can bear with me for a few moments, I will bring forward my thoughts and some of my findings based on my experience and on my work in my riding.

I will be sharing my time with the able and honourable member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, a beautiful riding just to the east of us here.

I am proud to stand today and talk about our government's plan to put people first and ensure equality and fairness for all Canadians. We know that providing Canadians with the opportunity to realize their full potential is not just the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do for our economy. By investing to create these opportunities for all Canadians, in all their diversity, we are instilling confidence and reinforcing the foundation for a stronger middle class and a growing economy for the benefit of all.

I would like to spend a few minutes outlining the key elements of that plan, which are included in the supply bill before us today.

It is about a stronger economy that benefits all Canadians. A confident, growing middle class is driving economic growth, creating new jobs and more opportunities to succeed. Our plan is working, because Canadians are working.

Over the last two years, Canadians have worked hard to grow our economy, creating 60% more jobs than the previous Conservative government over the same time period and driving the unemployment rate down to a 40-year low. Middle-class Canadians are now feeling more optimistic about their future, whether their plan is to pay down debt, save for a first home, go back to school to train for a new job, or ease their way into retirement.

In my riding, the average age is fairly high. The issue of those in the middle class transitioning into their senior years is, of course, a very important one, which we find addressed in the bill as well.

The very first thing we did as a government was to raise taxes on the top 1% so that we could lower them for the middle class. Also, through the Canada child benefit, we increased support for nine out of 10 families, putting more money, tax-free, into the pockets of parents for them to spend on things they need. That means more money for books, skating lessons, or warm clothes for winter. These are important achievements for the middle class and the people working hard to join it.

We know there is still hard work ahead of us before we meet our full potential, and there are challenges that must be overcome. We also know that some of our greatest challenges present the greatest opportunities. In the 150-year existence of our country, we certainly know that to be true.

On the international stage, we are members of the G7, and we punch way above our weight, whether it is the strength of our economy or the strength of the exports that we push around the world.

By creating these opportunities, the government is taking action through budget 2018 to make sure that the benefits of a growing economy are felt by more and more people.

We are creating opportunities that draw strength from our diversity to build a country where every Canadian has a real and fair chance to work, to contribute to our economy, and to succeed. That includes Canada's talented, ambitious, and hard-working women. That is why in budget 2018 we focused on issues such as promoting equal parenting for new families, with a proposed new El parental sharing benefit, and tackling the gender wage gap. In short, it is fundamental to a strong and growing middle class. By building on this understanding, the government, through budget 2018, takes us further than ever before toward a stronger Canada.

I would like to talk in detail about one of the things we have been working on for quite some time, first as a party in opposition and now in government.

We know that Canadians are working hard to build a better life for themselves and their families. Low-income Canadians are sometimes working two or three jobs so that they can join the middle class and give their children and grandchildren a better chance at success. Like all Canadians, they deserve to have their hard work rewarded with greater opportunities and a fair chance at success.

That is why, in budget 2018, we introduced the new Canada workers benefit, a new tax benefit that would put more money into the pockets of low-income workers. The new Canada workers benefit builds on the former working income tax benefit, or WITB, to give even more people greater financial benefits from working. The government is also ensuring that, starting in 2019, every tax filer who could benefit from the new CWB will benefit, by proposing changes that would allow the Canada Revenue Agency to automatically determine eligibility for those who do not make a claim.

We have also enhanced access to the Canada child benefit, which we have talked about quite a bit here simply because we are quite proud of what we have done over the last little while. It is a tax-free benefit, especially for those with young families. We fought a gruelling campaign over this issue. We came out on the successful side, promising to do just this, and we are delivering it after two years. Like the Canada workers benefit, the Canada child benefit, or CCB, is a cornerstone in our plan to strengthen the middle class.

We recognize that indigenous communities, in particular remote and northern indigenous communities, face distinct barriers to accessing federal benefits such as the CCB. That is why, in budget 2018, we expanded efforts to reach out to indigenous communities and to conduct pilot outreach activities for urban indigenous communities as well.

I recall that in the last Parliament we sat in front of many stakeholders in the indigenous community and first nations. In Newfoundland and Labrador, I have the only reserve on the island, which is Conne River, or Miawpukek. I remember some of them talking about their concerns for their brothers and sisters who were in urban areas yet full members of their own reserve. They were deeply concerned about the fact that a lot of first nations people living in larger centres were not able to access some of the government funding and programs that were available. That became a priority for many of us, me included, not just about first nations, but all indigenous people in Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly in Labrador.

These efforts would ensure that indigenous people are better able to access the full range of federal social benefits, including the Canada child benefit, putting money into the pockets of those who are unable to afford basic goods for young children. That is what we built our campaign around.

In closing, these investments in budget 2018, included in the supply bill before us today, recognize that new opportunities and equality are at the heart of Canada's future economic success. Fairness demands equality, and the prosperity of all Canadians depends on it. Certainly in an area such as my own, where the unemployment rate is high, we seek out ways so that people can re-educate themselves. We seek out ways by which they can find other forms of income by retraining and other methods.

For seniors, we want to provide a blanket security that provides them with a living and with services so they can continue to enjoy their moments as they slip into their senior years.

By promoting equality, our government will help create long-term prosperity for the middle class and those working hard to join it.

On the other issues we have talked about in the House, both in the past and now as we lead up to this prosperity of a burgeoning middle class and low unemployment rates, I would say that it is best for us not just to create the jobs by which these people would have income relief available to them in case of unexpected job loss, but also to create a just society they can live in.

One of the programs I am very proud of is the new horizons for seniors program. It is not a recent program; it has been around since the early 2000s. I bring up this program because it is an investment in the social well-being of our seniors.

I recently returned from a trip regarding the OECD. Many countries were fascinated by the new horizons program, because it provides a social benefit to seniors that they have not seen before. Many countries get deeply concerned about financial well-being, and it is true that this is the cornerstone, but to build upon that for our seniors is very important. There are other programs associated with it, also for the middle class. That is why we are very proud of the Canada child benefit.

Senate Appointment June 7th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise in the House today to congratulate Dr. Mohamed Ravalia from Twillingate, Newfoundland and Labrador, on his appointment to the Senate.

Dr. Ravalia fled apartheid in Zimbabwe over 30 years ago to find his new home in Canada.

His passion for rural health care has made him an exemplary family physician and academic, specializing in primary care reform, care of the elderly, and chronic disease management. As a senior medical officer at the Notre Dame Bay Memorial Health Centre, Dr. Ravalia has worked tirelessly to provide residents of Newfoundland and Labrador with optimal medical care and support. He also serves as assistant dean for the Rural Medical Education Network of Memorial University.

He has many other accomplishments as well, including the Canadian Family Physician of the Year award, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the Order of Canada.

I ask members to please join me in congratulating Dr. Ravalia on his appointment as the representative of the great province of Newfoundland and Labrador in the Senate.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1 May 31st, 2018

Madam Speaker, the member talked about the spending issue. I recall back in 2008 when spending by the federal government at the time was rising at an exponential rate. Conservatives will use the excuse that they were spending because the recession was settling in, but the spending took place before signs of the recession started settling in.

The member talked about the $4.5 billion for the Trans Mountain pipeline as a government investment in people. A few decades ago, the Government of Canada decided to invest to save the Hibernia project off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. It turns out that it saved the whole project, which has returned dividends since then, as it is now turning a healthy profit. That was done by a Conservative government. I wonder if he thinks that was a bad investment.

Canada Elections Act February 7th, 2018

Madam Speaker, when we listen to this time and time again, it is almost like the years 2006 to 2015 just did not exist. My issue about all of this is, it is not like there was never a Conservative minister that attended any fundraisers, or that leaders never had any fundraisers. I am not even sure if Mr. Harper ever divulged his list of donors from the very beginning. Then those members say things like, “We do not take money from the wealthy.” Has no wealthy person ever given to the Conservative Party of Canada? That is a rhetorical question.

I am absolutely gobsmacked by the amount of hypocrisy in this. I absolutely have no question. I am stunned.

Canada Elections Act February 7th, 2018

Madam Speaker, again I have to ask, because it was said in the House by a Conservative member that the government should have that distinct advantage to raise twice as much money as the party in opposition. Is that not the very essence of cash for access? If that is his assumption, then that is exactly what we are trying to get rid of. Is that what the Conservatives are arguing against or are they arguing for it? I am not sure.

Canada Elections Act February 7th, 2018

Madam Speaker, the member quoted quite a bit in his speech, and I have one for him as well. However, I want to touch on the fact that the transparency issue is one that is brought froward in Bill C-50, and whether one calls it a positive first step or a step in the direction, it is simply just that. It baffles me that the member would not vote for this.

I mentioned before in this debate how Conservative ministers used to have fundraisers as well. I mean, that is politics 101 in this country. The executive sits within the House of Commons. Therefore, they have to get elected just like the rest of us.

The Conservatives also claim that when they found out or when it was reported in the media that stakeholders were at some of the ministers' fundraisers, they decided to back away. It is almost like they were saying one's hand was caught in the cookie jar, when in fact they were caught reaching for that very same cookie jar. I find that baffling.

The member mentioned the success of Conservative money raising as opposed to Liberal money raising. Here is what was said by a Conservative member during this debate:

By the way, the party in government should be able to raise twice as much money as the opposition because the governing party is the one that makes the decisions.

Does the member agree with that?

Canada Elections Act February 2nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, my questioning is going to pick up where I last left off with the Conservative member. He mentioned that he is supporting the bill, but that it does not go far enough in his opinion. That is fine and I respect that.

Further, he went on to vilify how we do fundraising. His assertions about cash for access I will put aside. I am not privy to every conversation that happens between a current minister, whether they are federal or provincial, and someone else. If the conversation does delve into the issue of influence, that is wrong. I acknowledge that.

However, let us acknowledge the fact that ministers in this country also belong to a legislature and are involved in elections in which they have to raise money. The member mentioned his leader, Jagmeet Singh. If we look at the numbers from the leadership campaign, he is well accomplished at raising a substantial amount of money, outnumbering his colleagues by a vast margin. I am insinuating nothing about those conversations and what was said.

If this does not go far enough, how far does one go before actually banning people from fundraising in general?

Canada Elections Act February 2nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I have known the member for a while now, and I know he is new. I saw him in action at the Procedure and House Affairs Committee, and I have a great deal of respect for him, both as a member and as part of the exempt staff he pointed out.

This is probably more about me speaking about Bill C-50 itself as opposed to going through the list of his arguments or assertions. In this case, transparency is key. In my 14 years' experience here, everyone asks for transparency in light of the fact that we are not trying to eliminate something that exists, as in the case of fundraising. We all know there are certainties in life. There is death, taxes, and of course fundraising, because we all have to do it, which was acknowledged by the other side. I appreciate that.

What Bill C-50 does, just the bill alone, is that it provides an amount of transparency for those who want to attend for the sake of their party or their own electoral district. The rules are in place to allow transparency so that everybody can see this, and it allows them to participate in what is a function of democracy.

With some people, like in the United States, it goes very far in what fundraising is meant to do. I am glad we have the laws that we do. The member pointed out what Jean Chrétien did many years ago, banning the donations from either corporations or unions, and I agree with that as well. That is truly a great step in the right direction. This is part of that step as well in terms of transparency.

If the member does not support Bill C-50, what is the answer?

Order of Canada February 2nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today and congratulate Chief Mi’sel Joe of the Miawpukek First Nation in Conne River, Newfoundland and Labrador, on receiving the Order of Canada last week.

Chief Joe has been active in first nations politics since 1974. It is under the leadership of Chief Joe that the Miawpukek Reserve has flourished and set a national example of indigenous self-governance, including policing, education, and full employment for all band members. Chief Joe has worked tirelessly to promote and preserve the culture, language, and traditions of his people. He is recognized both nationally and internationally as a leader in spiritual and alternative healing.

We thank Chief Mi'sel Joe for his hard work, compassion, and leadership, which I greatly admire, and congratulate him on his Order of Canada. It is well deserved.