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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was certainly.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Miramichi (New Brunswick)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

National Fiddling Day Act October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for her story. It certainly does make a difference.

With the recognition of this bill, I hope we are able to spend more time away from the TV and enjoy our fiddling as we used to.

National Fiddling Day Act October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure of the whereabouts of violin day, but I am focusing and happy to sponsor the fiddlers day. Whether we have a violin day, it will not hurt us supporting fiddlers day as well.

National Fiddling Day Act October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, fiddlers across our country as well as outside of Canada have been acknowledged. As I said, Matilda Murdoch from Miramichi, whom I hold very dear to my heart, is certainly recognized worldwide, especially in Ireland. As well, we know that Don Messer was well known worldwide.

Fiddlers not only contribute to our country, but contribute everywhere in this great world as well. They have certainly made our lives that more enjoyable.

National Fiddling Day Act October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question. Regardless of where the question came from, I certainly am honoured to support it.

I assure the member opposite that these fiddlers have contributed greatly to our communities right across our nation. It does not exist in just one area, as I said in my speech.

I am happy to support this, regardless of where it came from. I just know it is one of those things that we need to deal with.

National Fiddling Day Act October 7th, 2014

moved that Bill S-218, An Act respecting National Fiddling Day, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Bill S-218. The bill would designate the third Saturday in May as National Fiddling Day. This would encourage the celebration and the appreciation of the beauty and the history of fiddle music and would be in honour of Antonio Stradivari, the renowned crafter of stringed instruments.

I was born in a family of five in a rural area of New Brunswick called Escuminac. As in many other areas of this nation at that time, we had no television and were without all of today's technology, so the fiddle became king, and so it was in many other parts of this great country.

Fiddlers come from every part of this nation with an incredible diversity of background. From the earliest of times, Europeans took fiddles down every river system and on expeditions across this land. The earliest French fur traders carried them. The Scottish, Orkney, and Shetland men, stationed in the icy confines of Hudson Bay, had them. Native peoples traded for them, and they were regarded as a most prized possession in thousands of homesteads.

Clearly, the fiddle was a cherished instrument for many reasons. It was compact, easy to fix, and easy to tune and always brought a smile when played. Indeed, it could be argued that the fiddle was the reason for gatherings and not the other way around.

What made the fiddle so prominent was the dance. People across this land partied and danced whenever opportunity allowed, to break the tedium of hard-working lives and to add to their sense of community spirit. Fiddlers were highly respected and regarded in their communities, especially if they were good ones.

In Canada there are many regional styles of fiddling, which survived mainly due to the isolation of many communities: the Red River style, popularized by Andy De Jarlis; the Quebecois style of Joseph Allard, Joe Bouchard, and “Pitou” Louis Boudreault; the Ottawa Valley style of Brian Hebert and Reg Hill; the Acadian style of Eloi LeBlanc; the native and the Métis style; the western swing style of the Prairies; and styles that have originated in various parts of Europe.

The most popular was the down-home style as characterized by the playing of the late Don Messer. Don Messer was born in Tweedside, New Brunswick, and began playing the violin at age five, learning fiddle tunes with Irish and Scottish influences. As a young boy, Messer would play concerts in the local area and, later, throughout southwestern New Brunswick.

During the 1920s, Messer moved to Boston, Massachusetts, for three years, where he received his only formal instruction in music.

Messer left Saint John in 1939 and moved to Charlottetown, P.E.I., and worked as music director at CFCY. Here he formed the Islanders, and this music group began to make regular television appearances on CBHT-TV in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

CBC Television began a summer series called The Don Messer Show on August 7, 1959, which continued into the fall as Don Messer's Jubilee, produced out of Halifax. Don Messer's Jubilee was a must for us every Monday night throughout the 1960s.

How we loved to hear the sound of the twin fiddles of Don Messer and Earl Mitton. The show won a wide audience and reportedly became the second most watched television show in Canada during that decade, second to Hockey Night in Canada.

Another down-home style fiddler was Ned Landry, who taught himself to play the fiddle at an early age. Ned Landry was winner in the open class of the 1956, 1957, and 1962 Canadian Open Old Time Fiddlers' Contest.

Landry appeared in the 1950s on CFBC Radio, Saint John and in the 1960s on Don Messer's Jubilee and other TV shows. Landry was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1991. Landry was also later inducted into the North American Fiddlers Hall of Fame and the Nova Scotia Country Music Hall of Fame.

Ivan Hicks, another famous New Brunswick player, has played the fiddle for over 60 years. He and his wife Vivian have shared their talents with many students, young and old alike, and have been an inspiration to countless others. Ivan is actively involved in promoting, attending, and instructing at workshops. He continues to judge fiddling contests throughout Canada.

Many awards and honours have come to them, including the induction into the New Brunswick Country Music Hall of Fame for both Ivan and Vivian and the North American Fiddlers' Hall of Fame for Ivan.

I assure members that Miramichiers look forward to the regular visits of Ivan and Vivian Hicks to Miramichi.

Then, of course, there is Miramichi's very own Matilda Murdoch. At the age of eight, her father gave her a fiddle, and later that year, through her own determination, she played her first tune. Since then, she has become an icon in fiddle circles throughout North America.

Murdoch has been part of the cultural community of Miramichi and New Brunswick for most of her 94 years. Her style of playing has been admired and studied by not only local fiddlers but also fiddlers from throughout North America and, more recently, from Ireland.

Entertainer Don Messer was one of those many who admired her. He invited Matilda to play on the popular Don Messer Show and he also recorded several of her tunes, to show his respect and love for her music.

Another great admirer of Matilda was one of our very own, the late Jim Flaherty, who visited Miramichi and was able to enjoy Matilda's music in his ancestral home of Loggieville.

Matilda has garnered regional, national, and international recognition for her abilities as a composer, as a player, and as a teacher. She was inducted into the North American Fiddlers' Hall of Fame and the New Brunswick Country Music Hall of Fame.

Matilda Murdoch has reached, and has way surpassed, the definition of “success”. Organizations and musicians have recognized her on a worldwide scale. Matilda also was a recipient of the Order of New Brunswick, as well as the Order of Canada.

Loggieville also boasts another very accomplished fiddle player, Samantha Robichaud, who represents a new generation of fiddlers. Now in her late twenties, Samantha has released seven critically acclaimed albums and has earned many awards.

Our province also hosts a unique annual festival in the town of Plaster Rock, New Brunswick. It is the annual Fiddles on the Tobique. The event coincides, of course, with fiddlehead season.

This festival started with a lone fiddler, many years ago, and today attracts people from all over the world. Quite possibly, it is the only event of its kind anywhere. This event combines two honoured New Brunswick traditions: fiddling and canoeing. Imagine the beautiful sight and the sound of a flotilla of canoes carrying almost 200 musicians down the Tobique River while they play old-time fiddle music. Those attending are treated to concerts, jam sessions, dances, and even an instructional fiddle camp.

Our Atlantic Canada region, in general, has had great fiddlers.

Winston "Scotty" Fitzgerald, 1914 to 1987, was a renowned Cape Breton fiddler. He was a pioneer in recorded performances of the music and has heavily influenced the style and the repertoire of later generations of players.

Another award-winning Cape Breton musician, Natalie MacMaster, began her fiddling career at 16. Her musical venture now spans over three decades, completing 11 albums, performing thousands of shows, and collaborating with a multitude of world-renowned artists.

MacMaster's sought-after talents are in demand by her musical peers, all from a range of genres. She has collaborated with countless artists, including a recording with Yo-Yo Ma, which won a Grammy award.

With her Cape Breton roots, her dedication to her craft, and her love for her family, Natalie is a musical force with a long and successful career in music, who will, without a doubt, continue to warm the hearts of fans for years to come.

Al Cherny, a great Canadian fiddler, was born to Ukrainian parents in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Cherny won the Canadian Old Time Fiddlers Contest in Ontario under the novelty class from 1959 to 1961 and the open class in both 1960 and 1961.

In the early 1970s, he was a leading studio musician, recording with musicians like Tommy Hunter and Sylvia Tyson. He released more than 10 studio albums and received an RPM Big Country award for top country instrumentalist in 1978.

He also performed regularly on The Tommy Hunter Show until his death in 1989. Cherny was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989.

Although these aforementioned fiddlers are giants in our country, along with many others, I would like to speak on a more personal level.

We were very fortunate growing up to have a cousin residing with us who we endearingly called Uncle Mike. He was Michael Jimmo and he played the fiddle on a daily basis until his death at 93. Very often he would be joined by our Uncle Ray Jimmo, and an evening of entertainment we would have. We grew up listening to other local fiddlers, such as Mont MacDonald and his sons, Elmer and Joe.

To this day, all of us recognize great fiddle tunes such as Maple Sugar, St. Anne's Reel, Liberty Two-Step, Ontario Swing, Orange Blossom Special, and most recently, of course, Loggieville Two-Step.

Today, my riding of Miramichi is blessed to have a large group of musicians called the Miramichi Fiddlers. This group can be heard during summer festivals like the Miramichi Irish Festival, the long-running Miramichi Folksong Festival, and Miramichi's own fiddle festival.

This group is composed of 30 distinguished men and women. Besides festivals, members of this group play regularly at fundraisers in and around Miramichi, giving of their time and talents to help others.

I have mentioned only a small number of Canada's fiddlers. We all know there are many more. They have all contributed greatly to communities across this country. With the absence of today's technology, I guess one could say that, as we were growing up in rural Canada in the 1950s and 1960s, the fiddle was our form of social networking.

It brought us good times, good music and, of course, good memories. I truly believe the fiddle has created bonds through our musical family from coast to coast to coast in this nation, and those who play it deserve the honour of a national fiddlers day.

As Father John Angus Rankin, the Cape Breton musician, said:

The music comes from the fiddler's heart, through his strings and straight into your heart.

National Seniors Day October 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to rise in the House to pay tribute to National Seniors Day. Just today, Canada has been ranked the fourth best country in the world to live in as a senior. Our government accomplished this through the implementation of smart policies that promote greater care for seniors, such as the seniors horizon program and by putting more money back into seniors' pockets through the introduction of pension income splitting, which the leader of the Liberal Party, shamefully, opposes. These actions are responsible for removing almost 400,000 seniors from the tax rolls completely.

I encourage all Canadians to find their own special way to celebrate the seniors in their lives, whether it is a visit, a hug, or even simply a “thank you” for all they have contributed to our lives. Canadians everywhere should take the time to recognize what seniors have done for us. I wish Canada a happy National Seniors Day.

Arthur Dunphy September 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the men and women in the armed forces are all heroes, but I would like to draw attention to an individual from my riding of Miramichi, Mr. Arthur Dunphy.

Arthur was born in 1916 and enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940. Flying the Halifax bomber into hostile areas, he and his crew were responsible for the delivery of personnel and supplies to the underground movement to help disrupt the enemies. During his tours, Arthur took part in 85 of these missions.

After the war, Arthur was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his acts of valour and courage.

To maintain his love of flying, he went on to buy a small plane and built the Dunphy Airstrip in his community of Blackville. Arthur loved to fly, and did so right up until the age of 61.

Arthur Dunphy passed away on September 6 of this year. He lived a life of which his family and his country can be proud. He was a community-minded individual and will long be remembered.

Committees of the House September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to ensure that all Miramichiers, and all Canadians as well, know that our open data portal at is available. It is a one-stop shop for federal government data that can be downloaded free of charge by Canadians. It provides lots of information that all Canadians would want to be seeking.

Committees of the House September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for the question and say how much I enjoyed working on this committee. This was my first year working on the committee. As was said here earlier tonight, we know there is still more work to be done, and we will continue to work for the good of all Canadians.

The government is presently reviewing the committee's recommendations to determine how best to implement the proposed improvements to COIA in a manner that furthers the purposes of the act.

Committees of the House September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, before the act existed, the situation was far from satisfactory, but now as the committee noted in its report, the act is working well in accordance with its objectives. I know our government welcomes the recommendations outlined in the committee's report and agrees with the improvements to the Conflict of Interest Act. Canada now has the most accountable, transparent system of government in the world. These recommendations help us make it that much better.