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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is report.

Liberal MP for Malpeque (P.E.I.)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 62% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees of the House November 22nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 19th report of the Standing Committee on Finance in relation to Bill C-63, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017, and other measures. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendment.

I want to thank all committee members from all parties, who worked diligently and co-operatively to get this bill back in a timely manner.

Department of Public Works and Government Services Act November 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to thank my colleagues of all parties who spoke and offered their support for Bill S-236, that Charlottetown is the birthplace of Confederation.

When there are debates in this place, we sometimes do not agree and sometimes we do. Even when we agree, we always learn something new. I thank the members for York—Simcoe and Victoria. I learned something new from their remarks. I really liked the approach of the member for Brandon—Souris who appealed to the compromises we could make within our parties. The member and I did not always compromise on the farm movement, but just like the lessons of Confederation, we always learn some lessons as time passes.

It could be summed up best on why this was the birthplace of Confederation. I will read a note, which I believe comes from the archives. It says:

On the first official day of the conference, Macdonald spoke at length about the benefits of a union of all of British North America. The next day, Galt - a businessman, finance minister, and railway promoter - presented a well-researched description of the financial workings of such a union. On the third day, George Brown discussed the legal structure. And on the fourth day, McGee praised the nationalist identity, one that he saw bolstered by a vivid Canadian literature.

On every day of the conference, people spoke about building a greater nation.

I will sum up by saying thanks to all those in the House who offered their support at this stage of the bill today. We ought to recognize our founding fathers who met in Charlottetown and, yes, who went further in other conferences, such as the Quebec Conference and the London Conference. Over the years, we have learned, as the member for Victoria mentioned, about ensuring we are inclusive, about bringing in all peoples of our country and about what we are doing in this day and age. I can truly say, with the meeting and this bill to endorse Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation, that the founding fathers built, better than they new, a great nation, Canada, from coast to coast to coast.

Department of Public Works and Government Services Act November 6th, 2017

Clearly the timing could not be more appropriate, Mr. Speaker. This is our 150th anniversary. It is a time of celebration. At this time, we are building on the experiences of our past. A lot of effort has gone into this over the last number of years, and everything has come together in this, our 150th year. This is the time to pass in legislation that Charlottetown is indeed the birthplace of Confederation.

However, as I mentioned in my remarks, there were other important events. Yes, Charlottetown was the birthplace of Confederation, but I could also go into what a number of people from Upper and Lower Canada said at the conference, how they talked about building a union. That was then built on in the Quebec and London conferences. Charlottetown is the birthplace, but to get there, there were other conferences that happened as well.

Department of Public Works and Government Services Act November 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has made it very clear that we support the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The ministers have been involved very extensively in trying to work with the indigenous community to recognize those wrongs of the past and build for the future.

With regard to heritage sites around the city and on Prince Edward Island, that is happening in many cases. There is always much more to do but clearly, as I said in my remarks, the Mi'kmaq people have been residents, if I could call it that, of Prince Edward Island for some 12,000 years. They are a part of this. We are in different times today and their participation has to be recognized as well.

Department of Public Works and Government Services Act November 6th, 2017

moved that Bill S-236, An Act to recognize Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise today to move second reading of Bill S-236, an act to recognize Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation.

I begin by thanking my hon. colleague and fellow Islander, Senator Diane Griffin, for sponsoring the bill in the other place and for ably stickhandling it through the Senate legislative process. Of course thanks are also due to the senators who engaged in fulsome and thoughtful debate on Bill S-236 and who brought profile to the story of the founding of our great nation, and improved on the original bill.

Let me turn to the nuts and bolts of Bill S-236. The bill aims to entrench, honour, and affirm Charlottetown's integral role in the history of our country as the place where, in 1864, Sir John A. Macdonald led the Fathers of Confederation in a discussion about the political union that eventually led to Confederation. Reflecting on that foundational time in our history is especially important now as we near the end of the year-long celebration of our nation's 150th anniversary, and look forward to the next 150 years as a progressive, inclusive, and growing country.

Our founding fathers, I believe, with the seed of the idea of nationhood developed in Charlottetown and followed up later at the Quebec Conference, built better than they knew. In addition, I think it is critical to recognize that Bill S-236 will be an important contribution to the story of our nation's history that has been told in part by a number of actions that have preceded it, both in this place and elsewhere.

The bill will complement the September 1996 proclamation by the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien that recognized the role of Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation, and affirmed the city as an integral part of our Canadian heritage.

Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson should also be recognized. In October 1964, he had the official opening of the Confederation Centre of the Arts as Canada's national memorial to the Fathers of Confederation.

It also complements two measures that were passed in the P.E.I. Legislative Assembly: the Birthplace of Confederation Act; and a unanimous motion passed in December 2016, supporting the declaration of Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation and urging all of us as parliamentarians to support that legislation.

The story of Confederation is a story of building relationships. It is what we do within Canada and around the world. It is what we have always done.

On September 1, 1864, leaders of the governments and legislatures of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada met in Charlottetown, P.E.I. for what came to be known as the Charlottetown Conference. There, they created a shared vision of a union of the British North American colonies, and the creation of a new country. They did so through peaceful and constructive conversation, which is something that cannot be said of all nations.

This point was vividly made by the University of Prince Edward Islands's Dr. Ed MacDonald when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs during its examination of the bill in June. He said:

Other nations were born at the tip of a sword. We were born at the point of a pen by discussion and negotiation.

From this perspective, while the story of Confederation may be less dramatic than that of some other nations, I think that it reflects what is probably not a uniquely Canadian approach, but is perhaps quintessentially Canadian to the extent that we can work together collegially and try to find mutually beneficial solutions.

Certainly this Canadian approach is particularly relevant now, as we continue to take our place on the world stage and navigate international negotiations.

In both situations, we as Canadians look beyond our borders and within to re-examine long-standing relationships; reflect on our economic, social, and cultural values as Canadians; and show leadership to the world.

The parliamentary and public debate about the bill and about the story of Confederation that has occurred as we celebrate 150 years as a country has raised some issues that must be recognized. One is what many see as the lack of inclusive discussions at the Charlottetown Conference in 1864. No indigenous peoples were involved and no women participated.

I invite everyone though to cast their minds back to that year and to reflect on how common that situation probably was. “All men” was probably the rule rather than the exception to the rule. During the other place's consideration of Bill S-236, Senator Griffin read a statement from the Mi'kmaq Confederacy that reflects the importance of indigenous people to P.E.I.'s heritage as it does to the heritage of all regions of Canada.

The statement noted that Prince Edward Island has been the home of the Mi'kmaq people for more than 12,000 years, yet they were not invited to participate in the Charlottetown Conference. It also emphasized the continued importance of the inclusion of Canada's indigenous peoples on a nation-to-nation basis on all matters.

Over time, we have learned to be a more inclusive society, one that respects diversity in all its forms and values that brings. I am confident that the parties who would be involved in these types of discussions today would be more representative of our peoples and our regions than was the case 150 years ago. We cannot rewrite history. We can only move forward with the lessons that we learn from history.

I also want to recognize that while the Charlottetown Conference may be viewed as the watershed moment in the story of Confederation, the importance of the Quebec Conference in 1864 and the London Conference two years later cannot be understated. During consideration in the other place, the preamble of Bill S-236 was amended in order to acknowledge those important conferences. Yes, the bill would allow us to celebrate a particular city, but it would also allow us to honour and to affirm our built heritage.

A great many nations do so. As a member of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group, I had the privilege of visiting Independence Hall in Philadelphia, which is a landmark that is revered throughout the United States and recognized around the globe. This physical place, built heritage, gives Americans and international visitors a sense of history, a sense of place, a sense of how the United States came into being.

Some 20 years ago, I had the occasion to take my American counterparts onto the floor of Province House in order to hold our final Canada-U.S. IPG session. As we walked on the worn steps we explained to them that Province House is the location of the province's legislature and very importantly is the national treasure where the founding discussions about our country occurred. It may be just my imagination, and most people around this place know I do not have a big imagination, but I want to think that I saw awe in the eyes of my American colleagues that mirrors that which I saw when visiting Independence Hall. Although as is often the case with the Americans, they thought the place was a little smaller.

Province House is a national treasure where the Charlottetown Conference took place. It is one of the world's oldest still functioning parliamentary buildings and the only remaining building of the Confederation conferences. Built of Nova Scotia sandstone, we islanders are privileged that this building still stands strong in Charlottetown and remains the centre of political life.

The United States has Philadelphia's Independence Hall and no doubt other countries around the world have buildings they associate with their founding fathers. Such buildings provide citizens and visitors with a physical place to connect with history and gain a sense of how a nation came to be.

It is my hope that Charlottetown's Province House can be such a place, where visitors can stand as they admire the Confederation chamber's high-vaulted ceilings, upper balcony, cornice mouldings, and worn steps and reflect that they are in the same location where Canada's Fathers of Confederation met more than 150 years ago to discuss the future of our nation. Among others, Parks Canada is to be commended for the work that it continues to do to preserve and protect Province House in order to “give our past a future”.

Let me reiterate the bill's fundamental objectives: to affirm Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation; to complement provincial efforts; and to build on the designation of Charlottetown as the birthplace of our country in order to honour, celebrate, share, and educate. In reiterating that the story of Confederation is one of relationship building, let me say that I look forward to respectful and non-partisan debate in this place, and I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

To conclude, in addition to those I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks, let me thank a number of others who contributed in important ways to where we find ourselves today with this bill. Philip Brown must be commended for his passion and persistence, along with Sharon Larter and Leonard Cusack for their efforts; island MLA Jordan Brown; former MP and colleague George Proud, who introduced a similar bill many years ago; and the people from New Brunswick who helped bring national attention to our efforts through a friendly and spirited dialogue, exactly the sort that we would expect of Atlantic Canadians, about the story of Confederation. Last but certainly not least, let me thank my island colleague, the hon. member for Charlottetown, who is the House of Commons representative of the place that Province House calls home and will in due course be sharing his unique perspective on Bill S-236.

Attack in New York City November 1st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, Canadians last evening were shocked to learn about the senseless terrorist attack in New York City that caused a terrible and unnecessary loss of life.

We in this place stand with all Canadians in offering our sincere condolences to those mourning the loss of family and friends. Innocent people doing nothing more than going about their daily lives or visiting Manhattan had their lives extinguished, with others injured and their lives changed forever. We condemn such senseless acts by those who attack democracy, our values, and our freedoms.

Much like the city itself, New Yorkers are resilient. Tragic events like yesterday will not deter them from going about their lives, nor should they. Stories of heroism and strength of community are already emerging. As before, the city and people of New York will not be shaken.

To our American friends, our allies and neighbours, we share in your grief, extend our prayers, and stand with you on this day.

Interparliamentary Delegations October 25th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present, in both official languages, three reports of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group.

The first concerns the Pacific Northwest Economic Region 26th Annual Summit, held in Calgary, Alberta, from July 17 to 21, 2016.

The second concerns the 56th Annual Meeting and Regional Policy Forum of the Council of State Governments' Eastern Regional Conference, held in Quebec City, Quebec, from August 7 to 10, 2016.

The third concerns the Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance Conference, held in Washington, D.C., United States of America, from October 2 to 4, 2016.

House of Commons Pages October 25th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, for those who brave the daily event that is question period, they may have noticed the efficiency with which the House runs. I should clarify. I do not mean the efficiency of debate, because some days, we can get a bit off track. Some even go as far as to do the odd pigeon dance. The efficiency I am referring to is more logistical.

They deliver messages, support the Speaker, and distribute official documents. Simply put, without them, the House would not run. I refer to our pages.

This year, a constituent from the great riding of Malpeque was chosen as one of 40 pages from across Canada. Sebastien Arsenault, a commerce student studying at the University of Ottawa, started the page program in August. I congratulate Sebastien. I am sure his family is very proud of him.

I extend my sincere thanks to all the wonderful pages who help the House run, and I encourage graduating high school students to apply today for next year's program.

Questions on the Order Paper October 6th, 2017

With regard to the investigation into the Clyde River Fish Kill in Clyde River and area on Prince Edward Island (PEI): (a) how many personnel from Environment and Climate Change Canada (EC) have been involved in the investigation; (b) with regard to interviews conducted between EC officials and individuals involved in the case, how many interviews have taken place, and over what period of time; (c) with regard to trips to PEI related to this investigation made by off-island EC offices, (i) how many trips were made, (ii) how many vehicle hours have been accumulated, (iii) what was the duration of each trip, (iv) what were the accommodation and travel status costs; (d) who requested this extended investigation at the federal level; (e) which individual, or individuals, from PEI requested the assistance of EC; (f) has EC produced a report on the extraordinary rain event that caused the flooding and, if so, what did the report conclude; and (g) what are the details of all correspondence, both written and electronic, related to this matter, between officials from the PEI Department of the Environment and EC personnel?

Questions on the Order Paper October 6th, 2017

With regard to the application by the Canadian Transit Company to expand the Ambassador Bridge, entitled “The Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project”: (a) how long has the application been in the system; (b) why has there been a delay in the issuing of a permit under the International Bridges and Tunnels Act; (c) what is the target date for the permit to be issued; and (d) which official or officials considered the project?