House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was farmers.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Liberal MP for Malpeque (P.E.I.)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 41% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply November 17th, 2020

Yes, Madam Speaker, I do believe the government needs to be clear on this issue. What I tried to point out in my remarks is that, yes, we trade around the world but our most important relationship is with our Five Eyes partners. That is where we develop our allies, develop our trust and develop our confidence.

The government, in my view, has to be very clear about where it is at on this particular issue. I do not believe Huawei should have a place within our system, because our experience in the last few years has shown that it cannot be trusted, and that is critical. Yes, the government needs to make a decision.

Business of Supply November 17th, 2020

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Don Valley West.

I also want to thank the member for Wellington—Halton Hills for bringing forward the motion because I think it is an important debate and an important motion.

I want to start by making a comment on the member's preamble to the action aspects of his motion, which I agree with and will get to in a moment. In point (i) of the motion, it states that:

(i) the People’s Republic of China, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, is threatening Canada’s national interest and its values, including Canadians of Chinese origin within Canada’s borders....

I believe that statement, sadly, is increasingly true, but it was not always that way and I do not believe it has to remain that way. The motion is, in effect, calling out the Chinese leadership. Let us get back to normalizing our relationship and work together like we have done in the past.

I say it was not always that way and I will tell colleagues why. It was Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the former prime minister, who went to China in 1973 and worked to open up a relationship with China and then make that relationship important for both countries.

We have had some considerable background in China. It could be called a “leg-up”. In the country, when then prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau went there, Dr. Norman Bethune, a Canadian, was seen as a Canadian hero among the Chinese population for saving people's lives. Canada, because of Dr. Bethune, had a place in the Chinese culture and the Chinese mind.

An agency that I was involved with in the farm movement, the Canadian Wheat Board, was the first international agency that went to China to open up trade and did it on credit. The Conservatives, I know, during the former Harper government, destroyed the Canadian Wheat Board as a farm marketing board. It has now been bought out by Saudi interests, but that is beside the point. The fact of the matter is that we had an in with China, where that marketing agency provided credit so that China could feed its people. Eventually those loans were paid back.

Let us not forget the somewhat positive history we have had before this time, despite our relationship being considerably negative today.

I have been to China a number of times. In fact, I also hosted a former ambassador in Prince Edward Island and later hosted a group of Chinese legislators in P.E.I. Out of those meetings, and through some of Prince Edward Island's educational institutions, we were able to build a close working relationship with educational institutions in China. That relationship goes on to this day and is beneficial to citizens in both countries.

I say that because it was not always that way. We need to try to get back to a better relationship of trust. Certainly the arrest of the two Michaels, Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor, and what is happening in Hong Kong gives us plenty of reasons to be concerned and to lose trust in the Chinese leadership. I say to the Chinese leadership that it is at the moment certainly going in the wrong direction.

Before I get to the key recommendations of the motion, I want to give the background of where the government is at on national security, because we kind of overlook that from time to time.

The government's priority remains to protect Canada and Canadians against activities that undermine democratic values, economic interests, sovereignty and overall national security. The government is aware that certain foreign states may conduct themselves in Canada in a manner that is inconsistent with our values.

This threat is not new and not limited to any one country. Governments worldwide have been engaged in efforts to mould public opinion and government policies in other countries to advance their own interests. When this is done in a transparent, peaceful manner within the law, it is called diplomacy or treaty negotiations. When it is covert or clandestine, employs threats or intimidation or consists of lies and disinformation aimed at misleading people, destabilizing the economy or society, or manipulating the democratic process, a red line gets crossed.

It could be the old-fashioned way, with certain intelligence services collecting or stealing political, economic, commercial or military information, but increasingly, the interference is higher tech. Social media has been used to build anxiety, and even hysteria, around sensitive issues. Fake news masquerades as legitimate information.

Several recent reports have highlighted the threat of foreign interference in Canada. For example, a 2019 CSIS public report released on May 20, 2020, states that espionage and foreign-influenced activities “are almost always conducted to further the interests of a foreign state, using both state and non-state entities.” Foreign powers have also attempted to covertly monitor and intimidate Canadian communities to fulfill their own strategic objectives.

Further, the annual report of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians outlined foreign interference activities by a handful of states, like China and Russia, including the targeting of Canadian institutions by threat actors. The Government of Canada's security and intelligence community is combatting these threats within their respective mandates.

As an aside, I was at meetings with a number of governors of states in the United States some time ago. It actually shocked me what the governor of West Virginia had to say. They were talking about attempts to hack into their security systems. The governor indicated that in the previous year, either 2016 or 2017, in the state of West Virginia, they had 82 million attempted hacks.

There are whole departments in some governments and that is all they do. They try to hack into intelligence systems or steal secrets from other countries. That tells us how serious the problem is with that one example. Canada too has to be prepared for that kind of intervention into its system.

From a law enforcement perspective, foreign interference activities can be investigated when criminal or illegal activity is involved. The RCMP, for instance, has a broad, multi-faceted mandate that allows it to investigate and prevent foreign intelligence, drawing on various legislation.

As part of its mandate, CSIS provides the Government of Canada with timely and relevant intelligence on these threats for actions as appropriate. The Communications Security Establishment works to monitor the cybersecurity environment and to use that understanding to identify, address and share knowledge about systematic threats, risks and vulnerabilities.

A key point of the motion is “make a decision on Huawei's involvement in Canada's 5G network within 30 days of the adoption of this motion”. I am not sticky on the 30 days. There may be another option there. However, I can say the fact is this: Australia, the United States and the U.K. have all set restrictions on access to their 5G networks, not allowing equipment into national development.

We have a long history with these Five Eyes partners. We have to stand with them to protect our interests in common with each other, and that means we cannot allow a foreign interest into our security and intelligence system.

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova Scotia October 19th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, the member for Kings—Hants said that he would support a side table for the commercial fishermen to have their say, and I agree with that.

I will give a bit of history. Previously, when we were talking about commercial allocations under Marshall, the commercial fishermen were at the table and they broke the impasse by suggesting one in and one out; in other words, buy a licence to give a licence in the fishery.

Does the member see that as a possibility moving forward to find solutions, whether it is a side table but at least involving the commercial fishermen?

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova Scotia October 19th, 2020

Madam Speaker, I am somewhat concerned by most of the remarks I heard tonight. They have all be on the moderate livelihood side, and yes, that does need to be addressed. However, there was also another key point in terms of the Marshall decision, and that relates to conservation.

The court stressed the priority of conservation and the responsibility of the minister. I would like to quote the Marshall decision, which states, “The paramount regulatory objective is conservation and responsibility for it is placed squarely on the minister responsible and not on the aboriginal or non-aboriginal users of the resource.” That is a point that is not talked about in the media and has not really been talked about tonight.

Both those issues have to be addressed: the right for a moderate livelihood and the conservation of the resource for both commercial fishermen and aboriginal fishermen. Would the member agree with that?

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply September 30th, 2020

Madam Speaker, the federal government has shown time and time again that it is there to assist the provinces. About $19 billion was transferred to the provinces through the safe restart program.

One of the concerns I have with the Bloc Québécois relates to taxpayers. Canadian taxpayers cannot be an ATM machine for the Province of Quebec. There have to be national programs under national guidelines. About $11 billion under equalization went to the Province of Quebec. There is also $19 billion under the restart program and $2 billion for education. Program after program—

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply September 30th, 2020

Madam Speaker, after those compliments by the member opposite, I really hate to say it, but strenuously disagree with him.

The fact is that there is not an Ottawa-knows-best approach. We have heard consistently from the oil and gas sector. This government has shown that it is behind the oil industry by being onside with Keystone, being onside with Trans Mountain and in fact spending money to get those resources to market.

We have consistently said that we want to work with the oil and gas industry on innovation. That industry is going to be needed for years and we are there to support those workers. Many COVID programs have supported workers who needed it during these times.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply September 30th, 2020

Madam Speaker, there is mention of the opioid crisis in the throne speech, but the throne speech basically outlines a road map. I agree 100% with the member and with the concerns he has raised. My seatmate throughout many past parliamentary sessions was also from Vancouver. I have heard from her constantly about it.

It is a crisis. We must work with the provinces and the health agencies and put some money toward this, so we can start to put this crisis behind us.

I was originally involved with drug injection sites, so I know there are all kinds of things we have to do on the ground to deal with this, and we must do it.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply September 30th, 2020

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.

I am most pleased to speak on the throne speech. I do believe this throne speech, and the legislation and policy that will flow out of it, will put Canada on the right track going forward.

We are in a pandemic that seems to be gaining ground again. This is the time for leadership. The Prime Minister has shown leadership day after day. Contrary to what the Leader of the Opposition said, the Prime Minister and his government were in communication with all members of the House, and having meetings at night in conference calls with the bureaucracy. Everybody put in ideas, but the government showed that it was willing, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, to make changes that would improve policies for individuals, businesses, organizations, provinces and territories, day in and day out since the pandemic began.

The Prime Minister developed the programs. He worked with the provinces, and the provinces have congratulated the Prime Minister, time and again, on his willingness to work with them during this pandemic.

He has certainly shown leadership in terms of working with all Canadians. I heard the Leader of the Opposition say that he only wanted to work with some. No. The Prime Minister has worked with all Canadians, with all organizations and with all provinces. The Prime Minister is showing he is the leader that is needed in this time for this country to move forward. This is the direct opposite of what the Leader of the Opposition had to say.

This throne speech sets out a blueprint for where we need to go in the future. There really is no shortage of ideas. The purpose of a throne speech is to lay out the blueprint in the House of Commons and to have other ideas and criticisms come forward, certainly. I believe that, in the way that Parliament is structured, other ideas can come forward to improve on the blueprint that the government has laid out, although it is a very good blueprint.

The finance committee, in fact, heard hundreds of suggestions from Canadian organizations and individuals between April 3 and the end of June. I want to qualify that. This was a criticism that I do not believe was valid. I want to qualify that a key point made by witnesses before the finance committee is that, while future spending is essential, it must be done in a fiscally responsible way, and the Minister of Finance should certainly, at the earliest opportunity, lay out an economic growth plan. That is what witnesses were saying. I agree with that approach, and I think that would show Canadians how we are going to get there in terms of meeting the needs of the pandemic but also meeting the needs of the economy going forward.

Witnesses before the finance committee, and in my own riding and across Canada, spoke very favourably about several programs that will be continued as a result of the throne speech and the legislation flowing out of it.

The Canada emergency wage subsidy offered a 75% subsidy for businesses, and it will be extended right through to next summer. Although it is a wonderful program, I would note that it needs some tweaks. Many new businesses, start-ups, or expanding businesses that are buying out other businesses and therefore have different business account numbers with the CRA, do not qualify for the program. We have to fix that problem. Those businesses are important to our economy. They are the backbone of our economy, and we need them.

The second major program announced in the throne speech is the Canada emergency response benefit. It was very important to ensure that families had the funds to put food on the table, and had some security for their families, after jobs were lost as a result of COVID-19.

That program is rightly being rolled into an improved EI program, and is absolutely necessary, going forward. That is a commitment made by the Government of Canada in the throne speech. In fact, legislation has already been put in this House through Bill C-2 and Bill C-4 that ensures that the benefits of CERB will remain as we work to restart our economy.

For those in the tourism industry who were only able to find limited work this summer, the reduced hours, as announced, that will be required to gain EI is extremely important. The throne speech mentions it and legislation passed through here once on the Canada recovery benefit to support workers who are self-employed or not eligible for EI, the Canada recovery sickness benefit for workers who must self-isolate due to COVID-19, and the Canada recovery caregiving benefit for Canadians who must take care of a child and are unable to work. That is extremely important for people, moving forward, to help them out.

Another area we heard a lot of positive feedback and comments on is CEBA, the Canada emergency business account. The throne speech states:

This fall, in addition to extending the wage subsidy, the Government will take further steps to bridge vulnerable businesses to the other side of the pandemic by:

Expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account to help businesses with fixed costs;

Improving the Business Credit Availability Program;

And introducing further support for industries that have been the hardest hit, including travel and tourism, hospitality, and cultural industries like the performing arts.

It is important we do that, and we welcome that program, but I want to also put a slight caveat on CEBA. A number of us from all parties have been saying that the Canada emergency business account must allow personal accounts to qualify, not just business accounts. When I was farming I did not have a business account with a bank; I had a personal account and I was running about a $2-million operation. I can give an example of an individual in my riding. This construction guy with a $900,000 operation puts out three T4s and can show income tax going back years, but he does not qualify for CEBA. That is wrong. It should not just be through the bank business account. We had to fix that so that the people with a personal bank account qualify as well.

As an aside, there was the regional relief and recovery fund, established through the regional development agencies, that is basically the same as CEBA but is in the rural areas for businesses that may not qualify through the banks system. That program has run out of money. I am asking the Minister of Finance and the government as a whole to put some more funds into that RRRF so that people who actually deal with those agencies can qualify. That needs to happen.

I understand time is running down for my remarks, but I want to say I am looking forward to the work of the Government of Canada in accelerating the universal broadband funding. This is critical. We have seen through the pandemic that it needs to be done.

I am encouraged by what the throne speech said about the Atlantic loop in terms of energy between Atlantic Canada and Quebec, and how that may flow throughout the system.

We really used Canadian resources to help Canadians and build Canadian industries. I am really pleased on the environmental side that the throne speech outlines a number of opportunities for retrofitting homes and businesses, and more.

We have learned through this pandemic that we have to supply ourselves locally, and we need to move forward on that as well.

Orange Shirt Day September 30th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, you have my apologies. I had a piece of a bar because I did not have lunch.

Peter Dowling September 30th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Mr. Peter Dowling of Howe Island, Ontario, who recently passed away. Peter was a central figure in the National Farmers Union for nearly his entire life. His parents, John and Joyce, were founding members of the organization, and it was noted that Peter was “raised in the NFU”.

Peter was a tireless advocate for local foods, sustainable agriculture and small family farms. He was involved in many of the important agriculture policy battles of the day, including supporting supply management, advocating for farmers on free trade issues, opposing the introduction of rBGH hormone into our dairy system and leading the Save Our Prison Farms efforts, where he was among those who took cattle to Parliament Hill to protest the closure of prison farms in Kingston.

With his wife Dianne, he ran Doublejay Farms, now an organic farm, where he provided a ready ear for young farmers, offering advice and mentorship.

We offer our condolences to Dianne and the Dowling family.