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

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

Statements in the House

Business of Supply April 21st, 2016

Madam Speaker, I really enjoyed the remarks from the member for Tobique—Mactaquac. I know he has worked hard in the farm industry himself over the years. He understands how important supply management is and how important the dairy industry is to this country. I know he in fact campaigned on strengthening the farming sector.

I just cannot accept the remarks earlier from the member for the Conservative Party when he tried to denigrate what the Liberal Party does in agriculture. We have been the party of agriculture. We are the ones who put in supply management.

I wonder if the member would tell us how important the supply management industry is to this country.

Business of Supply April 21st, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I too congratulate the member for putting forward the motion.

I disagree with the fact that they blame the situation on the trade agreements. I think that is a problem in the motion, and I hope it is not a poison pill. It is not the trade agreements that are causing the problem: it is the fact that diafiltered milk is allowed into Canada and is coming into Canada when it should not be allowed under our regulatory system.

The fact of the matter is that one of the most stable industries in Canada since supply management came in is the dairy industry. It has been stable because we have been able to manage supply to meet market demand, and the way we do that is by controlling the amount of milk or milk products coming into Canada.

Industry has found a way to break milk products down into ingredients, allow the ingredients in, and reconstitute them into dairy products. As a result, the market for Canadian producers is affected.

Could the member explain what is wrong with allowing these diafiltered products into the country and allowing the system to be undermined? Could she explain that so that parliamentarians can understand it? That is an absolutely valid point. It is undermining the dairy industry in this country.

Ethics April 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, there was a discussion at committee this morning. There were two motions before the committee, and the meeting had to adjourn before the second one was completely discussed. I would make a point that one of our members on committee suggested that most all of this activity happened under the previous government in terms of the way that it operated. This minister does not hold responsibility for those discussions, but the committee would consider bringing this minister before the committee after we hold the initial hearings on KPMG and CRA.

The Budget April 11th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I certainly would not say it is a shortchanged pot when it comes to infrastructure. It is the biggest infrastructure spending announcement that any federal government has ever made. As we said, it is looking at the future. It is looking at transit infrastructure, physical infrastructure, and social and green infrastructure. Therefore, it is a very comprehensive proposal by the government.

Of course, it is extremely important that rural communities, be they small or medium sized, get their fair share out of that infrastructure money. I think it has been outlined by the previous minister, including the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, that as the program rolls out it is the intent that it will be shared by small, medium, and large municipalities across Canada, so that all Canadians can benefit from the good investments that this Liberal government is making.

The Budget April 11th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the member for Milton talked about the electric cable. That is a very important infrastructure project for Prince Edward Island. It gives us the opportunity to import hydro electricity from the grid on the mainland when we need it. It also gives us the opportunity to export energy from our windmills on Prince Edward Island when they are producing more than is needed. Close to 30% of our energy in Prince Edward Island now comes from the renewable energy created by those windmills.

I would also say that one of the sad points with respect to that cable was that a commitment had been made by the previous Paul Martin government for the federal government to pay 100% of the cost of that cable, which was just prior to the previous Conservative government coming into place, and that was the very first proposal it cut.

With respect to the energy east pipeline, I fully support it as a member of Parliament, and we need it right across this country.

The Budget April 11th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to speak to the budget entitled “Growing the Middle Class”.

Let me start with a quote from the Minister of Finance himself. He really summed it all up in his opening remarks. He said:

Today, we begin to restore hope for the middle class. Today, we begin to revitalize the economy. Today, we begin a long-term plan that will use smart investments and an unwavering belief that progress is possible to ensure that Canada's best days lie ahead.

As I said, that really sums up what this budget is all about. It sums up the objective of the budget. However, the budget is made all the more difficult by what the previous government has left us, or has left us without. Program after program was cut by the previous government. Earlier, the Leader of the Opposition talked about how the Conservative government had a surplus. No it did not. That was a surplus on a monthly basis, but accounting is usually done over the long term. The Conservatives left this country with $160 billion of added debt imposed on every citizen in this country. Not only did they leave us with debt, as I said, but they also cut programs and services. Even worse, they created disunity in the country.

If we are going to bring Canada ahead as a federation, we need to have a government that is willing to work with the provinces, to work together to grow the economy, to put in programs that we can utilize together to create growth in the economy and jobs for Canadians.

In reality, the budget builds on the measures introduced in December which provided a middle-class tax cut. We are dealing with that now with Bill C-2. Really what that did is bring better balance to the taxation system by giving those in the middle class a tax break and balancing that by taking a little more from those who can afford it. This budget builds on that commitment.

One of the key parts of this budget is looking to the future. That is done with the Canada child benefit, assisting those families in raising their children, giving them better opportunities to spend money where it is needed. The Canada child benefit will replace the current complicated child benefit system.

The Canada child benefit will provide a maximum annual benefit of up to $6,400 per child under the age of six, and up to $5,400 per child for those ages six through 17. Families with less than $30,000 in net income will receive the maximum benefit. Nine out of 10 families will receive more child benefits under this program than under the current system. Specifically in my own province of Prince Edward Island, they will receive $47 million more in child benefits during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 period. That is a benefit to families. It is putting the money where the resources should be put.

Not only are we dealing with families, but we are also dealing with the education of students so that we build for the future down the road. We are making post-secondary education more affordable through this budget. We are enhancing Canada student grants to give young people the opportunity to be able to afford to go to university and college.

Budget 2016 proposes to increase Canada student grants by 50%, from $2,000 to $3,000 per year for students from low-income families, from $800 to $1,200 per year for students from middle-income families, and from $1,200 to $1,800 per year for part-time students. We are not only building on the very young people, but we are building the education system as well for all Canadians.

I know this area is a little controversial, but for all Canadians we are improving the safety net for those who find themselves in difficult times as a result of being out of work. We are improving the employment insurance system after the disastrous way it was handled by the previous government.

We are expanding access to new entrants and re-entrants by dropping the 910 hours' entrance requirement to whatever the regional rate is. We are reducing the two-week waiting period to one week. We are improving the program for working while on claim. That is extremely controversial. It was extremely controversial in my area, because under the previous government's system, a person was penalized for going to work. Even people who were on maternity leave were penalized for going to work and keeping up their skills, especially those who worked in a hospital setting for one day a week while on maternity leave.

I do not mind admitting that there is some controversy around the next point I will make, and that is extending the five-week pilot project to those areas that were hardest hit by the downturn in the economy. I would say there is some controversy in my own region over that because that five weeks was not applied in that particular region, but it is targeted to those areas which have been greatly impacted by the downturn in some of the commodities in the marketplace.

The minister has committed to look at that into the future. The minister has committed to review the employment insurance system and those measures going down the road. I look forward to that review, to ensure that we get fairness and equity throughout the total measures around employment insurance in this country.

We improved the safety net for those finding themselves out of work. I do not have the time available to go into it, but we do look beyond employment insurance and we are investing in skills and training. We are enhancing the investments in training itself, strengthening the union-based apprenticeship training, supporting flexible work arrangements, and improving labour market information for Canadians. We are trying to put that workforce in a place where their skills will be needed in the future and expand on those skills to grow the economy.

However, it is not enough to deal with today's reality. We are looking at the long-term future. During the election campaign we talked a lot about investment in infrastructure. While we are looking at $11.9 billion over five years starting right away, budget 2016 puts this plan into action with an immediate down payment on this plan: $3.4 billion over three years to upgrade and improve public transit systems across Canada; $5 billion over five years for investments in water, waste-water, and green infrastructure; $3.4 billion over five years for social infrastructure, including affordable housing, early learning and child care, cultural and recreational infrastructure, and community health care facilities.

We are investing in the future. Specifically in my comments I should make this point: Major transfers to Prince Edward Island will total $582 million in 2016-17, an increase of $29 million from the previous year; $380 million through equalization, an increase of $19 million from last year; $147 million through the Canada health transfer, an increase of $8 million from the previous year; $54 million through the Canada social transfer, an increase of $1.6 million from the previous year.

My point is, my province benefits from this budget in terms of the transfers, in terms of the programs, and Canada as a whole can look to the future with opportunity and excitement because of what this budget does.

It addresses the problems created by the previous government and puts in place investments in families, infrastructure, education, and skills training, which is what Canadians really need to grow, with opportunity and the hope for prosperity in the future. That is what the Minister of Finance has done in this budget. I ask everyone in this House to be supportive of that to help build Canada's future.

Recognition of Charlottetown as the Birthplace of Confederation Act March 24th, 2016

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-253, an Act to Recognize Charlottetown as the Birthplace of Confederation.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table today a private member's bill entitled “an act to recognize Charlottetown as the birthplace of Confederation”.

I should note that this legislation was previously introduced by my colleague the member for Charlottetown.

The purpose of the legislation is to place in statute the recognition extended by proclamation of the government of the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien, in September 1996, namely that Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, be recognized as the birthplace of Confederation.

As we approach the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, the legislation I am tabling today affirms a significant historical event in our nation's history, and it is a measure I believe all members in this House can support.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Committees March 11th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Finance, entitled “Final Report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance Regarding its Consultations in Advance of the 2016 Budget”.

In a very short time frame, the committee heard from 92 witnesses, with an additional 175 written submissions. I want to thank the witnesses, my colleagues here, and my colleagues across the way for working so hard to complete the report in such a tight time frame.

I must also congratulate and thank the clerk, the analysts, and the management team at the Library of Parliament for really going beyond the call of duty to adhere to this extremely tight time frame to table this report today.

Committees of the House February 26th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Finance entitled, “Our Consultations in Advance of the 2016 Budget: The Interim Report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance”. An interim report at this stage is somewhat unusual, however, the committee wanted the House and the minister to know the broad range of topics the committee heard at their earliest possible time and provide a link to those submissions.

We know the budget is on March 22. We will present our final report before then, on March 11. However, we wanted the minister and the House to be aware of the great presentations and submissions that came to committee.

Business of Supply February 25th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, part of our strategy outlined in the election campaign is for those people who contribute to the employment insurance system. We have to try to strive to increase the number of people who qualify. Some cannot for various reasons.

Beyond that, when we look at the total package that the Liberal Party ran on, we find that there is greater advantage for skills training. The list goes on in terms of trying to find other means of ensuring that those people who do not fall under the system have the social safety net and the economic means to be able to look after their families.