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Results: 1 - 15 of 25
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate all graduates in my riding, but there is one in particular whose story I would like to share. She is Amanda Saunders at Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador, and her story is incredible.
In 2018, while studying psychology, she was diagnosed with end-stage heart failure. Instead of a classroom, she went to a hospital in St. John's and finally to the Ottawa Heart Institute to receive a new heart. Inspired by her parents, Amanda vowed she would go back to school, and she did just that, for seven months.
Unfortunately, 14 months after her transplant, she was then diagnosed with blood cancer, but let us not think for one moment this would stop Amanda Saunders. She continued her school during her treatments and all through the pandemic. I am proud to announce that Amanda has graduated, and she plans to pursue her second degree.
I congratulate Amanda and thank her for inspiring all of us.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in relation to Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report it back to the House with amendments.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Madam Speaker, I rise with great sadness today to honour Pastor Ralph Benson, who died tragically last month.
Pastor Benson faced many challenges as a young man, but through his relationship with our saviour he persevered to become a pillar in his church, his family and of all Newfoundland and Labrador. Known for his infectious energy and having a huge heart for people, he served Gander and the surrounding area in many ways. Pastor Benson was always there to support and love.
Serving with him through it all is Paulette his wife. They raised three wonderful children, Melissa, Adam and Melanie, and that brings us to perhaps his best role, as "Poppy". His love and pride for his grandchildren were limitless. Nick, Julia, Daniel, Gracie, Avery, Luke and Jesse will walk with his spirit for the rest of their lives.
The loss of Pastor Benson leaves a great hole in our lives and in our hearts. On behalf of all of us here in the House of Commons, I offer our condolences to the family. We will think of Pastor Benson often, until we see him again. God bless.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I want to apologize in the beginning, with your indulgence and that of the House.
I was informed by the IT ambassador that when I did my member's statement, my mike was not working. With the indulgence of the House, I was hoping to repeat my statement.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Madam Speaker, it is with great sadness that I rise today to honour Pastor Ralph Benson, who died tragically last month.
Pastor Benson faced many challenges as a young man, but through his relationship with our saviour he persevered to become a pillar of his church, his family and all of Newfoundland and Labrador. Known for having an infectious energy and huge heart for people, he served Gander and the surrounding area in many ways. Pastor Benson was always there to offer support and love.
Serving with him through it all was Paulette, his wife. They raised three wonderful children, Melissa, Adam and Melanie, and that brings us to perhaps best role: Poppy. His love for and pride in his grandchildren Nick, Julia, Daniel, Gracie, Avery, Luke and Jesse were limitless. They will walk with his spirit for the rest of their lives.
The loss of Pastor Benson leaves a great hole in our lives and in our hearts. On behalf of all of us here in the House of Commons, our condolences to the family. We will think of Pastor Benson often until we see him again. May God bless him.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the minister, first on all, on his work on this particular issue.
I want to ask him about all the work that has been done vis-à-vis the institution known as the C-NLOPB. This is a unique situation that we have within the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as in Nova Scotia and their board as well. I would like the minister to illustrate all the work that has been done by them in light of the dual jurisdiction that they have. Could the minister explain the C-NLOPB's important input into this process?
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in relation to the motion adopted on Friday, October 23, 2020, regarding the challenges and issues faced by the arts, culture, heritage and sport sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, economic recovery is tied to the vitality of our communities. However, certainly for the past year, for many communities like my own, town halls, main streets, hockey rinks and farmers markets have been quiet for quite some time as Canadians have taken precautions to stay safe.
Could the Minister of Economic Development provide further information on how budget 2021 will invest in these small but vital communities?
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, I present a petition on behalf of the mighty little town of Gander. The Gander and Area Chamber of Commerce, God love it, has been putting this petition together for quite some time. There are about 1,000 signatures on it.
This is in regard to one of the greatest little airports in the world. It is the Gander International Airport. In the 20th century, it was the most notable for being one of the largest airports around World War II. It was built for that reason. Of course, in this century, it became famous for welcoming all those stranded passengers on 9/11 and inspiring the great musical Come From Away. It is currently in financial trouble.
The petition calls on the Government of Canada to help it out in this time of need, as it is still, to this day, an essential service, not just for Central Newfoundland but the entire province, the east coast and, as we have proven, an international asset for aviation safety.
We call on the government to help Central Newfoundland, in particular, and the Gander International Airport. As Reg Wright, the CEO of the airport once said, it is the airport that was built for battle and now needs a bit of help.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Madam Speaker, I have a deep concern about this. I know where the member is coming from when he talks about overarching goals and providing a level of service to seniors. Where I live in central Newfoundland, we have 10 to 15 seniors homes that are level one and level two. They are privately delivered. However, this is not so much about the for-profit part; it is about the for-service part. Some of these places actually provide a substantial service. They are of good quality. They have a long waiting list and they do well by the clients they provide a service for.
I am not going to focus on the provinces so much, but I have a very specific question about the short term. What does the NDP hope to accomplish by taking these private institutions out of the sector altogether? This is going to be a huge thing for the people who are providing a fairly good service. That is what I am concerned about.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I pay my respects to a great man and proud Newfoundlander. Gerald Thompson of Grand Falls-Windsor recently passed away and I would like to pay tribute to his community service. He was dedicated to the Memorial United Church, the executive director of the chamber of commerce, a dedicated member of Lodge Northcliffe for over 40 years and indeed a dedicated Liberal, from Joey Smallwood's election to today.
Gerald left a great impression on his community, one of great respect, and I will miss his great poems. Gerald's greatest legacy is his family: four children, 15 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
To his partner and wife Ruth, someone who stood with him through an incredible journey, all of us here in the House of Commons send our sympathies. God bless Gerald.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, a report of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the first part of the 2021 ordinary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, PACE, by video conference, from January 25 to 28, 2021.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Madam Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Gander, we are proud of our great contributions to international aviation. In particular, the Gander air control centre navigates air traffic in the North Atlantic for both domestic and international carriers.
Before the pandemic, it safely guided 10,000 to 12,000 flights per week. Now, with reduced air traffic, most layoffs have been in Gander. We know that air traffic will some day return, but I worry we will lose too many air traffic controllers to even meet our international obligations.
Could the minister please provide information about any discussions with Nav Canada?
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Madam Speaker, I am thankful to have these few minutes to talk about two things. They are ideas that have been floated in my existence in Parliament and in my experience with other issues. I think we can improve upon them in the modernization of the House.
One that was thrust upon us, which I will not spend too much time on as my time is limited, is electronic voting. I am a fan of electronic voting. I do believe in coming into the 20th century, as there is technology that existed back then that we can use and are using now.
I truly believe this is going to be a benefit for all of us. It is a benefit for our family lives and is certainly a benefit for those of us who travel quite a bit, like me or members from Yukon who have to travel a bit. This certainly would make travel less onerous. I will leave it at that. We are about to embark upon that new frontier because of the situation we are in.
I would be remiss if I did not pay tribute to a dear colleague of mine, the member for Simcoe North, who first brought to me a very in-depth study about the parallel chamber. The parallel chamber opens up a huge dimension, not to get too science fiction about it, for debate within the context of what is Canada's Parliament. It has been done, as other colleagues have mentioned, in other areas. The member for Yukon brought it up as well. Two parallel chambers already exist in other jurisdictions, such as Great Britain and Australia. They are the Federation Chamber of Australia and Westminster Hall in the U.K.
As a matter of fact, The Samara Centre for Democracy, here in Canada, strongly recommends that we go ahead with a parallel chamber to allow members to exercise some independence as to how they want to engage in debate and policy issues important to them and to the nation. It may not be something they bring up, but others may bring something up that they wish to comment on.
The Samara Centre for Democracy recommends creating a parallel chamber modelled on Westminster Hall in the U.K., and I could not agree more. Westminster Hall is a valuable example of how we can broaden debate in the House, certainly for those in the dimensions of what is considered the backbench who wish to bring up their own local issues and discuss national issues from coast to coast to coast. It would be a good exercise for them.
There are, however, some key notes to make about the parallel chamber. This is going back to a 2018 MP survey that Samara did. It does exit interviews with MPs once they are no longer MPs, and it discovered that debates are the least satisfying dimension of an MP's work.
Those who have been here for a while, or or others who enjoy debate, would certainly agree that in many cases we talk about canned speeches and lines we must say. I am not diminishing the role of people who write speeches and send them off to the House of Commons to be read by whichever department or minister's office. It is a part of who we are and a function of who we are. However, we need to broaden this more to help people who want to speak freely and openly about these debates, whether it is something they feel, as a parliamentarian, is dear to their heart or it is something dear to the hearts of their constituents. Sometimes that may not be caught up in a sound byte or a phrase the government or opposition wish to put out there, but it could be in their own words, which I think is very key to this. I would endorse that.
By way of example, one of the things the parallel chamber is used for in the United Kingdom, in Westminster Hall, is take-note debates on e-petitions. E-petitions have become very valuable and highly popular over the past little while, and we could debate their subject matter and issues in the House.
Right now, there is an e-petition about the Gander International Airport, which is in my riding, that sits in the roster waiting for signatures. The petition calls on the government to help it out in this particular scenario. I would love to engage in a debate not only with the Gander airport but also with airports across Canada that find themselves in a very rural, regional situation where survival is now tedious.
That would be a great example of how we could broaden the debate about regional air travel across this country and a golden opportunity that a parallel chamber could provide for us. That is huge to me. Again, I recognize the member for Simcoe North, the Deputy Speaker, for the work he did in bringing this to my attention.
Let me now go to what we normally call S.O. 31s or members' statements. In the genesis of S.O. 31s, the member could talk about their riding, a current policy issue, or they could stand up and do a one-minute political ad for their party, for that matter, which happens fairly often. If the member is in opposition, they could take swipe at the government. For someone who was in opposition for quite some time, I certainly took advantage of that. However, the key, the basis of it all, is the fact that the statement belongs to the member. That is what is so very important about this.
If the list is provided by the whip, something very dysfunctional ends up happening with members' statements. What happens is that if the whip has a statement they want to put out that is in praise of the latest government policy or of an opposition stand or something against the government, the whip will give that to a particular member, or at least show it to them and ask if they are willing to do it in the House. If that member says they are not interested and would rather do their own statement, more often than not the statement suggested by the whip will go to another member, who will be asked if they want to do it.
That is a fundamental breach of what this statement should be. The statement does not belong to the member anymore, but to the caucus, the party or the whip's office. That is not the way it was meant to be.
My suggestion would be that members' statements be done similar to private members' bills, where there is a rotating list. Members would apply to read a statement and statements would be handled by the Speaker in the rotation in which they arrive. I will leave it at that, because I think that how members' statements should be done is quite self-explanatory.
I know that some people would like to hold question period that way. That is how it is done in Westminster in the U.K. House of Commons. Their members apply to the Speaker to be in a random draw three days prior to question period, to get their question in, under Prime Minister's questions. I will not go that far yet. I walk before I run, as it were. I walk in marginal steps. That shows how long I have been there, because I know that sometimes changes like this travel at glacial speed. Therefore, I will just leave it at that.
Here is something that I proposed some time ago. It met with a lot of bewilderment in many cases, but it is something that the U.K. has done as well since 2010 or 2011, and that is the election of committee chairs, of which I am proudly one. I love being chair of the heritage committee. In the U.K., they started a process where the committee chairs were broken up in proportion to party representation in the House. As a result, the fourth or fifth party recognized in the House would get a chair or two, and the chairs would be broken down that way. Right now, I think the Conservative Party has slightly more than half of the committee chairs. The actual chair occupant is decided by the House. They have a broad vote in the House of Commons about who it should be. There could be three or four Liberals for one seat, three or four Conservatives vying for another seat, and the whole House gets to vote on who they are.
I first noticed it when I went to the U.K. and had meetings with some MPs. I noticed this pamphlet, an elections-style pamphlet, saying vote for so and so, in a riding near Wales. That member was running to be the agriculture chair. I thought it was a fascinating concept.
We should have a deep look into that. Former clerks of the House of Commons in Great Britain have said it has been a wonderful exercise, where the chair has an air of independence about them. They are able to go out and do things without any shackles of party interference. It is something we should seriously look at. Hopefully down the road we can. It is something I proposed in the last Parliament, but it never made it to a vote, unfortunately.
There is something else I want to talk about, and this is probably the more controversial one. It is called—
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Madam Speaker, it is nice to see the member engage in debate with me again, because I remember doing this at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. I enjoyed his input there as I do now. He has a valid point, I agree. I honestly think, though, that for the House to fix itself, it depends on the members taking charge and doing that. However, there is another expression called “blowing off steam”, as it were. In a second or parallel chamber we could find ourselves in an organic debate led by the passions of individual members talking about these issues, where they could formulate these to a point where that chamber becomes an excellent model. It would be like little brother behaving well to show big brother how it is done.
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