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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was manitoba.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as NDP MP for Elmwood—Transcona (Manitoba)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 45.50% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Air Canada March 4th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, Air Canada maintenance workers woke up to a shock today. The company has announced almost 100 worker layoffs in Winnipeg. Vancouver is going to lose 101 workers. Montreal will lose another 72. Apparently, their jobs are now destined for Central America, just two days after the Minister of Transport, said that they would not. The minister said:

There will not be any job losses. Air Canada has said that it is going to maintain the overhaul centres in Winnipeg, Mississauga and in Montreal. It has to do so by legislation.

What is the government going to do to protect these jobs or is it breaking its promise to these workers?

Air Canada March 4th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, over the last few days, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities has assured us that there will not be layoffs of Air Canada heavy maintenance workers. However, contrary to the minister's statements, Aveos has already posted layoff notices for some of those very jobs.

For example, in Winnipeg, 58 workers will be laid off on May 12 and another 40 workers on June 30, for a total of 98, or almost 100 people. Vancouver will lose 101 workers on May 12 and Montreal will lose 72 on June 7.

Air Canada has already had heavy maintenance work done in the U.S. and China, and Aveos has begun international maintenance work in Central America. Air Canada's heavy maintenance contract with Aveos expires in 2013.

The workers at the Canadian facilities are very concerned that, after the contract expires, Aveos and the government will not honour the intent of the Air Canada act.

Patent Act March 3rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be speaking once again to Bill C-393. I want to recognize Judy Wasylycia-Leis, the former member for Winnipeg North, who did a terrific job in this House for the whole 12 years she was here, particularly with respect to this bill.

It seems so typical that when we find issues like this, we always seem to be up against the Conservatives who are finding ways to oppose bills like this, seemingly always taking the side of big business and the drug companies, trying to put up roadblocks to the good work that was done by the member. Now I recognize there are a few members across the way who have supported the bill, but in a general sense, we predictably find the Conservatives supporting the corporate agenda.

I want to also thank the Bloc because it has made some amendments that actually change the bill in an extremely substantial way. Prior to this, we were looking at a five-year sunset clause. Five years is a very short period of time for something like this, particularly when we recognize how long it takes Parliament to get anything done in terms of legislation. Amending it to deal with a 10-year review seems a much more reasonable approach, and I want to thank the Bloc for that.

There are a number of issues that we can deal with on the bill. I know I do not have a lot of time, but we are talking about over 16,000 lives lost per day in the world to HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and other treatable infectious diseases, according to the Global Fund. In 2009, 33.3 million people around the world were living with HIV-AIDS; 1.8 million of them died from the infection and 260,000 of them were children. Ninety-seven per cent of the people infected with HIV-AIDS live in low- to middle-income countries. Almost 15 million people infected with these diseases were in need of antiviral drugs and only 5.2 million were treated.

It is significant that we have seen in the last three or four years, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates in the United States make a commitment while they are still alive to give away half of their $50 billion fortunes and challenging other billionaires in the United States and, I believe, even around the world to participate with them. But the foundation of Bill and Melinda Gates, supplemented by half of Warren Buffet's money, showed some very good direction. They could have picked many different causes in the world, but they chose Africa and the AIDS issue as a point to concentrate on when other groups and other governments were not interested in that. Thus I want to compliment them.

I also want to compliment all of the people who were involved in the development of this bill and getting it to this stage.

Business of Supply March 3rd, 2011

Madam Speaker, we have heard very little from members of the Liberal Party today, other than their spokesperson, the member for St. Paul's, who provided us with a bit of revisionist history this morning when she suggested that somehow the Conservatives had stacked the Senate with partisan appointments. On the other hand, however, the Liberals had members in the Senate but they were not partisan.

I want to remind the member for St. Paul's that it was in 1984, when the orgy of appointments were made by John Turner at the behest of former Prime Minister Trudeau, which led to a game-changing debate in that election, when Mulroney was able to attack Mr. Turner on the basis that he could have said no when he filled the Senate with Liberal hacks and fundraisers.

Basically, the Prime Minister is continuing that long established tradition by the Liberal Party over the last 100 years, and we want that to stop.

Does the member have any further observations about the lack of Liberal interest in changing the Senate?

Petitions March 3rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by dozens of Canadians calling for an end to Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan.

In May 2008 Parliament passed a resolution to withdraw Canadian Forces by July 2011. The Prime Minister, with the help of the Liberal Party, broke that promise to honour the parliamentary motion, and refuses to put it to a parliamentary vote in the House.

Committing 1,000 soldiers to a training mission still presents a danger to our troops and an unnecessary expense when our country is faced with a $56 billion deficit. The military mission has cost Canadians more than $18 billion, money that could have been used to improve health care and seniors pensions here in Canada.

Polls show that a clear majority of Canadians do not want Canada's military presence to continue after the scheduled removal date of July 2011. Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Prime Minister to honour the will of Parliament and bring the troops home now.

Protection of Insignia of Military Orders, Decorations and Medals Act March 2nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-473 today, having spoken to it once before at second reading. I realize that the bill has now gone through the committee process and amendments that were contemplated at the time have been resolved. So, we are at the point now where we have to make a decision as to whether we support it at third reading and send it off to the Senate.

It appears, so far anyway, that the Bloc and the Liberals are deciding against supporting the bill primarily because the legions have shown concerns about it, primarily over the issue of private property rights. I have to say that I have several very active legions in my consistency, and I regularly attend each and every event they invite me to. I have not heard any concern from them about this particular issue.

For all the reasons that the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore gave in his argument, I would support his arguments 100%. In some ways we feel the bill does not go far enough because if the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore had his way, Bill C-208, would be much tougher and would basically outlaw the practice. However, this bill that the member for Perth—Wellington has introduced is a very nice compromise. I do not see why the NDP caucus would have any problem supporting it. Essentially, as I understand it, we are basically allowing the military museums in this country the first right of refusal, which they should have, to buy the medals and to put the medals on display. Only if they do not want to purchase the medals, then the family, or individual, would have the option of doing what they wish with them.

I know we are very limited in time today, but I really did want to deal for a few minutes with a very important case, that of Tommy Prince, who is one of the most decorated aboriginal war heroes, having served in World War II and the Korean War. This man became so famous after his death, and I will read a list of the various streets and awards that have been named after him since his death.

However, the fact is that he was not treated that well in his life when he left the services. Reading about his activities during the conflicts and during the wars that he was involved in, this man was a number one soldier. He did things that are pretty hard to believe, such as operating in sort of a black ops capacity behind enemy lines and doing some pretty spectacular things. After getting out of the forces and going back to civilian life he was treated very poorly, to the point where his medals, I believe there were 10 of them, ended up being sold.

A number of years later, his family went on a fundraising drive in order to buy the medals back. The medals were purchased at auction for around $72,000 and are now being displayed in the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg where people can see them.

Tommy Prince was, as I indicated, one of Canada's most decorated aboriginal war heroes. He served in World War II and the Korean War. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Engineers, the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion and the First Special Service Force, consisting of Canadian and American troops trained at Fort Harrison near Helena, Montana, to form what became known as the famous Devil's Brigade.

Prince and other men in his unit were chosen for their rugged outdoor background and received the most vigorous training schedule under live fire ever undertaken by an army unit. All members of the elite squad, similar to the American Green Berets started in the 1960s, were trained to be paratroopers and received intense instruction in stealth tactics, hand-to-hand combat, the use of explosives for demolition, amphibious warfare, rock climbing, mountain fighting and as ski troops. They are described as the best small force of fighting men ever assembled. As a member of the Devil's Brigade, Prince was involved in fierce combat duty and numerous dangerous missions in Italy and France.

Some of the honours that have been bestowed on him since his death in 1977 include: Sergeant Tommy Prince Street in Winnipeg; Tommy Prince Barracks at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, Ontario; Tommy Prince Drill Hall at the Land Force Western Area Training Centre in Wainwright, Alberta; Government of Canada Sergeant Tommy Prince Army Training Initiative for aboriginal recruiting; the Tommy Prince award, an Assembly of First Nations scholarship.

To my friend the hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie, I point out that there is a Tommy Prince scholarship at Sault College, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, which is given out on an annual basis and will be given out in the next few months.

There is a school named after him at Brokenhead Reserve. There is a mural on the wall at 1083 Selkirk Avenue in Winnipeg; the Tommy Prince Cadet Corps in Winnipeg, Manitoba; and the Tommy Prince Veterans' Park also in Winnipeg.

Adam Beach is going to star in a movie to be made about Tommy Prince's life. Adam Beach and members of his family are friends of my family and are known to us in Winnipeg. They are a very successful family. He has made a number of movies in Hollywood.

I would like to briefly detail one or two examples of the type of activities that Tommy Prince did behind enemy lines.

In Italy he set up in an abandoned farmhouse about 200 metres from the enemy assembly area, well behind the enemy lines, with 1,400 metres of telephone wire connecting him to the force. He had a clear view of the enemy emplacements and he was reporting on them so the force could shoot at the guns. Artillery duel followed as the allies attempted to knock out the guns reported by Prince. While he was reporting they were shooting at him. One of those rounds cut the telephone wire. When the duel died down, Prince donned civilian clothing, grabbed a hoe and in full view of the German soldiers pretended to be a farmer weeding his crops. He slowly inched his way along the line until he found where the line was damaged and, pretending to tie his shoelaces, rejoined the wires together. After finishing the repairs he made a show of shaking his fist at the enemy and then toward the allied lines, returned to his lookout where he continued giving reports over the telephone line for the next 24 hours while the allies were knocking the German batteries out of action. He spent three days behind enemy lines and for his actions he was awarded the military medal and citation. Medals were given to him by the president of the United States and King George VI.

We are talking about somebody who was right at the top of his game. There are other examples that I could give during the Korean conflict of similar acts of bravery on the part of this individual.

When he was honourably discharged on June 15, 1945 he went back to his reserve but life was not good. All the adulation he had received and the success he had in the army did not follow him into his private life. He had some kind of business with a truck that did not pan out in the long run. The point is the man died having to sell his medals. The family had to eventually buy them back for $75,000.

We support the bill. It is a good--

Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act March 2nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, when the minister made his presentation on the bill some time ago, he indicated the changes to be brought about by the bill but insisted that the lump sum provisions would be kept as an option. The NDP's argument has been that when we are dealing with injured people, particularly younger injured people, they have a great temptation to take a lump sum payment.

Not only has the federal government presented this option but also the Conservative government in Manitoba a number of years ago brought in the same option for workers' compensation. It was basically a way for it to walk away from the problem. If people signed off on a lump sum payment, the government avoided liability at a very low cost, because while the lump sum looks like very big amount of money, the reality is that disability lasts a lifetime. These are young people who are going to live many years.

The government is deluding itself if it feels that somehow it is solving the problem by offering lump sum payments because at the end of day, when all of that money is spent, and in a lot of cases it will be spent very quickly, the people who are disabled are going to feel shortchanged by the government and will come back and ask for more.

Therefore, I do not think we should be offering a lump sum, whether for workers' compensation or this situation here.

I would like to ask the member if she has any comments in that regard, because I sense that the Liberals and the government want to keep the option of a lump sum.

Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act March 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member on his presentation on Bill C-55.

The government has made some improvements over the previous Liberal government, but these improvements took a long time coming. As a matter of fact, it was only through the efforts of people like our critic, the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore who basically lives and breathes these issues and fights constantly on behalf of the veterans of this country, that we get improvements from the government.

My concern is that it was a big mistake for us to adopt any form of lump sum payment. The government likes the lump sum because it thinks it can walk away from the liability. We are dealing with a lot of young people who get injured, are under a lot of stress and it is attractive for them to opt for a lump sum. However, when the money is gone, and there are lots of examples of how the money disappeared very quickly, the problem still remains and the government would have to come back at some future point to take care of the problem.

Does the member agree that lump sum payment issues should not be part of this process?

Petitions March 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, my petition is signed by dozens of Canadians and calls on the Government of Canada to end Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan.

Effective May 2008, Parliament passed a resolution to withdraw our forces by July 2011. The Prime Minister, with help from the Liberal Party, broke his promise to honour the parliamentary motion and furthermore refuses to put it to a parliamentary vote in the House.

Committing 1,000 soldiers to training missions still presents a danger to our troops. It is also an unnecessary expense when our country is faced with a $56 billion deficit. The military mission has cost Canadians more than $18 billion so far, and that is on the conservative side. This is money that could have been used to improve health care and seniors pensions right here in Canada.

In fact, polls show that a clear majority of Canadians do not want Canada's military presence to continue after the scheduled removal date of July 2011.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Prime Minister to honour the will of Parliament and bring the troops home now.

National Tree Day March 1st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today in response to the motion by the member for Ottawa—Orléans.

I listened to the member's last go-round on November 24 last year. I know the mover of the motion, the member for Ottawa—Orléans, has done a lot of work on this motion. He made a very impassioned speech last go-round about his involvement in the issue.

He pointed out correctly that the forest products industry is a major generator of employment in Canada, that it is responsible, both directly and indirectly, for over 600,000 jobs in Canada. It has annual revenues of over $50 billion. It actually represents 2% of the GDP of the country. The member points out that Canada is the largest, most successful forest products exporting nation in the world.

Over the course of his remarks, the member also talked about his involvement in planting trees, his family's history of planting, and that of his son.

I talked about the situation we have in Manitoba right now with our boreal forest and the argument about whether the Bipole III power lines should go down the east side of the Manitoba lakes or not. I pointed out that it was his provincial party, the opposition in Manitoba, that was favouring this move to run the power line down the east side of the area. The Manitoba government is trying to turn the area into a preserve.

The member said he would check with Dorothy Dobbie, whom we both know. I have known Dorothy for many years. I actually know her husband and her kids. She, too, is quite involved in forestry and gardening issues in Manitoba, and certainly on a national stage as well.

I do applaud him because for many years we have had a very poor attitude towards natural resources in this country, but I am not going to say all over the world, because we have much evidence of the Europeans and Scandinavian countries back in the 1970s having a very positive attitude toward reforestation. People could not clear-cut over there. Trees had to be replaced as they were harvested. Every tree harvested had to be replaced.

We were not doing that here. As a matter of fact, we were just finding out this last week that the Ontario government and other governments were spraying Agent Orange through the forests of northern Ontario. Now the young workers who are were standing there getting the spray on them when they were teenagers are in their 50s and developing cancers and other health problems tied to this Agent Orange problem.

That is certainly the attitude we had during those years. The forest companies had their tracts of land, and their attitude was that they were going to spray the trees. They would load up airplanes with Agent Orange, mix it all up and spray it to kill what they considered to be trees of inferior quality. I would hope that we would not do things like that today and not try to harvest the best trees in the forest at the lowest possible cost. That is the way we used to look at things.

I am really pleased that we are changing our minds, little by little. We owe it to the environmental movement that has pushed us along. I am really pleased to see there are Conservative MPs who are taking a real interest in this, because the Conservative Party has not historically been overly concerned about the environment relative to our party over here. They have been known as pro-development and in favour of mowing the forest down and worrying about it later.

Even Conservatives can change. I am not suggesting that the member opposite has made any changes, because I think he has been solid from day one on this particular issue. However, it has not been normal for me to see a lot of Conservatives really actively concerned. Maybe they were concerned, but they were not actively promoting these kinds of issues—