Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was aboriginal.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Churchill River (Saskatchewan)

Lost his last election, in 2004, with 10% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Resource Industries April 24th, 2001

Madam Chairman, I hope you do not mind, but I will start my presentation by sharing a map. This map transcends political boundaries. There is no language on it. Because of the satellite imagery technology that exists today, it is available to us. It is in printed form for us as parliamentarians. However not one of our committee rooms or other rooms has a map of Canada in it.

In order for us to make our place on the planet, and we always want to say we are not Americans, why do we not put a map of Canada somewhere in a northern location. We are a northern country. We are from the northern hemisphere. If we stand at home and look at the world, our home is to our back. I propose a map be hung in one of the committee rooms. We could dedicate a committee room with a map of the natural resources and natural waters of Canada as a gift to Canadians.

In some of these committee rooms it might spark an initiative. Maybe somebody in downtown Toronto would start to see that the islands in the north are a part of our decision making. We have Quebec, the St. Lawrence region, the Hudson Bay watershed, the Mackenzie River watershed and the whole west coast watershed in the Yukon.

It is an astounding lesson. As a young person I have always been interested in land and water. I was a surveyor and was working in the mines. I can always find something new on a map. It could be an oil company, a mining company or a forestry company but there are always new discoveries.

As decision makers we are lacking vision. We have not created an image of our own country, region and territories. This is a huge mistake. My riding is Churchill River but when I enter the House I assume a responsibility for all of Canada. This is what needs to be done here.

Terminology is also very important. I spoke with the minister responsible for rural development. I have always challenge words about the regions of Canada. The three regions which were mentioned in the throne speech were urban, rural and northern. The north is a unique region of its own. It is not rural. We are trying to be urbanized but we are really not urban either. The north is a unique opportunity, a unique lifestyle and a unique climate. It is everything in its own. The north has enough weight of its own.

We have a northern minister who is in charge of the territories north of sixty. We have huge regions in the northern half of the provinces where there is no federal ministry in charge. That is why I challenged the rural minister because he had his remote community added on to his portfolio.

It is time we co-ordinated ourselves with our provinces as well, from Labrador to Quebec to Ontario to Manitoba to Saskatchewan to Alberta to B.C. and to the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. All these regions should not only have a resource development and community development vision, but also social and human development vision. It all comes hand in hand. We cannot do it separately. We cannot leave legacies like Uranium City in my riding which had a huge mining operation. It looks like Beirut today. The mining company pulled out.

The federal government was also responsible there because it started out as Eldorado, a federal crown corporation. However if anyone went there today they would see that it looked like Beirut. It is time to clean it up. We have to go back.

Speaking of going back, a comment was made by one of the members. There is a need for co-ordination in this country which does not really exist yet. There are little sparks of it. However in 1909 it existed. Let us go back in history. In 1909 there was a body called Canadian conservation council which existed for about 12 years. Then it fell apart because the bureaucracy of our nation's capital took exception to it. It was getting too structured and competing against other people's hierarchies. It is time for us to go back to it.

It exists in Bill C-5, the endangered species legislation. There exists in that bill the Canadian endangered species conservation council. It is made up of three ministries, fisheries, environment and national parks-heritage, and the provincial ministries that are in charge of wildlife.

We should expand that council to include members of the Senate and members of the aboriginal nations. Then we would embody everything in this country and encircle all of this: on reserve, off reserve, provincial, territorial, Senate and both houses. We could create a conservation council that would look at sustainable development, economic sustainability, the conservation of our economy, the social and human needs, the conservation of our population in our young children and their future, plus the ecology which is the most important part because it is the land. It is the land that gives us the source of life and the source of our riches.

When we enter the parliamentary restaurant there is a picture of a pyramid. At the top is the capital and credit of this country, all the money stacked on top. At the bottom, which holds it up, is the territorial lands of this country. Unless we rationalize and balance all of this it will be off balance.

I look at my region. We have forestry, mining and the hottest uranium mines in the world, in fact the most uranium in the world, but all our paycheques are flying over our heads. They are going to Prince Albert and Saskatoon. Our roads in our communities are the worst and the most dangerous.

Our community was a social experiment where they did not want to create Uranium City, a mining town. The policy was to fly in their workers from small villages in the north, train them and it worked. However it started to abandon those pick-up points and started going to the major centres. That is where it went wrong.

Those fleets of planes that sit empty today could fly our workers into the tar sands. The tar sands need human resources and labour. We are just next door. We get the ecological footprint of the tar sands. All our weather comes from the west and so does the pollution which comes from the tar sands. It affects us ecologically but not economically.

To try to grab those jobs in Fort McMurray, the town of La Loche with 4,000 Dene people used its human resources training money to build a road to the border. The Dene people's own training dollars built that road. Now it did not go through to the tar sands because Alberta did not fulfil its agreement to build that road.

As a nation it is time that we start to plan our resources and look at our real resources from the right perspective so that we can show our uniqueness if an American comes to our committee room and asks what it is. Americans are used to centring the world from Texas. That is the centre of their world.

I would like to leave a legacy. When we talk about resources, from here on in let us measure what we are talking about and use the right image. It is missing on the Hill.

Resource Industries April 24th, 2001

Madam Chairman, the member raised the concept of roads to resources, a policy from the late 1950s. How you look at that depends on which end of the road you were at in regard to whether the program was a good thing, because the policy then was more a colonization policy. The colonization I talk about is the unexploited north.

In our region in Saskatchewan, it brought the roads from the south straight up north, whereas the traditional transportation route was east-west. The northern communities were east-west oriented, but the road to resources program criss-crossed it north-south. It still disrupts the whole flow of our community and our region.

Going to the next step of development in the hinterlands, the frontier, the mid-north or the boreal forest, I think it is time that the true social, economic and ecological balance, or what we call sustainable development, should be challenged. It is time for us to be responsible. People in the north have to be part of their development. They cannot just watch the resource trucks come up and go down with the ecological impact and the transition that takes place.

I think that resources, especially non-renewable resources, have to leave legacies. In my region there are no research and development institutes in the boreal forest. There are none. All the research is done in southern universities and in corporate centres to the south. The region is still like a colony.

I would like us to take a responsible look at the northern regions. Let us develop those areas. If people want to develop the area, they should move there, pay the taxes, circulate in the economy and create an economic cycle, where one dollar can go to the Mac's store, another dollar can go to the laundromat and another dollar can go to the local car dealer. Right now it is still like the roads to resources program. Forestry, mining, oil and gas are taken from the north and we turn around and get our goods at the Wal-Mart in the shopping mall to the south. That has to change. I think an economic cycle should be created in these northern regions.

I would like to hear what the hon. member's experiences are in northern B.C. compared to what mine have been in my area.

Modernization Of House Of Commons Procedure March 21st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, we see the technological change that is happening in our age. It is like what the hon. member said before about the hare and the turtle. There is the speed of the outside world while we are going as slow as molasses. However, we are taking sure steps on some careful decisions that we have to make here.

I ask the hon. member this: what vision does she see in terms of leaving a mark from this time on? We have our system of Houses, our parliamentary structure now. What should we leave behind to keep the country vital for future generations?

Modernization Of House Of Commons Procedure March 21st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, at the outset I think I said I was a student. A study to understand the whole concept of structure and symbolism must be looked at by this committee. If we are going to strike a committee we must look at the basic structures and the purpose for those structures, such as why the House is designed this way. We have to look at those basic needs. We have a huge budget to renovate everything on this Hill, so we can afford to exercise exercise some wisdom and maybe some adventure.

I think the symbol of a circle is sacred. It is unity. The country needs unity in a big way. We have to unite our communities and unite the country for the sake of our future. This building is not designed for unity. It is designed to be adversarial. We are designed not to get along. We are two sword lengths away. We are like little kids who do not want to hurt themselves. We need to become a unified force.

The territorial legislature of the Yukon transferred a new design to the Northwest Territories and now Nunavut called the new territorial governance legislature. It designed a consensual form where everyone is elected with no party structure. The Yukon is a little different, but in the other two territories we all get elected as members representing our ridings and then we decide who will be the government and the executive. Maybe that is a challenge here. Maybe this executive that is elected here should be accountable to the majority of the House. Maybe that is where we should go.

However, we should look at the symbol of a circle. We have a sacred symbol in the parliamentary library. It survived the fire of 1916. Let us use it to keep the country together by putting it in its rightful place with the rightful history, from the Iroquois and all the nations of this country that existed here before. If we put things in their rightful place, we will have the right provisions in our vessel to make that journey into the millenniums to come.

Modernization Of House Of Commons Procedure March 21st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour to speak tonight.

I came to the House of Commons as a student. I was trying to understand how the country governed itself. The way I understood it was national sovereignty was before us. I must say the member for Davenport is a member of the party structure.

When I came in 1997, there was a speech by the then leader of the official opposition. He announced his intentions today to resign and move on. However he left a mark on me. He said that this place was like a vessel, and we had a captain that guided this vessel on its journey.

We have to look at national sovereignty and our place in this country as symbols. If we look at this vessel, it came from a British parliamentary structure. A depth of tradition came with this building. All these materials, structures and design came from an honourable and noble intent. It is to govern the people and their lands.

I bring with me here today two books. The first book is the entitled “League of the Iroquois Confederacy”. I spoke earlier this week on this. It is very fortunate, Mr. Speaker, you are the one who was receiving the speech on Monday when I delivered it. This existed before this building.

The governance of this land is in these words. It is a story of the Iroquois confederacy on these shores. It tells the story of aboriginal people living in harmony among one another and debating issues of the day for their survival on the land.

The second book is the treaties that the crown of Britain wrote with the aboriginal people. All the numbered treaties are found in here. That is what made the sovereignty of Canada. These two stories created the story of our country. Today we have to debate today where are we taking our children with the wisdom of our elders, with the wisdom of our treasured homelands and our connection to the land? That is what makes our country.

We cannot create this out on the ocean. This is created because of the territories, what we call North America. It is called turtle island in many stories. I look at it as a river system. Look at the basin of the mighty St. Lawrence River system, the Churchill River and the Hudson Bay, the Mackenzie, the Fraser and the Yukon river systems. That is a vast tract of land. How do we govern it?

This is the big challenge we have before us in parliament. How do we capture the vision of a nation, identify its goals and implement them? This is our challenge as parliamentarians in this place and as parliamentarians in the other place, which we call the Senate. In my view, that is the house of elders. It plays a very honourable role in the tradition of the aboriginal people and in the tradition of the Westminster houses.

Then we have parliamentary structures and legislatures in the provinces, which came later. How we relate to them is very crucial. Last night the estimates were approved. A lot of the finances are given to the treasuries of the provinces. We enact them into the local and the municipal governments, the schools, health and the libraries. They are all connected.

This is what sustainable development is about. It is a belief that we can look at the resources, the land, the environment, the means, the food and the water of our people, our land and our nation. We balance it with our thoughts of the people, the culture, the knowledge, the wisdom and the languages. For many people all over the world Canada is their home.

Then there is the economy and money. I still cannot believe where money comes from sometimes. It is a means of transaction that exists today in the world. At some point in time there were beavers piled up at Hudson Bay stores, which were used to purchase muskets, food, lard and bacon. Today it is plastic cards in people's back pockets. These are used for transactions and commerce. Three-quarters of our laws are based on commerce.

The whole context of a remarkable civil organization is required. What do those three words mean? It means we left our mark here and we were civil. This is an organization. A degree of influence is expected of us by our constituents, the people that we speak for. We leave our marks in words and in gestures.

This whole challenge of restructure is a happy time. I witnessed candour here that is very seldom seen between the member for Winnipeg—Transcona, a very noble statesman, heaped in the history of the House, and the member for Davenport. The candour that took place between the two members is rarely seen in the House and it should be exemplified. We should have a sense of humour, we should have a sense of appreciation of what we are trying to do, and we should support each other for what we believe in.

Look at this building. It is square. We are meant to fight. They fight us, we fight them for this country. Why? We have cultures. I have French blood in me. I may also have English blood in me but I know I have Cree.

As an aboriginal person, I see it in a different light as well. I see that we need to bring that strength from this journey. As this vessel continues, we need to bring all our peoples together. This is the time. This is the challenge.

The House of Commons, as we call it, is a place that represents every corner of Canada. Every person, every neighbourhood and every house should be represented here, every kitchen table. We bring our thoughts and our ideas here and then we have the ability to research. The parliamentary library is heaped with research materials. If we have an idea, a specific challenge or a question, people will guide us. In order us to make solid decisions we need the research service, the committee work that is done and the documentation.

I must thank the committee chairs who guided me in the previous parliament. They showed me that we can all work together for a common purpose and that we can challenge each other.

The work of the MP is unfinished. I would love to see a house of representation of this House. Let us say that the Saskatchewan legislature has 200 seats. Why could we not some day send representatives of our House to the Saskatchewan legislature, Quebec's national assembly or the Ontario legislature as Queen's Park in Toronto to debate the issues? Why could we not move around? This country is huge. We should not try to govern ourselves like an island like England. We are not an island that big. We are huge. We have to expand ourselves to the reality of this country. That is why I beg for restructuring.

Let us look in a respectful way to a new relationship with each other. Maybe the library, as the sacred symbol of our unity, should be a third House. Maybe representatives of the original signatories of the treaties of the aboriginal nations should be allowed to sit in parliament and guide this country. Maybe they should hold the sacred responsibility of sustainable development in the future. While we would manage the affairs of the day to day issues, somebody would be taking care of the long term cycle of the breathing, living organism we call Mother Earth, and this country, Canada, is responsible for a big piece of Mother Earth. I challenge Canada to take that responsibility to heart.

I wish all parliamentarians well. I recognize all the people who have taken their seats here and the history that is heaped behind us. Let us not forget it as we challenge the future.

Supply March 19th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member talks about the plight or the affairs of those in off reserve urban situations. A lot of the public accountability being called for by the motion is limited to on reserve.

If it is off reserve, if the plight of urban aboriginals is being brought in, should the accountability of provincial governments be brought to the House and investigated and audited for the results of the plight of urban people who are off reserve? Does he understand the jurisdiction of on reserve and off reserve and accountability with the federal and provincial governments?

Supply March 19th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, since returning to the House I have taken great interest in the royal commission report. It is bound in a number of volumes.

My original interest, because of my previous life in the educational field, was only the educational chapters. However, the one thing that existed in the royal commission report, which I thought was a jewel, was the aboriginal house of representation. It is hidden inside the royal commission.

If anybody reads the royal commission report thoroughly he or she will find there are a lot of futuristic recommendations in it. Some of them did not even materialize as recommendations. They are written in the body of the royal commission report. That is where this house of representation for aboriginal people was written.

I would ask the hon. member who made her maiden speech, and is now an Acting Speaker, to read the whole royal commission report on aboriginal people. It is a worthwhile document. It sets a journey and a vision for our people into the future.

Supply March 19th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the obligations that were agreed upon in treaty were signed with the British crown to create a country called Canada. Today these obligations have been subject to interpretation. In the last general election we saw dialogue on and interpretation of these treaties.

When I first came to parliament, as I went up to the parliamentary restaurant on the right-hand side I saw a big pyramid that said all the credit of Canada is heaped on top of the pyramid. However, all of it would be nothing in my mind, if we took out the bottom part of the pyramid that is the territories and lands and of which our country is made.

If the vessels of Britain and France had stayed out on the ocean there would be no country. There would be no taxpayers and no credit. It was the territories and lands that were signatory, created by treaty, that created this country. From that relationship is where the obligations started fading. It was a mistake when we left the treaty signatories, let the aboriginal people go back to their camps and the crown assumed the administration of the country. Let us restructure and go back to that table.

Let us bring back the aboriginal people as a part of administering the country, as a part of making laws, taking control of them and enforcing them. They have to be part of the fabric of the country. They cannot be self-governing and thrown aside to address their own affairs. They have to be allowed to play a part in addressing the affairs of the country as well. They are a part of this country. That was their inheritance.

Supply March 19th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great honour to rise at this time to address the House but, most important, to address the people of Canada. I would like to make some opening statements in my first language. As opposed to preparing a translatable speech, I will translate it following my statements.

In a very brief statement in Cree, what I have said is that in the journey of life on this land we have seen many peoples find a home here. In searching for this home there have been agreements among our aboriginal nations and the nations around the world that found this place to raise our children together. I understand that relationship, the relationship of how Canada was created by a treaty process. The treaty was a nation to nation agreement, that the country we know as Canada was given birth when the crown of England struck treaties with the aboriginal nations of this country.

In creating a country as beautiful as Canada is today, and we talk about the marginalization and the problems that our aboriginal people are facing now and into the future, I beg all members of the House and I beg all citizens of the country to look at restructuring and correcting the relationship that this sacred treaty was signed on for living together in this country.

Referring to the restructuring, bringing more auditors to financially accountable programs will not correct the restructuring and the relationship of this country. I would say, and I would challenge, and I have spoken of this before, that a third house in parliament should be seriously considered, a third house that brings in a unity among all people of the country. This House is acceptable as a parliamentary house of dialogue of the country.

We also have the other House, the Senate, that conducts the affairs and the law making of the country. The third house of which I speak could take in the parliamentary building that exists today, the parliamentary library. I offer this today because it was built with a symbol of unity.

From the time of the signing of the treaties, if we look at the journey of the country and at the clerk's table as the signatory of the treaties, the crown came to that table to sign treaties. All the laws and administration of the affairs of the country have been taken by the crown. The aboriginal people have not been given the opportunity to be partners, to be part of the decision making and law making.

Mr. Speaker, I forgot to say at the outset that I will be splitting my time.

I draw to members' attention a treaty that was originally signed and understood. I should not say signed because it was an intention. It was called a two row wampum. I do not know if the ministers here are aware of the two row wampum. The two row wampum treaty signified that in the journey of life the aboriginal people and the people who came from all shores could travel together in harmony and unity. If one vessel overempowered another vessel in that journey, we would have lost our way and intent.

We have had hon. members today challenging the mismanagement of affairs by the chiefs and councils. I have been a witness to the failure rates, to the high school dropouts, to the unemployment rates and to the fetal alcohol syndrome. All these problems seem to be landing on a handful of chiefs who have been audited for mismanagement.

That is not the debate today. The debate today is about the public reporting and auditing of public funds under the contribution agreements between the federal government and individual Indian bands. That is only a symptom of the problems that we have today in the aboriginal communities and in the aboriginal nations.

We have to look at restructuring, at where we will go from here on in. If we can have a third house in parliament, a council of aboriginal nations can sit in that house. If we have fiscal and electoral problems in any of our communities, they would be accountable to that council, not to the minister nor to anyone else. It is only right that they be accountable to their own nationhoods. If we look at self-government, we are not creating a dialogue of the nationhoods that exist.

Someone mentioned the truth. Let us talk about the truth. If we talk about the Cree nation, it extends from northern Quebec all the way to the Rocky Mountains. By no means can I be fooled if someone were to say that the Cree nation is united. It is diverse nation and has been dissected by existing provincial boundaries, Indian agents and Indian district offices.

We need to have a cohesive approach. We must allow these nations to grow and be accountable to their members. It is not band membership we are talking about, it is nation membership. Band members are citizens of their nations and they have to be accountable to their people. We must allow them to be accountable to their people. We will then see what the aboriginal people can contribute to the betterment of the country.

We should give them the tools and the natural resources they need to improve the economic cycles in their communities, regions and territories and that will enhance our country's future. They will be living partners in our urban centres. Their knowledge and research in the future technology field, but also embedded in their traditional knowledge and oral history, will become examples for the world.

A united nationhood of aboriginal people working in concert with the treaty negotiations that took place and made this beautiful country we call Canada is the dream we have for our children, but we have to work together.

There are only a handful of aboriginal people here in this House and we represent a huge geography, the huge tracts of lands that expand to the north.

The debate today incited me to raise the issue one more time. The accountability issue, the plight and the problems that deal with the administration of funds that members of the opposition have raised and looked at for a number of years, will fade away but the issue of the restructuring will stay. That is where I would like to see the debate go.

There have been no solutions. The motion does not address the plight of aboriginal people. It only addresses the problem the minister has accounting to the treasury of the country. It does not address the issues of the aboriginal people. When the House is ready to debate that, I will rise again and make that debate.

Accountability can go both ways. It is a double-edged sword. If the treaties and their spirit of intent were to share the land, in light of a handful of funds for housing, for medicine and for education, these funds are now being allocated because of the land that was transferred. If aboriginal people want to look at the accountability of finances they can look at the accountability of the lands and the management of their resources.

It is our journey as Canadians. It is our journey as residents of our many territories. As an aboriginal person, I am proud that I am willing to offer a new structured relationship within this country to build a proud jewel in the globe where Canada can be a beautiful place for everyone to live. The accountability issue is just the start of a dialogue of restructuring ourselves. It could be a bold economic adventure. Research and development that does not take place now could take place in our homelands.

The chiefs are making decisions that are not based on sound, long term plans. They do not have their own research development institutes. That is what I beg to challenge the House on today.

The Environment February 22nd, 2001

Mr. Speaker, on a cold day like today we are able to observe the various emissions that are released into the atmosphere from our vehicles, industries and other sources. This makes us aware of the potential impact they have on our health. Therefore, it is appropriate to think about air quality and our responsibilities.

On Monday the Minister of the Environment announced a major federal initiative to accelerate action on clean air. How will this help our country?