Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was aboriginal.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Churchill (Manitoba)

Lost his last election, in 2000, with 32% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Indian Affairs June 5th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

There has been a great deal of misunderstanding between First Nations and other Canadians. Often we see unwarranted resentment of basic aboriginal and treaty rights on hunting, education, health and taxation. This government has a responsibility to ensure these issues are presented in a more progressive way.

What is the minister doing to promote understanding, education and awareness of aboriginal peoples in Canada?

Manitoba Flood May 10th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, over the past few weeks the people of Manitoba have experienced severe flooding. News reports blame the federal government for changing funding arrangements and for treating Manitobans less equitably than others.

On behalf of my colleague, the MP for Provencher, who is meeting with officials in Manitoba on this very issue, would the acting Prime Minister please assure Manitobans affected by this flood that they are being treated fairly under the same rules as the rest of Canada?

Truth And Reconciliation Commission April 22nd, 1996

Mr. Speaker, last week Archbishop Desmond Tutu opened hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was mandated by the bill entitled "Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation" under the democratic Government of South Africa headed by President Nelson Mandela.

The purpose of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is to look into the gross human rights violations and atrocities in that country, not in search of vengeance but in search of truth, forgiveness and reconciliation. This is not easy work. This was demonstrated by the painful testimony of torture and abuse the commission heard last week.

Last month in Cape Town I had the honour of meeting with Archbishop Tutu. I presented to him the statement of principles and priorities and the reconciliation proclamation that were adopted by the Sacred Assembly held last December in Hull, Quebec.

I hope all Canadians will be inspired by the courage of the South African people.

Speech From The Throne March 5th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I was certainly very pleased with the result of the sacred assembly. It was done in a very short period of time. They told me it takes about two to three years to organize such an event. I think we had the creator in our hands because it was such a success.

There were statements made at the sacred assembly, principles and priorities that were recommended to the participants. A proclamation of reconciliation was also put forward that the people can take forth as a role for individuals, churches and spiritual leaders and also as a role for governments on a reconciliation journey and understanding in this country. It would not be just among aboriginal people themselves but would include every other nation in this country, whether it be people from Pakistan, Asia or other parts of the world who come to this country to live. That is something we have to address.

We saw how fragile this country is just between two groups, east and west, the French and English. There needs to be an understanding and a healing. Reconciliation work has to be done in that area, not just among aboriginal people. We know there are a lot of problems in our communities but I keep telling our people that we have to do it ourselves, nobody else can do it for us. However, we do need some help and understanding in that area to begin to address some of those issues which have been outstanding for many years.

Speech From The Throne March 5th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, those were the minister's statements. I am not responsible for what he says. I am sure he can defend his comments.

I will say that it requires tolerance and understanding, particularly in the province of Quebec, between the government and the aboriginal people. We have comments as reported in the Toronto Star on January 20 by the premier of the province of Quebec who was saying there are two peoples, two nations, two territories and this one is theirs and it will never be partitioned. Later on in another news article it is stated that sovereignty is inevitable.

It has to be taken into account that we are the First Nations people. We have always taken the position that Quebec is part of our territory. Agreements were made between the First Nations people, the federal government and the province of Quebec. I have always held that the federal government should play a key role in this process to uphold the constitutional responsibility and also the treaty responsibility it has to the aboriginal people to protect the interests of the aboriginal people in that province. Whether it be the Mohawk people, the Innu people, the Montagnais, the Cree in that province, the government has that responsibility to uphold that and to ensure that their rights are protected, including the lands of the aboriginal people in that province.

We have to keep an open mind that this will happen peacefully, that there will not be any incidents that will cause harm to this country.

Speech From The Throne March 5th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and honoured to speak on the throne speech.

I believe in my heart in these issues. I refer to our aboriginal people, our way of thinking, our philosophy in the country. I also want to talk about the national unity debate.

This is very important to aboriginal people, as we are referred to in this country and in the Canadian Constitution, those being the Metis people, the non-status people who live off-reserve and also include the Inuit who live in the high Arctic and the First Nations, the first inhabitants of this land we call Canada.

What is happening in this country causes me great concern not just with the economic situation we are facing today but the divisions happening across the land. It has always been our belief that we should live together in harmony and in peace and to have honour and respect for each other. Those certainly were incorporated in the treaties that were established when the newcomers came to this land, the Europeans who arrived here 500 years ago.

People in this country have to realize the history goes beyond the past 500 years or more, that there is a history to this country. That part of history has been ignored and not understood by many Canadians. The focus of the national unity debate is to bring people together. To go about that we must have open minds.

Our people certainly opened their arms to the people who came to this land to share the land and resources, inherent in the treaties established with the governments. I am particularly saddened when I hear comments by members opposite that the country will fall apart. I believe it is in the interests of everybody, all Canadians, all aboriginal people, to maintain the unity of Canada. It is our desire that the country remain united.

I have challenged our aboriginal leaders, our aboriginal people to maintain the unity of the country. In December of last year I called for a sacred assembly to bring people of this country from

different walks of life, with different spiritual and religious denominations together. This included the Mennonite central committee, the Catholic church, the Anglican church, the United church, the Presbyterian church, the Reform church, and so on. All churches were included plus the non-Christian people, the Hindu, the Jewish people and our traditional people.

The aim was that we begin to understand each other through that process, to develop an open mind with tolerance and an understanding of each other. Many people came to this sacred assembly. I was very disturbed by a member of the official opposition party, the member for Saint-Jean, a Bloc Quebecois member, when he stated that although the themes of the sacred assembly were supposed to be reconciliation and spirituality, instead the assembly "reeked of politics".

That statement derides and insults the people who were there, including the head of the Anglican church, the primate, the head of the United church, the moderator, and other religious leaders who were there. They cannot defend themselves in the House. It insults the people who were there who were concerned about the country.

I stated at the sacred assembly that as aboriginal people we have a greater responsibility than any other group of people in this country to maintain the unity of the land we call Canada. It is our home and we have nowhere else to go.

On December 12, 1995 in the House the Bloc member also stated he disagreed with me on that: "The notion of spirituality transcends politics and the great creator has no use for national boundaries. The next step would have been to come straight out and say that the creator is Liberal". Those are statements made by the official opposition member.

It was not intended to be that way. What I wanted to tell him is God is aboriginal and that he loves him and does not want him to separate. God wants him to remain in this part of the country, in this part of the world. We have so much to share in this country. We have rich resources and this land. We have so much to share among all Canadians.

Some of these comments disturbed me. What is the purpose of this institution? Parliament is the highest institution in terms of law making decisions in the country. It is a national institution. Where else do we go to correct these things and make laws for our people? This is where decisions are made.

The throne speech identified many areas, which I would like to address for my constituents. In the red book commitments were made to deal with some of the aboriginal issues such as the inherent right to self-government and the land claims process. Those things are happening today. The government is proceeding with that.

Recently we saw a land claims settlement in British Columbia, a part in which treaties were never entered into. Finally after hundreds of years they are getting a land claim settlement. I am glad to see that.

I am disturbed, though, by the politics involved. It seems this is being used as a political football. It is not based on history. It is not based on equality. It is not based on justice. Rather, it is based on trying to retain control and power in that province. It saddens me that these things are happening in that part of the country rather than being based on equality and trying to obtain justice country for our people. We have waited for a long time to resolve these issues.

The throne speech also focused on northern Manitoba, job growth, social security and many other issues.

I am very honoured to be here, able to speak on behalf of my constituents in northern Manitoba. Their concerns are unique because we are isolated. We are in northern Manitoba and are easily affected by the economy. The cost of goods is very high. We do not have the same amenities as southern Manitoba. Travel is very difficult because of the isolated communities. We have to fly in the goods and groceries and provide the basic essential services for many of the communities I represent.

I know we are trying to address many of these things in government. As I participate in the discussions I want to bring more of these things forward to the government, to the ministers so they can provide the answers and move in the right direction for our people.

Certainly I am honoured to be here as an aboriginal person in the Chamber, able to bring forth the concerns of not only my aboriginal constituents but many other aboriginal people who have come forward to me expressing their concerns, especially about national unity.

We want to be involved. We want to be part of the process. We play an important role in maintaining the unity of this country. We play a key role in this whole process and we do not want to be left out because we are the original people of this land.

Gateway North Marketing Agency March 4th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, in January the hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs announced the launching of a new agency to promote the port of Churchill, the Gateway North Marketing Agency.

The launching of this agency is good news for the port and good news for Canadian farmers. For the first time we have an agency devoted to connecting shippers and producers with the cheapest way to ship from the prairies to Europe and Latin America. The launch of Gateway North will help to make our northern ports self-sufficient and save western farmers money.

Gateway North is good news for all of us.

National Aboriginal Day December 12th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

Last week aboriginal spiritual leaders and elders, representatives of many churches and faiths, political leaders, youth and ordinary Canadians gathered in Hull for a sacred assembly. The assembly asked for a national aboriginal day to recognize the contribution of the aboriginal people to this country and to celebrate a distinct people which has thrived on this land for thousands of years.

Does the minister support a national holiday to recognize the tremendous generosity and contributions of the first peoples to this country?

Sacred Assembly December 11th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, last week thousands of Canadians from all walks of life gathered in Hull for a sacred assembly. We brought together spiritual leaders of many faiths, aboriginal leaders from coast to coast, youth, elders, political leaders, as well as guests and visitors from South Africa, Brazil, the United States and Central America.

I am happy to tell the House that the assembly was a success. We came together in the spirit of faith and reconciliation and agreed on a new vision for Canada as a whole. We have laid the groundwork for reconciliation and healing in this land.

I thank members of the House who joined us in Hull last week, especially the member for Saint-Jean who represented the official opposition, the hon. minister of Indian affairs and the hon. Prime Minister. They all made valuable contributions. I hope they will continue to work with us as the process of healing and reconciliation continues for all Canadians. God bless.

Air Safety November 6th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport.

Recently the Transport Safety Board released its report on the tragic crash of a Keewatin Air flight at Thompson airport in June 1994. Two people died in this crash and one was seriously injured. In light of this tragedy, can the Minister of Transport reassure northern air travellers by telling us what action he will take in response to the board's recommendations?