Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was agreement.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as Liberal MP for Provencher (Manitoba)

Lost his last election, in 2000, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Aboriginal Affairs April 13th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, under the provisions of Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, copies of the 1997-98 annual review of the implementation of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement and copies of the 1998-99 annual report of the Indian Claims Commission.

Petitions April 12th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to present the last petition which argues that every Canadian has the inherent constitutional right to freely decide what medical procedures are performed on his or her body, whereas many safety concerns regarding the anthrax vaccine have now come forward in the United States.

The petitioners pray and ask the House of Commons that those constitutional inherent rights will be respected.

Petitions April 12th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, the second petition says that whereas Canadians are horrified by pornography which depicts children and are astounded by legal determinations that possession of such pornography is not criminal, they petition the House to protect those children.

Petitions April 12th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure today of depositing three very brief petitions with the House.

The first petition deals with section 43 amendments to the criminal code. The petitioners ask parliament to not change those particular provisions of the code and argue and put forward to the House that the best interests of children are served, not by the state but by parents.

Aboriginal Affairs April 12th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, under the provisions of Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, copies of the 1999 annual report of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, the 1996-97 and 1997-98 annual reviews of the implementation of the Yukon land claims agreement, and the 1998-99 annual report for the implementation committee on the Sahtu Dene and Metis comprehensive land claims agreements.

First Nations Ombudsman Act April 4th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I understand and I have agreement with the members from the opposition, and I am sure that the House would agree, that the mover of the bill, the member for Wild Rose, be given the last few minutes remaining to speak and summarize on the bill.

Aboriginal Affairs March 31st, 2000

Mr. Speaker, two years ago the Government of Canada set up a healing fund of some $350 million in consultation with first nations communities across this country.

The existence of the fund is well known. A few months ago there was a meeting in Vancouver involving all of the elders across Canada and first nations people to discuss an implementation strategy which would be sensitive not only to the regions of the country, but to those particular victims who would be participating in the fund.

First Nations Ombudsman Act February 25th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, once again the hon. member in his predictable rather silly, non-factual, inaccurate, exaggerated speech that I have heard 20 to 30 times in the House refers to facts in newspaper articles.

I found it quite intriguing when I read in the National Post that it may have been his riding which received millions of dollars in grants from HRDC. At the same time this fellow is standing in his place very puffed up and self-righteous about how awful it is that we are doing this in Canada. It is quite interesting.

On a brighter note and more focused on the debate I will address Bill C-222 put forward by the member for Wild Rose for whom I have great respect. He is a decent and good man. He believes very deeply in these issues although he is always wrong. However, we have to be compelled somewhat by his own deep feelings and belief in this regard. That is charming in itself. It is important to the member and we are equally passionate and committed to accountability and the other issues as well.

The plan we have put forward is about giving aboriginal peoples the tools they need to become self-sufficient, self-supporting, and contributing members of the Canadian family. I think all of us in the House and indeed all Canadians believe our ultimate goal is to have first nations people participate fully in Canadian society.

The bill would require the federal government to appoint an ombudsman empowered with certain quasi-judicial authority to oversee and investigate operations and elections of first nations, as the member alluded to. The proposed legislation would make it possible for this person, he or she, to propose changes to first nation policies and practices. If a first nation does not make the changes suggested, the ombudsman would make a report to the House of Commons.

It is not surprising coming from the Reform Party that it hearkens back to the turn of the century when the Government of Canada dispatched officers of the department who were in a sense officers of the court. They had those certain powers to dispatch moneys and work with the native people. They were in fact less bureaucratic and more quasi-police people who policed the reserves. We find it quite unacceptable. Indeed it does not help the situation at all. Not least of which, it does not help first nations people in their communities.

The bill deals with two main areas relating to accountability: band elections and financial management. I point out some specific problems with the bill. It is incongruent with the Indian Act, I say to the member and his research staff, those great folk in the Reform Party research staff from whom I hear from time to time. These two pieces of legislation could not operate together. The member in constructing the bill missed half the equation.

Members of the House should note that an election appeals process already exists in the Indian Act under the Indian band election regulations. These election processes, or for that matter any irregularities and complaints, fall within the mandate of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. The bill is in direct conflict not only with the act as a whole but with the appeal process generally and more specifically. It is very incongruent. No attempt is made by the member to reconcile the conflict in existing laws.

The bill also fails to make a distinction between the various ways first nations elect their leaders. There are 610 bands in Canada. Of them 273 conduct their elections pursuant to the electoral provisions of the Indian Act. As already pointed out, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs investigates alleged violations of the Indian Act. These might include ineligible voters, ineligible candidates or secrecy violations. The bill fails to recognize that another 320 of Canada's first nations elect their leadership through traditional practices based on traditional electoral systems.

I do not find that at all surprising. Again, again and again in the House it has been well established and now will be come social fact and a part of Canadian history that the Reform Party does not care about first nations people and has no interest in recognizing their culture, their history and their development as a people in this country, to say nothing of the fact that they were the first people here.

It does not as well research this project sufficiently to take into account that 17 other first nations have negotiated modern self-government legislation. The legislation governs the manner in which these communities elect their leadership.

Once this legislation were in place the federal government would have no role to play in the leadership selection process. Given that Bill C-222 would likely infringe on the aboriginal treaty rights or other rights, consultation is required. What would happen if this bill were brought in?

The auditor general and others have compelled the Government of Canada or the minister not to litigate but to negotiate, in other words to stay out of the courts. It ties up these matters for years and years. It makes for rich lawyers but bad policy, bad outcomes and even more bad situations for first nations people. That has not been thought about at all. The bill does not contemplate that at all. Rather, it takes a confrontational approach once again to a complex problem.

In short, adopting this bill is not a simple process. I stress that it would require the House to repeal or amend several other pieces of legislation in order to consider passage of this bill. Given that it would likely infringe treaty rights, more consultation and work would obviously have to occur.

More important, this bill was not developed in consultation with any first nations people, notwithstanding the member's visits. I say quite honestly that on many occasions the member has visited first nations in his communities. He has tried to do something constructive.

On financial accountability, we need to work closely with first nations communities. The idea of having a policeman of sorts scowling through the books and backyards of first nations communities is not one that is particularly palatable for most reasonable Canadians. Canadians are very fair minded about these issues and would frown quite quickly on the notion of these kinds of practices which are endemic and systemic to the Reform Party. It seems to delight in these kinds of things.

On the whole question of accountability, two weeks ago in Winnipeg I had the privilege to meet with the Auditor General of Canada, the chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Phil Fontaine, and some 300 first nations people from across the country. We discussed the question of accountability within the first nations communities. I can tell the Reform Party and other members that I was absolutely delighted with that meeting and with discussions with the auditor general. The grand chief and the first nations people were there, many of them women.

They have a genuine interest in resolving the administrative problems and practices that may be occurring on their reserves. They are not running away from those problems. Many first nations are bringing them forward in their own communities and challenging their leaders to come forward with suggestions to make them more accountable to the members themselves. This is what we cheer on and support. It facilitates government to government relations. It builds a better Canadian society and a better future for first nations people. This is what the government is trying to do.

I ask the Reform Party in bringing forward these kinds of measures not to fan the flames of discontent and irritability which sometimes exist between first nations and other Canadians but look very deeply into these matters. Look at them clearly and soberly. Bring forward to the House of Commons some good suggestions that we might debate and include in our legislation in order to make the country an even better place in which to live.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your indulgence and the opportunity to speak in the House and to inform the hon. members. I still am the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, at least, I understand, until July 15.

Standing Committee On Finance December 16th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The case to which the hon. member refers has been dealt with by the courts and has been found to be untrue.

Nisga'A Final Agreement Act December 13th, 1999

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his work on this committee and his travel with us to British Columbia. I wonder if those watching the debate, when the cameras shift from one side to the other, know which party the member belongs to. He is a Progressive Conservative member and that party has properly supported this piece of legislation throughout the debate. The member has done an excellent job for his constituents and I commend him on that.

I appreciate very much what he said, but I want him to go a little bit deeper. He talked about the myths being proposed by the Reform Party members and about some of the ridiculous and foolish things that they have said and argued, notwithstanding testimony by Canada's leading constitutional experts about the fact that the charter does apply and that the constitution is not abridged or broken in any way or offended even slightly by this process.

I ask the member what the interests are of the Reform Party members from British Columbia. Why are they pushing this? Why are they hammering this deal? What is in it for them that they would go to these great extremes to stand up against 80% of the people voting in the House, and therefore Canada, to oppose this deal? Why?