Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was yukon.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as NDP MP for Yukon (Yukon)

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

Statements in the House

Nisga'A Final Agreement Act December 2nd, 1999

Mr. Speaker, as a member of parliament and a member of the aboriginal affairs committee, I also travelled with the committee to B.C.

I do not think it helped parliament when the hon. critic from the Reform described the trip as a dog and pony show. I did not treat it as a dog and pony show and had in fact advocated early on last spring that it was important that the committee travel to B.C. because the treaty was so important in the area. Having come through a long negotiation and treaty process in the Yukon for self-government, I felt it was critical that we do go and hear from people in B.C.

Also, as a member of parliament, there were so many witnesses that I did not get on the list whom I advocated for and Reform members voted against them. It was a process to determine who we would put on the list. I think as a committee we did our best to hear from everyone. But to say that people were deliberately left off because they opposed the treaty is completely wrong. There were witnesses that I had proposed who were left off the list because there just was not room. It was a two way process. There were witnesses on both sides who did not get to be heard at all.

I was sitting here listening to the member for North Vancouver on a point of order talk about how the Reform Party is facing the tyranny of the majority and also speaking about what democracy is. We have decided on a democratic process in the country that we may not all agree with. I would prefer proportional representation myself, as a member of parliament, but we do not have that. We have a majority government. We have three other parties who support the treaty. At this point Reform is alone in opposing it.

There have been other times when the New Democratic Party has been alone in opposing government legislation. That is the democracy we face.

The comment made by the member for North Vancouver saying that Reform faces the tyranny of the majority is exactly what he is proposing for the Nisga'a people, that they should face the tyranny of a majority. These people, the first nations of the country, have faced the tyranny of the majority far more and in greater depth over this last century than we will ever imagine.

There is a very long and in depth paper on the history of discriminatory laws against first nations people. The discriminatory laws, as they are set out, infringed on their basic human rights.

I do not know if everyone here realizes, but there was a time on this continent when Indians were slaves. They were called Pawnee. It was perfectly all right under the British Empire for them to be slaves because they were Indian. They have been denied the vote. They have been denied property rights. They were denied the right to homestead. In fact, in B.C. there was a great scandal when an Indian tried to apply for land to homestead and was denied it. They have been restricted from the right to sell agricultural products. They have been restricted from the right to make a living. They have been restricted from a right to even write their own will. In fact if one was a woman one would face even worse conditions than anyone else. If a woman had a husband who died, she could not even inherit his property. If someone determined that one was a woman of poor moral character then she did not get anything at all.

I support the Nisga'a treaty because the Nisga'a people through incredible adversity have negotiated what they see as fit for them as a people. They have the support of their people to do that.

Supply November 30th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, could the member from the Bloc talk a little more on the effects of organized crime on women? It is an aspect that is often overlooked.

Immigration November 5th, 1999

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

It is really important to clarify why the government is actually condoning the smuggling of children into Canada.

During the gulf war, Masomé Aliabadi was separated from her children. It took her two years to find out where her children were. They had been smuggled into Canada and in fact were here on a minister's permit.

It has now been four years that Masomé has been in this country trying to be reunited with her family. She has refugee status in Denmark and her husband is there. She has been obstructed at every turn and she now has leukemia. All she wants is to be with her family and the minister will not allow this.

Since Masomé cannot be returned with her children to Denmark, will the minister at least let the father come to Canada to help her?

First Nations Ombudsman Act November 4th, 1999

But the ombudsman, if I understand it properly, would be responsible to the minister. The appointment would be political and would go through the committee. I am saying that the bureaucracy would be interested in sustaining itself rather than looking at the true needs of first nations people. I think those needs can be addressed through self-government, by getting rid of the Indian Act and its very odious imposition on their lives and by giving them the chance to set up governments that work and systems that are accountable.

I know my colleague from Wild Rose used many examples. I have an example of democracy and the spirit of first nations people where there was serious conflict within one band in the Yukon. There was a coalition for democracy that fought long and hard because they did not agree with what they believed to be actions that were, in some instances, what they considered to be corrupt. They fought as a group of people, as a democracy, and they made changes democratically and got new people elected. They have a very strong band council and they are negotiating their land claims. It was not easy but they did it among themselves, they did it with pride and they did it with integrity. They made changes for themselves.

What we could be responsible for, and should be, is to make sure that every band has the capacity to do that and not be squashed from above and held in positions of dependence.

I read the condemnation by the Alberta judge of both the department and the bands very closely. I think we have a lot to learn from what he said. I hope the department of Indian affairs paid close attention.

First Nations Ombudsman Act November 4th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I share the very deep worry and concern of my hon. colleague from Wild Rose about the plight of first nations people and his desire to go to accountability as a way of making sure that wealth is distributed and passed to those who need it. We are talking about a desperate need in these circumstances.

The problem I have is with the method, which is appointing a ombudsman who would be accountable to the department itself. If we look at our own government, we can see example after example of a lack of accountability.

We have had a military ombudsman who, a year after his appointment, still lacks a mandate. We have a military that cannot be trusted to investigate itself. We have a headline that says that an air force captain alerted the defence minister's office of impropriety but nothing was done about it. Another headline says that the top military is not accountable.

It is department after department. We have the immigration department that is barely accountable to parliament and even to its own minister.

We have MPs who cannot crack Canada's tight-lipped spy chief. We had a situation this morning about concerns around CSIS and the accessibility we have to that.

Another example was even in the smallest detail as an MP phoning and requesting some information from a minister and being told that it was confidential. My assistant had heard this particular paper being given in public just barely a week before and we were told that it was confidential. So he went to his home address and phoned for the information and it was sent out to him because the request did not come from an MP's office. That is the kind of accountability we hold ourselves to.

Another headline says that Ottawa gets around access to information requests and that the government sets a dismal example of accountability. Members of the foreign service have tried to bring forth information about misspending and inappropriate spending of funds.

Here we have a private members' bill that would hold first nations people to a level of accountability that we are not even willing to hold to ourselves. We had the Krever inquiry that led to untold suffering and death. Was there any single person ever held accountable? No. We had the Somalia inquiry shut down and nobody was held accountable. We have rapes and harassment in the military and nobody is accountable.

What is proposed is that we impose on first nations people another attachment to the Indian Act or another piece of the department, when obviously our departments are not capable of investigating themselves.

However, I do think the auditor general's office could play a very strong role if we were willing to reassess the auditor general's role in holding any financial transaction to a very strict and enforceable code of accountability.

Supply November 4th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, all day I have been listening to members of the Liberal Party say how wonderful free trade has been for the country, but I have not noticed the price of bread or milk, the price of clothes or the price of a vehicle go down. Prices have not gone down. They have gone up. The income of the average family has gone down. Wages have gone down. Teenagers in Yukon earn less than what I earned 20 years ago at minimum wage jobs. The minimum wage keeps people below the poverty line.

We keep hearing how good free trade is. What free trade has meant is that agribusiness can buy its wheat from Argentina cheaper than it can from Canadians, so we push our farmers right under.

With all the businesses that we are supposed to support so that they can invest in other countries, does that mean that Canadian workers will be lining up to go to work in Mexico for pennies a day? Just what are these benefits? As a person who has been at home with my family for 15 years before I came here, it was not easy to get by. I earned less money as an adult than I did as a teenager with the changes under free trade. Could the hon. member explain more clearly what are the benefits to the average family?

The Environment November 2nd, 1999

Mr. Speaker, the throne speech noted the particular vulnerability of the environment in the north and that the proposed diamond mine in Northwest Territories would drain a lake at the headwaters of the Coppermine River. The Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board, along with aboriginal groups and environmental organizations, have asked that this be put to a thorough environmental assessment panel.

Will the minister act in the long term interests of the community and the environment and submit this to a panel for assessment?

Nisga'A Final Agreement Act October 26th, 1999

Madam Speaker, I will share my time with the member for Vancouver East.

The NDP supports the treaty. The major problem that we see is that as a treaty it will not be honoured. We just had the example before us in the supreme court where the Marshall decision came down over a treaty from 1760 because that treaty was not honoured. The Northern Flood Agreement was a treaty that was not honoured and it forced native people into dire poverty when there was great wealth made off an appropriation of their land and resources.

We see treaties as a devolution of power which is bringing power down to the grassroots level and putting it in the hands of the people who are directly affected by decisions being made. This will help the Nisga'a people because that is what they need. They need power, they need their land and they need their resources to be able to get on with their lives and make decisions on how they will carry on.

What we are going to see as soon as the treaty is ratified is the whole implementation process. As I said, my biggest fear is that the implementation will force the Nisga'a people back into negotiation and that they will, in fact, have to take that to the court in order to have their treaty implemented as was desired. That is the biggest fear I have and I hope that does not happen. I believe that as Canadians we should be honouring treaties; that Canadians do not see themselves as conquerors; that in effect we have to make compensation for what was taken away.

The Indian people of this land had a race-based decision made in favour of them. That legislation was the Indian Act. It took away their language, their land, their culture and even their children. What we did was kick them out of their home and through negotiations we basically said that maybe they could come back into the basement. We said that we would make a little room but that they should not expect too much. I think that is a real shame on our part.

I honestly believe Canadians want to make reparation and compensation for the wrongs that were done, wrongs that can never be changed. We cannot give them back their children or their land, but the least we can do is give them back some of what they held.

On an international level, what Canada is doing is not all that wild or crazy as some members of parliament would have us think. There is the Nordic autonomous regions which are self-governing areas within Denmark and Finland. They are based on the historical and ancestral rights of a different culture within a country. They have their own parliament and some have their own flags, their own stamp and their own government. They are in charge of making laws that will determine the destiny of their people, but they do not have power over foreign affairs, defence, or the monetary system. Their federal or state government will pay for any decisions that they implement. The Governments of Greenland, the Faro Islands or Aland must therefore come up with money that they need to implement the laws that they have instituted.

One of the group of islands, known as Aland, their citizenship is determined by birth, by language and by culture, and they have to be able to speak the language of the people. If someone wants to become a citizen he or she has to stay on Aland for at least five years and be able to speak the language adequately. Interestingly enough, a person can lose his or her citizenship there if he or she leaves for a period of five years.

Throughout the world there is a wide variety of approaches to accommodating different cultures and different groups within a larger body.

On a national level, when it comes to treaties and the recognition of different cultures, different language and different histories within Canada, we have recently seen the creation of Nunavut.

The Yukon recently signed an umbrella final agreement which began the implementation and the final claims agreements of the 14 first nations, with 8 of them having been completed and signed off self-governing agreements at this point. They are governments with land, with laws and with the ability to decide how they will educate their children and how they will carry on as a group and have community rights. This was fought quite bitterly in the Yukon. It was through my whole generation that the claims were negotiated to get to a point where we could make real change for the first nations people.

Since these claims have been signed, the sky has not fallen in, the world has not gone to pieces and the first nations people and non-first nations people get along better than ever. The ability for a people to set their own ways and determine their lives has made a big difference for everybody in the Yukon.

Coming closer to the Nisga'a treaty, it actually fits in very well with the document by the former minister of Indian affairs entitled Gathering Strength—Canada's Aboriginal Action Plan , which was to say that we would negotiate rather than litigate. Again and again we are seeing that every time first nations people go to court it costs them and their people. That is money being diverted away from education and health and into the courts, a place where nobody wants to go.

With the very clear decisions of the supreme court, it has become more and more important to negotiate, rather than letting the courts make very black and white decisions over people's lives, decisions where repercussions, such as we have seen on the east coast over the Marshall decision, can be avoided. The really harmful reactions and violence by desperate people could have been avoided if our government had been willing to negotiate before it got to a crisis point. Unfortunately, it is certainly not over on the east coast.

The Marshall decision should give us a warning that it is critical to respect treaties that were based on friendship and peace. They were not based on anyone being conquered. They were based on the philosophy that we would share the land. Obviously the pilgrims and settlers who came to North America were not going back.

The treaty states that the Nisga'a people can make laws but only for the Nisga'a people. They can only tax Nisga'a people. Their laws will not apply to anyone who is not a Nisga'a, nor can they tax anyone who is not a Nisga'a person. There are laws such as travelling on highways that will apply to non-Nisga'a residents. This only makes sense.

We will be dealing on a nation to nation basis with the Nisga'a people. They will not be lesser than. By getting rid of the Indian Act, they will no longer be people who are considered unworthy to even make their own wills, to have marriage ceremonies and to make even the most basic decisions over their lives that so many of us take for granted but which have been denied to them. Historically, they were not even seen fit to vote in the country.

The really good element of the treaty is getting rid of the Indian Act and empowering the Nisga'a people to get on with their lives and to live their lives in dignity.

I look forward to the legislation coming before the committee and to having a very close look at every detail of it before it is ratified.

The New Democratic Party wholeheartedly supports the vision of the Nisga'a people, of the provincial government and of the federal government that would negotiate the treaty in order to free these people to live their lives.

Nav Canada October 25th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the transport minister.

When Navigation Canada was privatized the Yukon was assured that there would be no reduction in service. The traffic controllers have been laid off. The new VOR navigational system that was installed does not work. Planes have been turned back. I was on one of those planes. It is not half an hour's drive to Vancouver from Whitehorse.

The suggestion was made that the problem was that Canadian Airlines' standards were just too darned high. It could land those planes without any visual assistance and without an air traffic controller.

Will the minister make sure that every plane can land safely in the Yukon?

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency October 15th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, the government will not honour pay equity. It will not honour child care. It will not even provide housing. There is a farm crisis. We have first nations people in the country who go hungry. They get $51 a month for food for them and their children, and there is going to be this huge party.

Will this new tax agency do what it wants, when it wants with our money?