Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was important.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Portage—Interlake (Manitoba)

Lost his last election, in 1997, with 28% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Union Station March 4th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is making a whole series of largely unfounded accusations.

The government has set up a number of instruments for economic development and we are using these in the most independent and impartial way possible to make sure Canadians have jobs and that our young people are better off. The hon. member will see those results.

Constitutional Amendments Act December 12th, 1995

Madam Speaker, I rise to speak on Bill C-110, the bill which provides for a regional veto over changes to our Canadian Constitution.

The bill provides for a historic recognition that the people of Quebec should have input into and a veto over constitutional change which affects national institutions such as the Senate, and any amendments which might affect the distribution of powers. At the same time with our amendment to recognize British Columbia as a region we are giving historic recognition to the regional make-up of Canada in which our 10 provinces are within five regions.

The bill clearly recognizes the fact that British Columbia by itself represents an identifiable region. This recognition is consistent with the unique geographic situation of British Columbia, the rapidly growing population of British Columbia and the emergence of the Asia-Pacific trading region in which Canada and particularly British Columbia have a major role.

In making this amendment we are also recognizing in law the importance of the prairie region of Canada representing the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta as a region. As the representative from Portage-Interlake in Manitoba, having roots and family in Saskatchewan and having many friends and having visited frequently in Alberta, this seems to me to be a particularly timely and appropriate recognition.

The bill we are discussing today represents one part of a package we are bringing forward in the follow-up to the recent referendum. It has measures which are designed to strengthen and to promote the unity of Canada and the ability of Canadians to be full participants in our planet's global village. In this context I will comment briefly on the place of this bill as part of the whole package of changes which we are bringing forward.

The recognition of Quebec as a distinct society is appropriate and timely. It provides within the framework of our country Canada a vision of the make-up of our component parts. Quebec is distinctive in having a system of civil law which is based upon the Napoleonic tradition. This is different from the rest of Canada which has civil law based on the English common law tradition. Quebec is also distinctive linguistically and has its own distinctive cultural traditions.

I would liken the development of this historic recognition to the historic recognition and evolution of English and French as official languages in Canada. The recognition of French and English as official languages provides a recognition of the fundamental nature of our country, Canada. The recognition does not give rights to other languages: Ukrainian, German, Italian, Chinese, aboriginal languages and so on. However it has sent a signal that individuals' historic languages and cultures are important.

That signal has been fundamental to the evolution of Canada as a country which is very different from the nature of the United States south of our border. Instead of the United States model of a melting pot, we have a pluralistic community in Canada, a country which clearly recognizes and thrives on diversity, a country in which the different regions of Canada can take pride in aspects in which each is distinct.

I will argue that the tolerant diverse country we have built in Canada is ideally prepared for participation in the future of our planet. With multiple global languages around the world, with multiple global cultures in which it is increasingly important that we work together and trade together for our common benefit, our background as a diverse and tolerant society is particularly fitting.

It is in the context of this changing world that we have presented a new employment insurance program to decentralize training in Canada. Individuals will have better access, more freedom of choice and more opportunity to learn as they would desire to learn for their own benefit and for the benefit of Canada.

We are entering the knowledge age, a time when the information highway will dramatically change opportunities for learning, opportunities for work and opportunities for self-expression.

We are moving to a model which people have called a client service model in which individuals will have more choices, more options and more opportunities. Therefore the government in many respects is changing its own role dramatically; changing from the old world in which government tried to do things alone to provide solutions, to a new world in which the government is a facilitator and a catalyst, helping Canadians from coast to coast find their own solutions.

The role of Canada in the world has similarly changed. The Canadian people, a people of diverse backgrounds, are an example to the rest of the world of how to achieve a very high quality of life which we have here, an example of how to work and to co-operate together for our mutual benefit, an example of the benefits of our linguistic, cultural, economic, scientific and technological strengths in Canada, benefits which enable us to reach out to help and to trade with the rest of the world.

In providing in products and services an understanding based on our diversity and our tolerance to others in the world, we can help others improve their quality of life even as we improve our own. Through increasing our exports of products, services and knowledge, Canadians can derive economic benefit and improved quality of life even as we help others to improve their own circumstances.

The tolerance and the diversity, the cultural sensitivity and the linguistic abilities of Canadians provide us with a unique position in the world which we should recognize and celebrate. It is the Canadian paradigm that we have diversity and tolerance even as we have unity and co-operation.

In this bill we celebrate one further step being taken today: our gradual evolution as a Canadian people and a strong and unified country.

Tobacco Products Control Act December 12th, 1995

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-117, an act to amend the Tobacco Products Control Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

High Technology November 29th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Ottawa-Vanier for his question.

The question gives me an opportunity to emphasize to Canadians that a very important priority of our government is to launch Canada into the knowledge age. To this end, we have undertaken to fund and develop a number of significant initiatives: the second long term space plan, CANARIE, PRECARN, TRIUMF, SchoolNet, the community access program, Canadian Technology Net-

work, the technology partnerships program, the tele-learning network of centres of excellence. In the west and Quebec there is the new knowledge based industries and ideas fund; in Ontario, a new NRC institute in London; in the maritimes, ACOA's support for federal-provincial technology agreements; in Ottawa, the technological development-

Bankruptcy And Insolvency Act November 28th, 1995

moved that Bill C-109, an act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act and the Income Tax Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

British Columbia Treaty Commission Act November 28th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I have two quick comments in reply.

First, if the member is trying to suggest that we should go back and start all over again, I think we have made a lot of progress. We have a process which has been agreed to by the federal government, the provincial government and more than 70 per cent of the First Nations in British Columbia. It is a reasonable basis for proceeding and I believe we should proceed.

Second, when I spoke I deliberately talked about economic development, the information highway and the changing things that are coming. These are also very important in making sure that individuals and communities have the benefit of the changing times in order to move forward and progress to a better 21st century.

British Columbia Treaty Commission Act November 28th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, let me rise to reply to the questions raised by the hon. member.

It is fundamental that we have a process of negotiation. It is also important that we have a framework so that there are not 200 separate processes going on simultaneously in British Columbia. We need a framework in which we can negotiate with British Columbia First Nations in order to move this process forward as rapidly as possible.

More than 70 per cent of the First Nations in British Columbia are involved in the process. Therefore, the concern that huge numbers will be left out will likely be mitigated. We will see what happens as we proceed further.

On the question of finality, in the end the process on which we are embarked will have an outcome which gives much greater certainty than we have at the moment. As a result of this process, we will be able to give important consideration to the situation in British Columbia for a stable and good future for both First Nations people and non-First Nations people and that will be a building block on which all British Columbians will benefit in the long run.

British Columbia Treaty Commission Act November 28th, 1995

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to join in the third reading debate on Bill C-107, an act respecting the establishment of the B.C. Treaty Commission. It is helpful to have the co-operation of the opposition members in support of the bill.

The events of the last few months, whether in B.C. or elsewhere, are convincing that issues of aboriginal rights and land claims can only be resolved through negotiation. It is very important to get on with the process. The sooner we can get the land claims settled, the faster we can get on with economic development and other government issues.

I want to talk about the process upon which we have embarked in British Columbia and also about the importance of the economic development aspects, which need to coincide with this process, and the role in particular, in view of my position as Secretary of State for Science, Research and Development, of science and technology in promoting economic development for First Nations people.

The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has recently visited British Columbia several times, the latest being November 24. During the summer he met with the First Nations Summit to report on the inherent right of self-government policy and he formally signed two of the four framework agreements. The signing of framework agreements with the Champagne and Aishihik, the Sechelt and the Gitksan-Wet'suwet'en First Nations are visible examples of the benefits and results of resolving these issues through negotiation.

Many other First Nations are working on framework agreement negotiations or completing the readiness stage. The government is committed to moving negotiations to conclusion rather than pursuing endless negotiations. That is evident from these recently signed agreements.

About 140 of the almost 200 B.C. First Nations want to sit at the table with federal and provincial governments to solve these issues. That represents over 70 per cent of the First Nations of British Columbia. Of the 47 nations in the process 25 have completed the readiness requirements. In 12 of those the 2 governments have also met our readiness requirements and 9 have completed or are working on framework agreements.

Clearly this process deserves the support of the House so that it can continue toward its goal of reaching acceptable, affordable and fair settlements.

It is important to note that we need fair settlements for all British Columbians and for all Canadians. That is the basis on which we must work.

It is important that third party interests be well taken care of in this process and indeed they are being taken care of. The British Columbia Treaty Commission process is the product of extensive consultations. In 1990 the federal and provincial governments established a task force to come up with a made in British Columbia approach to map out a negotiation process that could accommodate the many First Nations in British Columbia that wanted to negotiate settlements.

The recommendations of the task force were accepted by both governments and the representatives of the First Nations. One of the key recommendations was the establishment of the British Columbia Treaty Commission as an independent keeper of the process.

The task force also made several recommendations on public information and education as well as on consultation. The members recognize that treaty negotiations will succeed if both aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities understand why we need treaties and what those treaties mean.

As the negotiations for framework agreements proceed, governments must obtain background information on the communities, people and interests likely to be affected by the negotiations and establish mechanisms for consultation with non-aboriginal interests. These are among the criteria the treaty commission considers when it assesses the readiness of the parties to begin working toward a framework agreement.

In other words the commission will not give the green light to negotiate unless proper consultation mechanisms are in place. There is already a province-wide treaty negotiation advisory committee which my colleague spoke of but for each claim regional and even local committees are established, and these committees are becoming more and more active as parties move into the framework negotiations.

To date there are advisory committees up and running in Bulkley-Skeena, in Lilloolet-Pemberton, Westbank-Kelowna, the Lower Mainland, on Southeast Vancouver island, the west coast of Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.

Regional advisory committees are also being formed in Central Cariboo, Kitimat-Skeena, Central Coast, the Desolation Sound area and in the Prince George and Nechako Valley. Clearly third party interests are a central part of the treaty making process in British Columbia.

It seems the demands of some to halt the negotiation process seem aimed at avoiding the issue rather than finding workable and honourable agreements.

The government remains firmly committed to negotiating treaties with First Nations across Canada where needed. We will stay focused on that objective because it is the only way uncertainty can be ended and all British Columbians can benefit.

I will speak for a few minutes on the importance of this process in going forward in economic development and in particular in the potential in the area of science and technology and telecommunications for economic development for First Nations people in British Columbia and elsewhere.

It is important we get through this process, that we sort out the settlements and finalize the situation. It is also important that we start building the economic framework and in particular the telecommunications. The telecommunications, the information highway infrastructure which the government has promoted from the moment we were elected is vitally important for communities in rural and remote regions of Canada and particularly for First Nations communities.

As we outlined early on in our mandate, this information highway infrastructure is essential for jobs and learning in rural areas. It is essential we move quickly in areas of access and it is fundamentally important that we move quickly in developing Canadian content. We need aboriginal First Nation content so First Nations people are not only receivers but providers of content in an increasingly important way.

One major effort we have made is in the SchoolNet process. This process is one to which we are committed to ensure that schools in all First Nations communities are linked to SchoolNet and to the Internet and can join the information highway as one important step not only in learning but in community development as we have moved into the community access program.

In British Columbia there are some important advantages in technology becoming available with ATM networks giving broad band, multimedia access on the information highway.

As recently as last week I was in British Columbia to announce the establishment of the telelearning network centre of excellence, linking communities across Canada and centred at Simon Fraser University. The development of teaching materials on the information highway using the worldwide web and other multimedia tools will enable delivery of learning and jobs at a distance.

In this context it is important to realize a big change is occurring. Universities like Simon Fraser are already putting courses on to the worldwide web so they can be taken from anywhere around the world. In a few years a number of courses will be dramatically increased and therefore the possibility of taking courses and learning materials from anywhere in Canada, from any First Nations community in Canada, will be there and realized.

The people at Simon Fraser are already working on the possibility of having all courses on the worldwide web by the year 2000. If that happens, what a remarkable achievement and what important new access to learning and post-secondary education it would give to people across Canada.

There is another side to the question. Even as the learning material becomes more available it is now more possible and more important to develop learning materials based in and coming from the First Nations people of Canada. This is also an important objective of the SchoolNet program and an important objective of economic development, to enable teaching materials to be shared from one First Nations community to another to develop content

and learning materials which can be very important as cultural expression for First Nations people into the next century.

As we proceed in settling land claims, providing the framework, it is also important we proceed with economic development, with the information highway so that it will allow people across the country and particularly First Nations people access to the information they need when they need it and where they need it.

This will allow better management of natural resources and a remarkable new array of economic development opportunities and jobs, particularly in remote locations, as is already starting to happen in small communities in northern British Columbia and remote communities in Newfoundland, setting up businesses on the information highway and worldwide web and to operate around the world.

It is a very different world from what we have lived in, one fundamental reason it is important to move quickly to settle land claims so we can move forward in development, learning and in new possibilities.

I urge my hon. colleagues to show support for this process, which will bring certainty to the province of British Columbia and renewed hope and prosperity to the people of British Columbia and particularly First Nations' people.

British Columbia Treaty Commission Act November 28th, 1995

moved that the bill be now read the third time and passed.

British Columbia Treaty Commission Act November 28th, 1995

moved that the Bill C-107 be concurred in.