House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was claims.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Nunatsiaq (Northwest Territories)

Won his last election, in 1993, with 70% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees Of The Whole October 29th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the truth must hurt. The truth seems to hurt the member for Kootenay East. He seems to have a bit of a sore spot about aboriginal people or blacks or ordinary Canadians that this party on this side of the House represents.

All day the members across have voiced their great outrage at being singled out by the Prime Minister by being called extremists. They have a problem with that extremist label.

This is the same party that had problems with the member for Calgary Centre. They ousted the member for Calgary Southwest. These are very ordinary members but they had a problem with them. I guess those two members are not extremist enough, along with the member for Calgary West who is not running again. That party is now advertising so that they can get somebody to run in that riding in Calgary, because I think that particular member is not extremist enough.

This is the same party that has members like the member for Nanaimo-Cowichan who if he had his way would have me in the back of the room because I might be losing business for him. This is the same party that has the member for Capilano-Howe Sound who thinks that we belong on some far off island wearing shades and shorts so that we can get a tan. He thinks that is all we do.

This is the party that objects to being called extremist but has no tolerance for people other than the people who are around that particular area. This is the same party that when it was politically convenient thought that Newt Gingrich was the best thing since sliced bread. Now because New Gingrich is not so popular, all of a sudden they are sort of backing off from having any association with him.

This is the same party in which the hon. member for Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assiniboia says: "I am a red neck and I am proud to be one". That is the same party that espouses the kind of attitudes and policies which are detrimental to other people.

All of a sudden the Reform Party seems to be the champion of the needy. Reformers are the champions of the poor. It is now politically convenient to defend the poor. The government defends the poor whether it is politically convenient or not. Liberals have always defended the poor.

Let me talk about the constituency which I represent as envisioned by the hon. member for Kootenay East. That member has a problem with Nunavut, a new territory which will be incorporated when the division of the Northwest Territories occurs on April 1, 1999. The member for Kootenay East calls it the illegal new province of Nunavut. What is illegal about it? It is a very big area. It has three time zones. It is larger than the area which he represents. He has a problem with it. The population is only about 20,000, but those 20,000 people-

Committees Of The Whole October 29th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me this opportunity. I like what the member had to say in his last remark about representing ordinary Canadians. I have not seen any aboriginal people, blacks-

Arctic Council September 18th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, in August the minister announced that this fall Canada was to launch a much awaited new initiative, the Arctic Council, which comprises eight circumpolar countries.

Given the leadership role of Canada in this important initiative for Canada's northern population and for all of Canada, can the minister inform this House when he will act to establish this very important vehicle for co-operation on the environment, economic and other critical issues facing the circumpolar north?

Supply May 16th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member spoke of the security of borders. Should we not apply that to Canada? The hon. member and his party say the boundaries of Quebec are indivisible. If the hon. member thinks the boundaries of Canada are divisible, surely democratically the boundaries of Quebec should be divisible as well. Otherwise that is being hypocritical and discriminatory against one or two groups of people that would like to remain part of Canada should Quebec ever decide to separate, which I think will not be the case ever.

Supply May 16th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, it is not a matter of percentages that needs to be determined today. It will be determined over the next number of months if necessary. We do not need to get into percentages today. What we will have to determine is what will happen over the course of the coming months or years if there is another referendum.

On the first question, obviously the hon. member has property that as far as he is concerned is his by right. If he does not, I would be surprised.

Let us say he has a property, a farm or a house with a back yard, a front lawn and what not. I am bigger than he is and I come along and say: "we are taking three-quarters of your land but in the corner you will have a little area to live on". I would bet the first thing the member would do is say he owns that land legally and lawfully.

We are dealing with the law and legalities and maybe we cannot really say that is exactly what happened in the past. We did not have legalities for land and we had a poor immigration system. In 1492 we allowed in all sorts of people.

Three-quarters is a conservative figure. If 75 per cent to 80 per cent of his land were taken away from him, I am sure the hon. member would object very strongly and would cry foul. If somebody did that to him I am sure he would know exactly how the aboriginal people in Canada feel.

Supply May 16th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, whenever I hear about the two founding nations I think of Christopher Columbus stumbling on to America by mistake thinking he was somewhere else and finding out there were already people here in 1492. Therefore when I hear about the two founding nations I think of the Inuit and the Indian people of North America.

However, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak on the Bloc motion regarding Quebec separation and the wishes of Quebecers. I ask the Bloc today to respect the wishes of Quebecers, who have twice voted to remain in Canada, and to continue the development of the Quebec society within Canada.

The right to choose one's political destiny is not an exclusive solitary right. It cannot be exercised in isolation from its surrounding framework. The right to choose one's destiny does not belong to only one part of the population. The right to choose belongs to all of the population. Just as the population of Quebec has the right to express its views on its political future, so too the people of Canada have the right to express their opinion on their political future.

We are all in this together. Our past, our present and our future are shared and our destinies are intertwined.

Canadians, including a majority of Quebecers, have made it abundantly clear they want their political leaders to work together to make positive changes to improve our collective future. Yet the separatists refuse to accept and recognize this expression of the collective will. They do not respect the wishes of those in Quebec who voted against separation and for a renewed Canada.

I focus today on the wishes and the rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada who live in Quebec. They maintain strongly they have the right to choose to remain affiliated with Canada. What does the Bloc Quebecois say about aboriginal people's right to choose? Does the Bloc Quebecois believe the Inuit, the Cree, the Montagnais and the Mohawk have the right to choose their own destiny? Does the Parti Quebecois believe in the right of aboriginal peoples in Quebec to choose? The actions and the words of the Bloc Quebecois and the Parti Quebecois on this issue are somewhat contradictory and illogical.

I remind the Bloc Quebecois of the words written in 1992 by Daniel Turp, who by the way was the Bloc candidate in the recent federal byelection in Papineau-St. Michel. Mr. Turp wrote a chapter in a book of essays on secession. He made some interesting statements about the right of aboriginal peoples within Quebec to choose their destiny:

In exercising their right to self-determination, the native nations may, like Quebec, use consultation mechanisms to freely determine their political status, which could include exercising their right to democratic secession. If Quebec were to object to sovereignty measures democratically approved by the native nations, these nations could undoubtedly claim that their democratic right to self-determination and to secession had been violated.

For the right of self-determination, it is up to the majority population of a given territory to determine its political status. Where members of the Quebecois are in the majority, the future of such territories would likely be determined more by these individuals than by the native nations. On the other hand, where members of native nations are in the majority, the status of these territories would be freely determined by the majority of the individuals living there.

If the Quebecois and the native nations were to claim the same land, as may well happen, arbitration would be necessary to ensure that all people living in the territory of Quebec were able to exercise the right of self-determination as established by international law.

Yet despite these pronouncements of one of their own, time after time throughout the last referendum, before and after it, other representatives of the Bloc Quebecois and the Parti Quebecois have denied the right of aboriginal peoples in Quebec to choose.

Last fall, the House will recall, the Inuit of northern Quebec, the Cree of northern Quebec and the Montagnais held their own referendums and voted massively in support of choosing to remain in Canada. The Montagnais leader, Guy Bellfleur, said: "The message is clear. We will refuse the forcible inclusion of our people and traditional lands in an independent Quebec state".

Northern Quebec Inuit leader Zebedee Nungak stated: "We will not follow you in any journey toward Quebec sovereignty. We are one people, determined not to be bandied about from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. We believe very firmly that our rights are protected in a way that cannot be snipped by a pair of scissors called Quebec sovereignty".

In response the Parti Quebecois said it would not respect the aboriginal no votes and denied that the aboriginal peoples could remain attached to Canada in the event of Quebec's secession. Earlier this year northern Quebec Cree Grand Chief Matthew Cooncome stated clearly his peoples' view on the secessionist proposal: "Quebec would be separated from Canada and from the Cree. In that situation our lands would still be ours and we have the right to choose to remain with them, and the resources they contain, in Canada".

This past March at the annual general meeting of the Makivik Corporation in Inukjuak Zebedee Nungak reaffirmed the right of northern Quebec Inuit to decide their own destiny. At that meeting Quebec's native affairs minister, Guy Chevrette, outlined the limits of his government's position: "The continuation of future negotiations will be based on principles that our government has always advocated, including the respect of the authority of the National Assembly and the integrity of Quebec's territory".

Respect needs to be given in order to be gained. The separatists cannot continue to deny and ignore those whose views do not coincide with their own. Reality must be accepted. Aboriginal peoples in Quebec, as in the rest of Canada, have real rights that are constitutionally recognized and affirmed. A relationship exists between the aboriginal peoples of Canada and the Government of Canada. That is real and cannot be wished away.

Canada is a real country from sea to sea to sea. It is filled with real people, aboriginal and others, who care deeply about it and about making it work for the benefit of all. Just as one person's junk is someone else's treasure, so one person's prison is someone else's beloved homeland.

For these reasons the Government of Canada rejects the opposition motion as amended. The opposition motion has taken the Prime Minister's words out of context. The quote properly reads: "We will put our faith in democracy. We will convince the people they should stay in Canada and we will win". The opposition motion does not reflect the government's positive action to renew the federation.

We need to stop antagonizing and offending one another with sharp words and fabricated political crises. Let us work together in mutual respect, recognizing we all have a stake in what happens.

Canadian Human Rights Act April 30th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to hear other members speak about the kind of work we are trying to do. I feel it is a privilege and honour to be here. However, just because we are here, just because we have been elected, we should not stop trying to make the world go right, even if it is a real struggle to do it.

At least we are doing our bit by dealing with the amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act on the issue of sexual orientation. I will go all out on behalf of those people who are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and will do what I can do for them.

Canadian Human Rights Act April 30th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, considering what we saw during question period and what happened yesterday with the comments by the member for Nanaimo-Cowichan, I feel it is important to concentrate on the issue of discrimination.

Let me quote what has already been quoted by others in this House. The member for Nanaimo-Cowichan said that "everyone should be treated fairly and with justice, and we should be just to everyone, not just to specific little groups". That is precisely why we are putting the issue of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation into the act. People who are of a different colour, who are of a different lifestyle, who are disabled are being discriminated against based on those characteristics.

In talking about discrimination against various people, I have not encountered any in this House. However, being of a colour which is different from most people down here, at times there has been some discrimination against me based on the fact that I look different. People have looked at me and said: "Oh, a native". I have an example of this.

I was driving to the airport one day. I was in a rush because as usual, I was late. Two of my kids were with me. Because I was going over the speed limit, I was stopped by an RCMP officer. I was at the airport and was told to get out of my car. I said I would get out but I asked if I could start to unload my stuff. The officer said: "No, just get out". This was in front of my kids. I said that I was not going to run away, but asked if I could start unloading my stuff while the officer checked out whether I was driving legally. He said no. I hope this does not happen to other people from my area.

I gave him my driver's licence. I did not happen to have the proof of ownership because I was driving the car my wife usually drives and she had the proof of ownership. The officer threatened to take away my car. He went back to his car and ran a check through the computer. Meanwhile, he told me to stay in the car, not to unload it. Maybe he thought I was going to run away. About a minute later he came back and his demeanour had completely changed. I thought: What if I had been an ordinary Inuit from the north? I felt sorry then and there for anyone who did not happen to have my position as a member of Parliament. His demeanour had completely changed.

My problem is what I would I have gone through if I had not been a member of Parliament since my wife had the ownership and proof of insurance. That is the kind of thing I am talking about on this issue of the introduction of the words sexual orientation into the Canadian Human Rights Act.

One has to feel those things in order to realize how much discrimination there is in Canada and elsewhere. Sometimes we have to experience these things. If one has not experienced discrimination, they cannot know what people go through, whether they are a different colour, religion or sexual orientation than others.

When I was growing up, I went to a mission school in Chesterfield Inlet, N.W.T. Every morning we woke up around 6.30 or 7 a.m., went to church and had catechism after school. We were taught all the things we should be doing as good Christians: to be tolerant, to be loving, to be understanding, able to forgive and able to treat other people as we would treat ourselves. We grew up knowing that we had to treat our fellow human beings in a very caring manner and that we should be tolerant.

At the same time we were taught these lessons, we were taught songs while being unaware of their meanings. One song we used to recite to each other was "eeny, meeny, miny, mo". If anybody knows that song they will know it has some very discriminatory words toward black people.

At that time there was some conflict between the Inuit, the Chippewan and the Cree to the south of us. The teachings were that the Indians to the south of us were savages. We believed our teachers because they were good Christian missionaries.

I should not and cannot brand all Christians the same way, but some of the most hypocritical and intolerant people were good Christians, or supposedly good Christians. That hurts. We were taught all those things by the same people who said that our fellow human beings to the south were savages or they taught us a song which at the time we did not know was discriminatory. We realized this, fortunately, and most of us did not take those teachings along with us when we grew up.

The member for Nanaimo-Cowichan said we should all be treated equally. How does he reconcile that statement with his comment that if a person were of a different sexual orientation than everybody else, if he were a homosexual, the hon. member would put him at the back of the store? How would he reconcile those two views? It is impossible.

It seems we have to convince, at least teach the people-

Two-Dollar Coin April 26th, 1996

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Inuktitut.]

Mr. Speaker, over the years Inuit have been teaching the rest of the world their language. Because the rest of the world is awfully slow, we teach them about one word every 10 years, such as kayak, igloo, umiak, anorak. Over the years we have taught the world about 60 Inuit words and it will take a few thousand years for people to learn the Inuit language.

I would like to teach Canadians one more Inuktitut word which they can remember for the next 10 years. That is the word "nanuq" which in English means polar bear; majestic, strong, powerful and mysterious, the creature which now graces our two dollar coin.

I suggest we adopt the name nanuq for our two dollar coin in honour of Inuktitut, one of the original languages of this country, and the name of a truly northern Canadian animal.

Budget Implementation Act, 1996 April 26th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to say a few words about the 1996 budget, the government's third budget.

In October 1993 when the Liberal government took over from the Conservatives, the country's deficit and debt situation was out of control and swift decisive action was needed. The deficit had to be reduced and the role and priorities of the government had to be clarified.

Steps were taken immediately to get the country back on track. A comprehensive review of all federal government programs and services was launched. As a result of that review, some programs have been eliminated, others have been cut and still others have been transferred.

By the end of the 1998-99, program review measures will have reduced program expenditures by $9 billion. In that reduction process, however, the government is being careful.

Protecting the most vulnerable is paramount. Better targeting of spending is crucial. While the government is reducing overall

spending, it has at the same time identified its core role and refocused its resources on priority areas.

I am pleased to note that the needs of the aboriginal people have been identified as a government priority. Accordingly, while aboriginal programs are experiencing some reductions, they are comparatively few compared to other areas of government spending.

In this regard, I am also happy to say that the government has decided to maintain the food mail program, which is very important to the health and well-being of northerners. Under this program, the government funds the transportation of nutritious, perishable foods to isolated communities. Without this program, most people could not afford a healthy, nutritious diet. I am pleased that the government has recognized the importance of this program to the future health and well-being of northerners.

Securing the future of Canadians is the main theme of the 1996 budget. Investing in the future is another major theme. The jobs and growth initiatives of the budget focus on youth employment opportunities, technology and trade. Protecting the most vulnerable is another key feature of the budget.

The 1996 budget contains some good measures for families, particularly low income families. It provides more support for children, youth, women and the elderly. There are no tax increases in this budget. Affordable, accessible social programs are being ensured.

Support for seniors is being maintained and support for low income seniors is being enhanced. Pensions are being protected. Under the new seniors benefit to be introduced in 2001, guaranteed income supplement recipients will get an additional $120 a year. The spouses allowance will be increased by $120 a year. Seniors will only have to apply once when they turn 65, although they will have to continue submitting annual income tax returns.

Support for children is being ensured. New child support awards after May 1, 1997 will not be considered as income of the recipient for tax purposes. The age limit for the child care expense deduction is being increased to 16 years from 14 years.

Support for low income families is being increased. The working income supplement under the child tax credit will be increased from $500 to $750 in July 1997 and to $1,000 in July 1998.

The budget contains additional support for youth education and jobs with an additional $165 million over three years through the tax system to help students and their families deal with the costs of education.

Single parents will now be eligible for the same child care expense deductions as are available to couples. High school students will now be eligible for the child care deduction.

There will be an additional $315 million over three years to help create youth employment opportunities, in addition to existing youth internship and youth service Canada funding. Some of the funds will go to summer jobs. Funds for 1996-97 student summer employment are doubled to $120 million.

There is more help regarding the information highway. Every school and library in Canada will be connected by 1998 and more rural communities will also be connected.

Federal transfers to provinces and territories for health, post-secondary education and social assistance, the Canada health and social transfer, will be secure, stable and will grow.

The budget also contains some cuts. While the budget's positive measures will benefit my constituents, they are also being asked to assume some of the restraint in areas of direct concern to them. Spending on Indian and Inuit programs is being restrained. The increase in growth of spending will be reduced.

The changes to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation also affect my constituency. The budget indicates that CMHC is getting out of social housing except for housing on Indian reserves. Provincial and territorial governments are being offered the opportunity to take over the management of existing social housing resources.

I would like to say a little more about the housing situation in my constituency. There has been no ongoing funding for new social housing units since 1993. For the Government of the Northwest Territories, the decision by the former Conservative government to discontinue funding new social housing units meant a reduction of $47 million. The Government of the Northwest Territories has been unable to replace the $47 million lost in 1993, yet it spends more of its budget on housing than any other jurisdiction in Canada.

Housing need in the NWT is severe. In recognition of this fact, in October 1994 the federal government announced a special one-year strategic housing initiative for northern and remote communities. Seventeen million dollars was made available for emergency housing needs in northern Canada. The NWT was allocated $9.5 million of this amount.

The assistance was gratefully received, but there are still major outstanding needs, particularly among aboriginal people. Twenty-five per cent of northern NWT households are in need. This is the highest proportion of households in need in any Canadian jurisdic-

tion. Over 87 per cent of the NWT households in core need are aboriginal people.

In the NWT aboriginal people make up nearly 98 per cent of the social housing client base. There is only one reserve in the Northwest Territories and the Inuit do not live on reserves at all. Therefore, assistance for housing on reserves does not benefit the vast majority of aboriginal people in the NWT This fact is important for members of this House to understand.

Most Indian and all Inuit people of the Northwest Territories do not qualify for the department of Indian affairs' housing program because they do not live on reserves. Housing assistance for aboriginal people in the Northwest Territories comes through the NWT government, so any cuts to NWT housing mean cuts to aboriginal housing.

Most communities in the NWT are almost totally dependant on government for shelter. Aboriginal people have moved off the land into permanent communities only during the last 30 to 40 years. There has never been enough housing in the NWT to adequately house all the people requiring shelter.

In addition, the NWT population is young and is growing rapidly. The birth rate in the NWT is almost twice the national average. Forty-one per cent of NWT children under the age of 12 are living in overcrowded conditions. This negatively affects their health, social development and school performance.

In conclusion, housing remains an area of great concern to me and all northerners. I continue to urge the federal government and the territorial government to work together to address the serious housing needs of northern aboriginal people.