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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was food.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for British Columbia Southern Interior (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 51% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his comments. As members probably know, his riding borders mine, and we work together on a number of issues.

I would just like to get a straight answer, if I can. We have brought up investor state rights, and I am hearing from the other side that wanting to have an amendment to this agreement to take out investor state rights is somehow contrary to trade or means wanting to block the agreement.

I have been following the whole idea of investor state rights ever since NAFTA. It seems ludicrous to me that any government would allow a foreign company to sue the government because it might feel that it was not treated fairly by certain environmental legislation or laws that were put in place by people at the municipal, provincial, or federal level.

I would like clarification. Why is it so important to have these investor state rights, when we have a legal system in both of our countries that can do the job, that will give our tax dollars to foreign companies, should they choose to sue us, either to defend the federal government or to make a payout? To me it does not make any sense. Why do we need to have this provision in an agreement between two civilized countries that would take our tax dollars to pay their corporations? Something is not quite right here, and I would like a definite explanation.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned mining, and I would like to reiterate what he said. We have some real success stories in the area that we serve. Certainly the mine in Princeton, the copper mine, is a success story. I have had a chance to visit it. It is a good corporate citizen. It would benefit, as would others, from the agreement. There are obviously good things in this agreement, and we are supporting it.

I still cannot fathom this whole investor state mechanism that we and I keep referring to because of things that have happened in the past or are happening now. I would like my colleague to give us his thoughts on the following. This is a quotation from the CCPA Monitor:

Lone Pine Resources, a Canadian firm registered in Delaware, is suing Canada for $250 million under NAFTA because Quebec's fracking moratorium is apparently an illegal barrier to its investment opportunities. Again, the decision will be made by paid arbitrators, not the courts.

This is the kind of model that will be part of this agreement.

I have asked my constituents and others whether they think a company should be able to sue the federal government because a province or a municipality or the federal government wants to enact laws in the interest of its citizens. They said no, it does not make any sense.

I would like to get my hon. colleague's comments on that aspect of this agreement.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned in her speech that we on this side tried to introduce some amendments at committee. I am not sure if I heard correctly, but I think she used the word “sabotage”, which did not quite make sense to me.

One of the amendments we tried to introduce was to repeal the investor state dispute settlement from this agreement. I wonder if the member is aware that under NAFTA, there have been over 30 investor state claims against Canada at all levels of government, targeting public policy measures from bans on fracking to court rulings on drug patents, and that Canada has already paid out over $160 million to investors, either as a payout or for legal fees in trying to defend various legislation.

I am wondering if she thinks it is right for our tax dollars to go toward paying corporations when they dispute various laws that are put into place for our benefit.

Petitions October 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, there are 200 names of citizens from Kamloops, British Columbia on this petition.

The petitioners are calling for us to adopt legislation requiring all genetically modified products and ingredients to be labelled as GMOs, thereby allowing consumers to make informed choices about their lifestyles.

Military Contribution Against ISIL October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. What we are debating in the House is a motion to go either one way and start bombing attacks or to change that part and say we will transport weapons to those who need them.

If the government motion passes today, it will put in regulations. It will decide exactly how this will happen. If our amendment passes today, then it would be up to the government to decide on the needy group and how we make sure these weapons do not get into the hands of those people who could use them against us.

Details are worked out after decisions are made here in Parliament. That is how I would interpret our amendment as opposed to the current government motion.

Military Contribution Against ISIL October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we seem to pick and choose. We did not do anything in the Congo, where five million people have been slaughtered under conditions that are just as atrocious as, if not even worse than, what is happening right now. We have not gone into other areas where we could have helped.

This conflict then presupposes, if we look at the example given about Holland, that we need troops on the ground. My answer to the hon. member would be as a question. Would he then agree that air strikes are not enough, and that eventually Canadian troops will be on the ground in the same kind of situation that we had in Afghanistan? That would be my answer to his question.

Military Contribution Against ISIL October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to share this time with my hon. colleague, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

As the Leader of the Opposition stated in this House:

There is no more important decision that we make in the House, no more sacred trust for a Prime Minister, than sending young Canadian women and men to fight and risk making the ultimate sacrifice in a foreign war.

As a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, I believe that the deployment of troops into combat has to be a very last resort, the ultimate decision, when everything else has failed.

Afghanistan took a heavy toll on Canadians as a result of a former Liberal government's decision to send our troops into combat in 2005. There has been a lot of discussion as to why we did this. Some say it was to appease the Americans for our lack of support in Iraq. Others say it was to test equipment and combat readiness. The list goes on.

This mission was prolonged by the current Conservative government, and according to an article in the Vancouver Sun on October 3, the Afghan Islamist insurgency is not defeated and there is no peace. In addition, sadly, our veterans have not received the necessary help they need, not to mention the 160 who lost their lives.

As a result of the western bombing campaign in Libya, there is now a patchwork of warring factions. Many of our allies to topple Gaddafi in 2011 are now fighting for the Islamic state, and North Africa has been destabilized.

The terror unleashed today in Iraq is a direct result of the wrong-headed mission in 2003. According to Tom Engelhardt, in an article entitled “How America Made ISIS” on September 2, 2014:

In the process, the U.S. effectively dismantled and destroyed state power in each of the three main countries in which it intervened, while ensuring the destabilization of neighboring countries and finally the region itself.

Engelhardt goes on to state how the deaths that ran into the hundreds of thousands and the uprooting of millions of people proved to be “jihadist recruitment tools par excellence.”

In other words, the U.S. destroyed the Iraqi state, supported the Shia who suppressed the Sunnis to create a welcome situation for ISIS. As our leader has stated:

...it is literally the same insurgent group that U.S. forces have been battling for over a decade.

The question before us, therefore, is this. Will Canada be stuck in a prolonged war that we wisely avoided in 2003?

We are entering into a bombing mission. Can we be certain that the civilian death toll will not increase?

To date, the U.S. has not provided any information about civilian or combatant casualties and is denying on-the-ground reports that civilians are being killed or wounded.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, civilians are dying as a result of the bombing, and Human Rights Watch estimates that, on September 23 alone, 24 civilians were killed in air strikes.

Peter Certo, editor of Foreign Policy In Focus, states in an article entitled “Here’s Everything Wrong with the White House’s War on the Islamic State”:

War planners are predicting that the latest conflict could rage for three years or longer....

...U.S. intelligence agencies have confirmed that IS presently poses no threat to the U.S. homeland.

Further, he states:

This plan won’t work....

...you can’t bomb extremism out of existence.

In Yemen and Pakistan, al Qaeda has not been destroyed and the drone attacks have recruited more terrorists.

Many have said that bombing alone will not win this war. Therefore, some U.S. generals are calling for ground forces. Does this mean that Canada will be drawn into another Afghanistan?

To my knowledge, there is no post-bombing plan. Will the Iraqi army, the Shiite militias, or the Kurds take up the call to consolidate control on the ground? In Syria, which rebel forces should the west co-operate with? Will arms delivered to moderate rebel forces wind up in the hands of ISIS? Will Assad triumph in Syria, thanks to U.S. air power?

This is an extremely complex conflict into which we are being drawn. The more bombs fall, the more enemies we create. We are not even sure who our friends are. Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have given cash to ISIL, and yet they are supposed to be our allies.

We are rightly outraged by the atrocities committed by ISIL, yet as pointed out by CBC's Neil Macdonald in a post on September 29, the Congo war has left five million dead, and the west has hardly reacted to the atrocities committed by both government and rebel forces.

It gets more confusing. We are reacting to the beheadings committed by ISIL, yet we remain silent when our ally, Saudi Arabia, has so far beheaded 46 people this year, some for sorcery. Can anyone imagine that?

Bernard Trainor, a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant general, stated the following in an article that was published in The Washington Post. It appeared as well in the September 26 edition of the National Post:

The Islamic State presents a problem to be managed, not a war to be won....

The U.S. role should be limited to helping Kurdish forces and the new Baghdad government better organize to keep the pressure on, with U.S. airstrikes contingent on their progress....

The idea of destroying the Islamic State,...is nonsense....

The situation in Mesopotamia is a violent game of mistrust and self-interest. The Saudis despise the Iranians but will cut deals with them if doing so is in their interest. Iran will play any card necessary to achieve regional hegemony, while Turkey is coy about its own quest for pre-eminence. The Gulf states talk out of both sides of their mouths. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad uses the Islamic State to create problems for other rebels. Iraq plays at democracy as long as it can subjugate the Sunnis. Shiites and Sunnis fight each other while carrying on intramural warfare with their kinsmen. The double-dealing is almost endless. It doesn’t make sense to us, but it does to the players.

After more than a decade of frustration and humiliation, the United States should have learned that the Middle East is no place for Wilsonianism on steroids.

I believe it would be very prudent and in everybody's best interests to let the U.S. attempt to resolve this crisis, as General Trainor suggests. After all, it created this situation in the first place.

Our energies and efforts would be much better spent on humanitarian aid. As we have seen in this debate, my party has presented some very concrete and workable suggestions as to how this could be accomplished. In other words, rather than spending something like $40,000 an hour per plane to fly bombing missions, would it not make sense to add this money to the $43 million already committed, justly and rightly, by the government? Thousands, if not millions, of people could receive desperately needed assistance. Since January 14, an estimated 1.8 million people have been displaced, and conditions are worsening every day.

According to Peter Certo, the U.S. also has other options. According to him, the U.S. could freeze the bank accounts of IS funders and negotiate partnerships with villages where oil pipelines run to cut Islamic state oil revenue, work with Europe and Turkey to stem the flow of western fighters, and dramatically increase support for UN humanitarian assistance support to Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, which have absorbed millions of refugees.

The U.S. must recognize that the Islamic State flourishes because of political breakdown on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border. One would think, then, that a priority has to be to build a strong, stable government in Iraq. We could help in this regard.

Certo went on to say that on the diplomatic front, the U.S. could work with Syria to convene rebel groups, the regime, Turkey, Iran, Russia and the Gulf States to restart negotiations for a political solution to the war. It could also link its nuclear negotiations with Iran to the political crisis in Iraq. For example, it could allow Iran to enrich uranium for peaceful nuclear power generation in exchange for support to rein in Iranian-backed militias in Iraq.

It should be clear to all that there are many options to explore. Instead of blindly jumping into war, Canada could be a leader in offering some creative solutions to this tragic conflict. There is no easy way out, but we must try. We owe it to our men and women in uniform and certainly to the millions of innocent victims already affected by this tragedy.

Petitions October 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from over 300 constituents in the Kootenay Boundary area who call upon Parliament to refrain from making any changes to the Seeds Act or the Plant Breeders' Rights Act through Bill C-18.

They call upon Parliament to enshrine in legislation the inalienable rights of farmers and other Canadians to save, reuse, select, exchange and sell seeds.

Petitions October 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions.

The first one is from the citizens of the Langley area of British Columbia who believe the current impaired driving laws are too lenient. They would like the Criminal Code to be changed to redefine the offence of impaired driving causing death to vehicular manslaughter.

Iraq September 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the tragedy continues to unfold in Iraq. The Bush invasion of 2003 has left a toll of hundreds of thousands dead, millions of people displaced and infrastructure destroyed. According to an editorial in the Chicago Tribune, if Bush and the neo-conservatives had not pushed to topple Saddam, the Islamic State would not have been born.

So here we have it. Bush created this mess and the U.S. is now asking other countries for help. No Arab country has offered boots on the ground, and Turkey has refused to let coalition warplanes fly bombing missions from its territory.

As Jeffrey Simpson stated in today's Globe and Mail:

The West, once again, has stepped into these minefields without having properly identified the nature of the struggle, the ends sought by military intervention and the means necessary to bring those ends about.

Our troops should only be put into harm's way as a very last resort. The terms of the current mission are unclear. Deployment of our military to a war zone requires full debate and a vote in Parliament. Canadians deserve better.