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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Green MP for Thunder Bay—Superior North (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 14% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 June 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Green Party agrees to apply and is voting no.

Petitions June 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have petitions from across Ontario and Quebec regarding climate change and pricing carbon.

The petitioners feel that due to the IPCC recommendations, the severe climatic effects that are occurring, and the fact that it is becoming clear to most of us that we humans are causing this in large part, they would like to see the adoption of a carbon pricing policy called carbon fee and dividend, supported by the Citizens Climate Lobby under the Green Party of Canada. It would set a fee on carbon where it comes out of the ground or at the port of entry, increase that fee over time, and distribute 100% of that money from the fee equally among all Canadians.

The Environment June 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is introducing last-minute bills deliberately set to fail to pass, like the Lake Superior national marine conservation area act in Thunder Bay—Superior North. The NMCA and $20 million was a pre-election promise by our Prime Minister in Nipigon eight long years ago. Is Bill C-61 just another pre-election false promise, or will the Prime Minister seek unanimous consent for Bill C-61 to actually pass before the House rises?

Petitions June 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have petitions from many Canadians who are concerned about the election fraud that occurred in the 2011 federal election.

The petitioners feel that due to fraudulent practices, including in Thunder Bay—Superior North, that election results were affected and the democratic right of Canadians to vote was suppressed.

They call upon the House, the Government of Canada and the Prime Minister to call an independent, fully empowered royal commission into election fraud, alongside the Elections Canada investigation, to determine whether the Elections Canada Act and any other Canadian laws were violated during the 2011 federal election campaign, and to protect the integrity of our electoral system.

Democratic Reform June 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, when in opposition, our Prime Minister made many promises. He promised to never appoint a single unelected senator, but he has appointed 59. We see how well that is working out. He also promised to implement proportional representation. Now, with only 39% of the popular vote but 100% of the power, he rather likes our archaic and undemocratic electoral system.

Why does the Prime Minister not keep his word?

Lighthouses in Thunder Bay—Superior North June 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, congratulations to Paul Morralee, Paul Capon, and Canadian Lighthouses of Lake Superior for their successful bid to protect heritage lighthouses in Thunder Bay—Superior North.

Their work will create much-needed economic development opportunities for rural communities and augment our new Lake Superior marine conservation area.

On May 29, the minister announced that 74 lighthouses will be designated under the act, but she did not specify which ones. Many groups are still in the dark about whether their lighthouses have been given heritage protection. Without this status, it is difficult for them to move forward with any needed repairs or apply for any new funding opportunities for lighthouse maintenance.

Once again this government's secrecy is affecting Canadians and Thunder Bay—Superior North's regional economic development opportunities.

Post-Secondary Education June 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, Roman Jakubowski, the student president at Lakehead University, the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North, the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, and the Green Party actually believe that the feds do have a role in reducing student debt in Canada.

Statistics Canada reports that students from low-income families were less than half as likely to go to university than those from high-income families. Students with little or no debt were more than twice as likely to finish their degrees than students with high levels of debt. The completion rate for students with under $1,000 of debt was 71%, while the completion rate for those with over $10,000 in debt was 34%.

A post-secondary education has never been more necessary in Canada, and it has never been less accessible. Canadian youth are now the most indebted generation in the country's history. This debt will have far-reaching implications for Canada's economy and socio-economic equality.

When will these Conservatives start funding higher education for students across Canada and in Thunder Bay—Superior North and make Canada fairer and more effective with a more dynamic society and economy?

Post-Secondary Education June 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, decades of poor public policy in the post-secondary sector has created a generation of debt slaves and perpetuated inequality in our society. The Conservative approach to funding higher education has created a lost generation of students with high tuition fees, saddled with lots of debt, unable to buy a house, unpaid internships and a bad job market. What a combination. Skyrocketing tuition fees and loan-based financial assistance have pushed student debt to historic levels. Education costs continue to grow faster than inflation. The economy is a lot weaker than it was in the early 2000s. The capacity of graduates to repay their loans has quickly diminished.

When our finance minister was in university, the average price of tuition was about $500, and adjusted for inflation that would be about $3,000 today. In stark contrast, the average Canadian student pays over $6,000 dollars per year now, and students in Ontario pay $7,500 a year. This skyrocketing cost of tuition has outpaced inflation by a wide margin, more than double.

By September 2010, the total amount of student loans owed to the government reached $15 billion, the legislated ceiling set by the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act. This figure does not even include provincial or personal loans, lines of credit, or education-related credit card debt. The government altered the definition of “student loan” to exclude over $1.5 billion in federal student loan debt, and still it surpassed that $15 billion limit. Therefore, in response, our government amended the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act again in order to increase that limit to $19 billion, while at the same time dramatically reduced parliamentary oversight of the program.

This past year almost a half a million students were forced to borrow funds in order to finance their education, resulting in student debt increasing by $1 million per day. The Treasury Board's proposal to write off nearly $300 million in unrecoverable student loans brings the total spent on writing off unpaid student debt to more than $1 billion in only four years. Clearly, financing higher education through tuition fees and debt is unsustainable and irresponsible.

In the past 15 years, tuition fees for students in Thunder Bay—Superior North and across Canada have grown to become the single largest expense for students. The dramatic tuition fee increases during this period were the direct result of cuts to public funding for post-secondary education, and to a somewhat lesser extent by provincial governments as well.

Public funding currently accounts for an average of approximately 57% of university and college operating funding, down from 80% just two decades ago. During that same period, tuition fees have grown from 14% of operating funding to over 35%, more than double. This constitutes a huge shift in Canada's post-secondary education system away from a publicly funded model toward a privatized user fee system favouring the rich. Rapidly increasing tuition fees have caused post-secondary education to become unaffordable for many low-income Canadians.

The Conservative government is writing off nearly $300 million in unrecoverable student debts this year, but, according to the IMF, it has also subsidized big oil to the tune of $34 billion this year. Ottawa must change its approach. The Conservatives must change.

When will the government learn that investing in young Canadians, the future of our country, is a better investment than the corporate welfare cheques the Conservatives are handing out to their friends to big oil, gas and coal?

The Environment June 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the government's proposed weak targets for climate change would only be achieved five years later than those of the U.S.A. They rely on questionable carbon accounting practices in forestry and land-use sectors. They include international offsets to compensate for growing oil sands emissions, which is a scam if there ever was one, and only emphasize regulations for some greenhouse gases, not including CO2.

Canada is required to release its emission targets for the G7 conference in Germany next month. Presently, Canada's opening pledge for the Paris climate summit is the weakest in the G7. It would only further cement Canada's global reputation as a climate dinosaur.

We have two parties with no plan to reduce CO2 and one party with a very bad plan. When will the government start considering carbon fee and dividend, and start reducing both climate change and poverty here in Canada?

The Environment June 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, Canada has the weakest performance of any G7 country in meeting our climate projection targets. We also have weak targets to boot. Climate change is happening now and is having very real consequences on the lives of people. It is disrupting national economies and ecologies.

It is time for a real plan to prevent dangerous climate change in Canada. Canada's proposed targets only focus on methane and nitrous oxide emissions rather than CO2, which is the main greenhouse gas. The plan still does not include regulations on oil sands at all, which is one of the fastest growing sources of emissions here. Canada is currently ranked among the world's top 10 CO2 polluters. Alberta is accountable for 73% of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions growth since 1990.

Only an immediate and fast transition to a clean energy system will ensure that we help to avoid dangerous climate change from rapid global warming. Instead, the federal government has chosen to regulate methane from the oil and gas sector as well as emissions from chemicals and nitrogen fertilizers. That is good. However, Canada needs to go further than planned in controlling all greenhouse gases, not just some.

The new greenhouse gas reduction target is 30% over the next 15 years. However, how exactly is this going to happen? What is the plan? These proposed new targets would be achieved five years later than those proposed by the U.S.A., and would only move Canada to 14% below 1990 levels of greenhouse gases. These proposed targets are a step forward but do not put Canada on the right track to carbon reduction. Prominent economists and policy advisers from across North America and the political spectrum have recommended carbon fee and dividend as the best way to slow the progress of climate change and to price carbon. It is the official policy of the Green Party of Canada and the Citizens Climate Lobby.

Canadian C02 emissions have been rising for decades under both the Conservatives and Liberal. Stalling this issue into the future will only worsen the problem. We are one of the highest C02 polluters per person in the world. We have an obligation to our children and grandchildren to deal with this problem now.

The carbon fee and dividend plan would make coal mines and oil and gas wells pay for their C02 emissions at the source, but not a penny would go to the government. The dividends generated from these payments will be paid directly back to Canadians on an equal per capita basis. It would be totally revenue neutral. It is a fee, not a tax. It is a fee based on science. It does not rise and fall with the use of fossil fuels, and not a penny goes to government.

Carbon fee and dividend would use the marketplace to reduce C02 emissions, guide Canada toward a transition to sustainable energy, and put money into the pockets of Canadian consumers. The carbon fee and dividend system would help Canada to meet our responsibilities in fighting climate change.

The Green Party will make carbon fee and dividend a priority item on the first agenda of the proposed council of Canadian governments.

The Conservatives have dug our economy deep into the tar sands, and we are now all suffering the consequences. The first step is to develop and approve in Parliament a national energy strategy. We are the only G20 country without one. We need a clear plan to meet Canada's energy needs, address climate change and shift to sustainable energy.

Therefore, I will renew my question tonight. When will the government start working on a real strategy to help tackle climate change in Canada, preferably carbon fee and dividend?