House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Nickel Belt (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Energy Safety and Security Act May 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst for his speech.

My colleague is a former miner. That makes me think of the mines being closed. The taxpayers are stuck with the waste. They have to pay to clean up the mines. The Conservatives are keen on the nuclear system. They like to beat their chests and say that they are the ones protecting taxpayers.

To describe what they are trying to do to taxpayers, there is one word I would like to use, but I will not because it is unparliamentary. I will just say that what they are trying to do is coax taxpayers into paying for nuclear waste.

Could my colleague attempt to explain why the Conservatives, who say they want to protect taxpayers, are trying to make them pay for nuclear waste?

Petitions May 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my second petition is from dozens of people from the Windsor area, asking the government that people's sexual preferences not be grounds for the instant refusal of the right to donate organs.

Petitions May 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am quite pleased today to rise to present two petitions.

One petition is calling on the Minister of Health and the House of Commons to pass my bill, Bill C-356, an act respecting a national strategy for dementia. As members know, we have an epidemic right now of seniors who have dementia, and we would like the government to take action on this unfortunate illness.

Business of Supply May 14th, 2014

I am lost for words, Mr. Speaker. One thousand comedians out of work and we have to listen to that. I cannot believe it.

The member talked about negatives and positives. The NDP did a positive thing, which became a negative for the Liberals. We gave them Bob Rae. Good Lord, what a gift. The gift that keeps on giving.

The member talked about Adam whoever, but he failed to mention that Joe Cressy is a long-time advocate for housing in Trinity—Spadina. He is going to represent the NDP in the House, not Adam whoever.

I do not know what to ask the member. That was the funniest speech I have ever heard. Actually, it was the second funniest because the one previous was funny too.

Could the member tell us what role the federal government should play in housing? I do not want him to tell me the Liberal role that his party played in the past, because that was a disaster. She admitted herself that the Liberals needed three more months to do something right. That was because in 12 years they were never able to do anything right.

Norm Bisaillon and Marc Methe May 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise to honour Norm Bisaillon, 49, and Marc Methe, 34, two experienced drilling contractors who were killed Tuesday at First Nickel mine, in Greater Sudbury.

On behalf of all members here, I offer our thoughts and prayers for these men, their families, and colleagues.

As a former mining company worker, I know what these days are like back home. I had friends killed in the mining industry. Now my daughter and her generation mourn a friend who was killed. Generation to generation, it can be a dangerous job.

We are tough in the north. We persevere. Despite a splendid diversification of our region and economy, mining continues to define us.

One death is one too many. Sudbury has had three mining deaths in four weeks, and six deaths in less than three years. This is a call to action.

The local paper said it well this week:

It is understood that at a time like this, grieving and reflection takes precedence over all else.

And so it should.

But we surely must turn to why these tragedies keep occurring in our community and find ways—not words—to deal with them.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns April 28th, 2014

With regard to the Ring of Fire mining project in the far north of Ontario: (a) what departments and officials sit on the inter-department secretariat for the project; (b) what are the federal responsibilities for this project; (c) what is the federal funding to date for the project's activities; (d) how many First Nations members are currently or projected to receive training in mining related activity to work on the project, (i) from which communities do individuals currently being trained originate, (ii) in what trades, (iii) which federal programs are being accessed for this training, (iv) what is the forecast of skilled workers who will be required; and (e) what meetings have taken place between any officials of the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario on this project, (i) what are the names of the participants, (ii) on what dates were the meetings held, (iii) what was included in the agenda for each meeting?

Employees' Voting Rights Act April 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to comment on what my colleague said. One of the things she said was that the government is going to support this bill, which just goes to prove what my other colleagues have been saying about this bill. It is a private members' bill coming in through the back door. That is pretty obvious.

When he was giving his speech, the sponsor of this bill mentioned Castro and Stalin. What I thought of right away was the Prime Minister. Why did I think of him? It was because of what he is trying to do with the unfair elections act. He is trying to turn Canada into countries like Castro's and Stalin's. That is really shameful.

Let me tell the House a little bit about why I want to speak on this bill. I am going to tell members a little of my personal story. I started working at 18-years of age in a mine called Frood Mine. It was not the place where I really wanted to work. I wanted to get closer to home and go to Levack Mine.

I started as an apprentice machinist at 18. Because I started as an apprentice, it was not a job that paid very well. It was as low as it could go. Back in 1968, that was pretty low, so thank God for the union leadership.

The reason I am mentioning this is that when I had been at Frood Mine for about two years, it was scheduled to close. So I said to the guys I was working with that I was going to try to go to Levack. It was closer to my place. The guys said that I did not want to go there. When I asked why, they said that the supervisor there was a supervisor from hell and that I would get fired. I could not believe it.

Eventually, six months later, I ended up in Levack Mine. True enough, I ran into the supervisor from hell. I say that because he treated people in a very special manner. Back then, I was 20 years old. I had quite a bit more hair than I do now, but it was not very long. It was just a little bit long, like it was back in the 1960s. It was not shoulder length. As soon as I ran into this guy, the first minute I met him, he asked where I had been. He said he had been waiting for me all morning. Of course, I was in the first aid room getting my locker, and people were showing me around, where I had to go and what I had to do.

He asked where I had been and said that he had been waiting for me all morning. It surprised me, but I knew that he was the supervisor from hell. He said that my hair was pretty long and that I had to get a haircut if I wanted to work there. I did not think that my hair was very long, but he said to come back the next day with a haircut.

Back in those days, a person could be fired on Friday and be working on Monday. It did not really matter. I said okay. I finished my shift, went home, and went back the next day. I did not have a haircut. I went home that night and washed my hair. I combed everything really nicely because I wanted to impress him.

He said that I had not cut my hair. I said no, so he said I would have to and see the superintendent. I went to see the superintendent. I walked into his office and he asked what I wanted. What was I there for? I told him that my supervisor had sent me because I did not get a haircut and he thought my hair was too long. The superintendent looked at me and said there was nothing wrong with my hair, that I was to go back to work and tell my supervisor to see him.

I went back to the shop and told my supervisor that the superintendent wanted to see him. He was gone for several minutes. From the reports that I got back from the people who worked in that office, it was not pretty.

When he came back to the shop, where I was told to wait for him, if members think our member for Acadie—Bathurst is red when he speaks, they should have seen this guy. He was red. He just could not believe that he had been raked over the coals by the superintendent because of an apprentice. If I did not have a union back then, I would have been fired probably on the first day.

However, this bill is trying to prevent unions from organizing. I belong to the United Steelworkers, local 6500, a great union. It is the same union as the president of the international steelworkers, Leo Gerard, belongs to. He and I grew up in that union. We are just about the same age, and we were stewards together and committee men together. He became the president of the United Steelworkers international. He is a great guy. He gets to work with other steelworkers and unionized people. I became the MP for Nickel Belt, and I have to work with the current government. I cannot believe how lucky that man got.

Union workers do have well-paying jobs and they do contribute to the communities. For example, in Sudbury, if it had not been for the steelworkers, the CAW, and all the good unions, we would not have a cancer centre. It was because of the desire and drive of the union movement that we have a cancer centre in Sudbury. Everybody can use that cancer centre; it is not just for union people. It is just that the union workers helped pay for it. The union workers also support the food bank. Every year, they collect thousands and thousands of dollars for the food bank. They can do that because they have well-paying union jobs.

The goal of the current Conservative government is to drive all the wages as low as possible, to the lowest denominator, so we can all have Walmart salaries and the companies can profit more.

I just want to reiterate the importance of unions. They supply well-paying jobs. They spend their money in the community. They buy in the community. They help people in need. Why would we want to drive their wages down? It just does not make sense. We should encourage more unions in this country, not discourage them. People discouraged unions in the place where Castro was president, and Stalin certainly did not encourage unions.

As the previous member said, the Conservatives are going to support this bill, obviously. It is a private member's bill and they have already decided they are going to support it. So it is just a back-door way of bringing this bill to the House of Commons.

I am going to stop right there. I am not going to support this bill, obviously. I am really proud to be a steelworker and a union member.

Mining Industry April 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Sudbury, Nickel Belt, and northern Ontario are in mourning today because of the death of another miner from our community.

Paul Rochette was killed on the job on Sunday, while working in the casting and crushing plant at Vale's Copper Cliff smelter. He was 36 years old. Paul leaves behind his partner, two young children, family, friends, and co-workers. We offer our condolences, and grieve with all of them here today.

It is a stark reminder of how dangerous mining and mineral processing is and how important workplace safety is. We will let the police, the company, and the union investigate.

This is the fourth death in three years in our region. I welcome the comments of the chair of the Ontario Ministry of Labour on an ongoing review of mining health and safety. He said:

The death of a 36-year-old industrial mechanic at Vale's Copper Cliff smelter Sunday reinforces the need for a comprehensive review of the health, safety and prevention issues related to the mining industry. We must work together to...ensure mine workers go home safe and sound at the end of every shift.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question, and the member is right. It is our kids and our grandchildren who are going to pay later.

However, there are some tax cuts in this budget. He is right again. The big banks and the big profitable corporations that do not need any help get tax cuts from these governments, but ordinary hard-working Canadians have to pay more and more every day that the current government is in power.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the current government has never really helped all of the provinces equally. It picks spots where it will help certain people, especially if the help will bring Conservative votes. For example, the new undemocratic elections act targets seniors, students, and first nations, the people who do not generally vote for the Conservatives. That is the kind of undemocratic government we have.