House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was north.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Northwest Territories (Northwest Territories)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 31% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees of the House June 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present the New Democratic Party's dissenting report on the report from the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development on hunting and trapping in Canada.

New Democrats support and encourage Canadians to spend time enjoying Canada's outdoors. We see it as a privilege. New Democrats recognize and salute the fact that hunters and trappers have played an important role in the conservation of wildlife habitat, which complements the vital and important role carried out by government agencies through regulation, enforcement, research, and environmental protection and monitoring.

We make the following recommendations.

First, in order to ensure healthy wildlife populations and a sustainable environment that protects habitat, it is recommended that the Government of Canada initiate and provide funding for wildlife research and monitoring, particularly in the area of the impact of climate change on habitat.

Second, as federal legislation has played an important role in maintaining healthy wildlife populations and a sustainable environment, it is recommended that the Government of Canada support and enhance laws to protect Canada's environment and wildlife.

Third, because of the special role that hunting and trapping play in the culture of Canada's aboriginal peoples, it is recommended that the Government of Canada take active steps to ensure that the hunting and trapping rights of Canadian aboriginal people, which were established in nation-to-nation treaties, are well protected.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act June 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, sincerity in politics is sometimes considerably abused.

In the case of Bill C-51, the Liberals were concerned that by not supporting the bill, they might somehow be tainted in the view of some important constituencies out there, so they decided to support it. I think that is what is going on in this case as well. If the Liberals say they do not like what is in the bill, if they say they think the bill is inadequate and they do not see that it is going to provide the proper results, then, by golly, they should stand up and vote against it.

We are not here to make bad legislation. We are not here to put laws on the books simply to have laws on the books. We are here to do things for society that work. That is very important. That is why the New Democratic Party is trusted by Canadian families. It is because they know we want to do things that actually work for them.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act June 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I cannot agree with what the member pointed out that I supposedly said. I will look at the record to make sure that it was not said.

All of the things the member is talking about are laws that now exist in society. All of the things she is talking about are issues that we have legal recourse to deal with in society. Those are not issues that stand outside of society today.

We support the intent of the bill. We are just saying that it does not work. It will not be competent in what it is going to do for society.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act June 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak again to this bill in short order after question period. Prior to question period, I talked about some of the issues that were involved with the bill. I want to speak now about what is ahead of us on family matters.

I would refer the House to a Globe and Mail article this morning that talked about a Nanos poll. Nanos indicates:

When asked which federal party was most trusted to help Canadian families, 34 per cent of the poll’s respondents picked the NDP. That compared with the 27 per cent who chose the Liberals and the 26 per cent who chose the Conservatives.

This speaks directly to the problems with this bill. The Conservatives have proposed an approach on marriage, a part of the family cycle that is so valuable to everyone. They proposed changes to it without consultation with the provinces and territories, putting forward an idea that really does not accomplish much. The laws of duress are already in place. Other countries that have established similar laws have shown no results from them.

What the NDP would do for families and for women to deal with violence was very clearly articulated by the member for Churchill when she put forward Motion No. 444. It was a motion to establish a coordinated national action plan to address violence against women. Part of that would be strategies that address the specific needs and vulnerabilities of different communities, including specific attention to aboriginal women, women with disabilities, women from minority groups, and young women.

What we proposed in our national action plan was to get to the bottom of the issues surrounding groups such as those. Certainly the ideas that the Conservatives are concerned about and would deal with by criminalizing forced marriages would be dealt with inside a framework that would look for actual solutions to the problems rather than by criminalizing those engaged in it, and criminalizing them in a very broad and capricious way that really does not allow for definition or for any kind of rational action on that part.

I think this is really important, as it comes on the heels of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report, which followed many groups in society by asking for an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.

Violence against women is one of the biggest and most pressing problems that we have with families in this country, and the need for that public inquiry is so important. Why is it so important? The Prime Minister said that this is not a social issue. Of course it is a social issue, much as forced marriages are a social issue. All of these are social issues that need to be dealt with in a respectful, responsible fashion. We need to get to the bottom of the issues in society that create the conditions that lead to violence and forced marriages and all of the things that all of us in this House today would not want to have happen in our families, in aboriginal families, or in minority group families.

Yes, we are concerned about it, but using retail politics to put forward a bill that does nothing except provide a title to an issue is really the wrong approach. That is why the polling results that we see today across this country with respect to who the Canadian population trusts to deal with issues for families are so revealing. We talk about real ways to come to grips with society's ills. That is not through legislation; that is through careful, enunciated conditions that arise out of a careful examination of the issues.

Aboriginal Affairs June 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, on the seventh anniversary of the apology to residential school survivors, the Prime Minister had the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the government's commitment to reconciliation by asking the Pope if he would be willing to issue an apology. Indigenous people are deeply disappointed that the Prime Minister refused to do so, with National Chief Perry Bellegarde saying it was “sad and unfortunate that it did not happen”.

Why did the Prime Minister choose to ignore this critical opportunity to show good faith on the path to reconciliation?

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act June 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the New Democrats have put forward a number of amendments to this bill, a bill with a title that seems almost silly that it would be put forward for a bill of this nature. We have proposed amendments that try to enhance or fix the bill, but we do not anticipate these amendments will pass and we will likely oppose the bill at report stage.

Dealing with this issue is fine, but, as I pointed out in a previous question, we would simply be criminalizing an action that takes place within families and between individuals. This action is normally considered to be very much a decision made by those people, not by the state, not by the community, engaged in matrimonial practices. The bill very clearly states that marriages cannot be forced and someone cannot be forced into marriage.

This is my 40th year of a happy marriage, and I am very proud of having accomplished that. Luckily enough, I did not force anyone into a marriage. Due to her beauty, charm and good nature, it made it unbelievably compelling for me to enter into marriage and, luckily, she said yes.

We are concerned that this be dealt with in a very careful fashion. We are concerned that the criminalization of these acts is probably not the appropriate method to deal with this situation. It will not make the difference that needs to be made.

When we talk about marriage laws, the age of marriage in the Northwest Territories, under the NWT marriage act, is 15. That is what has been determined by the NWT government and put into place under section 46 of its act. Under this proposed bill, we will have to change the law now to 16 years of age. Any marriages that are contemplated in the next while by people under the age of 16 will have to wait. That is fair enough.

I wonder what consultation the government conducted with the provinces and territories about what they considered to be a fair age and how the provinces and territories felt about having their authority to set the age of marriage as they deem fit taken away from them and established by Parliament. I would like to some answers to those questions. I think we all would.

When it comes to violence against women and children in society, all of us in the House want to do things to prevent that, to change society so it is less violent, so people can live their lives in a good fashion, free from duress and living under the control of others, whether it is in marriage or the relationship after marriage. We are all in favour of those things.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act June 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for the definitions he provided to us today in his speech. However, I want to go to the basic idea that we are passing this law that is going to do something.

In Denmark, the parliament there unanimously passed a law making it a criminal offence to force anyone to marry. Six years after the law was enacted, not one single charge has been brought up under that law. The people who deal with these types of issues in Denmark say that they do not think the law has had any impact. In fact, it might have a negative impact of driving the process of forced marriages underground and increasing the sophistication of those who make these decisions for their children. That is what has happened with that law.

We have gone into this time allocation procedure on a law that affects many people in our country. Marriage laws are extremely important to people and now we have made a decision about this. Is this going to help? We do not know whether it will. Therefore, why does the member think that by criminalizing this act somehow it will change the cultures of the people who are involved in it?

Business of Supply June 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have come at this by saying that some communities have winter roads, and this and that. Clearly, in our motion we seek to create equitable eligibility criteria for northern communities based on their real circumstances. The real circumstance for the mother who has to buy food for her child is the cost of food. Would the member not agree?

Business of Supply June 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, my colleague talked about the advisory board. I wonder if he recognizes that five out of six of the members of the advisory board were contributors to the Conservative Party throughout the north. That seems like a very high percentage to occur simply by chance.

The member talked about the point of sale. There was an issue raised in Iqaluit when I was last there. The food subsidy rate is $2.40. It is clearly identified on sales items within northern stores, but the understanding is that the bulk rate for air freight to Iqaluit is half of that. In fact, if there is a $2.40 subsidy, the store actually only has to pay $1.20 for the freight.

Does my hon. colleague think that there should be a very close examination of the rates of subsidies to ensure that they match up to what is perceived as the method of subsidization, which is the cost of freight?

Aboriginal Affairs June 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, National Chief Perry Bellegarde was clear that we cannot have reconciliation while indigenous people are mired in poverty.

Yet here we are with elders being forced to root through garbage dumps for food and children going hungry because their parents have no food to give them. Instead of helping them, the Conservatives are refusing to fix nutrition north.

In the spirit of reconciliation, will the Conservatives give the full subsidy to all northern fly-in communities that are currently not receiving it?