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

Emergency Management Act September 21st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I note that my colleague talked about clause 5 and the relationship between Canada and the United States. He did not talk much about clause 6(2) which states:

Each minister shall include an emergency management plan

(d) in the case of war or other armed conflict, the programs, arrangements or other measures that

(ii) support the Canadian Forces and the armed forces of Canada's allies in the conduct of military operations.

(iii) contribute to meeting Canada's military and civil wartime obligations to its allies...

My understanding is that this is a Liberal bill that has been brought forward. Perhaps my hon. colleague would like to comment on the rather broad nature of that commitment to the efforts of another country's military.

Canada Transportation Act September 21st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I refer to new clause 5(b), which speaks to strategic public intervention, only if it is necessary, for socio-economic and environmental outcomes, but it does not reduce the inherent advantages of one transportation medium over the other.

I like what I have heard from the Bloc on the issues surrounding improving the environmental conduct of the railway. We have to look at road transportation as well. The idling of large semi-trailers is endemic across the western and northern parts of Canada. There are very viable cheap technological solutions to this. This question should be answered for all manner of transportation.

What is my colleague's point of view on this?

Canada Elections Act September 19th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the issues that are raised by this bill and the direction it is going fundamentally speak to the nature of the political system we work in. This political system has been characterized in the last while by minority governments, by a call by people for proportional representation.

The bill purports to set out a timeframe which really is not binding on the Governor General or the government of the time, but really we are all elected to govern here and the bill needs to be taken in that context. There is room for amendment here, to look at how we can ensure that the will of the people, expressed through their elected representatives, has an opportunity to work within a fixed timeframe.

Would the member opposite look at amendments that could ensure that others in the House, in a fixed period, would have the opportunity to form government in the case of a confidence vote in the House?

Northern Energy June 12th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, northern Canadians face the highest energy costs in this country. One of the ways these costs can be reduced is to replace imported fossil fuels with renewable energy.

For example, the community of Wha Ti is developing a run of the river mini hydro project which, when completed, will eliminate the need for diesel-powered generators. This will reduce the energy costs to this community significantly, and for generations ahead.

NWT's diamond mines would benefit from the surplus electricity from the Talston River hydroelectric project, replacing polluting diesel fuel transported on ice roads.

In addition to small scale hydro, other forms of renewable energy being considered by northerners are wind, solar, biomass and wood pellets.

However, to realize these initiatives, northerners need the federal government to support them. That will allow these developments to occur. Such support will help northern residents reduce energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build long term self-sufficiency.

Criminal Code June 12th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, that is a good example of how the law does not apply but I am sure that when it comes to the enacting of a law such as this, there will be other examples where the life and death situation might not be so grave, and if a person breaks into a cabin it might be for some lesser purpose but still not a purpose for which we would want to put them in jail for three years.

It goes back to my main point, which is that in all of this we should let the judges judge the cases. We must be very careful when we are dealing with mandatory minimums and taking away conditional sentences, which is why the New Democratic position is pretty firm on the very selective use of mandatory minimums.

Criminal Code June 12th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out, our policy calls for mandatory minimum sentences on the use of handguns, assault rifles and automatic weapons, those firearms that have no place in a peaceful society. I come from a rural northern riding where firearms have a place in a peaceful society. They are a part of the everyday lifestyle of many people.

When I go into a small community like Fort McPherson and an elderly person hands me a letter he has received from the justice department stating that he has committed an offence because he has not registered his rifles, this elderly person is concerned. He does not see it as appropriate and I do not see it as appropriate that we have restricted the use of firearms through the registry, where we were trying to establish something that really was already there.

Interestingly enough, when the police talk about their statistics of how many times they use the gun registry every day, that same sort of behaviour would have been there when we used to have the firearms acquisition certificates. They also would have identified whether there were firearms in a particular home, as the police wanted to know. The question of whether one person has a certain number of firearms that are designed for peaceful purposes is sort of a moot point in most northern and rural communities. It is important to know who has firearms and that is a distinction.

Within this bill, the thought that we would be upping the penalty for people in possession of firearms that are used for the purposes of subsistence, such as hunting and those sorts of things, in my riding just would not wash.

Criminal Code June 12th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-10, a bill that is somewhat controversial here in the House and certainly within the New Democratic Party.

We support sending the bill to committee for potential amendments. In the election campaign we supported the idea of stronger mandatory minimum sentences for some offences. Part of our three pillar approach to crime is firm punishment and deterrence through legislation and regulation and much stronger sentencing provisions for crimes involving guns. There is some merit in Bill C-10 so we will assist in moving it forward to committee where we can look at it as a whole. One of my colleagues spoke to the hasty nature of this legislation and I do not doubt there are elements of that.

The NDP would like to see enhanced resources for enforcement combined with a political commitment to foster collaboration between various law enforcement agencies. This is another very important part of our approach to crime. We do not see this represented in Bill C-10.

The third pillar of our approach speaks to the overdue and essential investments in crime prevention, communities and youth. This is not represented in any way in the legislation. In committee we will be looking at whether the bill is worthwhile in its present form, whether it can be amended, and whether it should be made into law. In many ways there are restrictive elements in the bill. We have to be careful how we set up our laws.

In northern parts of the country someone may break into a cabin and take a firearm and use it for subsistence hunting not knowing that an offence has been committed and could be subject to three years in jail. Hunting is part of northern culture. In an urban area someone might break into a house to take something that is required to stay alive. This has to be taken into consideration when we are dealing with the north, the aboriginal and traditional communities across Canada.

Judges have to look at the facts of a case. We have to ensure that the laws will not send to jail people who do not need to be there. We have to ask whether putting people in jail will serve society. The precautionary principle works both ways. We do not want to put people into the criminal justice system who do not need to be there. Putting them in jail could lead them to reoffend after they are released. These are fine institutions of criminal learning that we have for jails across the country.

These are important considerations. Precautionary principles work both ways in justice. In a lot of cases we have to give judges the room to judge the case on its merits. In some cases the law is quite straightforward. The possession of automatic weapons, handguns and assault rifles are not traditionally used for hunting or for any kind of peaceful purpose. They are not part of a peaceful society, the way long guns and shotguns are. The NDP has no trouble supporting stronger mandatory minimums for those types of offences. They should not be around in peaceful society. They should not be used for illegal purposes in a peaceful society.

The NDP has already said it would support that part of the bill. We approached the Canadian people in that regard. I would want us to follow through on the policies that we presented in the election process. I encourage all parties to do the same.

There are many other things that Bill C-10 does not do. The bill does not address the 101 issues raised by the NDP in our crime platform. We consider them to be essential elements of any true programs for crime and punishment.

In this House, as in the last election campaign, there is not a lot of talk about how we could reduce and prevent crime. That is a tragedy. We have avoided the discussion of our drug laws. In many cases drugs are the prime drivers of violence and criminality in communities across the country. The new government has taken an even harder line than the last Parliament. This is a problem. This approach will not work for Canadians. It will not make our streets safer. It will not solve a problem we have been choosing to ignore for many years.

The NDP is supporting Bill C-10 at second reading so it will be sent to committee. What happens with the bill is very much up to the committee and the good work of the members involved there.

Rural Mail Delivery June 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the member for Oak Ridges—Markham, for his timely private member's motion. As a rookie MP in the House of Commons, I see that he has taken the opportunity to bring forward an issue that really does resonate right across the whole country. He focused it on his riding, but it fits the whole country and that is a very good thing to do.

I trust that we can move forward with this motion, with the support of the New Democratic Party and with the concurrence of the government. Of course, concurrence of the government does not mean that we are going to get the final results we are looking for and that was well pointed out by my colleague who spoke earlier.

There are many a slip twixt cup and lip when it comes to dealing with Canada Post, and getting some of kind of ruling and result in the end without considerable backsliding along the way. This motion is appropriate, but it is going to require follow up and attention from across the country to ensure that it works for people.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. As deputy critic for rural and northern communities for the NDP, I attended the rural communities forum. Rural municipalities across the country have realized over the last number of years that they need to get organized at a national level in order to get their voices out and issues on the table.

The FCM has organized, at the national level, the rural communities and it would be a very good place to extend this discussion, using its capacity to reach out to rural communities across the country, to understand if these problems are occurring all over the country and also to ensure that when the government instructs Canada Post to deal with the problems, we have a way of seeing that they are dealt with.

I would say that might be another avenue to take this issue at a date in the future. It has an executive committee as well that meets on a quarterly basis and could put forward this kind of information to the rest of its members. That is one way we might continue this to ensure that Canada Post not only deals with the issue but continues to deal with the issue and works satisfactorily on this issue across the whole country.

I represent northern communities and there are very few that have any kind of postal delivery. We all rely on postal boxes in central post offices in the smaller communities. Many of the communities are small in size and people routinely travel 20 to 30 kilometres a day or whenever they choose to do so to collect their mail.

There is no consistent standard of delivery across the country for all rural people that we could point to and say that is the way it is done for everyone. That is not the case and in many of these communities, of course, the burden is put on people to get their own mail at a central point. That is part of living in the north. People put up with these sorts of things.

In other ways other services have been given to us. The food mail system in the north is very important to people. They can get food delivered to them at a reasonable postal rate, but what they have found in a lot of the communities in the north is that the stores are taking advantage of the food mail delivery costs and not passing it on to the customer. That is a concern that northerners have with Canada Post, that it enforce the spirit of the food mail delivery system as well as the letter of the law.

Canada Post must have the spirit to show that it wants to be that public service that we want it to be. Any time I hear that Canada Post should be even more privatized than it is already I shudder for our northern communities. It leaves me completely cold to think that would be the direction in which we would take that service, which has so many important attributes for isolated and rural communities across the country. We certainly do not want to see that.

I appreciate that the member has brought this matter forward in the form of his motion, which he was fortunate enough to have had drawn under private members' bills. All members wish we were in the top 10 of the lottery on private members' business but that does not always happen. I think I am at 208. I am unlikely to get into the top 10 unless the government turns out to be more conciliatory. We will all work on that over the summer. We will not be betting any money on the length of time the government stays in power. At the same time, the government should think about other members who have numbers in the triple digits and consider that we may want to bring forward motions such as this one in the future.

The New Democratic Party will support the motion but we want to ensure it works, that it does not get caught up in bureaucracy, that it does not get caught up in where the separation between Canada Post and the minister means that it could get watered down and the solution that does not work for everyone is implemented.

Extension of Sitting Hours June 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, it is very important that we move ahead with the debate on Bill C-2, somewhat for selfish reasons. I work on my party's energy and environment file. I am concerned. The Conservatives plan to introduce work on a climate change plan in the fall. I do not want Bill C-2 to be hanging over our heads in the fall. I want it to be out of the way. I want us to move on. I do not want to have to listen to excuses from the government why it is not moving ahead on greenhouse gas emissions.

If I had my way, we could sit all summer if it meant getting a greenhouse gas reduction plan from the Conservative government which could serve Canadians and reduce the cost of energy for Canadians in their homes next winter. That would suit me better than going on the barbecue circuit throughout the country.

The issue of accountability has dogged this country for the last two years. I would like to know what the loss of productivity in the government has been through the problems that have come out, through the corruption that showed up in the Liberal Party over the last number of years.

We need to move on. The accountability act needs to be put in place. Parliament needs to resume its work on the more important issues that face Canadians rather than the issues faced inside the House. We need to get over those. We are elected to provide leadership. Leadership implies moral leadership as well.

I am proud that the NDP stood up in November last year and caused the demise of the Liberal government. I was proud of that. We made a move that needed to be done. I do not agree with all the things the current government is doing right now, but we needed to make that move. We needed to clean up the House of Commons. We needed to move on. Canadians needed to know that we were moving on. We have a chance to do that now before we break for the summer. Let us do it. Let us make the effort. Let us get it done.

I fully support the motion. I would urge the member to consider the importance of other legislation that he may want to see move forward in the fall session.

The Environment June 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I wish the government would not blame the Liberals for the lack of their plan. Actions speak louder than words.

Homeowners need relief from soaring energy costs now. Our plan would save Canadians money, create 190,000 green jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42 megatonnes. Our plan calls for housing retrofits, amendments to the national building code, mandatory ENERGY STAR compliance for household appliances and the reinstatement of the EnerGuide programs.

Could the government indicate exactly when Canadians will learn which of these proposals will be taken up by the government?