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

The Budget May 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate my colleague on his speech. We have seen many efforts over the last number of days to draw attention to some of the cuts that are coming in the environment section in this budget period. My concern is that the government is taking a consumptive approach in its outline. It is anti-conservation in many ways. The solutions that are being proposed are not the solutions that are going to really make a difference in this economy.

How does the member see this budget addressing those issues of conservation? How can the budget possibly make a difference to Canadians in that regard?

The Budget May 8th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed my colleague's address on the fiscal issues within the budget. My concern lies with something that probably the Liberals may find attractive in the budget, and that is the corporate tax cuts. We fought very hard in the previous Parliament to change that, and we did. I note with some degree of pleasure that the corporate tax revenues of $29 billion in 2004 went up to $34 billion last year. In effect, we have done pretty well under last year's NDP amendment on corporate tax cuts.

However, in this budget the personal income tax revenues will rise by 12% over two years and the corporate income tax revenues will only rise by about 6%. The budget represents another extraordinary change in the relationship between those two revenue sources. Does my hon. colleague consider this budget is being properly represented as a cut to personal income tax, or is it about cutting corporate income tax?

Public Health Agency of Canada Act May 2nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, coming from the north, as I do, and being familiar with the conditions of health care in the northern regions, it is an overriding concern that crosses the country. In many cases, people in small communities and on reserves face very difficult health conditions and very limited resources to deal with them.

Having said that, I am interested in the Public Health Agency as a federal responsibility and how it will work. In our perusal of the legislation, it seems to indicate that the chief health officer would not have jurisdiction over aboriginal reserves or perhaps even over self-government arrangements that are constitutionally given through the federal government.

How does the member see the bill improving the life of aboriginal people on and off reserves? The chief health officer represents a very significant service that one would receive if one were under provincial jurisdiction. How does the member see that fitting with the federal responsibilities on reserves?

International Bridges and Tunnels Act May 1st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today, on May Day, to have the opportunity to speak in this House on a day that is so significant to working people around the world. I certainly want to make that point.

With regard to Bill C-3, I really do not have too much to carry on with. I would like to re-emphasize the point I was making on Friday in regard to rail transport and the need to ensure that the investments we are making in infrastructure are the correct ones for the future. When this government proposes to legislate and control the development and repair of infrastructure and the direction we take with international trade across our borders, and when we look at the qualities for the future that rail transport offers to freight in terms of the environment, security, the movement of goods across the border, and the ability to provide a clean, effective system that is less intrusive on the communities it will travel through, I think we need to look very closely at rail transport and its future in this country.

When we come to making decisions about upgrading or installing new bridges, which would be designed for improving truck transport and vehicle transport across the border, I would put my order in for the provision of greater opportunities for rail transport in this country. That is the one issue I wanted to highlight here today. I have no further comments. I now will leave this for questions.

International Bridges and Tunnels Act April 28th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand and speak to the House on Bill C-3. It is an honour to be able to provide information to the House about issues as vast as the ones on the legislative agenda of this Parliament.

I want to start off by saying that I think my colleague from the Conservative Party was rather truthful when he said that the Prime Minister had provided leadership on the softwood lumber issue. However, the question is: What kind of leadership did he provide?

We have a free trade agreement and various portions of that agreement have dispute mechanisms for a number of different items. However, with regard to the softwood lumber deal, I think it is the first time we have capitulated to an environmental beef by the Government of the United States by telling the Americans that they can set standards for us in Canada. As an environmentalist, that is an interesting turn of events and that is interesting leadership that has been provided by the Prime Minister in his very short time in his position.

When we think of the environment let us take the hog farms of North America. Hog farms pollute the rivers to an incredible degree. They use a provision many times and call themselves farms. They get the same rights as farmers in the United States to put their silage into the environment. That silage from 100,000 hogs is equivalent to the manure from a city of a million people and they are sticking it in rivers and such in the United States. Does that mean that Canada can now put punitive tariffs on bacon from the United States? Does that mean that we have better environmental standards so we are going to go over there and deal with them in that fashion? I would say that would be the kind of leadership that I would be looking for from the Prime Minister.

Leadership is what one makes of it. The leadership that has been provided by the Prime Minister on this issue is a sellout. It is a sellout to many people in this country. It is a sellout to industries that have set up and are running in a certain fashion and trying to remain competitive with their U.S. counterparts. They have been encouraged to follow a certain direction by our governments and now we have cut the rug out from underneath them.

I will now get back to the position of this bill. One of the things the bill talks about is a streamlined approval process for bridges, tunnels and those sorts of things that cross the border. As I said earlier, I am concerned about what local people have to deal with when a federal government has the responsibility and the authority to put new transportation systems, new linkages, in through their particular part of the country. A streamlined approval process suggests to me, coming from a region of the country, the Northwest Territories, where the federal government does most of the approval processes for all development, that somebody will be ignored and somebody's concerns will be relegated to the dustbin and we will not have a proper process.

When the federal government initiates projects, when it owns projects and when it has a streamlined approval process, we have to be very careful with what goes on. We have to be careful for the people who live in the regions where the federal government will be working. When we put all those powers, authorities, interests and ownership in the hands of the federal government and then it says it will streamline the process of approval, we know the people in the communities will suffer. It is extremely important that we give people in communities the opportunity to be consulted clearly and effectively, with proper resources, where they can make the case for the issues they think are important, when something like a new highway or bridge cuts across their lands, or when there is a change in direction of transportation requirement, or when new roads, or bridges or tunnels are built in a community where there had been none before.

Those are issues I am aware of in the north.

We are facing the Mackenzie Valley pipeline. I addressed this earlier today. We have a minister who has said to us that the government is in favour of it. However, the minister is responsible for the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, one of the very acts that decides the details, the direction and the ultimate approval for the pipeline. We are in an environmental assessment process right now. A panel is sitting, supposedly making judgments for all of us, and the minister has already decided the government supports that project. Where does that leave us?

That is an active example of how important it is when the federal government has control over projects, that we have not streamlined approval projects, but a meaningful and consultative process that can drive correct solutions, that can leave people on the ground comfortable with what has happened to them.

We need to promote rail transportation for the future of our country. It is an excellent way of transportation. We need to improve rail corridors. We need to put money into the things that will allow the rail system to move more effectively, that will attract back not only freight but passenger traffic, which will make a system that works for Canadians. Prices of energy keeps up and congestion is a matter of fact for many of the people who live in the areas along the Canada-U.S. border.

We have policy challenges with the border such as the western hemisphere travel initiative which will require all Canadian and American travellers to have passports to travel to and from the United States. Once again, we see leadership of our Prime Minister on this matter. That leadership is taking us in a certain direction and that direction can be difficult for all Canadians as well as Americans.

Canadians standing up to ensure reasonable access at our borders will help Americans as well. This is something we should not give up. We have a vested interest with the great country to the south to maintain a civil approach at the borders and to maintain the opportunities for Canadians and Americans to share a common border and use it effectively in their daily lives.

This is something we share and we need to make the point to the United States that we can work with them on this and make it happen. However, let us not accept a knee-jerk reaction to terrorist incidents to upset the direction that these countries have worked on for so long.

I travel to other places in the world such as Europe where people can leave their passports in their pockets because they do not need them. They can walk across borders and that is okay. People understand how to live together and we need to do that between our two great countries. That is the way we have to go. The authoritarian regime in the United States right now will pass. We will have an opportunity to deal with people who are more logical and reasonable. Let us encourage our leadership to recognize and respect that.

I know I am running out of time on this opportunity to speak to the bill, but I am sure other points will be raised by other people.

The New Democratic Party supports this effort. We would like to see more from the old Bill C-44 brought forward. If that is something the Minister of Transport is planning to do in the future, I think he will see a lot of support in this party to see more effort on this front. At the same time amendments are required for this bill. We look forward to it going to committee.

As always, everyone can be sure that New Democrats are here to make this Parliament and legislation work. We can work together. We can make better legislation for Canadians. We can sometimes throw out rhetoric, but it does not mean we cannot be critical. We can have criticism without being rhetorical. I would like to see us all work toward that because this is a Parliament of ideas and direction for the whole country.

It has been a great opportunity to speak here today.

International Bridges and Tunnels Act April 28th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has worked in the auto industry and understands it very well.

I am interested in a couple of issues with respect to the direction the government is taking. When a government invests in infrastructure, it is investing in the future. It is investing in transportation. Right now, 40% of Canada's exports are moved by rail which is by far the preferred environmental transportation link. With improved scheduling, rail can compete well with trucks on the highway.

Does my colleague think there is a philosophy at work here about the way we should go with our transportation? CN Rail is now established right across North America with excellent connections. We are building rail as an energy efficient and useful form of freighting that should be expanded.

Does my colleague think there are opportunities in the Windsor region to look at improving the rail system versus improving the road system, if there is a long term philosophy of greening this country?

International Bridges and Tunnels Act April 28th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I also would like to express my congratulations to my colleague for his speech. I am interested in the issue surrounding the ability of the federal government to make decisions that can impact many of these communities. As a former mayor and someone who has been involved in municipal decision making throughout much of my career, I am always concerned when we see opportunities for people at the community level to lose some of the control they have over their lands and their way of life.

Within any aspect of this, and this may apply in Windsor as well as many other places in the country, we need to be always cognizant that municipal governments are close to the people. They understand what the people want. They understand the conditions of the communities and the surrounding areas. If we are going to put in legislation that takes those issues away, I want to know what my colleague thinks about it.

Natural Resources April 28th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, there is so much the minister can do for our communities, for the working families, and for aboriginal people. We need to work with all people to prepare the ground for such an important project.

The minister needs to take immediate action to deal with the Deh Cho land claims, financing the protected areas strategy, supporting land use plans, negotiating resource revenue sharing, and establishing a cumulative environmental impact assessment process.

Will the minister commit to work with the people of the north on these issues immediately?

Natural Resources April 28th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about an important issue in my constituency in the north.

Today the Mackenzie gas pipeline is in front of two federal assessment panels. The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development met with leaders from the Northwest Territories last week and indicated that his government was willing to support this project without the unanimous approval of northern aboriginal leaders and the results of the two assessment panels.

How can the minister take such a stand before the assessments have been completed and aboriginal leaders have had their input?

International Bridges and Tunnels Act April 28th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, my question for the Minister of Transportation concerns environmental issues and the concerns many residents along the border have with the movement of hazardous goods through tunnels and bridges. As the rate of rail movement has increased in Canada we have seen incidences where these environmental concerns have turned into environmental problems.

Does the bill bring clarification to the direction that we will take with the development of new facilities and with the movement of hazardous goods within those facilities?