House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was nunavut.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Independent MP for Nunavut (Nunavut)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 47% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Questions on the Order Paper May 3rd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), initial analysis of all recommendations has been undertaken by departmental scientists and other subject area experts to determine available scientific evidence, activities already under way, stakeholder views, as well as jurisdiction’ roles and responsibilities of various partners and provincial governments.

In response to (b), amore detailed analysis of the report is currently under way. Initial review indicates that, to a large extent, the recommendations reflect many of DFO’s current activities in support of salmon conservation. As such, many of them are either already being advanced or will be during 2016 and subsequently on an ongoing basis. Some notable highlights include the following: (a) review of the wild Atlantic salmon conservation policy in partnership with members of the Atlantic Salmon Advisory Committee. This review will address a number of key recommendations made within the report; (b) continuation of departmental efforts to press for reduced international harvesting through fora such as the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization, NASCO, particularly for harvests off western Greenland; (c) continue to engage with France, St- Pierre-et-Miquelon, to reduce its catch and indicate Canada’s desire to see it accede to NASCO; (d) creation of collaborative venues to coordinate and work collaboratively with university researchers, non-governmental organizations, private researchers, in an effort to identify, prioritize and promote collaboration and information sharing on wild Atlantic salmon research; (e) engagement with provinces and first nations on recommendations related to their interests or jurisdictions; (f) explore the use of innovations in technologies and intelligence to improve and strengthen enforcement efforts; (g) use the precautionary approach framework and its various elements to determine harvest levels; (h) work with groups like the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, ICES, on scientific research on the composition of mixed stock fisheries and genetic estimates; and (i) continue to evaluate the annual and multi-year approaches to the management of stocks on a case-by-case and province-by-province basis through annual workshops and consultation processes.

In response to (c), the report of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Atlantic Salmon and its recommendations generally align with Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s current program of work for wild Atlantic salmon conservation. As such, it is expected that many of the recommendations can be advanced incrementally, and over both the short and long terms, within existing departmental resources.

In response to (d), DFO will take actions to implement recommendations under its mandate, when such recommendations are supported by the best available science. In some cases, the department will develop and review options to determine the best path forward to implementing the recommendation. It is recognized that, in some cases, other departments, jurisdictions, and partners may have lead or supporting roles in implementations. For recommendations, such as those focusing on the food, social and ceremonial fishery, FSC, DFO will continue to work with aboriginal partners and indigenous groups, while ensuring that FSC access is not unduly compromised.

Search and Rescue May 2nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, last December, I announced that we would be reopening Kitsilano. I am proud to say that yesterday we kept that commitment and the base became operational.

We are continuing our phase-in capacity at the base. By the May long weekend, the same number of search and rescue crew will be on site at the facility as was previously.

Search and Rescue May 2nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the temporary outage that happened in Prince Rupert. I want to assure all members, including the member herself, that the outage had nothing to do with the modernization of our MCTS systems. The outage was caused by a third-party landline. By the way, Comox has virtually no overlapping coverage in this sector, and it was not a factor in the situation at all.

The Environment April 22nd, 2016

Madam Speaker, I wish a happy Friday to everybody.

I would like to thank the member for her question, and I could not agree with her more; it was an issue that was totally ignored by the previous government. I would like to inform the member and this House that actually yesterday I signed off on a whole bunch of those things, and we are addressing the backlog that is there.

Canadian Coast Guard April 20th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, again I rise to respond to this question.

As the member pointed out, the staff were notified late last month exactly when the closure would happen, although they were notified that the closure would happen in 2014.

The modernization of the centre has been a long-standing project that began in 2007, and the closure of the Comox station is the last one to be done. We are moving forward with that plan.

Canadian Coast Guard April 20th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, as part of the Canadian Coast Guard's multi-year maintenance plan, PSPC issued an advance contract award notice to Davie shipyard to enter the Louis S. St-Laurent into dry dock for a retrofit and life-extension work.

Due to lack of available space at the Davie shipyard, the contract has been deferred until next year. That will ensure that this iconic vessel of the Coast Guard will be able to participate in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea program taking place in the Arctic this summer.

The Environment April 13th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I hope members will forgive me if I seem nervous, but I have some little eyes watching me today.

I would like to assure the member that I have appointed a working group which has met. The Coast Guard has presented options to the group. The group will be meeting again to come up with some options to best deal with the situation once and for all.

Situation in Indigenous Communities April 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I do acknowledge that we both share a lot of commonalities in our ridings and the issues and challenges we face.

Our Prime Minister has said he wants to work at a renewed relationship with aboriginal people. When we met with folks in the leadership at ITK, he said he wants to work with them to be able to unleash the untapped potential that we have in our northern communities.

If we look at the Washington declaration that was signed in Washington by the Prime Minister and President Obama, we see it talked about building stronger northern communities and it included housing, mental wellness, and education. So, I do believe the proof is in the pudding with this government. The time is now, and we are taking action.

Situation in Indigenous Communities April 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, in my speech I did not show any pride; I did not show any partisanship. What I am hearing here tonight is that we are all in this together and we need to work together. I believe there is an aboriginal affairs committee. I am not sure if the member is a member of it, but I am sure that committee will look at this issue and hopefully bring some recommendations forward for the government to look at.

Situation in Indigenous Communities April 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Edmonton Centre.

Thank you for recognizing me and allowing me the opportunity to stand in the House today to discuss this heartbreaking and family-shattering issue.

Sadly, suicide is a word we all know only too well. Nowhere is the pain of self-inflicted death more prevalent and more poignant than in our indigenous communities.

My heart bleeds for the residents of Attawapiskat First Nation, and I thank my hon. colleague, the member for Timmins—James Bay, for asking for this emergency debate today.

As we previously heard, I hope that this is not a debate but a coming together of all of us in this chamber to truly begin to search for solutions.

In the north of our land and in the east, the west, and the centre, we all know the pain and anguish of losing someone close, but those of us of indigenous descent also know far too well the tragedy of suicide and the despair that caused it and that it left in its wake.

I have been personally affected by the suicide of family members and friends. Can members imagine telling their cousin's five-year-old son that his father is not coming back again? I had to do that. I had to cry with my aunt over the loss of her son, my cousin. I have had to talk to my teenage daughter, who lost one of her best friends to suicide.

Nunavut has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world. Almost every person in our territory, as well in Nunavik in the north of Quebec, has been personally touched by the suicide of a loved one. Rarely a week goes by that there is not a suicide in our territory. There have been roughly 500 suicides in Nunavut since it was created in 1999.

The rate of suicide of Inuit in Nunavut is about 10 times the national average. It happens far too often among Inuit boys between the ages of 15 and 19. In fact, it is 40 times higher than it is among their peers in the rest of Canada. This is unacceptable.

This rampant crisis has an impact on all aspects of life in Nunavut. It affects the well-being of the family. It affects students in schools who have lost a classmate or a friend. It has an impact on the spirit of the community and on society as a whole.

While the rate of suicide is staggering, these numbers do not even include those who have attempted to take their own lives and luckily have received help in time.

Many Nunavut Inuit work hard to prevent suicide despite the trauma, grief, and loss that overwhelm them. I have seen many parents who have lost their children to suicide in Nunavut take up the challenge and do what they can to help prevent this crisis that is affecting us. I know how hard it is for them to talk about it.

We are working in partnership with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and the government of Nunavut to identify joint actions to improve mental wellness in our territory.

Last month, the government of Nunavut, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, the RCMP, and the Embrace Life Council released Resiliency Within, a one-year suicide-prevention strategy action plan. The plan incorporates recommendations from a 2015 coroner's inquest and outlines a number of initiatives for community engagement, as well as training, programs, and support. This is a first step toward the development of a longer-term plan, and I will do what I can to support this initiative.

I know that Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is also seized with this issue, and I want to recognize Natan Obed, the president of ITK, for his leadership on this issue. ITK is in the midst of drafting a national Inuit suicide-prevention strategy that will be released in August. It will help coordinate suicide-prevention efforts among the four Inuit regions: Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut, and the Inuvialuit region. This is very valuable and important work.

While the responsibility for the provision of health services rests with the territorial government, Health Canada considers the high rate of suicide in Nunavut a big priority. Health Canada is investing $96.5 million over five years in the territory to support mental health services. This includes money specifically for suicide prevention. It is also providing $33.4 million over three years to the territorial health investment fund that is aimed at improving health services, including projects that help increase mental health services in Nunavut. Health Canada is also working to ensure nurses are prepared and trained to work in northern communities.

I could go on about the investments our federal government is making to try to reduce the number of suicides in Nunavut and elsewhere, and there are many. However, the fact is that in our territory, in Attawapiskat, in Nunavik, and in other indigenous communities across this great country there is a tragic, urgent situation where so many young people are ending or attempting to end their lives. This is a complex issue that requires a broad response. It is not and cannot be the sole responsibility of one level of government or one organization. It is the responsibility of all of us as a society to work together to find lasting solutions that will change the lives of people and make them feel that life is worth living. We need to deal with this crisis now, but we also need to look to the longer term and address some of the underlying causes. That means better access to housing, health care, and other social services, as well as education, training, and employment opportunities—in other words, a future.

It is not a partisan issue. It is one that we all need to make a priority, no matter where we live and no matter which party we represent.

Qujannamiik, merci, thank you.