House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was military.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as NDP MP for St. John's East (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 47% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply February 18th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, it is a situation where the government has chosen perhaps not the best way of doing this. The member's suggestion is one worthy of consideration.

I attended a briefing from the government on its policies and I was very concerned about the onus that was put on importers to have a very high degree of surveillance and diligence as opposed to the government playing a role in identifying either those particular products that needed to be embargoed and banned or, as the member points out, the region itself or companies themselves which were engaged in using forced labour. There needs to be a better method than we have now. A blanket ban on all imports may not be the right tool, but we need better measures than we have right now.

Business of Supply February 18th, 2021

Madam Speaker, it is very troubling to speak about the Conservative opposition day motion. It is a very serious matter.

The motion calls on the House to recognize that a genocide is being carried out by the People's Republic of China against Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims and it calls on the government to adopt this position.

We are in a legislative forum in the House of Commons, but it is also a political forum, and all actions are under that umbrella in this chamber. It would be easy therefore to treat this as a political motion, to see it as an attempt by the Conservatives to demonstrate that the government is not strong enough on China or on human rights internationally, and members may well seek to do that in this debate.

It is evident that this is part of the Conservatives' challenge to the Liberals as the governing party, but it is far too serious a matter to treat as a political event. It is a matter of fundamental human rights and the obligations of countries like Canada to call out the actions of states whose actions and practices of widespread and systematic abuses of human rights are of such enormity that they require international opprobrium and action. This is a matter on which we need to work together to seek to bring about an end to these practices and to deter other nations that may follow the lead of China if they are ignored and allowed to be carried on with impunity.

It has been said that the term “genocide” is a loaded word and therefore we should not use it. The Prime Minister has used that expression himself in the House. Yes, it is a loaded word, loaded with the freight of horrors of the past, a word that was not coined until 1944 to describe the implementation of Nazi policies in occupied Europe and mass killings of the past. Other words were not strong enough for the actions of the Nazis: the mass murders and executions carried out against the Jews, the Roma and other peoples as well as homosexuals, persons with disabilities, mental illness, political enemies or anyone who did not meet their standards. These horrors have cast a long shadow to this day in the minds and memories of mankind. These atrocities were deserving of a new name and it came to be called genocide.

The term was later incorporated in the United Nations genocide convention established in 1948, which was more broadly defined as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” These acts included the killing of members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of that group to another group. That was the convention definition. They are broad and any one of them would meet the definition.

In Canada, the term “cultural genocide” has been used by no less an authority than the former chief justice of Canada, the Hon. Beverley McLachlin, in a 2015 speech in reference to the policies and practices of assimilation of indigenous people adopted by Sir John A. Macdonald's government in the early years of Confederation and continued as part of our colonial history. She called cultural genocide the language of the 21st century, replacing what was then called assimilation.

The same phrase, “cultural genocide”, was used by former prime minister Paul Martin a few years before that in reference to the residential school system in testimony before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, saying he needed to call it what it was. Indeed, the report of the National Inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls used the term “genocide” to describe its findings, a term that was accepted by the Prime Minister.

When we are dealing with the actions of the Government of China with respect to the Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims, we must look to the material that was presented to the Subcommittee on International Human Rights that heard testimony this summer from many groups and individuals.

The committee heard from Amnesty International, for example, that China's unrelenting repression of the Uighur people went back decades and that other governments, including Canada, failed to make it clear to China that this was unacceptable and that it had to stop. It talked about authorities in Xinjiang being engaged in a massive campaign of intrusive surveillance, arbitrary detention, torture, political indoctrination and forced cultural assimilation targeting the regions of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim people since 2017. More than one million people were being held in what they called “transformation through education” or “vocational training centres”, which are actually detention camps. We saw visual evidence this on CBC in 2019, evidence of the surveillance and detention camps. We have undeniable evidence of mass internment, arbitrary punishment and torture, the true scope and nature of which is not yet fully known.

We need to recognize that the mass detention, forced labour, surveillance and population control measures, which have been described by other speakers today, being directed against the Uighurs and Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang fits the definition of genocide. If we are dealing with mass detention and population control through various measures such as sterilization and abortion, mass internment and labour camps, those measures must be called out by Canada, by Parliament and by the government. We have to recognize that we have an obligation to call out these practices as crimes against humanity and seek international action.

Further investigations are required as is international action by the government and other governments, but we need to see that there is no impunity for that type of behaviour, that it is called out. Other nations have an interest in what is happening in China for the sake of the future of humanity. If these actions go unnoticed, unnamed, unchecked or not acted upon, we endanger not only the people who are affected by this today in China, who are concerned and fear the continuation of further actions of this nature, but people in other parts of the world.

China cannot be allowed to operate with impunity in the world. Otherwise it could engender other nations following suit. This is an example of how a nation can treat the people it wishes to assimilate or take actions against, by indicating that these practices are acceptable and may be repeated. By not acting, we endanger the future of mankind. We see the future of humanity potentially being changed if this kind of action is allowed to continue in China and is followed by other nations that feel they can do the same thing with impunity. Action must be taken.

It is incumbent upon us to follow and support this motion because it calls out the practices of China for what they are, which are included in the definition of genocide under the convention against genocide. Action needs to be taken. Hopefully, the government, by adopting the motion, will also encourage other nations to do the same and continue to put pressure on China to end those practices and ensure they are not continued either in China or elsewhere. It is requires some example by this Parliament, first, and the government to hopefully encourage other nations to follow suit.

Financial Circumstances in Newfoundland and Labrador February 5th, 2021

Madam Speaker, everyone knows that the financial circumstances of Newfoundland and Labrador are in rough shape. One reason, which we share with other oil-producing provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan, is there were no equalization payments because of a loss of revenue following the collapse in oil prices and the lack of demand. Changes to the fiscal stabilization program were held out by former finance minister Bill Morneau as one solution, but all we got was tinkering.

The per capita limit was increased, but the maximum for Newfoundland and Labrador is only $90 million, and for Alberta and Saskatchewan there is not enough to make a dent in the crisis either. It was not retroactive and it was a flop when it came to the rules. Year over year, a drop in revenue had to reach 50% to qualify, so last year's drop of 46% in Newfoundland and Labrador yielded nothing.

The Liberal government could have helped provinces deal with significant revenue losses by sharing the burden with all the people of Canada, as with equalization, but it did not, and Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as Alberta and Saskatchewan, want to know why this government is not there when it is needed.

Health February 2nd, 2021

Mr. Speaker, millions of Canadians do not have access to the dental care they need. More than one-third have no dental coverage at all, and the numbers have increased because of the pandemic. Young people, seniors, precarious workers and families with low incomes endure pain and suffer avoidable health and social consequences because they cannot afford dental care.

Last February the Liberals voted against a dental plan. Will they change their minds and support my private member's motion to implement a federal dental program now for all uninsured Canadians with a family income of less than $90,000?

Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement Implementation Act January 29th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my colleague could comment on the fact that this was a real opportunity for Canada to do some interim measures.

There is nothing in the agreement that states it is interim. It could end up being permanent. We are dealing with one country only. This point has already been mentioned, but I will ask again why we did not take advantage of this opportunity to get agreement on reciprocity on increases for pensions for U.K. pensioners in Canada, just as Canadian pensioners in the U.K. get increased indexed pensions. Can the Liberals explain why that was not done and why it could not be done?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns December 9th, 2020

With regard to the use of force by RCMP members in the course of their duty: (a) how many interactions between members of the RCMP and members of the public occurred in each of the years from 2000 to 2020, inclusively, that resulted in the (i) death, (ii) bodily injury, of a person, whether such death occurred immediately or subsequent to the incident or while in police custody; and (b) for each incident, what was the date, (i) whether the incident resulted in the injury, however minor, or death of the detained person, (ii) the province where the incident took place, (iii) the RCMP division involved, (iv) the community within the province where the incident occurred, or if the community is not possible, the RCMP detachment responsible for the geographic region where the incident occurred, (v) whether the incident took place in public, in a private home or other building, an RCMP vehicle, in an RCMP detachment building, or in an RCMP cell, (vi) whether the RCMP was acting in a contract policing role, (vii) the race, gender, sex, age of the person injured or deceased, (viii) whether medical attention was sought, (ix) if an investigation was launched, (x) if an investigation was launched, the name of the investigating agency, (xi) the outcome of any of the investigations, including the date thereof, and whether any charges were recommended or laid?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns December 9th, 2020

With regard to the demographics of the RCMP: (a) what percentage of RCMP members self-identify as (i) Indigenous, (ii) Black, (iii) from another visible minority; (b) what percentage of RCMP staff self-identify as (i) Indigenous, (ii) Black, (iii) from another visible minority; (c) what percentage of RCMP members identify as (i) female, (ii) male, (iii) other; and (d) what percentage of RCMP staff identify as (i) female, (ii) male, (iii) other?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns December 9th, 2020

With regard to the demographics of the staff of the Correctional Service of Canada: what percentage of correctional officers self-identify as (i) Indigenous, (ii) Black, (iii) another visible minority, broken down by region (Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies, and Pacific)?

Questions on the Order Paper December 9th, 2020

With regard to government litigation: how much has it cost the government to litigate the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik and his claims that Canada violated his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the value of all legal services, disbursements, and costs awards for Federal Court file numbers T-727-08, T-1580-09, and DES-3-18, from June 1, 2008, to the present?

Polar Icebreaker Shipbuilding November 30th, 2020

Mr. Speaker, we are very proud that Newfoundland and Labrador's Genoa Design is working with Seaspan of Vancouver, a major national shipbuilding strategy partner, as a key component of Seaspan's polar icebreaker team, along with Heddle Shipyards of Ontario.

This pan-Canadian team offers design and fabrication opportunities from coast to coast, supporting thousands of jobs across the country over the multi-year life of the program. Our world-class innovation and Arctic marine expertise are well known and respected, and Genoa and Newfoundland and Labrador can provide unmatched value to the next polar icebreaker.

We have just seen the overwhelming confidence shown our technology sector with the sale of Verafin. The sector is strong and builds on a history of leadership in cold ocean technology, R and D and marine operations, including offshore oil development.

Genoa is another gem in our province. We are delighted to see it as part of the national shipbuilding strategy, and urge the government to support it and Seaspan in their bid.