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

Questions on the Order Paper March 22nd, 2021

With regard to Global Affairs Canada, from August 2020 to the present: (a) how much funding was (i) allocated, (ii) spent by month to promote the candidacy of Bill Morneau to the presidency of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; (b) how many public servants were involved in substantial activities related to Mr. Morneau’s candidacy; and (c) how many person-hours were dedicated to substantial activities related to Mr. Morneau’s candidacy?

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act March 12th, 2021

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak on this bill introduced by my colleague, the hon. member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. Bill C-231, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act (investments), introduces an obligation on behalf of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to take into account matters they say they take into account on environmental, social and governance issues; however, they are not required to take these into account, because they are governed by rules that tell them what their mandate is and what principles they have to use with respect to investments.

It has been suggested by other members, particularly from the Liberal government side, that having controls on investments would not interfere with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board's investments being done in accordance with financial principles. The only rule that is passed in the mandate of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is very important for us to understand. It says this mandate is: invest the assets of the CPP Fund with a view to achieving a maximum rate of return without undue risk of loss.

It has regard to:

...the factors that may affect the funding of the Canada Pension Plan and its ability to meet its financial obligations [on any given business day].

As we know, it has been a very successful investment board. It has made good returns on behalf of the Canadians who rely on the Canada Pension Plan for their pension, and is sustainable, according to a recent audit, for the next 75 years, at the existing rate of contributions. That is a very positive thing, but there is no obligation.

We just heard the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country say that using ethical, environmental, social and governance issues as litmus tests for investments actually helps. That is a good thing. That is good to know, so people should take comfort in knowing that if obligations are imposed on the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to follow these guidelines, it will not result in a loss of income or a loss of benefits to the beneficiaries of this fund: the people of Canada to whom this is important.

We have a situation today, in Canada and around the world, with huge investment funds such as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, nearly worth more than half a trillion dollars, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, the Alberta pension investment fund, which has been spoken of, and the B.C. pension plan. These are huge pension funds that can influence what happens in the investment world, not only in Canada, because their investments are not restricted to Canada or Canadian corporations. They are worldwide. Diversity in investments is always recommended to individual investors as being a good thing. Other countries are doing the same thing and investing around the world.

The fact is that there needs to be some control on this to ensure, first of all, that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has the power to make choices based on matters involving ethical, environmental, social and governance issues, as well as human rights issues. It needs to have that power because, under its mandate, in some cases it could be required to invest in a company that was violating human rights but was providing a bigger rate of return than a company that was not. We see that possibility throughout all kinds of industries, whether weapons industries or others that support the military.

I wanted to use my time to talk about one particular human rights situation that is very relevant to this bill: the situation in Myanmar, where significant human rights violations are going on. We have a genocide before the International Criminal Court, which Canada supports, and a military that has significant investments that return money to it and allow it to conduct its genocide and take over the country and not rely on public funds. It has significant investments, some of which are held by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

When asked about the problem with that, the response from the spokesperson of the board was that many of these companies are reputable. Among the Myanmar military-related stocks owned by CPPIB, there are, according to CPPIB's global head of public affairs and communications, “highly-reputable multinational companies providing their clients with exceptional products and services”. The profits of those companies, which are directly owned by the military of Myanmar, go back to the Myanmar military for its operations in supporting its activities, which is something the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board should not be investing in. Canadians would not want their pension security to be reliant on this. It is a good reason why the bill needs to be passed, and there are many more.

Employment Insurance Act March 12th, 2021

Madam Speaker, I have two questions.

The first one is related to the sickness benefits. I know her party supported the proposals in the House that sickness benefits be increased. I want to ask her whether she is sincere in that, knowing that so many people have relied on sickness benefits during this pandemic and they have run out. Is the Conservative Party fully in support of increasing sickness benefits under EI?

Second, given the pandemic, many Canadians have had to rely on employment insurance. I know through my own experience as a member of Parliament during the Harper years that the Conservatives were not very helpful to people who relied on employment insurance. Is there a change of heart in the Conservative Party on the importance of EI for workers?

Marine Transportation March 9th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, on April 1, fees and charges for Marine Atlantic ferries to Newfoundland and Labrador will go up yet again. High fees discourage travellers and visitors, increase food prices and the cost of living, and hurt struggling businesses. Tourism and transportation have been hard hit by the pandemic. People and municipalities are deeply concerned.

In 2015, the Prime Minister called the cost recovery formula used to set Marine Atlantic ferry rates “unreasonable”. This government has done nothing about it, and fees have been going up ever since.

Will the Prime Minister put an end to this and reverse these unfair increases?

Public Safety February 26th, 2021

Madam Speaker, a new reports says that nearly one in 10 federal inmates in structured intervention units is being subjected to treatment defined as torture. Solitary confinement, supposedly outlawed, continues. It confirms what inmates, prisoner advocates and investigators have been saying for years: that Canada is not following its own laws and court rulings. Now it is clear it is also violating the UN convention on torture. The inescapable conclusion of this report is that we cannot rely on the Correctional Service of Canada alone to protect the rights of inmates.

The question is simple. What is the Minister of Public Safety going to—

Criminal Code February 26th, 2021

Madam Speaker, New Democrats have long been in support of banning assault rifles, making our cities safer, opposing smuggling and getting the government to actually do something about it.

However, we have a problem with the minister when he says that recreational use of firearms is okay. Whereas handguns are treated one way under this legislation, in allowing their use to continue except where restricted by municipalities, Airsoft rifles, which are used recreationally across the country by many organizations and groups and which cause no harm, are being treated the same as assault weapons.

Will the minister recognize that this is a totally different category, and try to find some way of allowing this to continue in recreational use? The banning of Airsoft rifles is putting them in the same category as prohibited weapons, and that is wrong.

Business of Supply February 18th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, the prediction of what might happen in the future is not within my powers, so the member is asking a hypothetical question about how history might look back on this day. I do not know whether it meets the test the member puts forward, but I think it is a serious question regarding a position that has a significant moral implication for Canada as a country: to call this what it is and describe it as it is. We do not know the full scope and extent of this, but we know the actions meet the definition. That is a starting point for a full recognition by the community of nations that this has to be taken seriously. We hope the Prime Minister and his government support this motion and take that step.

Business of Supply February 18th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, I think it would be beneficial. Obviously, we know the United States has taken a position, through the administration, of recognizing that what is happening meets the definition of genocide, but it requires further action by other nations. There has to be action by the United Nations. We support the investigation being proposed through the United Nations. That should take place, but we also need to have support from other nations in calling it what it clearly is, and putting it in that category. That gives rise to the continuation of that investigation and the expectation that China should respond to that, so the government's support for this would be extremely beneficial.

Business of Supply February 18th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question is a very good one. Canada is only one country and obviously not the biggest country in the world, but we have a strong commitment to human rights and international human rights. I think we have a role to play in helping to start these things with other countries, and we have. I give credit to the government for the statement made earlier this week regarding the arbitrary detention declaration. It has the potential ultimately to become a new norm, which it is already in some form, or a new thrust on that point. That is one way Canada played a role. Even though it did not mention China, the clear intention was to get international support for the problem we have of the serious, totally uncalled for and outrageous detention of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig in China for more than two years. That is something that has to change.

We have a role to play in developing more international recognition. To start with, naming it a genocide tells other countries and the people of China how seriously this is being taken by Canada and should be by other nations.

Business of Supply February 18th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, yes, Canada has expressed concern, and there is no doubt that we have concerns, but we need to do more than that and recognize it for what it is. Perhaps we could have done this a week or two weeks from now after the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development had dealt with the report of the subcommittee, but we are aware of the essence of it.

It is an important to call it what it is. Yes, we should seriously seek a change of venue of the place for the Olympics as a part of this motion.