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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was sector.

Last in Parliament December 2022, as Liberal MP for Winnipeg South Centre (Manitoba)

Won his last election, in 2021, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Building a Green Prairie Economy Act March 4th, 2022

Mr. Speaker, the short answer to that question is yes. I would like to remind the member that we go back maybe 30 years through a whole bunch of different issues, venues and challenges. I have a great respect for her perspective and her integrity. One of the great advantages of having lived a while is that one learns that one does not know everything. If I said that I would not consider an amendment, that would assume that I know more than everybody else. Everybody knows that I do not.

Building a Green Prairie Economy Act March 4th, 2022

, seconded by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, moved that Bill C-235, An Act respecting the building of a green economy in the Prairies, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

He said: Mr. Speaker, one does not plan in life to win the lottery, but when one does, one is left with decisions about how to take advantage of the good fortune. I thought long and hard about how I would use my good fortune to come up with a private member’s bill that was an extension of so much of the work I have done across the Prairies.

The building a green economy in the Prairies act was inspired by reflections over decades. The first were in my own province of Manitoba. In the 1980s, the $200-million core area initiative program shaped the interests of the governments of Canada, Manitoba and Winnipeg into a common agenda. The three levels of government, through their senior representatives, met often to work to align their policies in the interest of rehabilitating and renewing downtown Winnipeg's core. Almost $200 million was invested through this format. It was successful and well regarded by the citizens of Manitoba.

More recently, during the first months of the pandemic, it was notable how much Canadians appreciated governments collaborating, co-operating and co-ordinating their agendas around the common interest, the public interest, to achieve shared goals. Canadian federalism is strong and flexible, but it cannot be taken for granted. This bill was developed by placing these thoughts side by side and applying to them the economic development of my own region, the Prairies.

This bill would give the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry of Canada, in consultation with the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada, a mandate and statutory framework of consultation with provincial governments, first nation and Métis governments, municipal governments, businesses and their employees, and civil society itself to prepare for significant changes in federal public policy. This is adapting to the new reality of how we produce energy, how we adapt to the new reality of using that energy and how we prepare for the changes to the energy environment worldwide and in our own communities.

We know that the prairie provinces are going to be especially impacted by climate change and the policies implemented to combat it. Traditional industries will take on a far different look, and we already have evidence of that. Leaders in the corporate sector are changing their strategic plans to adapt to a reduced reliance on fossil fuels and investing in other sources of energy. We have many examples of this.

In my home riding of Winnipeg South Centre, there are start-up companies that recognize the growing importance of carbon capture utilization and storage, and they are developing prototypes to build this technology on an industrial scale. Alberta is already the largest hydrogen producer in Canada. It recognizes its role in bringing this cleaner, low-cost energy to the rest of the Prairies, Canada and the global market. We see the evolution of the small modular reactor technology, and we know that if Canada is going to meet our objective of net-zero emissions by 2050, we must rely on a wide variety of energy sources.

For a few hundred years now, we have grown food on the Prairies to feed ourselves and to feed the world. Increasingly, it is evident that what we grow on the Prairies can also fuel the world. The pace of innovation in the biomass supply chain means that very soon we may be able to do just about anything with a bushel of canola that we can do with a barrel of oil.

The bill recognizes this and knows that, to implement these policy objectives, our chances of success improve if there is co-operation among the levels of government and those who create wealth. In Canada, we talk about the distribution of the nation’s wealth, and these discussions are critical. We should also talk about wealth creation, something that we do not do much about because we are so focused on how we are going to spend the bounty of our nation.

We can take child care as an example. It is both an economic and a social policy. We know that the Prairies are struggling with other difficult circumstances. I can use transportation as an other example. Anybody who has tried to get from one part of the region to the other over the last number of years will know how challenging it has become.

Train service has been dropped. A train has not run between the cities of Calgary and Edmonton since 1985. Bus service has been curtailed across wide sections of the Prairies, making life more difficult, particularly for seniors living in rural communities. Let us review this, discuss it and debate it. The bill emphasizes this.

This bill represents a new way of doing business as a nation. Many of the elements and the aspirations of the bill are already here, not because they are mandated or obliged to happen, but because a particular minister or a group of MPs or a premier or a mayor has an idea that co-operation would be a good thing. This bill would do more than make suggestions. It would give the minister of industry and the federal government 18 months to establish this framework, after deep and meaningful consultation with those mentioned in the bill, and it demands a reporting to Parliament.

The intention is to focus the ministerial mind to make that kind of consultation and coordination easier because it must happen. It mandates collaboration, co-operation and relationship building.

This bill is not about jurisdictional overreach. It is clear that these policies are within the federal jurisdiction but must consider local circumstances and continuing dialogue with local governments and with businesses and workers who, after all, are best positioned to understand the consequences of changing policy on the way they run their governments or their businesses in an ever-changing landscape.

Indigenous nations are partners because their interests are integral to the success of the entire region, and the entire country. Not only does our Constitution demand this, but we know that development of resources across first nation, Métis, and Inuit land requires these conversations to be meaningful from the start.

Though the bill is succinct, I believe it is full of possibilities and ideas that span a wide range. I am optimistic, which springs from spending many months as the minister responsible for the prairie provinces, talking to decision-makers and regular folk across a vast range of interests. I was working on my little computer on the second floor of my house. That gave me the scope and the capacity to cover a lot of ground.

I remember one day when I chatted with people over breakfast at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce before moving on to a visit with canola producers and then ranchers. After that, I talked to people who are in the power business in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, before leading a round table with first nations and Métis community and business leaders. I was in touch with the heads of unions and other associations too.

I was able to do this in a single day because I did not have to get on a plane. Having that ease to stay in touch with so many people was a great advantage.

What I found was that there are very few stereotypes that hold water and, in any case, stereotypes are barriers to progress. I wonder if colleagues know of Professor Michael Houghton at the University of Alberta, who has a PhD.D., is a Nobel laureate, and was recognized for his work combatting hepatitis C and with vaccinations. The Prairies are absolutely full of scientists in each of our provinces.

When we think of the Prairies and when we think of Alberta, I want us to think of Nobel prize winners. I want us to think of the cutting edge of research. I want us to think about feeding the world.

I was struck, over the course of those several days, by how much community of interest I found across the great diversity and expanse of the Prairies. In perspective, in topography and in geography, it is a vast region. What I found was that we can find common ground if we seek it.

I was often delighted and encouraged by the degree of agreement I saw and that played out as we moved closer to a whole variety of decisions.

The time for a bill like this one is now. It takes what we have already accomplished across this special part of our country and builds on it. I am hopeful this bill will tap into the aspiration that the country should unite around shared objectives and values.

The bill recognizes that what we have, more than the bounty of natural resources we have been so adept at developing, is this generation of young people who understand the urgency of climate change. They are sophisticated in their thinking and see the economic opportunities that building a new Prairie economy would provide for them as they choose career paths over the next 10, 20 and 30 years.

We want our young people across the Prairies to thrive in the region and to have prosperous and secure futures. We want the energy infrastructure we have today to help us move along to the next generation of energy development that is clean, sustainable and marketable. Without question, the region will be very attractive to those looking to invest in the new economy.

Though the Prairies are the region I have chosen, because it is the region I live in and the one most impacted by changes in the energy world, I am certain this bill provides a template for a way of building relationships and doing business that would be relevant to any other region of Canada.

Therefore, I am encouraged, excited and optimistic about how we can strengthen our federation in ways we have strived to achieve as a nation for decades. With this framework, mandated by a statute passed by the majority of members in the House of Commons and the Senate, I am confident that we will have ushered in a new era of co-operative federalism and a dynamic moment for Canadian democracy.

Louis Riel Day February 21st, 2022

Mr. Speaker, in the province of Manitoba, February 21 marks Louis Riel Day.

Each year, we reaffirm Louis Riel for what he was: a passionate leader advocating justice for the Métis people. He inspired the birth of Manitoba. Distressed by what he saw, the loss of Métis traditional lands, Riel called for action.

At the age of 25, Louis Riel formed a provisional government and presented a declaration of rights to Canada.

On May 12, 1870, the bill became the Manitoba Act. One hundred and fifty-one years later, on July 6, 2021, I was witness to the Government of Canada and the Manitoba Métis Federation signing the Manitoba Métis Self-Government Recognition and Implementation Agreement, an historic step in the renewal of the nation-to-nation principle and recognition of the Manitoba Métis Federation as an indigenous government.

Let us reflect and celebrate.

Business of Supply February 8th, 2022

Mr. Speaker, there are many things that the governments of Saskatchewan and Canada can work together on using the federalism that we know, and maybe even being creative about the federalism we aspire to move into for our children and beyond. That is a spirit and a commitment to collaboration to align the priorities of our governments, and that would include four or five areas where we would immediately agree there has to be more collaboration than there has been in the past. I am committed to that, and I look forward to working with the hon. member.

Business of Supply February 8th, 2022

Mr. Speaker, the fact that matters most is that the government is committed to fair taxation.

We also understand that there are many transportation issues that face prairie Canada, including Saskatchewan. If we look at air service, train service and bus service, especially in smaller communities, we know there is an awful lot of work to be done, and it must be done because transportation is an essential element of how we keep the country together.

Business of Supply February 8th, 2022

Mr. Speaker, one of the beauties of Canadian federalism is its flexibility. In a nation as diverse in its geography as its linguistic makeup, we all know how important the French language is, not only in Quebec but all over the country. Some of my children have graduated from French immersion, which has really enriched their lives. The key answer to the member's question is the flexibility of our federalism, which is proved all the time.

Business of Supply February 8th, 2022

Mr. Speaker, the answer is yes. I appreciate the question especially in light of the private member's bill I just introduced in the House, which would actually mandate and encourage co-operation among all levels of government, indigenous communities, the private sector and its employees. During this pandemic, we learned, among many other things, that Canadians expect governments to be aligned and to work together toward a much better conclusion than partisanship and bitterness lead to.

Yes, I am with the spirit of the hon. member's question.

Business of Supply February 8th, 2022

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to take part in this debate and to thank the people of Winnipeg South Centre, who have sent me back to this very special place for the third time now. I am honoured by their confidence.

The transcontinental railroad plays a starring role in the mythology around the formation of Canada. Rarely is the polished history of Confederation complete without some telling of how the ribbons of steel bound us together from sea to shining sea, coming together with the driving of the last spike.

Of course, there is some truth in that. However, the creation of the Canadian Pacific Railway was ultimately a political act to bring provinces into Confederation. It was also a business enterprise in a practically unfettered time that few of us here can possibly imagine. It was part of Canada’s colonial pursuit to populate the Prairies with waves of settlers pledged to the Crown, no matter that thousands of years of indigenous civilization predated them.

Many agreements were made, and no doubt some broken, to make it happen. It is very important today to acknowledge that national unity through CP Rail came at a cost. The land grants to the railway and other corporate interests left out indigenous peoples. Treaties could never compare to the cultural loss of their sacred lands.

There were also those who benefited from this railway. It brought people and manufactured goods in and exports like wheat and potash out. Towns and villages bustled with activity due to branch lines, and grain elevators dotted the landscape. Modern-day Saskatchewan would not exist if not for railroads like the CPR. Our commodity production and supply chains continue to depend on rail service. Saskatchewan is a landlocked province that still feeds the world because of trains.

Hon. members know well the history that has brought us to this debate. It is not always as polished as some want it told, not always as idyllic as the murals in the Centre Block, but it is still important to the people and economies of our nation.

There is another constitutional dynamic to this history, and we are being asked to help the people of Saskatchewan to correct an historical anomaly. In 1880, Canada and the CPR reached an agreement that included a provision known as clause 16, which exempted the CPR from certain federal, provincial and municipal taxes forever. Twenty-five years later, that exemption was put into the Saskatchewan Act when the province was admitted into Canada in 1905. In 1966, the Government of Canada reached an agreement with the CPR whereby the CPR would begin paying taxes to bring the transportation legislation up to date.

The problem was that the Constitution was not amended to reflect this, mainly because the Constitution wasn’t patriated until two decades later. The tax exemption was never formally terminated. On November 29, the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan unanimously adopted a resolution requesting an amendment to the Constitution of Canada to repeal section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act and make it retroactive to 1966. If we all agree and if Canada and Saskatchewan agree on the outcome, and if we have the means to do so, it makes sense that we should seriously consider the opportunity to make the changes requested by our colleagues in Saskatchewan.

A strong relationship exists between Saskatchewan and the Government of Canada, a relationship we can see up close with the important work of PrairiesCan, the economic development agency formerly known as Western Economic Diversification. PrairiesCan has been a critical strategic investor in Saskatchewan’s economy, and part of the minister’s mandate is to advance Saskatchewan’s economic interests in Ottawa, the same as for Manitoba and Alberta.

In the last five years, PrairiesCan approved investments of over a quarter of a billion dollars in projects to develop businesses, industries and communities across Saskatchewan. The result has been good jobs that people and their families rely on.

Recent examples that add value in key Saskatchewan sectors include PrairiesCan support of the Global Agri-Food Advancement Partnership in Saskatoon, as well as the Agtech Accelerator established in Regina. Over the last two years, the pandemic created challenges for the prairie economy, but also opportunities to come together and support one another. PrairiesCan has been at the forefront of keeping businesses alive during the pandemic. Over $38 million in support has gone to 300 Saskatchewan companies and organizations from the regional relief and recovery fund. Through budget 2021, this government is continuing to make a difference by investing millions more to help communities across the province recover with new programs such as the Canada community revitalization fund, the tourism relief fund and the jobs and growth fund.

We have started something important by making PrairiesCan a stand-alone economic development agency dedicated to this region, something long advocated for by members of the Liberal caucus. In addition to investing, PrairiesCan is putting a priority on convening and pathfinding for clients and stakeholders, and advocating for prairie economic interests to inform decision-making in Ottawa. The department will soon expand its footprint with new service locations in Regina and Prince Albert.

Saskatchewan relies heavily on trade, and rail transportation continues to play a critical role in the economy. Because we are present on the ground in Saskatchewan, we see that CP Rail can also be a point of pride in our communities. Consider the city of Moose Jaw. It is, and always has been, a rail town. Not only is the CPR vital to Moose Jaw, but the city is vital to CP. Five hundred people work for CP there. Last April, CP named the Moose Jaw terminal as the company’s terminal of the year. It is a prestigious award that recognizes employees' high efficiency and safety standards.

Let me conclude by saying that this is an important issue for the other prairie provinces as well. CP Rail has been, and continues to be, an important partner to provide efficient and reliable transportation of Saskatchewan goods to the market. It is also our duty to thoughtfully consider any historical agreement to ensure that our country’s current values align with our federal and provincial economic interests. Our colleagues in the Saskatchewan legislature argue that now is the time to amend the Saskatchewan Act, and I agree. The amendment is due a thoughtful and considerable debate, as we are doing today.

Building a Green Prairie Economy Act February 7th, 2022

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-235, An Act respecting the building of a green economy in the Prairies.

Mr. Speaker, it is with enthusiasm and hope that I introduce a private member's bill called “building a green prairie economy act”.

Among the many lessons and reflections about battling COVID-19, one is that Canadians want their governments at all levels to work together toward a common goal. This bill captures that sentiment and mandates the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, along with colleagues, to build a framework that includes provincial and municipal governments, first nations and Métis governing bodies, the private sector and its employees, and leaders in civil society to work together building a green economy on the Prairies. This bill offers the scope and the challenge of uniting and inspiring us. I look forward to the debate.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Committees of the House January 31st, 2022

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the following two reports of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

The first report is in relation to the motion adopted on Tuesday, December 14, 2021, regarding the request for government response to the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security entitled “Systemic Racism in Policing in Canada”, which was presented to the House of Commons on Thursday, June 17, 2021, during the second session of the 43rd Parliament. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

The second report is in relation to the motion adopted on Thursday, December 16, 2021, regarding the proposed regulations amending certain regulations made under the Firearms Act. This is the latest version of the second report.