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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was manitoba.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as NDP MP for Elmwood—Transcona (Manitoba)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Economic and Fiscal Statement December 2nd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up on the previous speaker on this side of the House. I want to quote from the actual letter that is the subject of discussion here. It was sent to the governor general on September 9, 2004, and it states:

“Excellency:

As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government's program.

We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority“.

This letter was signed by the current Prime Minister, the current leader of the Bloc Québécois and the current leader of the NDP.

Why was it okay to try to replace the Paul Martin government, but today the idea is evil?

Economic and Fiscal Statement December 1st, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment and ask the member a question concerning the whole issue of consultation prior to an election. The members in the current government are saying that somehow we did not consult with our constituents about this eventuality, this coalition idea, just two months ago in the election.

I would like to point out that just prior to September 9, 2004, there was an election and Paul Martin was the Prime Minister after that election. What did the opposition do? On September 9 of that very year, the opposition parties sent a letter, signed by the current Prime Minister, the leader of the Bloc Québécois and the leader of the NDP, to the Governor General asking what the possibilities were if they were to form a coalition.

There is a little bit of hypocrisy coming from the members opposite when I hear comments like that. I would like to know what the member has to say about the letter.

Disraeli Bridge December 1st, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the many people who helped out on the ongoing campaign to prevent the closure of the Disraeli Bridge and the Disraeli Freeway from my constituency to downtown Winnipeg. This bridge carries 42,000 vehicles per day and will be closed for 16 months for refurbishment. The closure can be prevented by constructing a new two-lane span to the east of the old structure, a span that should be opened before the bridge is shut down for rehabilitation.

When the plan to close the bridge became public in May of this year, a new group of volunteers was formed. Volunteers hit the streets all summer to protest the closure and to distribute ballots for people to sign in order to register their opposition. Over 5,000 people responded, with 97% in favour of the extra two lanes. Mr. Ed Innes is the president of the committee, which includes Teresa Sosa, Bob Burns, Pablo Herrera, Vito Gajardo, Barb and Lawrence Lange, Clile and Carlos Villa, Jim Bardy and many others.

I thank all of them. Let us keep up the fight.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply November 26th, 2008

Madam Speaker, I think the member should talk to his colleague, the member for Charleswood St. James—Assiniboia, who is firmly committed to the east-west power grid. He might be able to explain the issues a little more clearly to the member.

I want to finish my comments about the Ontario Securities Commission and its dismal record in dealing with white collar crime in this country. The U.S. regulators, as I indicated, convicted 1,236 white collar criminals between the years 2002 and 2007. Does anyone know how many were convicted in Ontario over that period? Does anybody want to take a guess? The answer is two. Two people have been convicted.

In fact, Conrad Black committed his white collar crimes in Canada while the Canadian watchdogs were asleep at the switch. It took the U.S. regulators to finally convict him. The Canadian white collar criminals who were running the Bre-X and Norshield scams and frauds have been given a free pass. Canada does not prosecute white collar crimes, so unless the government intends to hire aggressive--

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply November 26th, 2008

Madam Speaker, I would answer the question by simply saying that Manitoba has potentially 5,000 megawatts of clean power which could be exported to Ontario to take care of the replacement of the coal-fired plants. This would help the federal government reach its targets. I will point out right now that Germany is exceeding its Kyoto targets as we speak, so this can be done.

I want to take whatever time I have left in my response to finish the third point of my debate which deals with the national securities regulator which was referenced in the throne speech. This idea has been discussed for many years. The smaller provinces have resisted the idea. They see this as an area of provincial responsibility to regulate within their own borders.

Let us pretend for a moment that the provinces give up their jurisdiction and a national securities regulator is formed. Will it be more active than the current Ontario Securities Commission? Let us check some facts.

From 2002 to 2007 the U.S. regulators--

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply November 26th, 2008

Madam Speaker, let me begin my response to the Speech from the Throne by wishing the hon. member who just spoke a very happy birthday. I request that she save some of her birthday cake for when I am finished.

I would also like to congratulate you, Madam Speaker, on your appointment. I would like to congratulate all the members on their election to the House. I would like to thank my wife, Clile, and sons, Jose, Kevin and Carlos, for working tirelessly on the election campaign to ensure that it was successful. I would like to thank my campaign staff and all the many volunteers and especially my predecessor, Bill Blaikie, the former dean of the House, who dragged me out at six in morning to plant gate at various locations, including Revenue Canada and the CN shops.

I would especially like to thank the people of Elmwood—Transcona for placing their trust in me.

Parliament has shrunk the speaking times with respect to the throne speech debate. I reviewed Bill Blaikie's speech from 30 years ago and he referenced that he had 30 minutes. In Manitoba in the last 23 years that I was a member of the Manitoba house we had 40 minute speeches; we have since reduced them to 20 minutes. Therefore, it is going to be very difficult to cover all of the subject matter in only 10 minutes. With that in mind, I have decided to stick with three topics, some issues that I have not heard mentioned by some of the other members at this point that I am aware of.

We enter this House at a time of huge upheaval on a worldwide basis with the economy perhaps in the worst shape it has been since the 1930 Depression. Governments have learned a lot since that time. They know that by injecting massive spending at the appropriate times they can help ease the pain and perhaps even get us through a recession.

There are several ways to deal with the issue. The United States issued cheques, but that really does not work. People simply take that immediate money and buy products that are made in China and it really does not help the economy here that much. I favour an infrastructure approach. I know one can make arguments about it not being immediate enough, but I think that is the way to go. It is investment that benefits Canadians for years to come.

In fact, the balancing of the budget exercise for the last decade, which I was highly supportive of in Manitoba and nationally, has in a way meant delayed infrastructure spending. We have a huge supply of infrastructure catch-up to do and it could not happen at a better time.

In Manitoba we have developed 5,000 megawatts of clean hydroelectric power, which is about one-half of our potential. We export most of it to the United States market because that is where the transmission lines run. They do not run east and west; they run north and south, just like the oil pipelines up to this point in our history. We could develop over the next few years another 5,000 megawatts, or 50% of our total capacity, if the federal government would support an east-west power grid or a hydro superhighway to bring the power east to Ontario and west to Alberta.

On July 3, 2007 the Prime Minister endorsed the plan. In fact he announced a $586 million payment to Ontario as part of the $1.5 billion Canada ecotrust fund. We need the Prime Minister to make this project happen so we can build the energy equivalent to the intercontinental railway that was built in the 1800s to tie this country east and west.

I know that members on the government side from Manitoba are highly supportive of this idea and I wish them well in convincing the Prime Minister to take a strong leadership role in developing this east-west power grid.

We can then build in Manitoba the hydro projects and send the power to Ontario so that Ontario can close its coal plants by the target date of 2014. The coal plants have a capacity of about 6,500 megawatts and therefore, Manitoba is in a strong position to help people in Ontario close those plants.

Instead, what appears to be happening, if we read between the lines of the throne speech, and not even between the lines but right in the throne speech, is that Ontario may be developing nuclear plants. The throne speech on page 11 states that 90% of Canada’s electricity needs will be provided by non-emitting sources such as hydro, nuclear, clean coal or wind power by 2020.

Why does the government call nuclear energy clean? Nuclear creates radioactive waste that stays deadly for a million years and it has to be transported and stored. I want to know how clean that can possibly be.

To achieve the government goal, we will need between 8 and 14 new 120 megawatt nuclear reactors. Where will these be built? It could take years to get approvals. I can see local residents rising up in protest wherever these plants are proposed.

Unlike the federal Conservatives in Canada, president-elect Obama is tying investment in clean energy to the creation of millions of jobs. He has set a goal of putting one million domestically built plug-in hybrids on the road and has put an emphasis on the need for energy efficiency and, along with electrification of transportation, hopes to get the U.S. off imported oil. President-elect Obama has also said he wants to expand and upgrade the United States' electrical grid so it can move renewable energy to areas of the country where it is needed.

This is the Obama version of the east-west power grid that I just discussed. When will this power grid be built? When will the Prime Minister take a leadership role on this file? I look forward to seeing some action from the Prime Minister in the next few months.

Page 12 of the throne speech refers to increasing incentives for energy-saving home retrofits. Manitoba Hydro has had the power smart residential loan program for many years, which since 1999 has achieved an estimated 374 megawatts in electrical savings. Participation levels are now over 50,000 people. New retrofit loans hit 40,000 recently. The result is $145 million invested in our homes. Manitoba Hydro is the largest electricity exporter in Canada. Its 2008 annual report shows $625 million in export sales to the U.S.

I am highly recommending another infrastructure project which directly affects my riding of Elmwood--Transcona. The city of Winnipeg is trying to close the Disraeli bridges, which are a major thoroughfare from my constituency to the downtown area. This closure would be one year and four months long. The residents are suitably outraged that the mayor and council would do this and not listen to the 5,000-plus people who have signed petitions for the addition of a new separate, two lane span to this structure which should be built for approximately $50 million, according to the rapid transit report of the city of Winnipeg, with costs shared by the three levels of government, which by the way would be about $17 million for each of the levels of government. This new extra two lane span would be built as soon as possible. Then the existing four lane span would be closed and would be rehabilitated. The city would not be shutting down an area where 100,000 people would be affected. In spite of the traffic chaos this closure will cause, the mayor has charged ahead and refuses to ask the provincial or federal governments for financial help to prevent the complete closure.

I have received an excellent response on this file from the premier of Manitoba, the President of the Treasury Board, who knows the area very well and has represented part of that area provincially, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, and my colleague, the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, whose riding borders mine and will be equally affected by the closure. We have the support of Daryl Reid, the MLA for Transcona, Bonnie Mitchelson, the MLA for River East, and Bidhu Jha, the MLA for Radisson. In addition, we have the support of city councillors Russ Wyatt from Transcona, Jeff Browaty from North Kildonan and Lillian Thomas from Elmwood--East Kildonan, who have all done an excellent job of pushing this issue at city hall.

I call upon all of my colleagues to come together to support a proposal for the federal government and the province of Manitoba to offer the city a share of the money needed to construct the extra two lanes.

The Prime Minister announced a $70 million contribution in June as part of a three way cost share with the city of Saskatoon and the province of Saskatchewan to construct a Saskatoon bridge which is six lanes and will only carry 20,000 cars a day. The current Disraeli, with only four lanes, carries 42,000 cars a day.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply November 25th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member questions about the common securities regulator referred to in the Speech from the Throne.

The hon. member should be aware that this issue has been discussed for over 10 years now with the provinces, and the small provinces just will not go along with this plan. I would like to know why he thinks things are going to be any different in the future in terms of trying to get a national securities regulator.

I would like to also point out to him that the current Ontario Securities Commission got only two convictions in the last year, whereas in the United States there have been hundreds of convictions. The issue is not the regulatory body so much as the enforcement initiatives that the regulatory body takes. What steps does he plan to take to try to convince these bodies to act more aggressively in taking action against white collar crime?

RESUMPTION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY November 24th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, the member states that 90% of Canada's electricity needs will be met by non-emitting sources such as hydro by 2020.

How does the member plan to do that unless the federal government commits to an east-west power grid so clean hydro power can come to Ontario and Alberta markets from Manitoba, from where a big chunk of the potential hydro power would come?