House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was forestry.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Thunder Bay—Rainy River (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply November 20th, 2008

Mr. Speaker,

[Member spoke in Ojibway as follows:]

BooZhoo. Awbinogeeyak. Eekwayuwug. Ininnywug.


I begin in Ojibway and give greetings in Ojibway to the House because I would like to honour the elders of the many first nations who are in my ridings. I would like to respect those elders and the work that they and their predecessors have done to help build our country. I would like to ask the government today to ensure that our brothers and sisters in the first nations, the Métis and the Inuit are all included in the continuing building of this nation.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Pam and our children, Zara, Elizabeth, Liam, Jennifer and Jacob.

I would like to also particularly thank my mentor, my friend and my neighbour, Howard Hampton, the leader of the Ontario New Democrats and all the ONDP.

I would like to thank the member for Toronto—Danforth and my caucus for their support. I would like to thank the federal party for the support, particularly in this last election, that it has shown me.

I would like to thank my friends in broadcasting, particularly Fraser Dougall who gave me my first job on radio.

I would like to thank World University Service of Canada, headquartered in Ottawa, for the six and a half years that I spent overseas as a volunteer and working for the organization.

I would like to thank the elementary school students in the west end of my riding who laughed at my jokes and who listened to my stories of adventures with African wildlife.

I would like to thank the terrific volunteers in my riding for their support, many of whom have been with me for the whole time.

Of course, I would like to thank the people of Thunder Bay—Rainy River who have honoured me with their confidence and their belief that I can help make Thunder Bay--Rainy River a better place to live, a place where no one gets left behind.

It takes more than five hours to drive across my riding. It spans two time zones. It is, bar none, arguably the most beautiful riding in our country. We have Kakabeka Falls, Niagara of the north. We have Quetico Park, the most accessible wilderness park in the country. Little do members know, I am sure, that the Prairies actually begin in the west end of my riding. Our farmers have been hit hard in Stratton, Emo and Bergland, seniors in Rainy River, Morson, forestry families in Barwick, Fort Frances, Sapawe, Upsala and Thunder Bay and Atikokan, too.

However, I would like the members in the House to know that we have a fighting spirit and that we are willing to work with all levels of government to ensure we have the wherewithal and the tools to make lives better for our families.

People in Thunder Bay—Rainy River are worried about their jobs, their pensions and their savings. We were hoping there would be some bold and strategic moves by the government in the throne speech, but what we have is a throne speech that does not match the urgency and the depth of the problems facing Canadian families.

We have proven again by not supporting this throne speech, just as in the 39th Parliament, that we are the effective opposition in the House.

The Speech from the Throne does not secure jobs for our families. It does not secure and ensure sound budgeting. Just today the parliamentary budget officer announced that we could be facing a $13.8 billion deficit. Cancelling the scheduled $7.3 billion in corporate tax cuts in 2009-10 would go a long way to putting Canadians and Canada on a sound financial footing.

However, let me be clear, I want to work with the government. People in my riding have told me that they do not want another election any time soon. They want me to work with the government. We need to ensure that no one gets left behind or no families get left behind.

I was pleased to hear some of the words in the throne speech. I was pleased that I heard, at least two or three times, the term working families. Everyone in the House will recognize where that term came from.

I look forward to working with the government on home retrofit programs. I welcome the language on the new world-class research facilities, reducing gun crime and ending cross-border smuggling of guns. It was in our 2008 election platform.

I have spoken with three ministers so far and I have pledged my co-operation on a broad range of issues. Every educator knows that success breeds success.

I heard this morning, and I heard recently from the hon. Conservative member, that the government finally would get rid of the long gun registry. I am very pleased to tell the House that for eight years, since the turn of the century, my constituents have told me that we need to get rid of that long gun registry. They have told me that it unfairly penalizes farmers, gun collectors and hunters. If that bill appears as a stand-alone bill, I will honour the wishes of the constituents in my riding.

As I said, success breeds success. We can make the government work for all Canadians, where no one gets left behind. Do not let anyone tell you, Mr. Speaker, that it cannot be done.

[Member spoke in Ojibwa]


Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply November 20th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I listened to those fine words. I heard about the deficit. Earlier one of the member's colleagues spoke about $13 billion in surpluses. The House well knows from where that $13 billion surplus came. It came on the backs of workers and employers in our country. It came from EI money.

I would like to ask the member of the greatly reduced caucus what happened to the other $40 billion which was taken out of EI.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply November 20th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, congratulations on your election and also to the right hon. Prime Minister for deciding to sit with his caucus on my side of the House. I appreciate that.

The constituents in the west end of my riding, around Emo, will be very pleased to hear that that the Prime Minister said this morning that he is going to help build an abattoir in Emo. That was distinctly said and I will certainly pass that on to my constituents.

Unfortunately, however, we did not hear anything about forestry. I think forestry was mentioned but once and with no explanations. There was no strategy to help mills in Fort Frances and Barwick keep operating. There was no strategy to help reopen the closed mills in Sapawe and in and around Thunder Bay. I am hoping that in the days to come we will hear something more concrete from the right hon. Prime Minister.

Another glaring absence and something which is particularly important for northwestern Ontario is infrastructure money. It is certainly missing. The Prime Minister was talking about old money for infrastructure. Where is the new money for infrastructure?