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  • His favourite word is yukon.

Liberal MP for Yukon (Yukon)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 54% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act June 19th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her very eloquent defence of YESAA. I cannot fault anything she said on YESAA, so I will not ask a question but allow her to wax more eloquent on the bill.

I just want to say something for opposition members, just in case they try to say that we are rolling back everything they did and nothing was accomplished with that five years of review. There were 72 recommendations that were actually negotiated, the parties agreed to, and were implemented, either legislatively or some as policy recommendations. That was achieved, but what the member spoke so eloquently about was the four major things that were thrown in at the last moment, on which Yukoners and first nations were not consulted. They were in contravention of the spirit and probably the law of their treaty.

Committees of the House June 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 34th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, entitled “Question of Privilege Regarding the Free Movement of Members of Parliament within the Parliamentary Precinct”.

Committees of the House June 14th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 33rd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

The committee advises that, pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business met to consider the order of the second reading of private members' bills introduced in the Senate and recommended that the item listed herein, which it has determined should not be designated non-votable, be considered by the House.

Cannabis Act June 6th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I totally agree with the member. I cannot fault any of his points, so I am just going to make a couple of points of my own and not ask a question, but leave it for him to go on to say more of what he probably wanted to say.

It would appear on the surface that, if we make something illegal, fewer people will get it, but of course prohibition proved that wrong; it did not work. What is far more effective is education, and that has to be a big part of this effort. I was very disappointed when this House, years ago, twice refused to have labelling of the dangers of alcohol for pregnant mothers.

Also, one of the effects, of course, is the quality if we leave it free. When it is regulated, we stop the dangerous quality by which so many people have been killed or injured.

Another point, of course, is the health fact. There are lots of unhealthy things in society that we give people the freedom to choose. There are far more accidents and crime, etc., with alcohol, but I do not think anyone would attempt to make that illegal.

The conditions of advertising are another great initiative that would reduce it.

Finally, on the suggestion of penalties, of course we do not want penalties for kids. I know that was a suggestion, but there would have to be some other type of thing. We do not want to criminalize kids, because that affects the rest of their life.

Tourism Week June 1st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, as we celebrate Tourism Week, I am happy to report that in the Yukon we have recently seen a growing interest in northern and indigenous tourism.

In Canada in 2015, indigenous tourism contributed $1.4 billion to GDP, a huge increase from $596 million in 2002. Our government provided $1 million to the Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association and, in budget 2017, $8.6 million to the Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada to support the development of Canada's unique and authentic indigenous tourism industry.

This investment is our belief in indigenous tourism and the opportunity it represents for our country. The trend is wonderful and reflects the many great cultural experiences; for example Moosehide Gathering, Adaka Cultural Festival, and the Haa Kusteey Celebration.

I wish all territorial and indigenous tourism operators a great summer season and wish all Canadians a happy Tourism Week. On Canada's 150th, I encourage all Canadians to visit the Yukon and the rest of Canada from coast to coast to coast.

Committees of the House June 1st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 32nd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership of committees of the House.

If the House gives its consent, I move that the 32nd report be concurred in.

Criminal Code May 29th, 2017

Madam Speaker, in relation to costs, I appreciate the member's careful and thoughtful analysis.

In relation to costs, could the member speculate on the costs of not taking more of these impaired drivers, whether impaired by drugs or alcohol, off the roads? One tragic death is a huge human and physical cost.

I have a second part to my question. In the last Parliament there were a number of bills that would have included massive costs to the justice systems of the provinces, territories, and municipalities. What provision was made to cover those costs for those other bills?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 May 9th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I am delighted that the member has asked that question, because it gives me a chance to explain what Canadians may have heard but do not understand. We promised that we would stop the abuse of omnibus bills, of putting in a whole bunch of things that had very little or no relation to the budget, such as the dramatic changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, as an example of what was done. Of course, any budget implementation bill, as members can see from the study done by the Library of Parliament, has to refer to a number of other bills, because obviously, the budget refers to different laws, different departments, and different agencies. The budget implementation bill naturally has to refer to those. The abuse we want to avoid, and I am sure the member wants to avoid, because we are onside on this, is using omnibus bills inappropriately to do things that are not related to the budget to get those items through Parliament without the scrutiny that would normally come with a bill that addressed something independently.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 May 9th, 2017

Madam Speaker, investing in infrastructure is particularly important for the north, but also for all Canadians. I think members can imagine, if they have not had the personal experience, what it is like to be without a job. They go home and tell their kids that they have to move, because they cannot pay the rent, or they have to sell the house. The kids say, “Where are we going to live?” The parents say, “We don't know.” Perhaps the other kids are going on a skating trip or to a swimming pool, and the parents cannot afford to give them the money, or it is Kraft Dinner again tonight. There cannot be much in life that is harder than not having a job to support one's family.

Economists have explained that one of the best government investments to create jobs is through infrastructure, in the north in particular. Where southern Canada has had infrastructure for over a century, such as ports and roads, in the north, a lot of our communities have no access by road. People can imagine the cost of food if it has to go in by boat and air. It is incredibly costly. That is why the trade corridor is so important. Our wealth of resources cannot get out if there are no roads or infrastructure, so it is very important.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 May 9th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I am delighted to speak for Yukon and to the budget bill.

When the government came into power, we changed the northern strategy, the Arctic strategy, to put the emphasis on people. We believe that if there are strong, healthy people in the north, we will have strong sovereignty in the north, good resource development, and environmental protection. I was delighted that the budgets of 2016 and 2017 reflected this emphasis on the people.

I will just talk about some of the items in those budgets that made northerners very happy.

First, the large increase in the northern allowance in the 2016 budget helped to cover the high cost of living in the north. Sometimes a jug of milk in the high Arctic can cost three, four, or five times what it does down south, as an example. All sorts of things cost more, so this big increase in the northern allowance was very welcome to help keep talented people in the north and to help people who have lived there for generations afford a good lifestyle, raise their families, and provide good clothing and food for their children.

What helped with that immensely, of course, was the Canada child benefit. There was a big increase, especially for low-income families with children. We can imagine the incredible task of a single mother in the north, with these high costs, trying to raise her children. This non-taxable child benefit has gone a long way and has been a big help in the north.

It is the same for all categories of people. There is the OAS supplement, which helps the poorest of seniors. There is the increase in student grants for low-income students and the doubling of student jobs for the summer. These measures all help people, especially people who need it the most, in the north.

In my riding of Yukon, the two biggest private sectors are mining and tourism. Mining, of course, has been the biggest contributor to our gross domestic product since the great Klondike gold rush, the greatest gold rush in the world. It is very important.

In recent years, mineral exploration has been very important to our economy. We worked hard to encourage the Minister of Natural Resources, who was a very strong advocate, to extend the mineral exploration tax credit for another year. This is a 15% tax credit. A lot of the mining activity in the Yukon at the moment is exploration, and probably a vast majority of it would not occur without this tax credit. This is instrumental and a huge help to the people of the Yukon.

The second-biggest sector is tourism. Sometimes it is the biggest employer, for the number of people in the Yukon. It is a bigger part of our gross domestic product than it is in any other province or territory. When there were cuts in recent years, it hurt us more than anyone else.

We were delighted to hear the recent announcement of $2 million for marketing and television ads for Yukon tourism as well as $1 million for the Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association, because a lot of people who come to the north really want the authentic experience of first nations tourism products and services. The Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, in budget 2017, would be given $8.6 million for indigenous tourism activities.

The prime marketing agency for Canada, Destination Canada, got an increase last year, a desperately needed increase after many years of cuts, of $37.5 million to help market Canada around the world. We are delighted that this increase would be made permanent in budget 2017.

We have a curious situation in the Yukon, where we have jobs available without people, and we have people without jobs. The reason is that people need training. There are jobs available, but people are not trained to take some of those jobs. We were very happy to see that budget 2017 included $14.7 million for the three territories for basic adult education. Whenever a person gets out of high school or college and needs more education to get into the trades or the professions, this money is instrumental. We are delighted that it has been carried on.

There would also be $90 million to help indigenous students in post-secondary education and $50 million more for the ASETS program, which is skills development for first nation people across Canada.

Another item that is instrumental in the north and in my riding is housing. I was an early member of the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition. For years, affordable housing has been one of our highest priorities, so we are very delighted that budget 2017 would have $11.2 billion for a national housing strategy. On top of that, Yukon specifically would get $24 million.

Also important to the workforce, particularly to get women into the workforce, are more child care spaces, and we are very happy with the $7 billion nationally to help create more child care spaces.

Like everywhere else, we have had a number of Canada 150 projects going on this year, which are very exciting. I have also announced a number of seniors projects, which were very well received.

There would be $25.6 million for the territorial health investment fund to help us with the unique challenges of health in the north, and $89.9 million for indigenous languages, which, again, are very important in my riding. There would also be extra money for mental health for indigenous people.

I just made an announcement about indigenous youth and sport and the aboriginal games.

The Yukon government also gets a transfer from the federal government, and this would be the biggest transfer in history, with a $24.9-million increase over last year. There would be an increase of $.8 million in the Canada health transfer and of $.3 million in the Canada social transfer over last year.

We are also delighted to get the new judge we asked for. We have only two federal Supreme Court judges. One is taken up with a major murder case. The other has the routine proceedings every week. A lot of civil cases were backlogged, so we are delighted that this is in the budget.

The increases for Parks Canada are also very important in my riding. Green technology support is very important across the country to help the transition to renewables.

I was in Washington a few weeks ago with the leader speaking at a conference of northern leaders from across North America, Alaska, the three Canadian territories, and Greenland. The two things needed for development were more infrastructure and more affordable energy.

The municipalities and territorial governments were delighted about the large transfers for infrastructure. Unfortunately, I do not have enough time left to go through it all in detail. There is the trade and transportation corridor, $10 billion for the building Canada fund, all sorts of projects for water, waste water, recreation, roads, bridges, and transit. We already have some buses from the transit fund.

There is social infrastructure, green infrastructure, and Internet infrastructure. Northern and rural infrastructure would get $2 billion. I cannot remember a time in history when any government has put that much emphasis on Canada's rural north and come up with a fund of $2 billion for infrastructure. The north is eligible for all these other infrastructure funds. It is on a plus basis, not on a per capita basis, where we get almost nothing. We are delighted that we get a base amount.

There is money for first nations to get infrastructure to protect them from climate change. It is very forward thinking.

The other area I mentioned from the conference is affordable energy for the north. We are delighted that there would be $21.4 million to get northern indigenous communities off diesel, as many of them are on diesel, and $400 million for an Arctic energy fund.

All these items are great for the economy of the north, the environment of the north, and most importantly, the people of the north, because when there are strong, healthy, engaged people who have their culture supported, we are going to have a strong northern part of Canada, which is important for all of us.