House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was environmental.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Edmonton Strathcona (Alberta)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 44% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply May 15th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I probably have a sum total of about seven minutes. I know that my colleague who has fought with me for many decades on environmental and climate issues would be deeply disappointed that I will not have more time to speak and that she will not have an opportunity to speak.

I am appalled at the dialogue that has gone on here today, particularly from the Liberals. I am sick and tired of the line “We are all in this together”, and then the Liberals stand to speak and they do nothing but insult us. I am sorry, but there are a good number of people in this place who have spent more than just the past four years, more than this afternoon, more than four decades fighting for stronger federal, provincial, territorial and municipal environmental protection and climate change laws and programs.

I am hoping that the next Parliament will actually believe in “Let us work together.” I do not have much time, but I want to share what those of us in this place should know and wake up to. The youth of this country and this planet are fed up. They do not believe that the previous Conservative government or the current Liberal government is doing enough to address the crisis of climate change. They are leaving their schools and taking to the streets. They want action, and they want it now.

A number of speakers here today made fun of us because we are calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies now. Gosh darn it, back in 2008, the Conservatives promised to move on it right now. Now we are 10 years later and the Liberals twice promised it. They say we are demanding action now. How about an action plan that says that 10 years from now they have to have removed their perverse subsidies? Yes, we do need action now, a compliance plan.

I would like to share the words of one of the most incredible spokespeople on this planet today for action on climate, and that is Greta Thunberg, the 15-year-old from Sweden. These are her words: “Our house is on fire. I am here to say, our house is on fire.... I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”

She also said:

[H]ardly anyone speaks about the fact that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction [backed up by the UN report just issued].... Nor does hardly anyone ever speak about the aspect of equity or climate justice, clearly stated everywhere in the Paris Agreement, which is absolutely necessary to make it work on a global scale.... What we do or don’t do right now, me and my generation can’t undo in the future.... We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change.... Everything needs to change—and it has to start today.

That is our mission today in this motion. We have to have action today. That does not mean we do not give time to comply, but for heaven's sake, the government is coming up with policies written on the back of a napkin. At one point in time someone in the United States said to reduce methane by 40%, so we said we would reduce methane by 40%.

The Liberals criticize those of us on this side for not bothering to get the facts. I attended the detailed technical briefing on what is possible with existing technology to reduce methane and make a profit. I call on the government to step up and actually apply the technology. Yes, we need more investment in better technology, but where is the regulatory agenda?

I brought forward a motion calling on the government to enact a law modelled on the United Kingdom law. The Liberals have been briefed on that, just as I have. That law puts binding targets, which are required to be updated every five years, and there is an independent commission that gives advice, audits and reports publicly. Why are we not getting real measures like that? They talk about accountability; it is in all the mandate letters. Let us see some real accountability. Let us see real measures set in stone, in law.

I do not have the time to list all the measures that are possible. The technologies are there. What we need are the regulatory measures and the removal of the perverse subsidies so that we can have a level playing field, so that the clean energy future can happen now.

Business of Supply May 15th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, there are some falsehoods in the parliamentary secretary's speech. An example of one of the falsehoods is the member likes to allege that nobody in this House except for the members on that side actually takes the time to find out what kind of measures exist that, if they were taken, would reduce greenhouse gases.

Let us not take my word for it, but take the word of the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, the word of the Auditor General and the word of the OECD.

The commissioner, in her report of just this spring, was highly critical of failed action by the current government and its slow action on climate change. She said it was disturbing that for decades successive federal governments had failed to reach their targets for reducing greenhouse gases. Of course, the current government is simply sticking with the Harper targets. There is a dichotomy here, because the Liberals promised in Paris not only to keep it at 2°; they promised 1.5°, yet their target already far exceeds that.

The Auditor General said that this government, both the finance department and the environment and climate change minister, had abjectly failed to address “perverse” subsidies. The government promised in 2015 and again in 2016 that it would immediately take action on perverse subsidies, yet the Auditor General was saying that the finance minister had not even looked into what those were, and neither had the environment minister, including looking at regulatory measures and looking at the subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.

The OECD is saying we need to “review and adjust tax, royalty and subsidy regimes” to deliver on what we promised to the G20.

What does the member have to say about that?

Oceans Act May 13th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that concerns me is the nature of this place. We deal with one bill at a time. When we are dealing with something like the oceans and potential environmental impacts or conflicts between different resource sectors—the fisheries, offshore oil development, the transport of oil or the hazardous waste through the oceans—we are not taking everything into consideration. I have heard over and over from the Liberals here that it is a first step. We hear that about every bill that they bring forward.

My question to the member is this. Right now off the coast of Newfoundland, there is consideration for experimental deepwater drilling that other countries have not been willing to pursue. Is the member confident that this legislation that we are bringing forward will also ensure that whatever other activity the government is reviewing is not going to impact on these marine protected areas that we set aside?

There was a lot of consternation, in the review of Bill C-69, that the offshore boards had a conflict of interest. One interest is to extract and gain revenue from the offshore resources, and the other is to consider the impacts. Can the member speak to that issue of whether he thinks it is important for us also to look at all of these pieces of legislation together, to make sure that one is not impacting the other?

Oceans Act May 13th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I too enjoyed serving on environment and sustainable development committee with the hon. member.

I and my colleagues are going to support this legislation and the change to the Senate amendment. We think it is much more supportive with respect to protecting marine areas and the species that may be at risk.

There used to be a fantastic program called the Arctic environmental protection strategy. When I was assistant deputy of resources in Yukon, I participated on that body. It did a lot of co-operative work in relation to the necessary science in the North, but my understanding is that under the Conservatives and then under the Liberals, the Polaris project, which was fantastic in supporting Canadian researchers in the Arctic, has not been continued. It is absolutely critical that we co-operate with other countries, including through the Arctic Council.

Does the member not think that in addition to designating these marine protected areas, we should also be investing more heavily in science and not just in gauging the shelf to determine where the oil and gas is that we could claim?

Oceans Act May 13th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for moving forward and imposing some stricter measures to protect marine protected areas.

I note that the new standards would apply to marine protected areas but not to refuges. I also note that the minister, as I understand, has recently announced that there will be longer boundary distances set where ships and so forth cannot come near threatened species, such as the orca. Where threatened species are flowing through areas that are not marine protected areas, what kind of new measures and expenditures is the minister going to put in place, for example through the Coast Guard, to ensure that in fact those species are not impacted, not just by drilling but also by shipping?

Indigenous Languages Act May 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, of course the hon. member had the privilege, as a former minister with several portfolios, to travel to those communities. It is indeed a great privilege to go into those communities, hear those languages spoken and see the support for their children. Of course, they have to have go-betweens because there are whole generations that were robbed of their language and culture because of residential schools and the sixties scoop.

The member mentioned that she is going to support the bill, yet she has problems with it. My concern about that is whether there has been genuine consultation and accommodation for first nations if we say that it was all very interesting but we are going to pass the bill anyway and maybe, someday, somebody might table a new bill.

For several of the bills that have come through this place, I and some of my colleagues have taken time allotted out of our own budgets to translate them. I find it stunning that we are bringing forward an indigenous languages bill, yet the government of the day did not take the time to make that bill available in at least some of the indigenous languages. I wonder if the member agrees with me that we need to do more than from time to time have somebody stand up in this House and speak in an indigenous language because they happen to be indigenous or to be learning an indigenous language.

Is there more that this place needs to do to genuinely act on truth and reconciliation and the UNDRIP on languages and culture?

Indigenous Languages Act May 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I would like to follow up on a question my colleague put to the hon. member. He raised the fact the TRC in a call to action specified that the government must finance the revitalization and protection of indigenous languages. The member responded that the law required that funding. However, the only place in the bill where there is anything about a provision of adequate sustainable funding is in the purposes.

A purposes provision is not a duty or an obligation. Therefore, the only part of the bill that provides anything of any substance is the establishment of the commissioner. That is the only place where I can see there is an entity created and there are certain duties of the commissioner. However, what about a duty to directly provide support to indigenous peoples themselves for the revitalization of, establishment of and ability to speak their languages?

Indigenous Languages Act May 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, my colleague and I have worked together on many bills where almost all, hundreds, of our amendments have been rejected, even though the government has said that it is open to amendments.

My colleague has been very clear. We will oppose this bill. I am doing that out of respect for my two indigenous colleagues, who made very reasonable proposals for amendments, which were rejected.

As I mentioned earlier, the TRC itself was very specific. It called on the government to provide the funds. There must be at least some kind of provision in this legislation. We see this time after time in bills that come forward to begin to recognize the rights and interests of indigenous peoples; there is no commitment to funding. Another clear example is the safe drinking water legislation the Conservatives put in place in which they simply transferred liability to the first nations.

Therefore, no, with regret, I do not think, for something as significant as this, which is supposed to be implementing this country's commitment to the UNDRIP and to the truth and reconciliation calls for action, that a step forward is enough. How soon are we going to get a bill before this place again to actually correct the parts of this bill that should have been there to begin with?

Indigenous Languages Act May 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to hear the hon. member for Nunavut speak in this place.

I do not know if the member for Yukon was asking about all the amendments. I do not think it is appropriate for me to speak specifically to the call for amendments by the head of the ITK or by the member for Nunavut. I think they have expressed that need specifically very well themselves.

My understanding is that the deep concern is that the Inuit, the people of Nunavut and the Government of Nunavut felt that they were not sufficiently consulted in advance in the development of this bill. Surely that should be one of the most important aspects as we move forward under the UNDRIP and under the calls for action by the TRC, that every piece of legislation that comes forward in this place that may impact the rights and interests of indigenous people be developed hand in glove with those people.

Indigenous Languages Act May 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I understand from the hon. member that this is the reason why the government does not want to specify that in the bill. Somebody may decide to come forward and challenge that, but this is a bill specifically about honouring, developing and preserving indigenous languages. To me, it would be absurd that somebody would come forward and challenge that the person who is leading that program must be indigenous.

If this is supposed to be a nation-to-nation relationship, it is a perfectly reasonable request brought forward by first nations and indigenous peoples that this person should be an indigenous person. In law after law, the government is changing the legislation to actually specify that a lot of advisory bodies also include indigenous people, so why not specify here?