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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

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act April 9th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I am not sure that was a question. These matters obviously will be deliberated at committee, and I am hoping that the Liberal majority will be open to amendments. I know that will be an unusual situation, but we remain hopeful.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act April 9th, 2019

Madam Speaker, my understanding is that the concerns raised by the Conservative members goes to the second part of the bill, which is not a part that I have analyzed in depth. I quickly looked at the bill, and I think there are concerns that the federal government would be given unilateral power over the petroleum resources, and it will be important that the indigenous people of the north, particularly the first nations under their first nations final agreements, be given the opportunity to voice their views.

However, I have a slightly different view. Yes, development should proceed in partnership, but there is a higher level of responsibility: It is to make sure that the voices of those people who are going to be most impacted by the development will rule. They are the ones who will have to deal with the impact of the developments. That is exactly why those water and land boards were created to begin with, and to some extent negotiated, many years ago.

Perhaps we need provisions in law to further protect those rights and ensure that development in the north ends up being for the benefit of the people of the north.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act April 9th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for the question, and also for allowing me to go before him so that I could go to my meeting. It is very gracious of him.

Indeed, it is very important that this measure has come forward. It is regrettable that it has taken this long, but finally we are moving forward with this legislation.

The hon. member represents the Yukon, and I had the pleasure of living and working there for three years. Everything one does in Yukon touches on first nation land claims and final governance agreements.

Nothing could be more important than reversing the changes made by the Harper government. Those land claims and self-government agreements were constitutionally entrenched, and the move the Conservatives made in their bill to erase them was reprehensible.

I look forward to the opportunity to finally have third reading on the bill before us, and I also look forward to the Liberal members at committee accepting that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, UNDRIP, must be added into the bill.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act April 9th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I wish to focus my comments on the first part of Bill C-88, the amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. However, I cannot resist adding that contrary to the remarks the hon. member just made, it was the Harper government that took the power away from the National Energy Board to make the final decision of nay or yea for a pipeline and gave it to the cabinet, so the statement lacks a certain level of credibility.

Forty-five years ago, the federal government commissioned Judge Thomas Berger to lead an inquiry to investigate the social, environmental and economic impacts of a proposed gas pipeline that would run through the Yukon and the Mackenzie River Valley of the Northwest Territories. The Berger inquiry set the bar for proper consultation with communities, in particular with indigenous communities, on proposed major energy projects.

Justice Berger heard testimony from diverse groups with an interest in the pipeline. The inquiry was notable for the voice it gave to aboriginal people, whose traditional territory the pipeline was intended to traverse.

Berger travelled extensively in the north in preparation for and during the hearings, visiting all 35 communities along the Mackenzie River Valley, as well as other cities across Canada, to gauge public reaction. In his travels, he met with Dene, Inuit, Métis and non-aboriginal residents. He heard from experts. He held community meetings across the Northwest Territories and Yukon. This played an important role in shaping his views.

Sadly, despite my request, no similar community-level process was agreed to by the parliamentary committee on review of Bill C-69.

For the first time, intervenor funding was provided to aboriginal communities to ensure their voices would be heard. This inspired many of us to pursue similar rights and open processes for energy reviews in my province of Alberta and before the NEB. My Canadian environmental bill of rights, Bill C-438, is premised on these same basic rights and principles.

The commission recommended that no pipeline be built through northern Yukon and that a pipeline through the Mackenzie Valley should be delayed for 10 years.

His report's first volume, entitled “Northern Frontier, Northern Homeland”, highlighted the fact that while the Mackenzie Valley could be the site of the biggest project in the history of free enterprise, it was also home to many people whose lives would be immeasurably changed by the pipeline.

Berger was quoted as saying this:

The North is a frontier, but it is a homeland too, the homeland of the Dene, Inuit and Métis, as it is also the home of the white people who live there. And it is a heritage, a unique environment that we are called upon to preserve for all Canadians.

The commission found no significant economic benefit to northerners from the pipeline. The report was prescient in concluding that large-sale projects based on non-renewable energy sources rarely provide long-term employment and that those locals who did find work during construction could only find low-skill, low-wage positions.

In addition, Berger feared that the pipeline development would undermine local economies, which relied on hunting, fishing and trapping, possibly even increasing economic hardship. Berger ultimately found that the economy of the region would not be harmed by not building the pipeline.

The commission believed that the pipeline process had not taken native culture seriously and that any development needed to conform to the wishes of those who lived there.

Berger predicted that the social consequences of the pipeline would not only be serious; they would be devastating. The commission was particularly concerned about the role of indigenous peoples in development plans. At the time the report was released, there were several ongoing negotiations over native land claims in the area. Berger suggested that the pipeline construction be delayed until those claims were settled.

The commission found that the local population would not accept development activity without some control. In addition, land claims were part of a broader native rights issue that needed to be settled between the government and the first nations.

In Berger's view, rapid development in the north would preclude settlement of these important issues due to the influx of non-native populations and growing business interests.

The north today bears little resemblance to the north of Berger's time. The land is the same and the resources are still there, but the people of the north have changed. Most land claims have been settled. For many, the traditional ways of life have waned, and indigenous peoples are seizing control of their own destinies. Many who fought so fiercely against the Mackenzie Valley pipeline now favour building one, or building other developments, including a highway, but on their own terms, which include making sure the benefits flow to their communities over the long term.

In the previous Parliament, the Conservatives tacked on to a devolution bill regressive measures that directly contradicted any of the lessons of the Berger inquiry. Those measures also undermined rights within the constitutionally entrenched land claims and self-government agreements or modern treaties. These first nation final agreements provide that those communities most impacted by developments must have a direct voice.

The Conservatives' Bill C-15, contrary to the wish of northerners, eliminated four regional land and water co-management boards created under carefully negotiated first nation final agreements. Lawsuits successfully filed by the Tlicho and Sahtu First Nations succeeded in stopping these measures.

The bill before us, Bill C-88, restores the co-management boards, providing more effective voices for first nations in the development reviews and approvals. However, as my colleague, the MP for South Okanagan—West Kootenay, has pointed out, Bill C-88 could fully recognize and strengthen indigenous rights by entrenching the UNDRIP in this proposed law.

A few years back, I had the honour of attending a Dene gathering in Fort Providence with my former colleague, Dennis Bevington, the then Northwest Territories member of Parliament. I heard first-hand concerns from northerners about an oil spill that was discovered on the land by indigenous hunters and their struggle to receive the necessary assistance to monitor the cleanup of the disaster, so the struggle continues to have a true voice.

However, I also experienced the joy of seeing the mighty Mackenzie River running along the shores of Fort Providence, a magnificent transboundary river basin relied upon by many communities that have long deserved a greater voice in decision-making.

I look forward to supporting the bill before us.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act April 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the words of the hon. member on the other side about the need for new measures to show that the government is sincere about reconciliation and about honouring the rights and interests of indigenous peoples.

Surely, then, the member would support the amendment we are calling for, to actually entrench the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the bill. Of course that would deliver on the Prime Minister's promise, from quite some time ago, that he would in fact take action on all 93 of the calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. One of those calls to action is exactly that. It is to move forward and entrench those rights in the UN declaration in all federal laws going forward.

Is the member willing to accept that amendment and entrench the United Nations declaration in Bill C-88?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act April 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, one of the important aspects of Bill C-88 is that it would restore the four water and land co-management boards, which were established by a negotiated agreement between the federal and territorial governments and the first nations of the north, but the Tlicho and Sahtu people went to court and had that bill struck down.

What is important and significant is that the land claim and self-government agreements are now modern treaties entrenched in the Constitution.

Could the member tell us how his party rationalizes arguing against the Constitution of Canada in saying that the boards should not be restored?

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act April 9th, 2019

Madam Speaker, we keep seeing this happening with the Liberals, who shut down debate and then speak to the content of the bill we would all like to be debating here.

What is the whole point of this bill we are supposed to be debating, except that the Liberals would rather shut down debate? It is about giving a voice to people What is the purpose of shutting down the debate? It is to take away the voice of people.

I regret the day my former colleague Dennis Bevington was not re-elected. Why? It is because we never hear a voice for the north in this place anymore. All the representatives of the north are either Liberals or, now, an independent. It is very sad. In the previous term I was in office, we spoke regularly in this place about the north and the need for the protection of the resources and the protection of the environment and particularly about giving a voice to the people of the north. Contrary to what is being expressed by the Conservatives, that is exactly what they did in their bill. They shut down those local voices.

I would prefer that we spend the time in the House talking about the need to give a voice to northerners instead of debating another shutdown of voices for democracy.

Petitions April 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition calling on action now by the federal government on the housing crisis. It is signed by residents of Edmonton, and I am pleased to say two of those include youth residing in the Youth Empowerment shelter in my riding. The petitioners state that over half of the 49,000 Edmonton households in need of housing that spend more than half of their gross income on housing are at risk of losing their housing.

The current government campaigned to build more affordable housing. A growing number of Canadians are only a paycheque away from not being able to make ends meet, and petitioners call on the government to address the housing crisis by delivering the funds now for affordable housing, including for co-ops and non-profit housing, and immediately issue a subsidy for renters and waive the GST and PST on new affordable housing.

Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights April 5th, 2019

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-438, An Act to enact the Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights and to make related amendments to other Acts.

Madam Speaker, I rise today to re-table the Canadian environmental bill of rights. While similar measures have been enacted by some of the provinces and territories, no such law has been enacted at the federal level. The bill would enact into federal domestic law international commitments made decades ago by Canada and measures recommended by the special rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council.

First, my bill would enshrine the right of Canadians to a healthy, ecologically balanced environment.

Second, it would enshrine the Government of Canada's public trust duty to protect the environment, including legislating and enforcing environmental protection laws.

Third, it would extend to all Canadians the right to hold their government accountable through access to environmental information, participation in decisions impacting their environment and standing to seek judicial intervention where those rights would be denied.

Enactment of this bill has become all the more critical as environmental rights and protections have been eroded and promised reforms have not been forthcoming.

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

Business of Supply April 5th, 2019

Madam Speaker, most of this discussion is about a particular case of a member of our armed forces. There are allegations that they are being treated inappropriately and that information is not being disclosed. However, there is a bigger issue here. It is naval ships. I have been in this place for 11 years, and we still have not provided any ships.

The Conservatives had promised that they would build ships, naval ships, but I am deeply concerned about the lack of Coast Guard ships, which would be used to protect our fisheries and marine mammals, particularly in the Arctic, given the threats that will come from climate change.

I wonder if the hon. member could speak to this issue. My initial understanding was that the recommendation was for three ships for the navy. Why is it that all of a sudden it is being reduced to two ships? What, if anything, does this have to do with the fact that we continue to face delays in providing the proper equipment to our armed forces?