House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was going.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Hastings—Lennox and Addington (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2021, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Government Policies June 18th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, our government believes that investing in Canadians is not only the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do. Over one million jobs have been created since we came to government. Unemployment rates are the lowest on record. Over 825,000 Canadians have been lifted out of poverty through measures like our increase to the guaranteed income supplement, sending $1.7 million per year to low-income single seniors in my riding.

Low- and middle-income families, like Lacy's in Tweed and Krysta-Lee's in Tamworth, are benefiting from the Canada child benefit, which in April alone helped over 16,000 children in my riding, for a total of $5.5 million. That is $66 million per year for families in Hastings—Lennox and Addington.

We ran on a plan to invest, and the result is the best balance sheet and one of the highest growth rates in the G7. Not only is our plan working; it is better than advertised.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act June 11th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, simply, it shatters the trust completely. Rural Canadians are very generous, and indigenous peoples are very generous people, but if someone breaks that trust, it takes a very long time to earn that trust back again.

This bill will go a long way towards earning that trust, because so much consultation was done in the writing of the legislation. Once again, Premier McLeod and many leaders in the indigenous communities are in full support of this bill. They want this bill to be passed expeditiously, as soon as possible. We heard that in testimony at committee many, many times.

I encourage everyone in this House to please vote for Bill C-88.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act June 11th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, as we heard earlier this evening from other colleagues, and in particular, my colleague from the Northwest Territories, this bill is UNDRIP in action. Indigenous peoples feel that this includes a lot of what they have been seeking for a very long time. This is going to correct a lot of the failures of the previous legislation.

I am grateful that the NDP are fully in support of this bill. It is the right thing to do. Once again, indigenous communities need to start taking control of what happens with their resources. There are going to be 50 seats guaranteed in this legislation for indigenous communities, 50% of seats, with revenue sharing that is going to happen with indigenous peoples and communities. There will be 20% of the revenue coming from the Northwest Territories to indigenous peoples.

I understand why the NDP would be supporting it, because it is a good bill; it is the right thing to do and it is long overdue. My thanks for that support and for the question.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act June 11th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, it has been great to work with my colleague over the last number of years on the indigenous committee. I think we accomplished a lot of great things together, on many different bills and many different reports, that I feel have made a difference in the lives of indigenous people. I thank him for serving on that committee and his contribution to it.

However, I do not agree with the premise of his question. The Premier of the Northwest Territories and Inuvialuit both agree that they are making great progress right now in negotiations on how to properly develop the resources both in the Beaufort Sea and the Norman Wells oil fields. These are two areas which I have to say the previous government did not consider involving indigenous communities in consultation. Let us face it. That has been the reason that so many big projects like this in the past have failed, because of a lack of proper consultation.

Our government is taking the time to consult with those communities to ensure that they determine the future development of those resources.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act June 11th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak on Bill C-88, and I acknowledge that I do so on traditional Algonquin territory.

I will be splitting my time with the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam.

This important bill demonstrates the Government of Canada's commitment to the north and to the people who live there.

The legislation now before us proposes to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. This bill would reverse legislation that aimed to amalgamate three regional land and water boards established under comprehensive land claim agreements in the Northwest Territories. It would also modernize the overall regulatory regime that oversees the development of resources along the Mackenzie Valley and in the offshore Arctic.

Perhaps most significantly, though, Bill C-88 would be a tremendous win for the environment. With the devastating effects of climate change that are evident in the Arctic more than anywhere else in the world, we all know how important this is. While Canada's north is rich in natural resources, it is also a fragile and rapidly changing environment. I am sure that my hon. colleagues will agree that it needs to be handled with care.

How do we do that? We would take a big step forward with Bill C-88 on what I call the three Ps of environmental responsibility: people, protection and prosperity. Bill C-88 would provide the right people with the right regulatory tools to make the right decisions for the environment and for Canada.

The first P in environmental responsibility is people, and one of the best ways to care for the environment in the north is to involve the people who live there in decisions about development projects. In the same way that urban communities across Canada invite residents to have a say in proposed developments in their neighbourhoods, northerners must also have a meaningful say in how natural resources are managed in their region. Bill C-88 aims to do this in the best possible way.

Most importantly, the legislation would repeal provisions in the Northwest Territories Devolution Act that would have eliminated the regional panels of the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board and established a single consolidated board. Bill C-88 would reverse the board restructuring and reintroduce other regulatory elements to function under the existing four-board structure, including the Gwich'in Land and Water Board, the Sahtu Land and Water Board, the Wek'èezhìi Tlicho Land and Water Board and the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board.

These are all independent, co-managed boards that have appointed members who bring valuable local and traditional knowledge to the table. These members have the experience and local knowledge needed to effectively review and influence resource and development projects, as only they can. It is also important to know that the regional land and water boards are part of the existing land claim agreements, and that respecting these agreements is crucial to reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

The second P of environment responsibility is protection. A scientific report from Environment and Climate Change Canada shows that the Arctic is being hit hardest by climate change. The region is warming at a rate that is about three times faster than the rest of the world. In winter, this means melting permafrost and less sea ice. By the middle of this century, most marine regions in the Canadian Arctic may be ice free for at least a month at a time.

This would change everything. The habitat of ice-dependent wildlife, such as narwhals, polar bears and walruses, would be severely impacted. The Arctic caribou population would be at risk, because these animals rely on sea ice for their long-distance migration. Various species of fish would likely move away from where they are usually harvested in search of colder water temperatures. Of course, the melting sea ice would likely open new shipping routes and expose more fossil fuel reserves to development.

What is clear is that we have to understand what is happening to the environment and protect it, for both current and future generations. Bill C-88 would help us accomplish this goal. This is because the legislation also proposes amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, CPRA, which regulates oil and gas rights on federal Crown lands in the north and in offshore areas not under federal-provincial co-management.

The CPRA amendments support commitments made by Canada and the United States in the joint Arctic leaders' statement of 2016. The two nations agreed to base decisions about the future development of offshore oil and gas resources in the Arctic on scientific reviews that would be conducted every five years.

Bill C-88 would encourage governments and local communities to work together and move forward with both scientific and traditional knowledge to protect and develop the rich natural environment. It is so important that we take our indigenous knowledge into account, which has existed for thousands of years and that has a far greater understanding of the Arctic than any other Canadian does. We need to ensure that traditional knowledge is taken into account when we are considering any resource projects or otherwise that occur in the north.

Bill C-88 would encourage governments and local communities to work together, to move forward with both scientific and traditional knowledge to protect and develop the rich natural environment.

This brings me to my third P of environmental responsibility, and that is prosperity. Canada's prosperity, in many ways, relies on the development of natural resources. As the Right Hon. Prime Minister said recently at the 2019 Nature Champions Summit in Montreal, “We can't afford to ignore climate change.” The future of our country and our economy depends on it. “You cannot have a plan for the future of our economy as a country, as a nation, if you don't also have a plan for environment sustainability and environmental protection.”

Bill C-88 would support a robust regulatory regime that not only protects the environment, but also provides a responsible approach to the development of natural resources. Furthermore, renewing the relationship with northern and indigenous organizations and governments is the proper and just way to move forward in partnership, with legal certainty in regard to environmental protection and toward increased investment and jobs.

All told, I would suggest that this is what reconciliation is all about. It is establishing that relationship with indigenous communities that can be based on trust. That trust is only going to happen if we have meaningful and collaborative consultation with our indigenous communities.

It is about making sure that indigenous peoples have a meaningful voice in important decisions about their lands, their lives and their future. Bill C-88 would enable a resilient resource sector while also respecting the rights and interests of indigenous peoples.

The three Ps of environmental protection, people, protection and prosperity, are the key drivers of Bill C-88. They are also sound reasons to support the proposed legislation. This legislation is finally going to bring about an environment where all indigenous peoples in the north will feel they can actively participate in determining what happens with that environment, what happens with their economy, and what happens with their future, for both today and for their children and grandchildren. Once again, indigenous people always look out seven generations. We need to take that into consideration in the north.

I encourage my hon. colleagues to vote in favour of Bill C-88 at third reading.

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act June 11th, 2019

Madam Speaker, the opposition members claim that the current regulatory system is complex, costly, unpredictable and time-consuming, and that the merging of the boards is essential for dealing with these issues. However, my understanding is that the merging of these boards landed the whole process in court. It has thrown development in the Northwest Territories into real legal uncertainty. Can you expand on why it is so important to repeal the provisions merging these boards?

National Indigenous History Month June 7th, 2019

Madam Speaker, June is National Indigenous History Month. I would like to invite all Canadians, indigenous and non-indigenous alike, to join me in celebrating the culture, heritage and contributions of first nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada.

The celebration of National Indigenous History Month marks a time to honour, reflect on and recognize the rich heritage and cultural diversity of indigenous peoples. It also aims to foster respect, understanding and appreciation across the country.

On June 21, in honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day, events will take place from coast to coast to coast. I encourage everyone to share in the celebrations by participating in activities planned in their local area.

Finally, I would like to invite everyone to participate in the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte powwow on August 10 and 11.

Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights June 6th, 2019

Madam Speaker, my congratulations to my colleague from Edmonton Strathcona on getting this bill onto the floor. I am privileged to have the opportunity to speak to it.

I would like to tell a story. It is a true David and Goliath story. It is a story that starts in a small rural community that is up against the world's largest waste company, Waste Management Inc.

It starts in 1998, when I was on the municipal council in Tynendinaga Township and Waste Management Inc. came to our council meeting to present a fantastic idea it had to build a 200-acre mega-dump that would take in 750,000 tonnes of waste and 250,000 tonnes of contaminated soil a year in, once again, a small rural community, which just happened to have a fractured limestone base that would be underlying this landfill. The site would have been on vertically and horizontally fractured limestone.

This is a pristine area of the country. This is a part of the country where every home, farm and business relies on wells for water. It is a site that would be upstream from the Mohawks at the Bay of Quinte and upstream from the Bay of Quinte itself, which has been listed by the U.N. for a number of years as one of the worst polluted bodies of water in the world.

When Waste Management Inc. had finished presenting, the reeve of the day, Margaret Walsh, and I looked at each other. They wanted to do what on fractured limestone? It was not going to happen on our watch.

We then proceeded to have multiple town halls to educate the area residents about this travesty: this mega-company wanted to build a mega-dump in a neighbouring community. Everyone, of course, was up in arms. It was plain wrong to build it on this site.

After those town halls, the Concerned Citizens Committee of Tynendinaga and Environs was born. A core group of individuals headed the committee, starting with the chair, Steven Geneja; Margaret Walsh; me; Ed File; Allan Gardiner; Mary Lynne Sammon; and Chief R. Donald Maracle, of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, because the Mohawks were very interested in this fight.

We also were very fortunate to have a brilliant professional team in lawyer Richard Lindgren, from the Canadian Environmental Law Association; hydrogeologist Wilf Ruland; and a toxicologist, Dr. Poh-Gek Forkert, who, by the way, actually wrote a book about this fight called Fighting Dirty.

We launched massive fundraising campaigns, sign painting campaigns, awareness campaigns and protests. Over the next eight years, we submitted over 6,000 documents opposing this landfill expansion and petitions. It was to the point that the former environmental commissioner of Ontario, Gord Miller, called the Richmond Dump “arguably one of the worst sites in Ontario to ever locate [a] landfill”. He went on to say that it was extremely difficult, if not impossible, to monitor the site.

After eight years of fighting this battle, lo and behold, in 2006, the Ontario government decided to reject the expansion proposal, stating that there were significant environmental risks associated with expanding this landfill. Everyone, of course, celebrated, thinking that we had won the battle. No, we had not, because there was a 50-year-old leaky dump right next door to where they wanted to build the original landfill that was still open. We suspected that there was toxic leaching into the surrounding environment and local wells.

In 2007, I took over as chair of the committee. Colleagues need to understand that this was eight or nine years later, and volunteers are starting to get burned out. This was such a demanding fight for a small rural community to undertake, but there was still, thankfully, a hard-core group of individuals, including Mike Whalen, the present chair of the committee; Ian Munro; Marilyn Kendall; Jeff Whan; Steve Medd; Marilyn Carey; Janelle and Ken Tulloch; Carolyn Butts; Fred Whelan and Howard O'Connor. Once again, they were just hard-core individuals who deeply cared about our community and were willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to ensure that we protected our community from this landfill.

Lo and behold, in 2010 the province announced the forced closure of the landfill. Unfortunately, the very same day, Waste Management came back and announced another terms of reference for an environmental assessment. It was the first time in Ontario's history that a company lost an environmental assessment and turned around and asked for another one in exactly the same location with virtually the same proposal.

We were appalled. We were angry. We were determined that we were not going to allow this project to continue. We redoubled our efforts to defeat what they called the Beechwood Road Environmental Centre. What an oxymoron, if I have ever heard one.

Early in 2012, the province finally came back and approved a deeply flawed environmental monitoring plan. Finally, we had had enough. We said, okay, this finally opens up the opportunity for us to ask for leave to appeal to an environmental review tribunal to finally have a semi-judicial process of environmental and legal experts studying this issue.

We then entered into a three-year period of negotiations with Waste Management to try to resolve the 36 recommendations. After that time, finally, in 2015, we had a trial and we finally had a judgment. Of course, the judgment fell completely our way, and we finally forced Waste Management to test for a chemical called 1,4-dioxane that only exists in leachate. We have to remember that leachate has up to 10,000 chemicals.

The company was always testing for chemicals that exist in the natural surrounding environment, so when there was a spike, they would say “Oh, it's just Mother Nature, not leachate.” Lo and behold, when they finally started testing for 1,4-dioxane, many of the wells were contaminated, including six residential wells. It was absolutely appalling that the company was able to hide this contamination for decades without anybody being aware of it.

Here we are in 2019, and we are still trying to delineate the contaminant attenuation zone. This is now massively off-site from the landfill. It is a kilometre south of the landfill so far from circumference of the landfill, and it is still continuing to move.

Why do I tell this story? How does this relate to an environmental bill of rights?

Dumps are the underbelly of a post-consumer society. As I mentioned, there are up to 10,000 chemicals in a landfill. Everybody thinks, “out of sight, out of mind; it is in a dump”. No, these chemicals exist within our environment. They exist in our homes, they exist in our workplaces, they permeate society, and we need to have a mechanism in place to actually deal with these chemicals.

In Ontario, we have an Environmental Bill of Rights, and we have a mechanism within that bill of rights called an environmental review tribunal. This is put in place so that citizen groups like ours could hold the government to account and could force a decision that will overturn a poor decision made by government. That is why it is so vitally important for us at the Canadian level to have a Canadian environmental bill of rights.

I would like to finish up by recognizing a number of individuals who were deeply involved in this fight and who, unfortunately, are no longer with us. Margaret Walsh, Steve Geneja, Al Gardiner, Mary Lynn Sammon, and Howard O'Connor all passed during that time. The best years of their lives were wasted fighting this landfill, non-stop. It is an incredible burden to a small rural community to be up against the world's largest waste company.

However, it was not in vain. If we had not fought that fight, today, 21 years later, we would have 21 million of 25 million tonnes of waste that would be leaching into our local environments and contaminating our residential wells, our farm wells, our business wells, our children. That fight was not in vain.

We will continue to fight the good fight. We will fight on the side of the angels, on the side of you angels who are there now fighting with us to protect our beautiful, pristine rural communities.

As long as I am a member of Parliament, I will never stop fighting to have a Canadian environmental bill of rights.

Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights June 6th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for Edmonton Strathcona for getting her bill before the House once again. It truly was a pleasure and an honour to work with her on the environment committee. We did a lot of good work together and struck a great friendship. I, too, will miss her very much in this place.

However, as we have discussed in the past, Ontario has an environmental bill of rights. A mechanism exists within that bill is an environmental review tribunal. The member will remember that during the amendment phase of Bill C-69, one of the areas that I was strongly promoting was to have an environmental review tribunal. Unfortunately, that did not happen. However, is that part of the framework that the member has looked to as being part of this bill as well?

The Environment June 5th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, today is World Environment Day, a day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment.

While Conservative politicians still have no plan to tackle climate change, our government knows that protecting our environment and fighting climate change is the challenge of our generation. That is why we are taking real action.

Could the Minister of Environment please update the House on the actions our government is taking to fight climate change and protect our environment?