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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Skeena—Bulkley Valley (B.C.)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 51% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply November 18th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, in fact I would not recommend sending it back to committee. I understand that the hon. member is concerned. What I would ask him to do is consult with us, particularly the hon. member to my right, who has done a great deal of work and research on this. The research is in.

I will be perfectly frank with the House. I am new to this file. It has only been a week that this has been front and centre on my desk. I am learning as I go. Initially, similar to the hon. member for Churchill, I was not necessarily convinced that this was the most pressing thing. The more that I read on this particular issue, the more I am convinced that in this is a role and a place for government.

If we send it to committee and have it go around the block, my real concern in a minority government is when exactly a decision will come forward. Does the health committee have other concerns on its plate? Absolutely. There is a bunch more.

I would encourage the member to come across the floor some time for a brief visit, consult with us and find out what we have been finding out. In fact, the evidence is extremely strong. We are learning from the Heart and Stroke Foundation that this is a place where we can do strong work together.

Supply November 18th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for sharing her time with me this afternoon. In a number of ways we have some very similar views and I will be looking to expound upon those this afternoon

As some hon. members have mentioned, this breaks down to a principle of governance. Is there a role for government in stepping in on the food industry and starting to legislate things that the industry would rather direct itself? I will be making some arguments this afternoon that say yes, we absolutely do need to step in, because the self-regulatory environment is the environment that allows for industry to do as it will, over time having self-monitoring and allowing this process to go on. It is harmful and in fact is costing us lives and billions of dollars in our health care system.

I would like to talk about junk food, because in a sense that is what we are talking about here. We are talking about food that is junk, that we would consider garbage in some senses, because of its harmful effects on people every day, particularly young people. I stand here as both the environment critic for our party and the youth critic. I will mention this a little later on and speak about why I think this is both an environmental and a youth issue.

This is about economics. We will have a debate next week on the costs of health care, about how much to spend on health care, about promises of billions more, and about Canadians demanding more support for their health care services. Very little discourse is given over to preventive medicine, to preventive effects that we in the House, in this legislature, can make to actually positively affect our health care costs.

We seem to worry about Canadian citizens only when they end up in the emergency room. We seem to worry about them only when they end up on the operating table. Then we discuss how much money we have to spend on them, as opposed to taking simple, low cost initiatives like we have in front of us here in banning trans fats and making a statement to industry that this is no longer acceptable.

The decision on this should be easy. I agree with my colleague from Churchill that when a government does not know what to do about an issue, it decides to study it. It sends the issue to committee where it is studied some more in blue ribbon panels.But we have the studies. We have looked at trans fats. They are a very serious determinant of health. They have a very negative effect on health. My colleague is absolutely correct. Trans fats are not just bad for us; they will kill us. The science is in on it. This decision should be easy.

There is a question about exactly what we are waiting for. In fact, it seems to be a point of indecision about not wanting to make any bold moves. In this government, frankly, obviously due to the representation that we see in front of us here today, the concern over this issue is not very strong. The government would like to pass it along, perhaps to another study group, rather than take any bold initiative. Many of my colleagues on all sides of the House have been very frustrated with the lack of forward progress on any particular issue. Health care is another one. Simply throwing billions more at the issue is not the answer. Romanow talked about reform and here is the place to do it.

Industry will always balk at regulations. That is its job. That is the job the lobbyists perform at the little soirees we attend here. It is their job to make sure that the regulations, the so-called red tape, are not in place so that the profit motive can remain ultimate. They always ensure that Canadian companies have the most profitability and that there are no regulations to prevent anything. That is simply wrong, of course, and that is the whole idea of having a legislative body.

There is a long and sordid history of industries resisting any form of legislation which they know to be right. A good example is that of the auto industry and seat belts. For many years the auto industry simply said that seat belts cost too much money to put into cars and that it would ruin the industry if any sort of legislation anywhere was ever implemented that forced automakers to put seat belts into cars.

I dare say that if any automakers came forward today and suggested that they would make a new model of car without seat belts, they would, first, not be able to sell any, and second, would not even be able to get the car out into the market, because it would be illegal. That is because at some point government stepped in and said that seat belts were a good idea, that self-regulation was no longer working. That technology existed for years.

Technologies do exist to replace trans fats. We have heard that from industry. I have some quotes, one from the Canadian Food and Consumer Products companies, which states that the companies share the ultimate objectives set out in this motion: to provide consumers with healthier alternatives to trans fats. They say that they understand the importance of identifying replacements for their trans fat foods as quickly as possible and their member companies are moving expeditiously to do so.

I would like to give them a little more encouragement. I would like the House to say that not only are they encouraged to do so, they are mandated to do so and they must do so in order to bring their products to market. This is not an anti-industry movement, as opposed to what any other member in the House might say.

Another example is asbestos, which was quite a contentious issue for many years because it was a debate on environment and health versus jobs. But at some point somewhere a government took leadership and said that asbestos was killing us, causing cancer, and killing our children in our schools. Yet the House is still faced with the challenges of asbestos in many of the walls of the House, again because of a lack of leadership, a lack of direction on something that we know kills us. Perhaps there is some motive in there, but I would rather not speculate.

Smoking is another example. It is clearly targeting the youth market. As youth critic, I understand how the smoking industry works and what it focuses toward. Trans fats almost can be lumped, so to speak, into that same issue and same focus.

Of course these foods taste great. Of course they are appealing, particularly to young people, and of course these foods are something they are going to demand in the marketplace. The marketplace goes after young people. When motivating families to buy certain foods, the marketplace does not go after parents. It goes after the children, who are much more susceptible and easy to manipulate.

Therefore, looking at simply taking trans fats out and replacing them with something that is much healthier would be far more important than simply saying that the industry will do this on its own.

The very last environmental example I would like to raise, which is another industry one, is that of CFCs. Just the other day I was reading over some documents about when governments around the world were looking to ban CFCs. We know they are harmful to the ozone and human health. Industry said then that the industries would collapse, that children would die because there would not be any refrigeration for vaccines, that it would be a travesty, thousands of jobs would be lost and it would not help the environment. Then it was again a government that took some leadership and said that this was important.

Years later, industry is doing fine. The reports we are getting back from industries now are that this has been a profitable piece of legislation for them. They have made tens of millions of dollars from this one piece of legislation to ban these things.

Again industry says there is no need to legislate, no need to ban and no need to make certain directions. I call to the attention of members the examples I have just given. Industry's mandate is not to serve the community. It is not to serve the country of Canada. Its mandate is to make profit for its shareholders. I have no problem with that. I ran a small business myself and I understood my mandate. My mandate was to make sure that I could keep my employees going and I did well by the community.

Our mandate here is different. Our mandate here is to ensure that we have a viable economy in Canada while ensuring the health of Canadians. Our mandate is also to try to control costs, which we expend all the time, costs such as those we are going through right now in the budgetary consultations.

To simply say that health care has enough money in it is wrong. To say that the answer is to throw more money at it is also wrong. We have to look at the ways that Romanow considered to absolutely reduce the costs and to, again, prevent people from ending up in hospitals in the first place.

Type 2 childhood diabetes is a serious concern in my riding. I have a very rural riding with a great native population. Native leaders are constantly coming to me saying that we have to do something about the epidemic of type 2 childhood diabetes. Clearly this act would push us toward doing something about that.

I will end my discussion here simply because this is a call for leadership from the government. After hearing some support from government, I am a little unsure if it is ready to go out and bring the big stick, as it were, toward industry. Again, there is a call on this lack of leadership. For once, please, in the new House, in this conciliatory Parliament, in a Parliament where we actually consult with one another, let us do this.

We have done this. We have consulted with people in the health care industry and in the manufacturing industry and we know this can be done. Government needs to fulfill its role, which is to provide leadership for Canadians and protect Canadians.

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 November 2nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it is with great enthusiasm that I rise on this day also in support of this bill, and to watch the non-partisan efforts that are going on across the House. If I may, I would like to address some of my comments not only to the House but also to the communities that are the stewards of these areas we are talking about.

I come from a riding in the northwest of British Columbia, and we have established the insurmountable beauty of that place. It is also a very coastal riding with hundreds and hundreds of kilometres of coastline. The national identity and the importance of our coasts and our environment are clear to Canadians all across the country.

I have some grave concerns, which the hon. member for Red Deer raised, about the application of this bill and whether the resources will be allocated. I am very glad to see that we will be taking a sound and serious look at this at committee. We have been waiting for too long for strong legislation on this issue. It is an embarrassment that ships are able to enter into our waters, dump the bilge oil, and get away essentially scot-free. It has been long overdue that this bill has come to pass, and we look forward to its passing in the House with some important amendments.

The Exxon Valdez was mentioned earlier. It is not that long ago in the memory of my riding. It was an American disaster, and the Exxon company called it merely a traffic accident, but it was certainly much more than that. The effects of the Exxon Valdez will go on for generations to come. People need to understand, as my hon. colleague from Red Deer pointed out, that not much oil has to spill, and that was an incredible amount of oil that spilled into the sea. That amount of oil will last for a number of decades and the costs have not been incurred by the company, which is deplorable.

An important part of this is with respect to the economy on the coast and the fisheries that are present there. Today I will also speak to the fishers who go out each and every day, be they sport fishermen, commercial fishermen, crab fishermen, or what have you, and the importance they have in applying good sound environmental considerations to their work. It is greatly encouraging to me to see that the government is finally applying these same things in terms of our business case.

I would like to speak for a moment to the idea of where the economy and the environment do come together. The aspect is that without a strong environment it is very difficult to have a strong and supportive economy, particularly for small and rural communities that do not have the capacity to generate income in lots of different ways as they might in a rural riding.

We have an extraordinarily beautiful place in the Queen Charlotte Islands which is also within my riding. The notion of oil washing up on the shore I am sure would not be too appealing to the kayakers who come from many of the cities and towns represented by members here today.

I must express some similar opposition to the notion of the offshore oil and gas that is meant to occur at some future date off the coastline of the Queen Charlotte Islands. I think this bill speaks in effect to the precautionary principle that we must apply to developments like offshore oil and gas, which has not been supported by industry from what I can tell so far.

We have been looking for government clarity on the moratorium that now is placed on offshore drilling within Hecate Strait. I look forward to the day when the minister will rise in the House and present clarity to Canadians, to people in my riding, that the moratorium will stay and that we will apply the precautionary principle in its full effect to offshore drilling. Not before and not since has a business case been made for offshore oil and gas development. Certainly no ecological case can be made for it.

The environment is clearly part of the business equation now. I am lobbied consistently by mining groups, logging groups, and all sorts of heavy industrial users that are incorporating sound environmental practices into their businesses, or at the very least, are attempting to. This is clearly the way and this is the strategic advantage that Canada needs to present to the world as being a strong defender of the environment and a keen observer of how the environment and the economy must fit together in the future.

Good environmental regulations are clearly a part of any good business plan. I have spoken at mining conventions about the need for sound and good governance and positive red tape. Oftentimes we look at regulations with respect to resource extraction as a negative thing, and that is clearly not always the case. There are times when regulations are extremely important for those businesses when they return to the marketplace to seek financing and resources.

The container port which we are promoting, and which has been promoted in part by the government, also speaks to the importance of having sound economies in our coastal communities. Development of a container port is being looked at in Prince Rupert. This would provide a new outlet for Canadian manufacturers into the Asian markets, clearly one of the strongest and fastest growing sectors of the world economy. This is providing communities with a place to air some of their ideas and concepts about generating real and sustainable wealth for communities.

We are playing a facilitative role in bringing those communities together around the container port on the west coast. I am very glad that the Minister of Western Economic Diversification has decided to join us some time in January for a conference. We will be able to speak to the ways and means in which we will diversify our economy, strengthen the local community and allow people to make good, sound choices.

The NDP supports this legislation because it makes companies and individuals who use our waterways responsible for their actions. It ensures that ecological impacts be taken into account in their daily decisions. It forces them to go that extra step to ensure that the environment is not harmed in the pursuit of profits.

I look forward to looking into the details of the bill in committee to ensure that these principles are upheld in measures as strong as possible.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act October 27th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to extend my congratulations to the Tlicho. This is a very significant time for them. I know a lot of hard work has been put forth by government and negotiators.

I take a certain exception to what the hon. member had to say about the fact that anyone could settle a land claim. I represent a riding in northern B.C. where a number of claims are outstanding, which is frustrating to both the first nations and the local communities.

For a number of years, while the Nisga'a claim and treaty was going on, there was a lot of fearmongering and scare tactics being put forward by one particular party with respect to what would happen when a claim was settled. Having seen the success of the Nisga'a treaty and knowing that land claims are of great benefit to many parties, does the hon. member feel that the government has proposed any sense of urgency in settling other claims within in B.C. and outside of that? The Tlicho are a wonderful model.

At the same time, I am sensing a great deal of frustration both within and outside of my riding with other parties who cannot seem to get to the table. In particular, I raise the example Tlingit in the far north of B.C., to which the hon. member for Yukon would also be able to attest, who have not been advised by the government and have not given a strong hand in their struggle with the mining project going on there.

Could the hon. member address either of those issues?

The Environment October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the environment, the government is racing George W. Bush to the bottom of the international heap.

Today the environment commissioner in her report denounced the government for a lack of leadership, a lack of priority and a lack of will. With a record this embarrassing, will the minister at least commit today to implementing the recommendations of the environment commissioner?

Canadian Heritage Act October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I will be doing some fact checking to find out exactly how many. I know of at least two significant ones.

I have visited Kluane. Fortunately, it was during the time of 24 hours of light, and many Yukoners were out basking in the sun. I will be pushing for a great more number. Our riding is spectacular in its breathtaking beauty and deep history. I join the member in celebrating his world heritage site.

Canadian Heritage Act October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his support in my campaign to list our riding as the most beautiful in Canada.

With respect to the movement and placement of parts, the concern with the shifting around is exactly what the member said. Heaven forbid, a government would come in with not such a sound and strong consideration of ecological integrity, which would place parks in greater jeopardy.

While this is cumbersome in terms of placing a bill before the House, so goes democracy. It is an important cumbersomeness in making major decisions with respect to something as crucial and important as our parks and heritage. To bring it back to the House for full debate is exactly the point. If a government, with not such a fine understanding of the park system, were to make more irrational decisions, we would look upon that very disdainfully, particularly if we had not spoken at this point and said that it must be fixed.

Canadian Heritage Act October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, one needs a certain amount of light to see the wonders of nature. I have visited the hon. member's riding a number of times. Part of the problem that exists with what perhaps may be a very beautiful part of Canada is we cannot see it for about 10 months of the year. One might put forward the suggestion of high powered lighting systems so we can see the great mountains and fantastic rivers.

However, my in my corner of the country, and we can cease this debate after this, we can see the beautiful mountains and fantastic rivers much of the year. One does not constantly run the threat of severe hypothermia while looking at those mountains.

Canadian Heritage Act October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to make my maiden speech, which I am proud to make with respect to Bill C-7. As the member who spoke before me clearly indicated, this is a technical bill. It also has very grave significance for our parks system.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Skeena--Bulkley Valley who placed me in this chair. I have a deep feeling of honour and respect for this place. I thank them also for the amount of trust they have placed in me, particularly as a young person, young by certain measures in this place, and that is clearly measure enough.

For those who are not familiar with my riding of Skeena--Bulkley Valley, it takes up the entire northwest corner of British Columbia. I would argue with any member in the House that it is the most beautiful corner of Canada. It is virtually the size of France and is a bit bigger than the entire British Isles. In that scope and region the diversity of views is matched by the size of the riding itself.

My riding is home to a number of first nations communities whose respect and honour I also hold dear. I thank them also for giving me the ability to speak on their behalf in this place.

Canadians have consistently identified parks as one of their greatest sources of national pride. In a recent poll, parks placed high, right up there with Don Cherry and the flag. This issue is serious and is of significant importance to many, if not all, members in the House. Management of this source of national pride is of significance also.

While Bill C-7 is a technical bill, we hold some reservations about it. In essence, the NDP supports the movement of Parks Canada to the Ministry of the Environment. The fit is more natural and makes sense, particularly when we are constantly harping on about the idea of ecological integrity.

Oftentimes our parks are subjugated to other interests and means, but ecological integrity must remain of primary importance as to why a park exists and in its constant maintenance. We would hope that this one factor would continue to be essential in the management of our parks. The NDP was happy that this was mentioned in the Speech from the Throne.

With parks under the jurisdiction of the environment minister, we hope that the ecological integrity aspect will be a consideration in everything that happens within a park's boundary. This is not the case right now. Parks are perennially underfunded. There is always a temptation to make up for the budget shortfalls by encouraging activities that threaten the ecological integrity of the parks in my region and throughout Canada, by using off-peak seasons and encouraging increased tourist traffic, for example, in highly sensitive places.

Overall we are pleased that parks will find their place in the Ministry of the Environment. However, we are concerned with a few things which I will point out now.

The bill does not actually state that parks will stay within the Ministry of the Environment. That is of grave concern. It causes confusion for me and many members of my caucus as well as other members across the floor. If parks belong under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Environment, why not simply state it and place it in the bill in a permanent way? Parks have been moved between jurisdictions before. Every time this happens, it sucks up resources and valuable time from an already improperly resourced department. Why not firmly fix parks within the Ministry of the Environment, have done with the discussion and thereby not incur costs of $20 million to $25 million every time a minister decides that it needs to move again?

We will take up the issue of the language and the lack of clarity in Bill C-7 at committee. I look for support from all members of the House to make sure that we can clarify the bill.

Another concern with this legislation is it allows the governor in council to shift the parks mandate from one ministry to another without seeking the consent of the House. This is of grave concern because the decision of where parks, and therefore the ecological integrity of parks, end up is entirely at the whim of a very select body rather than by the House. Parks affect all members of the House in one way or another.

One also has to wonder if the government is going to make some quick cash by moving parks to industry or selling off specific lands. The decision to be placed in different ministries at the whim of the government is a problem, although finding extra cash does not seem to be a problem for this particular government. Moving the agency around costs a huge amount of money and puts a huge amount of effort on an already overly stressed parks staff. It distracts them from the important efforts that are needed with respect to maintaining ecological integrity.

Also of concern is that within the Privy Council, any member can be designated as the chief person responsible for parks. Within the Privy Council there is a wide assortment of people, some elected and some non-elected. For us that is a grave concern. The notion that at some future date we could have a non-elected official representing and leading parks in future directions is of grave concern, particularly when we talk about matters of ecological integrity. They can bump up against some other concerns such as financial matters.

Parks occupy a place both emotionally and mentally in the Canadian psyche. Parks are a place where many of us have gone to identify ourselves as Canadians. When we travel abroad, we place some identity of ourselves in the idea of wilderness and places far-reaching.

It has already been identified within the park structure that we do not have all the ecological areas of Canada captured within the park system. They are not representative of the most significant and important flora and fauna within the country.

As the bill goes forward, Canada now sits at a crossroads in a sense of either boldly going forward with initiatives that bring parks up to the proud place that we hold them or continuing the digression down a slippery slope, which has been presented already by the auditor's report and the hon. member, to a point where parks become an embarrassment for us or they become a place of scourge where we cannot go to rejuvenate or identify ourselves.

I strongly encourage the government to finally take strong measures, both fiscal and ecological, to ensure that parks maintain themselves as a proud place in the Canadian heritage.

Canadian Heritage Act October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, while I applaud many of the comments my colleague has made, I would like to reiterate some of the comments made here across the floor with respect to consultation processes that take place within the parks. I was wondering if the hon. member would seek some commitment that the local communities, particularly the first nations, were brought more into the process.

Also, with respect to the budgeting, ecological integrity is waved around quite a bit, while in the auditor's report and other reports with respect to parks there has been a serious and significant lack of funding for parks. May I look forward over the next few months to a budget coming down in the wintertime that will have a significant increase? I would ask the member to comment on essentially making sure that this very noble cause of ecological integrity actually has some dollars behind it, because while it is a notion, without funding, it remains a notion.

We have heard similar promises before from the government with respect to parks. Meanwhile the latest labour dispute has highlighted many of the comments from the organizations showing that our parks and our heritage sites have been falling apart.