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  • Her favourite word is indigenous.

NDP MP for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski (Manitoba)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Preclearance Act, 2016 February 22nd, 2017

Madam Speaker, I am proud of our position in the NDP, which stands in firm opposition to Bill C-23. It is not only a reflection of our party principles, we are also echoing the major concerns Canadians are bringing forward with respect to racial profiling and the profiling of trans Canadians, and everyone who is concerned about privacy rights.

Therefore, my question is not only for the Conservatives but it is for the Liberals as well. Given what is in Bill C-23, how can we, in good conscience, accede such power to the Americans rather than stand up for privacy and Canadian human rights?

Economic Development February 22nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it took a whole year and a half for the Prime Minister to visit the Far North, but northerners are still waiting for action from his government.

This week, northern leaders are meeting to discuss and develop a plan for the future of the Port of Churchill. They want the federal government to step in and nationalize the port, and work with first nations and local partners to take it forward. However, first, we need the government to stand up to the American billionaire who is holding us hostage.

When will the government show leadership, step in, stand up for Canadian jobs, and save the port and the community of Churchill?

Youth February 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, questions are directed to the Minister of Youth and it is simply disrespectful that he refuses to answer any of them. While it is a great idea, the Prime Minister's youth council is not transparent. We do not know who he is meeting with, and we do not know what is going to come of it.

The reality is that young Canadians are facing significant challenges, and they deserve to have access to this process. Young Canadians also deserve accountability.

Will the Prime Minister make this information public, yes or no?

Business of Supply February 9th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question, which is very important. What indeed will it take? That is what we want to know.

The first step is really for the Liberals to acknowledge that they broke the promise they made to Canadians. The consensus excuse is truly unacceptable.

Canadians are angry and frustrated. They believed the Prime Minister’s promise. That is why we have tabled this motion. We are asking the Liberals to recognize that they broke this promise and that they obviously need to change course and respect Canadians’ demands for electoral reform.

Business of Supply February 9th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I also want to acknowledge my colleague's commitment to the issue of electoral reform.

Many of us in the House, despite the party we come from, have expressed real opposition to what the government has been doing on this front. As we in the NDP have indicated, we are committed to democratic reform. Proportional representation is something we heard from thousands of Canadians as a model to be followed, and we are certainly keen to push that vision forward.

Obviously here today we want the Liberals to take ownership of breaking the promise they made to Canadians, and we certainly hope they will see the light and their wrong ways and change course as we go forward.

Business of Supply February 9th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I realize that members across the aisle are speaking from the same playbook on this. I can only imagine how difficult a debate like this would be for them.

The fact of the matter is that the Prime Minister repeatedly indicated, and I quote, “Mr. Speaker, I have said many times that 2015 will be the last election held under first past the post”.

The Liberals' slogan in the last election was “Real Change”. Breaking this promise, a fundamental promise, on electoral reform is the opposite of real change. People expected bold leadership from the Prime Minister. They expected him to stand up for his promises. What we are discussing here is a fundamental broken promise. The Liberals should apologize.

Business of Supply February 9th, 2017

Madam Speaker, my colleague, the member for Salaberry—Suroît, spoke very powerfully to the motion we are discussing here today. This is an NDP motion that we are all very proud of, which is receiving tremendous support across the country. It is certainly a position that is receiving tremendous support across the country. I just want to repeat it for the sake of those who are tuned in or are tuning in.

The motion we put forward today states:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government misled Canadians on its platform and Throne Speech commitment “that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system”, and that the House call on the government to apologize to Canadians for breaking its promise.

I have heard the consternation from Liberals across, questioning why we are using such strong language, like “misleading”. It is because that is exactly what the Liberals have done. Let us go back into recent history to get a sense of that.

On June 16, 2015, the Prime Minister promised that the 2015 election would be the last federal election conducted under the first past the post system, and that he would present a bill in the House of Commons within 18 months of his election.

On December 4, 2015, the Prime Minister repeated this commitment in his throne speech where he said:

To make sure that every vote counts, the Government will undertake consultations on electoral reform, and will take action to ensure that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.

On December 17, 2015, in an interview, the Prime Minister said:

It would be easier to do nothing and sit back and just say, 'Okay, you know what, this worked for us, I think we can make this current system work for a few more mandates' ... But that's not the kind of leadership that Canadians expected.

That was the story on February 4, 2016, March 11, 2016, May 11, 2016, October 19, 2016, November 6, 2016, December 1, 2, 5, and 7, 2016, and January 10, 2017, but on January 12 is when the story starts to change. The new Minister of Democratic Institutions twice refused to repeat the Prime Minister's election promise on electoral reform, and avoided the question by saying that she was committed to getting briefed on the file.

What we have seen transpire over the last three weeks is a full, complete turnaround for all of these other statements, and in fact a very clear statement from the government that it is willing to break its promise to Canadians on electoral reform. The Liberals are willing to go that far, and they are using all sorts of excuses in the House which outside of this chamber we would call “lame” to describe what has transpired here. I have never heard such pathetic excuses from any government when it comes to a situation where it has so blatantly broken its promise to Canadians.

I read a quote where the Prime Minister himself mocked the notion that the Liberals would possibly pull away from this commitment, because it was so important to them. This is the height of cynicism in politics. It is why so many Canadians are so frustrated and angry about the way in which the government has broken its promise. The excuses that we are hearing from the government are simply not going to cut it, nor is the reference to no consensus and that 45% only wanted this or that.

We are talking about a government that was elected by 39% of Canadians. It was fine for that percentage to be recognized as a legitimate win, and nobody here is saying that it is not a legitimate government, yet when the Liberals are throwing numbers around like this, it is as though they cannot move forward on this, and they fill in the blank and keep referring to a lack of consensus.

The point here is that the Liberals made a commitment to Canadians. Canadians believed them. Many Canadians voted for them, because they feel deeply about this issue. Now the Liberals have turned around, and like many politicians of the past, they have broken their promise.

I want to share a few thoughts about an article that came out today. The title of that article is “Millennials finally fall out of love with [the Prime Minister] after he abandons electoral reform”. Obviously, it is a provocative title. However, once one reads the article, there is a logical argument made that for many young people, electoral reform was identified as an important issue. Democratic reform is something young people feel strongly about. It is a system whereby their voices, their issues, are respected and heard in real terms. It is something they feel very strongly about, and they attached these values to a Prime Minister who spoke to many young people and who ultimately made a very clear commitment to young Canadians, and all Canadians, that if he were to be elected, he would make a difference.

Young people, for generations, have had promises to them by governments broken. Once again we are seeing that happen, but this time by a Prime Minister who truly claims to care about young people and the issues that matter to them.

There is a long list of things the Prime Minister alluded to that are not being acted on: the creation of good jobs for young people, and I have spoken many times in this House about the rise of precarious work for the millennial generation; the promise to do things differently when it came to pipelines, and obviously we know that young people are extremely concerned about climate change; and the need to respect the rights of indigenous people.

We know the rhetoric that was thrown around on the commitment by the government to legalize marijuana that was used to get votes from young people. Now we are seeing a very different tone from the government on that issue.

Last week the gallery was full of young people who were here in the hope that the government would live up to the tweet the Prime Minister sent in response to Donald Trump's racist immigration ban. Yet even there they did not see the government act on the kinds of values they and many of us as young Canadians hold so dear.

We are seeing a pattern whereby the government is pulling away from things it promised and issues it said it would stand up for young people on. However, nothing has been more blatant than this particular broken promise, this very obvious walking back from a commitment it made, repeatedly made, in black letters on white paper. I have mentioned the dates. We have all been in the House when the Prime Minister has said it. We heard it from his minister.

I want to acknowledge the thousands of Canadians who engaged in the consultation process the NDP held and those who came to the parliamentary committee meetings across the country. These are people who took time out of their lives, away from their families, and travelled to different communities. They took that time because they felt strongly about this issue. They believed that the current government, as it promised, was actually willing to make a difference.

Not only are we asking the government to apologize, the New Democrats are joining with many Canadians to say that what the government has done is unacceptable. Broken promises are unacceptable. A broken promise on electoral reform, something that is so fundamental to building a healthy democracy that truly represents us, is unacceptable.

Canadians deserve better, young Canadians deserve better, than a Prime Minister and a government that is willing to mislead us, as we have seen here today.

Justice for Youth February 9th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, just this week young people were told again by the government that they are to blame for their insecure job situation.

Canadians of all ages want good jobs, good jobs that are disappearing. Inequality is increasing, and this is directly linked to the rise of precarious work.

Canada's young people are being left out in the cold. That is the message that we have been hearing across the country.

However, this did not just happen. This has been the result of successive Liberal and Conservative governments that pushed the politics of privatization, outsourcing, and austerity, the result of trade agreements that have sold us out, of foreign takeovers, and of growing corporate concentration.

Today, young people are rallying together and insisting that the government do more.

They are fighting back through movements like Black Lives Matter, indigenous struggles, Climate Action Network Canada, and Fight for $15 & Fairness. They are challenging a system that is holding us back.

Together we must join in solidarity and build a movement for social, environmental, and economic justice for youth and all Canadians.

Job Losses in the Energy Sector February 8th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I do not think it is okay to be known as hewers of wood and drawers of water. We should have jobs that depend on processing the wealth that is in our territories and provinces, working with first nations.

We can create wealth based on processing the raw materials that our country is so wealthy in. The fact remains that these are some of the best-paying jobs in our communities, whether in refineries or smelters. We need to stand up for value-added jobs. As I mentioned, this Liberal government has not. The previous Conservative government did not. The fact of the matter is that we are bleeding good jobs that are entirely related to the wealth our country has, and that is a crying shame. Canadians, Canadian workers, want their federal government to work with them to protect these value-added jobs.

Job Losses in the Energy Sector February 8th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, if the member had heard my speech, I listed a number of communities where we risk losing hundreds of jobs. I was talking about the mining sector and the forestry sector. What I referenced was the fact that the federal government is nowhere to be seen when it comes to protecting these jobs.

I would challenge the government on its figures. We heard earlier tonight that the numbers it is associating with these projects are not the actual numbers that will materialize. The situation remains that the jobs that are on the chopping block right now are ones the government should be standing up to fight for. Unfortunately, no minister has stood up to that challenge. People where I come from, and people across western Canada, are seeing the fact that the federal government is not standing up for them.