House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was alberta.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Edmonton Centre (Alberta)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Fraud Against Seniors May 14th, 2019

Madam Speaker, it is a great honour to be here today to have the opportunity to rise in the House to take part in this debate on Motion No. 203, a private member's motion tabled last fall by our hon. colleague, the member for Richmond Centre. I would like to thank her for the excellent work she has done over the past few years on behalf of seniors. There is no denying the sincerity and efficacy of her commitment to this cause.

It is important to mention and thank at this time the Edmontonians in my riding of Edmonton Centre, Edmonton Strathcona and around the city who came together over a year and a half ago and put a policy resolution together that went to the provincial policy round table. It went all the way to the national conference and became a priority resolution for our government to create a minister for seniors and a ministry for seniors. Thanks to the hard work of Canadians and Edmontonians, here we are with a Minister of Seniors and a ministry for seniors.

I would like to let the member know, as well as the residents of Edmonton Centre and all Edmontonians, that our government is working on several fronts to raise public awareness about the fraud activities targeting all Canadians, including seniors.

We are deeply concerned about the financial security of Canadian seniors. Those of us who are lucky enough to have grown up with and learned from our elders know how much that contact and intergenerational learning enriches our lives. We owe a debt of gratitude to seniors and need to make sure that they can live their lives in dignity.

I think of my great-grandmother, a full-blooded Cree woman, Lucy Brenneis, who said, when she was peeling apples one day, “Randy, these hands used to skin hides, now they skin apples, and some day, the lands will return to us.” I think of my great-grandmother, Mary DeRudder, of Belgian heritage, who raised many children, my great-aunts and great-uncles on my mom's side. I also think of my grandparents, Adele and Andy Brenneis.

I am thinking about my francophone grandparents, Adalbert and Pomela Boissonnault, who instilled in me a taste for hard work and a desire to find and follow my own path.

This member's motion requests, first of all, that our government “recognize the disproportionate effect of fraud activities against the seniors community in Canada”.

It is very important to point out that we want to recognize the disproportionate effect of fraud activities against Canadian seniors.

I would like to share with the House that not only does the Government of Canada recognize the existence and scope of this scourge, but it is also taking concrete steps to fight it.

I am personally touched by this issue. Last year, my mom called me in a fit of panic. There were people on the phone threatening that the RCMP would come after her and come to her house. They demanded a $5,000 cheque immediately. It had something to do with taxes. It seemed very credible. She told me that she did not owe any money and did not know what to do and did not want the RCMP coming to her house. I told her that it was fraud and that she did the right thing. She reached out and verified, and I told her not to pay any attention to it.

What happens to the seniors who do not have anyone to turn to? What happens to the seniors who are caught in the nefarious net of the fraudsters and the people who want to make a quick buck off Canadian seniors?

Today I would like to share an overview of key initiatives the government has already implemented to prevent and fight fraud activities against seniors.

Motion No. 203 also stipulates that the government should “coordinate a national response to fraud activities to ensure that seniors and other vulnerable groups have the resources they need to understand the signs of fraud”. I am proud to affirm that the federal government is working tirelessly to develop programs, services and initiatives that enable seniors to better protect themselves from fraud.

Here are just a few examples. First, the fraud prevention forum, which comprises close to 100 public and private-sector organizations and is chaired by the Competition Bureau, is actively combatting all forms of fraud activity against seniors. At the same time, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has developed a strategy called strengthening seniors' financial literacy. The main objective of that strategy is to increase seniors' knowledge, skills and confidence so that they can make responsible financial decisions. To do this, the strategy aims to provide tools to combat the financial abuse of seniors.

In addition, this agency keeps Canadians informed by alerting consumers to fraud scams and suspicious sales practices.

A great organization in my riding of Edmonton Centre, the Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton, SAGE, takes these issues of protecting seniors very seriously. Anything this House or our government can do to provide organizations like SAGE with more tools to keep seniors safe is exactly the kind of work I want to be engaged in.

Our government has also intervened through legislation, with the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2, which received royal assent on December 13, 2018. It made amendments to the Bank Act and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada Act. What these amendments will do is better promote the rights and interests of bank clients, including seniors, and ensure that rigorous standards are in place to protect consumers in the banking sector.

The government also asked the National Seniors Council, which advises the Minister of Seniors and the Minister of Health, to address the issue. The council recently held a round table of experts and a general meeting in Winnipeg to identify promising practices and to discuss new measures to reduce crime and financial abuse against seniors. Using the information gathered, an analysis of federal initiatives has already been implemented. The council is currently developing advice for the ministers on action the Government of Canada could take to fight the financial abuse of seniors

In terms of recourse for seniors, Motion No. 203 requests that the government establish tangible recourse for victims of fraud. Fraud and theft are infractions under the Criminal Code and could be subject to prosecution. Canadians are invited to report any type of fraud when they fall victim to it or when they witness it. The Competition Bureau also produces a brochure, “The Little Black Book of Scams”, that provides an overview of the steps for victims to take based on that type of scam. Anyone who is listening who has not seen “The Little Black Book of Scams” can go to the Competition Bureau website and look it up, because it is a helpful reference. In that regard, the Government of Canada is deeply concerned about the fact that every year thousands of Canadians fall victim to telephone scams and are targeted by unscrupulous scammers, as was my mom.

Too many Canadians lose thousands of dollars through such rackets, which are carried out through the mail, door to door, by email and through other tricks. These fraud activities have many victims in every segment of the population, and unfortunately, as we know, many of these victims are seniors. That is why we are taking concrete steps to prevent fraud.

The motion from the member for Richmond Centre indicates that the government should work with local law enforcement agencies and the Canada Revenue Agency to introduce legislation to combat fraudulent attacks targeting vulnerable seniors. Fraudsters are very good at fooling people by offering miracle drugs, fake lotteries and get-rich-quick schemes or by turning to emotional harassment. They sometimes pass themselves off as banking institutions, insurance companies or, as I mentioned earlier, even the Canada Revenue Agency to swindle money from honest, hard-working seniors and other Canadians.

That is why the Government of Canada introduced a series of measures aimed at increasing awareness among Canadians about this ever-growing scourge. One example is an ad campaign launched late last year, running into the spring, aimed at informing seniors about services and programs for them, including anti-fraud measures and how to prevent and report fraud.

The government is tackling the problem. The Canada Revenue Agency is taking action. This is what we promised and what we are debating here in Motion No. 203. The agency's regional offices are also working closely with community organizations, police forces and local seniors associations on organizing awareness-raising activities in this regard. As part of their work, law enforcement is on their side. We can all do more.

We are all committed to ensuring the well-being of Canadian seniors, which, of course, includes their financial security. They are the people who built our country, who shaped our values and who determined how we would come to be one of the best countries in the world.

It is our duty to protect seniors from fraud and to do everything we can to help them.

We are here to support, promote and protect seniors. That is what this motion and this House are all about.

LGBTQ2 Community May 7th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to thank and congratulate OUTSaskatoon for its leadership in supporting LGBTQ2 Canadians on the Prairies and across the country. Its response to high levels of LGBTQ2 youth homelessness led to the building of Pride Home, a five-bed home that gets kids who have been kicked out of their home simply for being LGBTQ2 into a safer space so they can finish school and build their lives. OUTSaskatoon is also a driving force behind Enchanté, Canada's new national network of LGBTQ2-serving organizations.

Recently, I announced $1.1 million in funding to OUTSaskatoon from the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality and from the Public Health Agency of Canada. It will use this funding to get to the roots of gender-based violence in our community and to train officials to make sure we put an end to this violence.

I thank the whole team at OUTSaskatoon. They inspire, save lives and make us Prairie proud.

Business of Supply May 7th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that we have 60 people on the ground meeting full time with indigenous stakeholders. The Minister of Natural Resources has met with over 120 first nations organizations not only to listen but to make sure that we accommodate them.

We will take no lessons from 10 years of failed governance in the area of pipelines and energy management from the old Conservative government on this side. The Liberals are going to get this done in the right way.

Business of Supply May 7th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I come from Alberta and I am a Liberal, which puts me on the blue spectrum of where Liberals reside in the first place. I am a social progressive but also a fiscal hawk, and I want to see us manage things properly. However, I have to say to my hon. colleague that I think the progressive Conservative Party is gone. We now have a Conservative Party in this country that was taken over by the Reform Party, rebranded a couple of times and mishmashed in different ways. It has now abandoned the fundamental Conservative principles of preserving the only planet we have and using the market to price pollution. If someone dumped a whole bunch of garbage on our lawn, we would want them to pick it up. That person would have to pay for it. That is what we are doing when we pollute the environment. There needs to be a price on pollution. It is a Conservative theory. The fact that the Liberals are advancing it tells us just how far the Conservatives have lost their way.

Business of Supply May 7th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I love pickup trucks. My first vehicle was a pickup truck. My whole family drives pickup trucks.

We need good, well-paying jobs so that people can pay what they need to pay to keep those trucks running, while also ensuring that we are respecting our international climate change obligations through the Paris Agreement.

That is why we need a climate action plan that puts a price on pollution. Over 85% of Canadians want to see a price on pollution.

Doing the right thing and choosing the vehicle of one's choice when one has a well-paying job is something that all Canadians can do and are welcome to do.

Business of Supply May 7th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Winnipeg South.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Carleton for his motion. Unfortunately, I cannot support it. Canadians expect more than simplistic solutions to the complex problems that they are facing, that we all are facing, and that we must address together.

Instead of proposing simplistic solutions, we have a climate plan with more than 50 measures. These measures include putting a price on pollution, accelerating the phase-out of coal-fired electricity while ensuring a fair transition for workers and communities, and making generational investments in clean technology, green infrastructure and Canadian ingenuity.

I am an Albertan. I am an Edmontonian. I know first-hand that the previous government's approach to pipelines hurt workers, communities and, frankly, all Canadians.

When the Federal Court of Appeal made its decision on the proposed Trans Mountain expansion project in August 2018, we had an important choice to make. We could have gone along with the failed approach that the Conservatives touted, an approach that disregards the courts, has no plan to protect the environment and coastal communities and has no meaningful two-way dialogue with indigenous communities, but we knew then, as we know now, that Canadians are counting on us to get this right so we made a decision: We committed to doing the hard work necessary to move the process forward in the right way on the Trans Mountain expansion project.

In particular, we must act in accordance with the directives handed down by the Federal Court of Appeal. However, we have heard very little about that today.

Instead, we have seen a lot of finger pointing, expert assessments swept under the rug and history being rewritten. We have also heard attacks against our energy sector. The Conservatives are trying to disparage our energy sector. In fact, in recent weeks and months, a final decision was made to invest $4.5 billion in a petrochemical facility in Sturgeon County, not far from Morinville, where I grew up. This project will create jobs for 3,000 workers at the peak of construction, as well as several hundred permanent jobs once the facility is operational.

Inter Pipeline announced two new $3.5-billion facilities in the industrial centre that will create more than 2,000 direct full-time jobs at the peak of construction and more than 200 full-time jobs once all the facilities are operational.

Moreover, Nauticol intends to develop a $2-billion methanol plant south of Grande Prairie, which will create 1,000 direct construction jobs. These projects add value to our products, and innovation in the sector will help fight climate change.

The motion states that we should be clearing the way for pipelines to be built. The fact is that the previous government failed to do exactly that. It failed to get our oil to new markets. This is a Canadian resource that supports communities across Canada, including that of my own family, and supports good, middle-class jobs in my home province.

When the Conservatives began in government in 2006, 99% of Canadian oil went to the United States. When they finished in government in 2015, 99% of Canadian oil was still heading to our greatest and best customer, the U.S., until it was no longer our greatest and best customer. This has led to our resources being sold at a discount, a discount so deep that it counts in the billions of dollars per year, and all Canadians, from coast to coast to coast, have seen and felt the impact.

The Conservatives and the conservative press have tried to refute this, but the facts speak for themselves. The Conservatives boast about a pipeline flow reversal and a connection to an existing pipeline, but it is an empty boast and it does nothing to help workers in our energy sector and the families that depend on those workers to have well-paying, middle-class jobs. This includes my constituents and their families and friends and my family and my friends. These are jobs that build strong communities. They are jobs that keep our economy going.

If we had not lost a decade under the previous Conservative government, we would not be in the situation we are in today, and in 2015, Canadians rejected that failed approach.

We have listened to Canadians. Our government is committed to developing Canada’s abundant resources the right way.

The environment and the economy go hand in hand.

That is why we approved the Line 3 replacement project. It is because the environment, the economy and energy all go hand in hand.

Line 3 is almost complete on the Canadian side. It will add 370,000 barrels of new export capacity for our oil, and it has created thousands of jobs during construction.

That is why we have always supported the Keystone XL project. Keystone XL is moving forward here in Canada. Our Minister of Natural Resources continues to strongly advocate on behalf of this project south of the border.

That is why these projects are not happening in isolation. They are moving forward in tandem with a comprehensive climate plan. It is the strongest climate plan Canada has ever had.

Of course, the Conservatives think we should simply put our heads in the sand and hope for the best. They believe the planet is not going to warm up that much. They say it is only water vapour. The science has to be wrong. It is only thousands of scientists; there are probably three in the world who disagree with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, so the Conservatives want to focus on those three.

Canadians expect and deserve better. Future generations are counting on us to get this right.

With respect to TMX, we followed the recommendations of the Hon. Frank Iacobucci, the former Supreme Court of Canada justice who was appointed as a federal representative to oversee the consultation process with indigenous peoples and provide guidance during the process.

We listen to what the consultation teams hear on the ground, and we respond accordingly. These teams now have about 60 members, which is twice as many as they had initially.

We have made it clear that a final decision on the project will not be made until we are satisfied that the Crown has adequately fulfilled its duty to consult and that we have mitigated and taken into account any impact on indigenous communities. We will then make a decision on the project based on the National Energy Board’s reconsideration report, strengthened by our draft principles, which now guide major review projects.

Unfortunately, the Conservatives voted to defund and kill this very reconsideration process.

Let us be clear. We will do the right listening. We will do the accommodations needed. We will proceed at the right time in the right way so that the Trans Mountain expansion can unfold in the right manner.

The Conservatives have shown their complete disregard for this process. To kill the NEB's review of marine shipping and to end our consultation with indigenous communities would have stopped the project outright. We knew that, and we are proceeding with a better way.

In 2019, the approach needed to develop resources is a detailed approach that takes into account both the environment and our constitutional duty to consult indigenous peoples. In fact, that is the only way to proceed.

The motion before us today needs us to make sure that we do this right. The motion today would have us skip crossing our t's and forgetting to dot the i's when dealing with major resource projects. It would bring us back to the old ways of barging ahead without taking the time to do things right. It would try to short-circuit the courts, disregard our constitutional duty to consult and ignore the urgency of a changing climate.

That is not the way our government is going to proceed. It is not the way Canadians need us to proceed. They told us they want a better way forward. We have listened to Canadians and we have heard Canadians and we are now acting.

We are putting in place a system in which Canadians can have confidence, a system that will allow great projects to be built across this country. It is the right time and the right way to do this. It is a system that will create good, well-paying middle-class jobs. Our environment and our economic health depend on it, and so does our future.

That is why I call upon members of the House to reject this motion and for all of us to work together to build a better Canada that works for everyone.

The Budget May 2nd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, Edmontonians are caring, entrepreneurial and hard-working. Almost daily, I have people in my riding reaching out to me, stopping me at coffee shops and pausing to chat on their doorsteps about how budget 2019 is making their lives better: like Richard, who thanked me on his doorstep for the Canada training benefit, which will help him take new training courses that will see him advance in his company and provide a better future for his kids; or the young family that stopped to talk about the new first-time homebuyers program. It is excited to finally be able to afford a home closer to its work along the west LRT line, a priority we believe in and have funded.

Innovation is in our DNA. This budget will help our businesses scale and grow, thanks to more funding for western diversification.

When we add the $20 million for LGBTQ serving organizations, this budget is another example of how we are helping Edmontonians and Canadians coast to coast to coast.

Indigenous Languages Act May 2nd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague also for her work on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

This project was co-created with indigenous national organizations and colleagues from all sides of the House.

Language is a bridge to culture. It is a portal into traditions. It is a portal into who we are. It is a fundamental characteristic of identity. Imagine living our entire lives using a second, third or fourth language. Imagine not knowing what our cultural, spiritual or linguistic traditions are because a government agent or a government agency has said that we or our grandparents are not allowed to speak that language.

It is fundamental that we work with indigenous communities so they can make the link back to their spiritual ancestors, to their land and speak the language of their ancestors. We can use this and work together on it as a key pillar of reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

Indigenous Languages Act May 2nd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her question. Obviously, we had similar experiences when it came to learning both official languages.

I can confirm that the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, or ITK, played a very important role in developing and creating this legislation. The ITK agrees with the 12 fundamental principles.

I should point out that we can always do more to improve life in indigenous communities. Today we are discussing the issue of languages, and everything that follows from this bill will benefit indigenous peoples, including those in Nunavut.

Indigenous Languages Act May 2nd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that we have an economy that is built in many sectors. Ten years of Conservative ignorance of the environmental movement and policies put in place by the previous government, verified by the Federal Court, are what quashed northern gateway. If he wants to draw a direct line between indigenous communities and their survival, he needs to look no further than the Harper government.

We are here now to talk about indigenous languages and making sure that indigenous communities can preserve, protect and promote their languages. That was our mandate. That was our mission. That is why we are here today.