House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was indian.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River (Saskatchewan)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply May 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am happy for the opportunity to rise today to oppose the motion put forward by the NDP member for Terrebonne—Blainville.

Public awareness of electronic surveillance practices has grown exponentially over the past few years. It is not all surprising that public concern about the balance between privacy and national security in the Internet age has also grown. It is a public policy challenge that all G7 countries must face. Our government certainly understands the concerns that have been raised by the media, by the official opposition, and indeed by the Privacy Commissioner.

We certainly welcome the work of the Privacy Commissioner in this regard, but it is vital that the debate on this issue be an informed one based on facts and grounded in a better understanding of how and when electronic surveillance practices and requests for basic subscriber information are employed. Due to the myths, misinformation, and fallacies put forward by the opposition, this is something that has been sorely lacking in this debate. I view this motion as an opportunity to set the record straight in these areas and to reassure all Canadians that our government always strikes an appropriate balance between giving law enforcement officials the tools they need to do their job and protecting the privacy of law-abiding Canadians.

Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure. Robust safeguards exist to ensure that this basic right is followed. Indeed, with respect to domestic laws and policies governing how electronic surveillance and requests for basic subscriber information are used, Canada has a proud tradition of getting the balance between privacy and security right. Nevertheless, the recent debate has highlighted areas of concern among the Canadian public about how government is effectively balancing their security and their safety and whether law enforcement and intelligence agencies are acting responsibly as they carry out their duties.

It is worthwhile for us to step back just a minute and first make a very important distinction between law enforcement and intelligence agencies' requests to telecommunications providers for basic subscriber information and obtaining other types of data that can be used more appropriately considered electronic surveillance, such as intercepted communications or stored emails. I want to assure all members of the House and Canadians alike that these two things should be viewed in a completely different light for they serve very different, yet vital purposes for law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

First, it is worth noting that the vast majority of information that law enforcement agencies seek from telecommunications providers is for basic subscriber information, for example, someone's name, address, phone number, and IP address. To be clear, basic subscriber information is not about tracking people's telephone calls. Absolutely no content of the communication is revealed. Basic subscriber information is also not a request for all telecommunications data, for example, data that would indicate who was contacted, the duration of the communication, and other related information such as the where, when, and how of the communication.

A couple of important points must be made about this. The first is that this information is oftentimes obtained at the beginning of an investigation into serious offences and is crucial to clearing people from wrongdoing or helping police determine viable leads. An example, for an online exploitation case, police may only have the Internet protocol or IP address attached to a picture found on the Internet and would need to determine who the IP address belongs to in order to begin their investigation.

In short, this information is critical to help police establish the identity of the person and it can be sought without a warrant. This is true for other countries as well. In fact, not one G7 country in the world requires a warrant to obtain this information. Imagine the enormous burden this would place on the justice system for the limited, yet often vital information that can be obtained. Vital because warrants generally require police to know the identity of the person, exactly what basic subscriber information is supposed to reveal.

It is only after receiving this initial information that police may seek court authorization to obtain more sensitive information, such as private communications, or to rule out the person from further investigation.

As a former RCMP member with over 18 years' experience, I can say that this information plays a key role in modern investigations of these types of cases. My constituents understand this and are supportive of tools that help us catch criminals. In fact, a poll conducted for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner in January 2013 found that three-quarters of Canadians are very comfortable or somewhat comfortable with the idea of law enforcement agencies requiring telecommunications service providers to disclose personal information to gather evidence in the investigation of a serious crime.

Moving on to the ability to intercept communications, which is what we are really referring to when we talk about electronic surveillance, this ability is a critical tool for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to keep Canadians safe, whether it be from credible national security threats or major crimes. Indeed, these agencies cannot intercept communications or obtain transmission data without being authorized to do so by law. These investigative tools can only be used with a warrant, court authorization, or other lawful authority to target specific individuals in the course of a specific investigation. Furthermore, the grounds for such targeting and the rationale for which individuals are to be targeted are subject to vigorous judicial oversight. Such safeguards, enshrined in our laws, are only some of the safeguards of which Canadians should never lose sight.

The judicial authorization is required to· obtain communications because our laws say that this type of information has a high expectation of privacy. For example, a judge's authorization must be obtained for real time interception of communications. The requirement for a judge's authorization also applies to access to stored data, such as texts or email stored on a server. This is all set out in the Criminal Code and other statutes.

I want there to be no doubt, Canadians' communications are not regularly accessed without a warrant. It is simply against the law, both for regular citizens and for our law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Also, additional safeguards do exist. Those whose private communications were intercepted in the course of a law enforcement investigation must be notified that interception was done. Further, full disclosure of information that law enforcement gathered is also required for cases that proceed to trial.

Now that I have provided some accurate context and information about the safeguards that are in place, I would like to conclude by acknowledging the calls we have heard about public transparency and reporting. Indeed, we are already disclosing some figures through Public Safety Canada's annual report on the use of electronic surveillance.

Our Conservative government will always work to give police the tools they need to do their job and ensure that our streets and communities are kept safe. That is why we have passed over 30 measures to keep criminals behind bars where they belong. We will not apologize for that and we will take no lessons on this matter from the opposition.

First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act May 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his aboriginality on the question.

To go back to the funding mechanisms in place, the Government of Canada is currently providing for first nations education. There is almost $1.6 billion provided for K-12 education. That goes to 117,000 first nation students across the country. That is an average of over $13,000 per student.

It is unfortunate that at the administration levels, there is always an administrative fee at each level of government or bureaucracy at the AFN and FSIN level. We are not seeing the grassroots bands get their total funding.

What the government has done is provide monumental funding of almost $1.9 billion to go toward K-12 education, with an increase per year of 4.5% for inflation. The Conservative government is looking at the needs of first nations. It is making first nations accountable to their own education system. The government is setting up those mechanisms so that those first nations can succeed.

First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act May 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, one thing I want to make very clear is that everyone had the opportunity to provide their input and feedback in the drafting of this legislation.

There are 600 first nations across Canada, and not every one of them will agree on the process. We are going to have the naysayers and those who are in favour of the bill. The unfortunate part, which we hear today, is that the naysayers get more recognition than those who are positive toward the proposed legislation.

The introduction of the first nations control of first nations education act gives first nations input into meaningful drafted legislation. The act follows years of discussions, dialogue, and studies reflecting the efforts of many first nations and governments to arrive at this point.

All first nations were presented with numerous means of engaging in the consultation process and were offered multiple opportunities to be part of that dialogue and a process leading to this legislation. Consultations were held in 2011. The Government of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations launched a national panel from coast to coast to coast asking for input on this legislation.

When we have opposition members over there with the paternalistic approach that they know best, I find it very offensive to first nations. It is degrading and mocking. When are they going to wake up?

First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act May 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, thank you for this chance to highlight one of the most important aspects of this legislation and what for me, as a first nation parliamentarian, is perhaps the most important. As a Cree, my home reserve is Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. I would like to highlight the linguistic and cultural provisions included in this long-awaited, historic piece of legislation.

One of the strongest messages we heard during the extensive consultations held on Bill C-33 is that first nation language and culture instruction must be at the heart of any reforms to first nations education. Going back to first nations discussions on education in the 1970s, language and culture were identified as necessary for a first nations controlled education system. The 1972 policy paper of the National Indian Brotherhood, the forerunner of the Assembly of First Nations, called for the inclusion of first nations language and culture in provincial and territorial schools.

The Assembly of First Nations' 2010 policy paper, “First Nations Control of First Nations Education: It's Our Vision, It's Our Time” reaffirmed the importance of language immersion.

The 2010 report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, “The Journey Ahead: Report on Progress Since the Government of Canada's Apology to Former Students of Indian Residential Schools” stated that: “Measures to support Aboriginal languages and culturally appropriate educational systems will allow Aboriginal youth to develop the skills and perspective necessary to succeed through greater knowledge and appreciation of their history and their identity”.

Most recently, language and culture was identified as one of the five key conditions by the Assembly of First Nations during discussions on education at the Special Chiefs Assembly in December 2013 and in the open letter sent by National Chief Shawn Atleo to the minister.

There is solid evidence on the importance of promoting the inclusion of language and culture in first nation schools. Research demonstrates a relationship between language and cultural knowledge and positive outcomes in academic achievement. One study on the effect of providing supplementary funding for the language development of students found that reading skills improved substantially in school districts that took up these funds. Examples of first nations schools where language and culture have been integrated into the school curriculum across Canada demonstrate considerable improvement in student achievement. Educational outcomes from bilingual or immersion programs in first nations schools, such as the one at Kahnawake, are strong.

Our government recognizes the advantages that such an education offers first nation students. That is why several federal departments with responsibility for aboriginal issues already provide opportunities to develop language and cultural programming for children, youth, and communities. These are based on the communities' determination of what plans and initiatives may best help improve local education outcomes.

The new structures and standards being established under the first nations control of first nations education act would build on these successes. The bill goes further, strengthening support for language and culture in first nations schools and providing a statutory commitment for funding of language and culture programs. Meeting the conditions set out by the Assembly of First Nations, the bill stipulates that all schools must offer English or French as the language of instruction in order to ensure recognition of certifications and diplomas and transferability of students without academic penalty. This ensures the full participation of first nations youth in post-secondary institutions and trade schools and full participation in the Canadian economy.

Despite this, the bill gives first nations the authority to incorporate first nations language and culture into their education programs. In fact, Bill C-33 specifies that the funding methodology to be outlined in regulations must include support for the provision of first nation language and culture programming. This represents how far we have come from the days of residential schools, which my grandparents attended. I am proud to be a member of the government that finally apologized to the survivors.

I am also proud that this bill incorporates the provisions of my private member's bill, Bill C-428, by stripping the Indian Act of the provisions concerning residential schools.

Bill C-33 specifically provides that first nation students, parents, families, communities, schools, teachers, and administrators have a strong voice in the development of the language and culture curriculum. They and first nation governments, the joint council of education professionals, and first nation education organizations would all have roles and responsibilities in implementing the act. That is a key point.

Our government is committed to working with first nations through joint council education professionals to develop regulations in a manner that would allow regional and local flexibility. In fact, we have extended an invitation to the AFN to work on political protocols to establish how the joint council would work with first nations to develop the act's regulations.

First nations will decide how to best integrate language and culture programming in their curricula. Bill C-33 aims to make first nation students' right to education meaningful and to afford them the opportunities that all students in Canada have.

It is important to understand that first nations will have three governance models to choose from, offering them maximum flexibility in deciding how to best address language and culture issues.

It is also essential to recognize that the bill is not a substitute for treaty implementation or self-government but rather is a bridge to support first nations in establishing their own education systems based on histories and backgrounds. In fact, there are numerous examples of highly successful education models already in place across the country operating under these types of agreements, including the Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey in Nova Scotia.

I also want to clarify that once self-government arrangements are concluded, those first nations would be exempt from the first nations control of first nations education act.

I am convinced that Bill C-33 would help to motivate first nations youth to stay in school and graduate with the skills they need to succeed in today's economy. This will improve their lifelong prospects so that they will enjoy the same opportunities as other Canadians, and as I have received.

I am convinced that all first nations, all Canadians, and all parliamentarians share this goal. Therefore, I urge all parties to support us in advancing Bill C-33 to see this promise realized.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, those of us in the Harper government are immensely proud of economic action plan 2014, and for good reason.

Once again, our government has delivered for Canadians while making plans to return to a balanced budget in the short term. Under our Conservative government's financial stewardship, Canada has seen the strongest job growth rate among G7 countries. Canada is the only G7 country to receive a triple-A credit rating from all major reporting agencies, thanks to our government's sound economic policies. Canada's net debt to GDP ratio is, by far, the strongest among the G7 countries.

In short, our Conservative government has steered Canada through a worldwide economic storm and come out on the other side stronger and better equipped for the future than any other nation.

It should come as no surprise that economic action plan 2014 delivers for Canada's aboriginal community, a segment of the population that, for obvious reasons, is very close to my heart.

A quality education is more important than ever in today's global marketplace. Economic action plan 2014 allocates $1.9 billion to first nations education. In addition, new funding of $500 million for building and renovating schools on first nations, set to begin in 2015-16, is confirmed in our new education infrastructure fund.

These investments in learning will manifest themselves not only in new schools and improved staffing, but also in building a stronger future for first nations communities and Canada itself. With quality education, first nations members will participate more fully in the world economy, providing benefits to all segments of our nation's population. Improving first nations education improves Canada.

Canada's national disaster mitigation program has been funded, to the tune of $200 million. This fund allows our government to mitigate the effects of catastrophic situations affecting Canadian communities through the assessment of risks and the implementation of measures to eliminate those risks.

These disaster elimination protocols are vigorously applied on Canada's first nations, but an additional $40 million has been set aside for on-reserve emergency management. Those of us living in northern Saskatchewan are too familiar with the disasters that can affect first nations, such as floods, fires, severe weather, and power outages. The on-reserve emergency management framework for Canada provides crisis funding to assist in combatting the effects of these disasters, including search and rescue efforts, and action to reduce the impact of community infrastructure failures such as bridge collapses.

The funding agreements between Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and Canada's provincial governments ensure that first nations communities have comparable emergency services to non-aboriginal communities in the same province.This system provides assurance to provincial governments that Aboriginal Affairs will provide funds to cover emergency costs, ensuring rapid responses from provincial authorities. First nations deserve the same level of care as all other communities, and measures such as the on-reserve emergency management framework for Canada are helping to make this a reality.

With a young and vibrant populace, Canada's first nations members are entering the workforce in record numbers. Our Conservative government's job creation strategy has been wildly successful, with more than one million jobs created since 2009.

Education programs targeted at aboriginal Canadians are helping place first nations members in high-paying, high-demand jobs. With so many bright, young first nations members entering the workforce with skills in high-demand fields, we are growing that workforce at a record rate. We are reversing the near criminal neglect of a valuable segment of our workforce by helping aboriginal Canadians get the education and skills necessary to compete in the global economy.

For too long, we have recklessly squandered the talents of our first nations citizens, and our government is now taking concrete steps to address this shameful situation, allowing first nations citizens to fulfill their potential.

A healthy Canada is one in which we recognize and reward the skills of its citizens. Now that first nations members are finally getting a toehold in the workforce, there is no holding us back. By forging strong ties to our aboriginal communities, our Conservative government is now showing that working together makes us all stronger.

Violence against women is a concern for all segments of our Canadian society.

Often living in remote areas, traditionally without much in the way of support or protection, aboriginal women and girls will benefit from the renewal of our government's addressing violence against aboriginal women and girls program. This effort continues our government's mission to address the alarmingly high number of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls. This initiative has made possible the creation of the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains.

Enhancements to our government's victims fund will ensure that aboriginal victims and their families as well as missing first nation members and their families have access to culturally appropriate services.

Perhaps most important, our government has materially supported the development of community-based awareness initiatives and safety plans to promote the safety of aboriginal women and girls.

With a disproportionate rate of incarceration as well as victimization, a plan is necessary to allow Canada's first nation members to emerge from this crippling situation.

Economic action plan 2014 proposes $22.2 million for the continuation of the aboriginal justice strategy. The initiative, which is showing very positive results, has allowed aboriginal people to take a larger role in the administration of justice in their communities while giving victims of crime a strong voice. By allowing first nation communities a stake in the judicial system, we are demonstrating a desire for justice rather than punishment.

Community-based justice for non-violent crimes gives aboriginal communities a say in the administration of punishment with regard to crimes affecting their neighbourhoods. It also demonstrates to the accused the impact of their crimes on the region and eliminates any suggestion of bias on the part of those administering the punishment.

Community-based justice is working, and I am proud of the part the government has played in its implementation.

More than $323 million has been earmarked for the purpose of continuing the first nation water and waste water action plan. Since 2006, our government has invested more than $3 billion in assisting first nations in the construction, maintenance, and operation of their water and waste water systems. This investment was sorely needed and has resulted in a vast improvement in water quality for first nations.

These communities have also been made safer through the enhancement of waste water management systems. Clean drinking water and the safe handling of waste water are essential to the health of any community. Through our government's investments in water on first nations, we have made them safer places to live. Insurance for these investments is provided through the disaster mitigation protocols I spoke of earlier.

A particular point of pride for me with regard to the economic action plan concerns the support provided to first nation fishing enterprises. Great progress has been made in the integration of first nation fishing enterprises with existing fishing operations since our government instituted the supporting first nation fishing enterprises initiative.

With an investment of more than $66 million over the next two years, our government is taking concrete action to improve the overall management of fishing on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. This program will continue to create new jobs and opportunities for first nation fishers.

Many aboriginal communities will also benefit from our government's improving access to broadband in rural and northern communities proposal. Social networks and the worldwide web are helping to bring people together, not only on a personal level but for the purposes of business networking and promotion as well.

Canadians in rural areas are demanding faster access to the Internet, and our government is responding. We are proposing more than $300 million over five years to improve access to broadband Internet connections for 280,000 households, with a target of five megabits per second. This would represent near-universal access to broadband for Canadians.

By improving Internet access for first nations, we will increase the ability of aboriginal businesses to compete globally.

As members can see, our government understands that the things that make Canada's aboriginal communities better make Canada better. By continuing to improve the already strong relationship between the aboriginal people of Canada and our Conservative government, we build a stronger Canada.

The healthy bond that the government has forged with the aboriginal peoples of Canada is reflected in the budget, and I am proud to stand today in support of our government's economic action plan 2014.

First Nations Hockey April 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate and pay homage to a great Canadian.

On Sunday, the Edmonton Oilers hosted a celebration of first nations hockey at the pre-game ceremony where Fred Sasakamoose, the first first nations NHL hockey player, was honoured as part of the many touching commemorations held in conjunction with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in Edmonton.

Fred's story represents both the dark past experienced by first nations as well as their hopeful future. Fred was removed from his family, his community of Ataakahkoop First Nation, and his Cree culture at six years of age, and was placed in a residential school in Duck Lake. Like so many children in residential schools, Fred found refuge in hockey. He later attended hockey training camp and was called up on February 27, 1954, to play for the Chicago Blackhawks.

At 80 years of age, Fred remains involved in his community, mentoring young athletes and volunteering in sporting events. He remains an example to the younger generation of aboriginal NHL stars.

I would like to congratulate Fred for his leadership and encouragement of first nations youth to reach their full potential.

Infrastructure March 31st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government has made unprecedented investments toward infrastructure to support our provincial, territorial, and municipal partners with their priorities.

Could the minister update the House on the important achievement made last Friday on our infrastructure funding?

Health March 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today is World Tuberculosis Day, an important day in developing public awareness that TB remains an epidemic in much of the world. It causes the death of nearly 1.5 million people each year, mostly in developing countries. My constituents are concerned about this epidemic and would appreciate an update on Canada's actions.

Could the minister please tell the House what our government is doing to eradicate TB?

Mining Industry March 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, our government understands the importance of the mining industry and the significant role it plays in providing over 400,000 good jobs for Canadians. Canada is a global leader in this sector, with the mining and minerals accounting for over 20% of Canada's exports.

The mining sector in my riding of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River is very important to both aboriginal and non-aboriginal mining workers. Mining workers and communities across Canada know they can count on the government's support. Can the parliamentary secretary please update the House?

Northwest Territories Devolution Act February 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I find it very ironic. I come from a first nations background and heritage, and I am very proud of it. I am also very interested in economic development and growth in Canada. Canada was basically refounded on resources and development.

Instead of first nations and aboriginals being held down, the government is trying to give them a hand up, trying to work in partnership with first nations and aboriginals in the Northwest Territories. What I find very ironic is the NDP believing it is a paternalistic approach of not allowing aboriginals to be partners in economic development. Here is what I mean.

I will quote the member for Western Arctic:

We know that resource development hasn't reduced the poverty, and we can't simply rely on resource development to redistribute income in a fashion that's going to work.

My question to the member is this. Does she believe that no resource development will help Canada and aboriginals, especially those in the northern territories, on job creation, and helping Canada prove that jobs can work for everybody?