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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was actually.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Winnipeg Centre (Manitoba)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

June 5th, 2017

Madam Speaker, on the finance committee we had the opportunity of debating the parliamentary budget office changes and hearing from a lot of witnesses.

I was interested in the Conservative member's comments. He implied that the Speaker could not be independent enough in order to allow the parliamentary budget officer to do his work. I am interested in his thoughts as he has a leader now who was a former Speaker. Is he saying that Speaker was not independent?

We made a number of changes at the finance committee that would increase the level of independence and give the parliamentary budget officer the level of independence that not only he was looking for but that the previous parliamentary budget officer was looking for. I think it is a fine example of how this Parliament works and how backbenchers can make suggestions to make government work better.

Cannabis Act June 1st, 2017

There probably is. Many of us are workaholics and we are away from our families. It is not a normal lifestyle.

How do we then combat, for instance, alcoholism or drug addiction? What do we actually do then to make a difference, to ensure that people have positive addictions that people see as contributing to society and not those that are taking from or destroying society?

Cannabis Act June 1st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I was reading a book by a gentleman named Dr. Gabor Maté, from east-side Vancouver, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. It is about addiction. He was talking about how addiction affects many people, from high-functioning workaholics, all the way down to people who use drugs in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

If the member takes the chance to read the book and understand what he is saying, it effectively says there is addiction everywhere in society, probably even in the House.

Winnipeg Pride May 31st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate Ryan Richard and the other organizers for the very first Canadian two-spirit powwow, celebrated in Winnipeg last Friday. It is incredible to see how indigenous peoples are returning to traditions and teachings that demonstrate the strength of our heritage.

The organizers and the hundreds who participated showed honesty, humility, courage, respect, love, effort, and knowledge. I am a proud supporter of Winnipeg Pride.

I was asked by the women and families at the powwow to talk about the murder and missing indigenous women and girls inquiry and to mention that we must be inclusive of all peoples, including two-spirit people, for they are a part of us.

The two-spirit people were traditionally seen to be a connection between men and women and had a greater connection to the spirit world. They were and are a mirror into our souls.

Tapwe akwa khitwam hi hi

Petitions May 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, Jeff Ward from Victoria, British Columbia, asked me to table petition e-607, national holidays.

The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to designate June 21st of each year as a legal holiday to be kept and observed throughout Canada. They feel that this day should serve to create and strengthen opportunities for reconciliation and cultural exchange among Canadians. This day should facilitate connections between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians in positive and meaningful ways and should solidify the original intent of National Aboriginal Day as a day for Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures, and outstanding contributions of first nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

Tapwe akwa khitwam.

Violence against Women May 4th, 2017

Mr. Speaker,

[Member spoke in Cree and provided the following translation:]

Recently in the Prairies two high profile violent events occurred where young indigenous women were killed and severely hurt. These events occurred while people stood by and recorded these incidents. The freedom of the violence calls into question our own humanity.

I am a supporter of the Moose Hide Campaign and it is time that we raise indigenous women above our current beliefs.

My aunts, cousins, daughter, and friends are beautiful. They are courageous, humble, intelligent, loving, respectful, honest, hard-working. They deserve additional protection of our laws so people think twice before they destroy lives.

Privilege April 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I believe I know the intentions of the Prime Minister. He wants me here voting all the time, as much as I possibly can be. I hope he does, anyway, even though sometimes I do not always vote with the government. Nonetheless, he wants me here, because he believes it is my responsibility to be here. He also believes it is the responsibility of members of the opposition. I do not believe that at any moment he wants to impede people.

The great thing about this Speaker's ruling is that he actually conducted an investigation. He went out and looked for the information. He asked the right people to conduct an investigation.

As a former sergeant-at-arms with the 5th Field Ambulance in Valcartier, Quebec, I had to conduct a number of security investigations myself on security breaches of some of the buildings I was responsible for. It is no small task. One has to go around and find people who might have witnessed a small incident, such as a door left unlocked or something. No matter how small or how large, they were all important. However, we had to take the time to do an investigation, and once we had all the facts, we were able to lay out what actually occurred.

I think in this case, the Speaker has laid out a very clear and precise document that gives all of us a way to move forward. I do not believe it needs to be studied any further. Personally, I think what we have is a document that really allows us to now create a way to ensure that this never occurs in the future. Therefore, we should let the bureaucracy do what it does best and let the House of Commons staff do what they do best. Let them get down to work and ensure that we are no longer late for our votes. I know that I have never been late.

Privilege April 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I used the words “anger, anger” and “games, games”, and now I can add the words “time, time, wasted, wasted”. I think the Chair has made a good ruling. I think the Chair has offered some suggestions for repair to make sure this does not occur in the future, and we have to give time to the bureaucracy to actually do their work. We have to give time to the precinct staff to make sure that they correct what happened before and to make sure it does not occur in the future. It takes time to let the experts accomplish that work.

I would not pretend to be an expert on security on the Hill, but I know there are people who work in this precinct who have the ability to do that day in and day out.

I hope no one here pretends to be an expert on security on the Hill, because there are very few people who have that expertise. We have to make sure those functionaries—those bureaucrats, those people who carry out the day-to-day functions—have the rules and procedures they believe are necessary so that after listening to us and what our concerns are, they then correct the situation so that things actually work on the ground.

Privilege April 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, games, games, anger, anger: that is a lot of what I seem to be hearing.

It is important that we do debate this, but at some point we need to move on. We need to listen to the Speaker. What l said before was that the Speaker has already made a ruling, and yes, he has suggested this can be moved on, but it is also up to the House to decide if it does in fact move on.

I would also like to point out that we have an opportunity to debate things that are of graver importance to Canadians than some other issues. We should be discussing issues that actually impact the lives of everyday Canadians rather than the bollards on the precinct and whether we can get in or out of the bollards and how we plan our time. Canadians expect us to be here to vote, and they expect us to be able to plan ourselves accordingly.

Privilege April 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the fine comments coming from the other side. It is a wonderful thing. I love the heckling in the House. It is always most enjoyable. It actually adds some theatre to this place sometimes. It is very much appreciated.

I remember when I was an elementary school teacher. In grade 1 and 2, we would often try to quiet the classes. It was not always easy. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the hard work you do in order to make this a more enjoyable place to work.

To resume, at the end of the day he was concerned about my safety. There are security concerns on this Hill, and that is a paramount issue. We have to find a balance not only between the privileges of members and our responsibilities but also to ensure that we have security. If we cannot access the House, there might be a very good reason relating to someone's personal security. For instance, if the bus driver had said to me that he was going to let me off even though he saw cars whipping by, and I had been hit by a car, I do not think we would be farther along. More rules would have been put in place.

Sometimes it takes a bit of listening, for instance, to the bus driver who is trying to do his job in a good way, trying to make a difference and do his work. He was not actively out there saying that he was going to stop a member from going to vote. Hopefully that never occurs.

In the Speaker's ruling, I enjoyed reading that he talked to the director of the Parliamentary Protective Service and indicated that one of the director's annual objectives should be “to provide mandatory training on an ongoing basis for all members of the service on the privileges, rights, immunities, and powers of the House of Commons, including unfettered access of members of the House of Commons to the parliamentary precinct.”

The Speaker also indicated he “has every confidence that the leadership of the Parliamentary Protective Service will be able to achieve this important understanding of the parliamentary community that they serve by availing themselves of all opportunities available for relevant training, including those previously offered by procedural staff of the House.”

For me, it is wonderful that we are able to actually raise these issues at any given time. However, there is also a moment when it is important for us to accept the ruling, to understand that on the procedures of the House, the bureaucracy will do its job, that they will be able to take that information and craft policy and better procedures that will help protect members and ensure that they have unfettered access to this place, allow the Speaker the opportunity to do his job in a good way, allow him to work with the parliamentary staff so that they can do their job in a good way, and allow him to work with the clerks so that they are able to inform the protective services of the rights and responsibilities of MPs in the House of Commons.

However, we have to give them the time to do so. We have to give them the time to carry out that function. We cannot immediately have knee-jerk reactions and all of a sudden slap our knee and say, “We have to do this lickety-split, right now.” Sometimes snapping our fingers and trying to get things done too quickly leads to a work environment that is not conducive to the long-term benefit of all people involved. Sometimes it is good to take the time to consult, talk, and think about things.

I very much enjoyed speaking on this issue. I was really interested in reading some of the examples.

Maybe I will highlight some other things for the House. There is a case I was reading, for instance, that described how obstruction or intimidation of members can sometimes be related to electronic surveillance, and I wanted to get this on the record. I believe it was actually Speaker Jeanne Sauvé who made a ruling on this issue. It is something that has been in the news a little lately. That is perhaps far more important to discuss. Nonetheless, buses are also very important.

I am going to finish off with a quote from elder Winston Wuttunee, who said, “Always do things in a good way, with an open heart, to offer yourself to those around who you must serve, to give yourself to your family and to your community, to your brothers and sisters, to all your relations, to not think selfishly of what you're hoping to gain from something but what you can actually give back.”

When we debate this in this place, in our House, the people's House, we need to have that foremost in our minds. We need to remember that it is not about playing political games but about how we work together and what we do in order to create a better life for more Canadians. To me, what we are actually doing for Canadians is the most important thing, because at the end of the day they are all that matters and they are the reason we are here. We are not here to play political games. We are not here to simply spend many hours debating things. While debating is very important, it is perhaps less important than many other issues that Canadians want us to deal with here and now.