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Your Say


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is question.

NDP MP for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Questions on the Order Paper March 24th, 2017

With regard to the announced launch of the negotiations toward a national resolution to the Sixties Scoop litigation: (a) what parties are negotiating with the government; (b) what terms has the government set for the negotiation process; (c) who will act as a mediator during the process; (d) will the government continue to litigate ongoing cases during this negotiation process; (e) has the government considered survivors' wants and needs in the negotiation process; and (f) what is the timeframe and schedule of the negotiation process?

Indigenous Affairs March 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are appalled by the government's attitude towards human rights. This week, the Attorney General will argue that the Human Rights Tribunal does not have the power to enforce its own orders.

Instead of questioning the authority of the tribunal, the government needs to say whether or not it intends to respect the human rights of first nations children in this country. That is the real question.

When will the government respect the human rights of first nations children?

Indigenous Affairs March 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls was launched last year. However, I believe that actions speak louder than words. To date, the commissioners have not even met with the families of the missing and murdered women. Today we learned that the commission has the names of only 90 participants. Why?

Why has the process not been announced yet? Why do the victims' families have to find the information themselves? The minister must ensure that all victims' families will be heard.

Income Tax Act March 9th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to Bill C-323.

I was here when the sponsor introduced the bill. I really liked his speech during the first hour of debate because I have seen and visited most of the buildings he mentioned. Needless to say, his speech made me feel quite nostalgic. I thank the member for York—Simcoe for this bill, and I want to start off by pledging him my support.

Historic buildings in the riding of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou are a valuable part of our heritage, our history, and our culture. I am in favour of maintaining our historic buildings, but the cost of repairing and maintaining are at times prohibitive, especially in my riding's northernmost communities.

For example, Village-Minier-de-Bourlamaque is a site of definite historical value. It is on the Canadian Register of Historic Places because of its connection to the 1930s gold rush in Abitibi.

Between 1927 and1950, many men looking for work came to Abitibi hoping to find a job. Village-Minier-de-Bourlamaque was built in 1935 by Lamaque Gold Mines Limited to house the miners. It has a very particular architectural style. The next time you are passing through Abitibi, Mr. Speaker, I invite you to stop and visit the mining village. The site has two kinds of residential structures, namely, the workers' houses and the posh homes of the former mine managers, who were called “boss” at the time, even in French.

Everything still exhibits the unique character of the1930s village. Most of the houses in the village are still inhabited today, and the owners are responsible for maintaining the historic character when they do renovations. Conservation and original appearance are important to safeguarding the heritage and drawing tourists to the village, not only for the city of Val-d'Or but the entire Abitibi-Témiscamingue region.

Very few people know that one of the first buildings in the Abitibi region was built in 1836, namely, the Sainte-Clotilde church in Kitcisakik. Still standing today, this church was built on the fur trade with Algonquin trappers from the area. It is now a designated religious heritage site in Quebec. It is one of the first buildings built in my riding. Dating back to 1836, it is nearly 200 years old.

In Whapmagoostui, which is at the limit of James Bay and Hudson's Bay, we find sites such as the Church of St. Edmund, constructed in 1879. Historic sites are important to maintain. It is critical that our history is understood and remembered, so that we can maintain an understanding of our past so that it is not forgotten.

Additionally, promotion of restoration efforts will create good, skilled jobs and promote economic development, while at the same time encourage tourism and promote respectful development while restoration efforts can help reduce environmental impacts of new building construction. This act would allow those struggling to afford the costs of rehabilitation projects to move forward.

However, it would also provide handouts to wealthy people who are not in need of assistance whatsoever. It does not seem reasonable to me that we should subsidize costs to rehabilitate these historic buildings while there is also a housing crisis in this country. I want clarity that the revenues lost from this bill will not impact Canada's ability to address the need for social housing in this country. As an indigenous person, I am very sensitive to that issue.

This bill gives me a chance to talk about the different priorities that a government needs to balance. A government has a responsibility toward the people who live within its borders. We all know that in Canada we have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees all people the same right. However, Canadian governments have shown that their priorities do not include ensuring the same standards of programs and services for indigenous people that they provide to other Canadians.

In general, I question the government's housing policy. However, today I question more specifically how a bill like Bill C-323 will respond to the current housing needs in indigenous communities. Unfortunately, due to Canada's colonial history, forced relocation, land appropriations, and poor government infrastructure in indigenous communities, we do not have many heritage properties. Therefore, if we are to implement a bill like this one, which will potentially reduce government revenues by millions of dollars annually, what will this mean for the indigenous people and indigenous communities in desperate need of housing? Will the government increase revenues elsewhere to ensure that the human rights of indigenous people are upheld?

Through the rules of the Indian Act, colonial governments have created the housing crisis that indigenous communities are experiencing. Under the act, restrictions on land ownership often prevent the development of housing programs. It is estimated that by 2031, the housing shortage on reserves will rise to 115,000 units. In order to bring the number of people living in each home on reserve down to the Canadian average of 2.5 persons per home, an additional 80,000 first nations homes are needed right now, yet the 2016 federal budget provided funding for first nations housing of just $206.6 million, which is enough to pay for 300 new homes, the servicing of 340 new housing lots, and the renovation of about 1,400 homes. To use the housing problem in my riding of Nunavik as another example, the aboriginal peoples Senate committee hearing on housing was told that Nunavik needs over 1,100 houses immediately. The $50 million included in budget 2016 is less than a quarter of the funds needed to address that shortage.

I have been asked many times by many colleagues on both sides of the House what the most important issue is facing indigenous people today, and what the government should do now to make reparations of historic injustices. Indigenous issues in this country have been neglected for so long that every single issue has become a priority.

I have one minute left. I just want to say that the NDP will support Bill C-323 because we believe in restoring historic buildings that are part of our heritage. Obviously, we also believe that it is important to understand how expensive these renovations are.

We will seek to amend the bill during review in committee in order for the tax credit to also be offered to people with a low or medium income. A billionaire can afford to renovate an old building, but it is harder for the average Canadian or low-income earners.

Indigenous Affairs March 9th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for her comments. I too was shocked and disgusted when I heard the senator's remarks. Residential schools sought to forcibly remove me from my family, culture, language, and land with the clearly expressed goal of wiping me out. In other words, the Indian residential schools were a genocide. There is never a good or justified side to genocide.

I know that the minister joins me in condemning these remarks, but that is not enough. Will the minister join me in calling for the senator's immediate resignation?

Indigenous Affairs February 24th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the minister said that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal was not a court of law. As the main estimates tabled yesterday confirm, the government has yet to uphold the tribunal's ruling. The government is still refusing to comply with the ruling to end discrimination against indigenous children.

If the government thinks it has no legal obligation toward the tribunal's ruling, then what does that mean for all the cases currently before the tribunal and for Canada's Constitution?

What happened to the honour of the crown with this Liberal government?

Indigenous Affairs February 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, 10 years ago, the AFN and Cindy Blackstock filed a human rights complaint against the federal government to end racial discrimination against first nations kids. Today, at committee, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs told us that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal was not the court of law, therefore implying that the government did not need to respect the tribunal.

All indigenous children have the right to a healthy childhood. Therefore, when will the government do the right thing and stop discriminating against first nations children?

Indigenous Affairs February 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, today, along with other indigenous MPs, I call on the government to rename the building that houses the Prime Minister's Office. Langevin was one of the architects of the Indian residential school system. An apology means nothing if action does not remedy the injustice.

Every day as I walk by that place, I am reminded of the man who dreamed up the school where I was sent purposely to sever the connection to my family, to my people.

Will the government commit today in the House to change the name of this building?

Indigenous Affairs February 14th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, today, an Ontario judge ruled in favour of those affected by the sixties scoop.

I have a simple question for the minister: will she give us her word in the House today that her government will not appeal this decision?

After the Ontario court found Canada liable for failing to protect survivors of the Sixties Scoop from losing their cultural identity, I have a very simple question for the minister. Will her government uphold this ruling? A simple yes or no would suffice.

Have a Heart Day February 14th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, children are not born prejudiced. Children are born with curiosity, excitement, energy, and possibility. They are born to excel and follow their dreams.

Today, February 14, is Have a Heart Day. I can find inspiration and an example to follow in the thousands of children around the country who have organized and prepared Have a Heart Day. It is a child and youth-led event that brings together caring Canadians to help ensure that indigenous kids have the services they need to grow up safely at home, get a good education, be healthy, and be proud of who they are. These children reject racism, inherent in Canadian society. They have the courage to do what is right and stand up for their beliefs. These children show tremendous love to other children, undeterred by difference and by distance.

Meegwetch awaashat.