House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was territory.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for Yukon (Yukon)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 24% of the vote.

Statements in the House

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the debate on Bill C-641, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples act. It is a bill that calls on the government to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

I am the member of Parliament for Yukon, and nearly 25% of my constituents are first nations people. Members can be assured that I understand how important it is that our government upholds aboriginal rights.

In my speech today, I will be outlining several of the key ways that our government is already setting the standard when it comes to honouring these rights.

To begin with, we take great assurance from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the rights and freedoms of all individuals, including aboriginals. Moreover, section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, specifically recognizes and affirms existing aboriginal and treaty rights of first nations, Inuit, and Métis in Canada.

As encouraging as this may be, our Conservative government has not been content to leave aboriginal rights and protections here. It has done much more.

I remind my hon. colleagues that it was this government that finally rectified a long-standing injustice related to the Canadian Human Rights Act, a law dating back to 1977. Our government repealed section 67 of the act, a section that effectively exempted the Indian Act from its scrutiny. In doing so, it has given first nations people affected by the Indian Act full access to Canadian human rights law. Indeed, at no time in Canadian history have aboriginal rights been as strong as they are now, and that is largely thanks to this Conservative government.

This is not the only example of how our government's efforts have been maintained to protect and promote the rights of aboriginal people. For instance, in collaboration with first nations people and communities, we developed legislation to address an unacceptable and discriminatory practice. Of course I am referring to the legislative gap regarding matrimonial real property rights on reserves. The Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act guarantees that individuals on reserves, especially women, have rights and protections comparable to other Canadians when it comes to matrimonial real property.

This is real, tangible work that not only protects aboriginal rights but also protects aboriginal people. This legislation remedied a gap in our country's legislative framework that led to many women on reserves being denied ownership of, and even access to, their homes when their conjugal relationships broke down. To assist first nations communities, we have established the arm's-length Centre of Excellence for Matrimonial Real Property.

At the request of first nations, our government also passed the First Nations Elections Act. The legislation provides, for the first time, a strong, open, and transparent first nations electoral system that is comparable to Canada's federal election system. Aside from upholding voters' rights to free and fair elections, the act supports the political stability necessary for first nations governments to make solid business investments, carry out long-term planning, and build relationships.

The First Nations Financial Transparency Act has further strengthened first nations residents' rights and freedoms. This legislation, which also came about at the request of first nations, is increasing transparency and accountability among first nations leaders, empowering community members, and making their governments more effective. Unsurprisingly, this bill, one that provides basic financial transparency on reserve, was opposed by both the NDP and the Liberal Party.

We have also initiated innovative processes to advance treaty negotiations and reconciliation. It is now possible to negotiate incremental treaty agreements, and there is a clear procedure for resolving disputes that stem from conflicts in treaty claims.

Of course, respectful negotiation is not anything new for our government. We have consistently negotiated with first nations to fulfill the fundamental rights of these communities over their traditional lands and waters and over resources on those lands and waters. Since 2007, more than 100 specific claims have been resolved through negotiated agreements. I know that the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development is particularly proud of this accomplishment. That is because much of the progress that we have made in resolving these claims was done to eliminate a backlog left behind by the previous Liberal governments.

As well, this government appointed a ministerial special representative to work with aboriginal groups, provinces, territories and key stakeholders to renew and reform the comprehensive land claims policy.

Our government has also taken steps to expedite the negotiation of treaties by making important changes to Canada's own source revenue policy, resuming treaty fisheries negotiations in British Columbia and employing an additional approach to achieving certainty that was developed in partnership with negotiation partners.

Since 2006, six comprehensive land claims agreements and one stand-alone self-government agreement have been signed between the Government of Canada and first nation and other aboriginal governments and groups.

Clearly, more than simply aspiring to realize the goals of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we are clearly advancing this agenda. We are making progress on multiple fronts, from human rights and matrimonial property rights, to free and fair elections, to increased financial accountability for first nation officials, to treaty and land claim negotiations.

Despite all of the work that has already been accomplished to advance aboriginal rights, I would be remiss if I did not join my colleague from Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, in discussing the potential danger of adopting the bill.

As he mentioned in his speech, the danger stems largely from article 19 of the UNDRIP. The threshold that the bill sets for aboriginal consultation to seek the free, prior and informed consent of aboriginal people is too high. Even the Supreme Court of Canada agrees. It has been clear that while there certainly exists a duty to consult and, where appropriate, accommodate, there is no duty for the government to secure consent before advancing legislation.

More shocking is that article 19 would give first nations an effective veto over any legislation that our government or any government at all would bring forward.

Our government has been working since we were elected to uphold aboriginal rights, but unlike the opposition parties, we believe in responsible government and understand that these rights have to be balanced against the rights and interests of all Canadians.

For these reasons, I urge all members of the House to support our government in defeating the bill.

Gwich'in Internship Pilot Project March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, unlike the NDP and the Liberal Party, our government is focused on what matters most to all Canadians: jobs, economic growth, and long-term prosperity, including for northerners and first nations.

That is why I am pleased to report that on February 23, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and James Wilson, President of the Gwich'in Tribal Council, signed a memorandum of understanding announcing the launch of an innovative new training and development pilot project, the Gwich'in internship pilot project.

This pilot project will provide Gwich'in participants year-long full-time internship positions within Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and the Gwich'in Tribal Council.

The paid internships will prepare Gwich'in participants for jobs in the public service and provide them with professional work experience in a variety of government functions. Our government will continue to get results for Yukoners time and time again.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned in her speech the need for oversight. I am wondering if the member would comment on clause 42 of the bill, which clearly spells out that CSIS shall not undertake any measures to reduce the threat to the security of Canada that can contravene the rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

If CSIS is going to take any action, a warrant is required. When a warrant application is made, eight conditions have to be put forward to satisfy a justice. The judge then needs to agree that those conditions exist. The judge then needs to authorize that warrant and authorize a number of conditions around that warrant to intervene in any activity that could jeopardize the security of Canada.

Furthermore, the bill expressly states that even after a warrant is authorized, the Security Intelligence Service would have to deem the conditions to still exist before the warrant could be executed. Regardless of whether the warrant is issued by a judge, before the warrant could be executed, the security service would still have to assess whether or not those conditions still prevail. If they do not, CSIS is accountable under this legislation.

Does the member not see that stringent condition as reasonable oversight, and that judges can properly determine the validity of an application made by CSIS?

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we heard the opposition members talking about resources. In my intervention, I mentioned that our government has already increased the resources available for national security by one-third. Of course, the New Democrats voted against that increase.

Would the member comment on this? It is not only about resources but about the fact that this legislation would also allow for tools that would enable us to do more with the resources we have so that we would not be asking our law enforcement agencies and security intelligence services to deal with this threat with one hand tied behind their backs.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, most of what is embedded in the legislation is around law enforcement agencies and security intelligence agencies discovering, on reasonable and probable grounds, either an offence or an activity that would cause them concern. Clearly, members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Transport Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, or the Canadian Security Intelligence Service are not going to take the information they have and provide that to members of Parliament so we can all vote on whether or not they get a warrant to act. They have to show cause in front of a justice. That is the natural course of law enforcement investigative procedures. The justice needs to consider that.

There are parameters clearly detailed in this legislation around what the law enforcement and security intelligence agencies have to present in a show cause. There are considerations that are deeply embedded in this legislation that tell the justices what they have to consider, including the nature, extent, and quality of the information in context to the current environmental conditions. Then they can apply that to granting of a warrant or granting of an activity for law enforcement agencies. That is something we cannot debate in the House of Commons. There are protective measures that are required because of national security, individual security, witness security. It only stands to reason that it happen in the courts, and not on the floor of the House of Commons.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in my introductory remarks, our government has increased investments in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. We continue to invest. That is one piece of it. We can also talk about front-line law enforcement agencies. It was our government that brought in things like the police officer recruitment fund and doubled and tripled the number of RCMP officers. I recall, in 1998, when the Liberal government actually cut the funds, and I was in depot when they closed it down. There were no front-line police officers coming out at the time. It has been our government that brought forward police officer recruitment, put more law enforcement officers on the front line, and more in our communities. Guess who voted against that? The opposition voted against it.

It is not just financial resources that would allow law enforcement officers to do the job they need to do. They need the legislative tools. They also need to know, and Canadians need to know, that there are consequences to actions that people take. Coincidentally, not only are we giving law enforcement agencies the tools to do their jobs, we are providing consequences for the judiciary to consider when people are convicted.

However, guess what? Once again, the opposition voted against that. Members think that having law enforcement running around this community in great numbers, not enforcing any laws with any tools, or not having any consequences for actions, is public safety. It is not at all. It is a total package, and it is a package that opposition members never support.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-51, anti-terrorism act, 2015.

First and foremost, my support for the bill is driven by one single overarching principle, that the international jihadist movement has declared war on Canada.

In the bill, the preamble sets out something that is important to note. I will read directly from Bill C-51, which states:

Whereas activities that undermine the security of Canada are often carried out in a clandestine, deceptive or hostile manner, are increasingly global, complex and sophisticated, and often emerge and evolve rapidly;

That is important because as we ask Canadian security intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies across our country to detect, assess, and prevent threats in an ever-evolving global terrorism climate without themselves evolving, it is both unfair to Canadians, unrealistic to the agencies we task with this role, and irresponsible as a government.

Information sharing can provide critical and otherwise unrecognizable links to exclude or include certain individuals, activities, or groups that could pose a threat to the security of Canada. It is not unusual for Canadian security intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies to share information to determine inculpatory or exculpatory evidence that would help them focus their investigations, to prevent or exclude the possibility of a particular activity, group, or individual from participating in those threats.

We have put forward measures to protect Canadians against the jihadist terrorists, as I have said, who have clearly waged a war on Canada. They have done so because they target our society and they hate the values that we represent.

The legislation effectively breaks down silos that exist between government agencies. These silos put Canadians' lives at risk. I think any constituent, mine in particular, would expect that if one branch of government knows information that would be a threat to our security, then naturally that information could be shared with other branches of government.

Currently, it is not a clear case. This legislation seeks to achieve that. Of course, we on this side of the House reject the fundamental argument that is always put forward by the opposition, that every time we talk about security somehow our freedoms are threatened.

We understand that freedom and security go hand in hand and that Canadians expect us, as parliamentarians, to protect both. As I read through the entirety of this bill, all 63 pages of it, there are many checks and balances that I am sure I will be able to talk about as this debate continues. They ensure both the protection and preservation of Canadians' freedoms while at the same time ensuring that security intelligence agencies, our law enforcement agencies, and the multiple departments within the Canadian government that are tasked with Canadians day-to-day security are able to do the job that we expect them to do.

Sometimes I believe that those on the other side of the House forget all of this, but the fundamental fact is that our police and our national security agencies are working to protect our rights and freedoms. That is what jihadist terrorists want to endanger. They want to take that away from us. In essence, the provisions of this bill are designed to do specifically what the opposition is proposing that this legislation is threatening

That being said, of course, it is important that there be a robust accountability structure. In my view, the Canadian model of third party, non-partisan, and independent oversight of our national security agencies is superior to the political intervention in the process that is being suggested by the opposition.

Further, we also know that well-ingrained in this bill are key elements of new legislative authorities that require judicial review and judicial authorization. In other words, in plain language, before any action can be taken, each of the agencies tasked with the responsibilities require show cause. They require warrant authorization, and those warrants require in-depth explanation as to the reasonable and probable grounds that exist to ask for warrants, to ask for intervention, to ask for the mechanisms to disrupt, interrupt, or proceed with investigations to deal with the threats that they face.

Therefore, any characterization by the opposition that this would impede Canadians' rights, when certain sections specifically express the legal requirements to respect that, in my opinion, is the opposition challenging the ability of our courts to exercise their judicial oversight when it comes to assessing the merits, need, and expeditious requirements of anything that law enforcement or security intelligence agencies come to them with. Obviously, I have full confidence that our courts and judiciary can determine, based on the merits, evidence, and information provided by law enforcement agencies on their own, without Parliament trying to intervene.

Additionally, we have heard comments that there are not enough resources to combat terrorist threats in Canada. We have increased the resources that are available to our national security agencies by a third. The Liberals and the NDP have voted against those increases each step of the way. Despite their votes against these increases, of course, our government will continue to ensure that the national security agencies have the resources they need to keep Canada safe, and that includes the legislative resources they require.

There can be no liberty without security, and I will tell members what Canadians feel about this.

Four in five Canadians surveyed by the Angus Reid Institute say that they support this legislation, with 91% in favour of making it illegal to promote terrorism. There are 89% who favour blocking websites that promote terrorism, and 87% support making it easier for law enforcement agencies to add a terror suspect's name to an airline's no-fly list. There are 80% who favour extending the length of time that a terrorist suspect can be detained without charges to seven days from three days; and 81% support giving government departments the authority to share private information, such as passport applications or commercial data, with law enforcement agencies.

It is fairly clear that Canadians understand this legislation. Canadians understand the threats that we face. Canadians understand the roles of law enforcement agencies and security intelligence information. Canadians understand the gaps that currently exist. Canadians also understand the measures we are taking to fill those gaps, to allow Canadians, those agencies, and those groups and organizations that work with those agencies, with an opportunity to engage in this battle without one hand being tied behind their backs.

As I said in my introductory remarks, it is both unfair, unreasonable, and irresponsible for us to expect law enforcement agencies and security intelligence agencies in this country to fight an evolving global terrorism threat without themselves evolving. That makes no sense. We are effectively asking them not to utilize all of the tools and resources that the terrorists are able to utilize in terms of access to information. We are asking them to operate two steps behind in a world that is continually and rapidly changing, effectively, efficiently and harmfully, not only to our nation but to other nations.

It is incumbent upon us to make sure that we are providing our security intelligence and law enforcement agencies with these tools. As I have said, and as is it contained within the bill, there are the necessary protections and preservation of Canadians' freedoms, respect for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, judicial oversight and review, as well as three and four stages of checks and balances.

I think this piece of legislation has struck the right balance between allowing our law enforcement and security agencies to do the job we expect them to do while at the same time ensuring the privacy and protection of the freedoms we enjoy and deeply respect in this country.

Parliamentary Precinct Security February 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from the Northwest Territories spoke about how important it was that the security services here understand the nature of the business that we do and at times know us personally. In fact, in my intervention I spoke to how remarkable it is that they know each one of us and how important the client service delivery they are able to provide us is to security systems.

However, the member for Northwest Territories implied that it was an impossibility for the RCMP to learn that. I am new to this place. I have been here four years now. I did not know the rules and procedures, but as time went by I learned them. There are training mechanisms in place, and those things are quite possible.

I have a direct question for the member outside of that. Does he recognize that the parliamentary precinct encompasses areas that are in different security zones, such as inside this place, in other buildings on the Hill, on the front property, and in Ottawa proper? We travel on green buses between different buildings, as an example. How does he propose we integrate a security system without the lead of the RCMP? It is the only organization right now that has authority in each one of those places as well as on the streets going toward the Valour Building or the Victoria Building or the Wellington Building. It controls all of the access to the front lawns, both in and out, and not just for the House of Commons.

I wonder if the member for Northwest Territories could highlight exactly how we would integrate that security with any lead other than the RCMP, given those realities of jurisdiction and authority on those properties outside of this physical building.

Northern Development February 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leader does not understand the north or the needs of northerners. First, he went on what he called a “northern tour”, but he forgot to go to Yukon. He also said that Yukon does not have party politics even though it has had politics like that for decades. He must have been shocked then to hear that the Yukon Liberal leader actually exists and that he opposes the federal Liberal Party's carbon tax because it would be harmful to Yukoners.

Could the Minister of the Environment please tell the House what work our government is doing to help northerners keep more of their hard-earned dollars in their pockets?

Taxation February 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, our economy is still on the road to recovery. Bringing in higher taxes and higher debt is not the path on which we believe Canadians want to be.

Unfortunately, for the Liberal leader, not all members of his party support his carbon tax scheme. Last week, Yukon Liberal leader, Sandy Silver, said Yukon Liberals did not support a carbon tax for the territory. It is no surprise that northerners have been clear that they cannot afford higher taxes.

The Liberal leader has been clear, though, that he would bring back a carbon tax which would lead to higher taxes for Canadian families and raise the price of everything from heating bills to gas and groceries.

Unlike the Liberals, we will stand with the people of Yukon and the north. We believe that bringing in a job killing carbon tax is reckless. Unlike the leader of the Liberal Party, we will never punish Canadians with higher taxes and job killing schemes like a carbon tax.