House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was particular.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Labrador (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 39% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions October 1st, 2010

Madam Speaker, I am proud to present a petition today on behalf of my constituents in the communities of Port Hope, Simpson, Norman Bay, Red Bay, Charlottetown, St. Lewis, Goose Bay and Pensons Arm who call for a common sense approach to EI by extending the benefit period and reinstating the five weeks of additional benefits in high unemployment areas. They say that we should renew the best 14 weeks. They also say that they should be allowed to continue to earn up to 40% of the EI benefits. This helps the unemployed, the employers and the economy.

Hurricane Igor September 24th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, maybe the Conservative government did not hear. A 90-year-old stranded without electricity and food said, “If the Prime Minister comes down here, he better take me out of it”.

People are running out of food and medical supplies, and communications are down. This was the worst storm ever to hit the province and an extraordinary response is required. Neighbour is helping neighbour, but where is the federal government?

Communities need food drops and fuel drops. They do not need Prime Minister photo ops.

What is the government doing to help these people in their hour of need?

Hurricane Igor September 24th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the devastating impacts of hurricane Igor are still being felt by thousands in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Roads are impassable, bridges have collapsed, communities are cut off and running out of food and medical supplies. The Prime Minister is making a quick sweep of the affected areas today, but what is required is a quicker response.

People are saying they will not put up with mere promises like the Prime Minister made during tropical storm Chantal in 2007. What urgent actions can the government report are being taken today and in the days ahead?

Aboriginal Affairs September 23rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I just came back from a rally and a march where first nations people are calling for equality in education in this country. I know what that means. I come from a small Métis community. Where I grew up there was a one-room school. I had to move away after grade nine to attend university. I know what it means to not have equal opportunity in education and to have to fight for it.

As an aboriginal leader for 11 years in my community, I know the value of education. I say that education has to be a priority for this government. Elders and youth outside are saying that the people in this chamber must listen to them once and for all and not just say words but act on those words.

If Canada is going to be a fair and more prosperous place, then first nations, Inuit, and Métis people need every opportunity. Education and training opens those doors. If resource projects are going to go ahead, they must be done with the full participation of aboriginal people. That includes educating young people and new entrants into the workforce and skilled jobs.

My party is committed to ending the 2% cap on post-secondary education. We are committed to making sure that we close the educational gap. I call upon the government to do the same thing for first nations in this country.

First Nations Certainty of Land Title act June 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I, too, am pleased to rise in the House to support Bill C-24, An Act to amend the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act and another Act in consequence thereof.

The identical bill was first tabled in the fall and all parties received representation from the Squamish Nation at that time encouraging us to pass the legislation. Unfortunately, due to prorogation, the bill was delayed for some months and reintroduced this spring.

I take this opportunity to thank my colleague, the member for Yukon, who visited with the Squamish people and the leadership of the Squamish Nation and had an opportunity to be personally taken around the reserve, the traditional territory of the Squamish people, to get a briefing in detail on what they intended to do with the tools that the bill would provide.

Therefore, I thank the member for the work he has done and in encouraging the minister to move forward with this bill. The member for Yukon is a wonderful member and we thank him for his work and advocacy on behalf of first nations across the country. As well, I join with him in the fine work that he has undertaken.

The main purpose of the bill is to create a more level playing field off and on reserve to foster sustainable economic development opportunities. As I said earlier, it is an amendment to the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act, which was first passed in 2005.

Since that time people have realized that there was a need to fill some of the gaps that exist. First nations that were planning large scale and/or complex development projects were hindered by a lack of adequate regulations for commercial and industrial development. This caused jurisdiction uncertainty for both first nations and industry proponents.

This legislation was developed to address the regulatory gap that existed between lands on reserve and off reserve. The legislation would enable the federal government to replicate the necessary provincial acts and regulations to allow first nations to move ahead with large scale complex commercial and industrial development projects on reserve.

The key component of the bill is the legislation is optional. It is triggered only at the request of a first nation. Regulations developed under the act apply only to a specific project and parcel of reserve land where there are gaps between federal and provincial regulations.

In a brief that was provided to me and in conversation with the Squamish leadership members, they outlined what they felt were some of the benefits for first nations. I will refer to those comments for the record.

They said that it would provide a regulatory tool to more effectively balance economic development and protection of reserve lands and resources for future generations. They indicated it would enable communities to compete for investment opportunities and develop their economies, increase economic self-sufficiency and enhance their quality of life. They went on to say that it would generate revenue that could fund land acquisition and infrastructure for member housing, employment and business opportunities.

As well, they articulated a number of benefits to the federal government in that it would help the federal government to meet its commitments to first nations regarding economic development and continued stewardship for reserve land. It would increase employment, wages, revenue tax base, infrastructure and overall economic output, which is essential to linking domestic markets to world markets, and that it would be a model for other first nations.

As well, they articulated benefits to provinces one of which would be increased economic activity in the region, direct and indirect employment and increased provincial tax revenues from businesses and individuals and benefits to industry. There would be the establishment of regulatory regimes that would be certain, transparent, familiar and well understood to the marketplace.

In short, although there is ongoing debate among first nations about land tenure, the nature of land, the title of land, the one security that this legislation provides is it is optional. They have the ability to opt in if they so choose, depending on the particular circumstances of the reserve.

Having said that, one would hope that in the future legislation will come to us with more time to debate it in a more fulsome manner, as well as with an opportunity to take it before committee.

Given the compressed timeframe, the fact that we had a prorogation which has shortened this particular sitting of the House and the amount of business we could get done, and given that first nations themselves have requested this type of legislation, we are happy to stand in the House and pass it with that particular caveat.

Aboriginal Affairs June 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, $57,000 spent on a fake lake would close the educational funding gap for 28 first nations students; $208,000 for the northern oasis would close the gap for 104 students in the real north; the $186,000 fake lighthouse would have helped 93 real students; and $6 billion in Conservative corporate tax cuts this year alone would close the funding gap for 300,000 first nations students for the next decade.

I ask the minister, fake lakes or real action? What is his party's priority?

Aboriginal Affairs June 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, for over four years first nations, Métis and Inuit people have heard much from the government, but they have seen very little action. Two years ago an apology for the tragedy of residential schools was to be a turning point.

Unfortunately, it was just a brief exception to the rule. Now thousands of children are in care, a growing education gap for students, and funding for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation has disappeared. Now a broken promise to recognize the rights of indigenous people on the world stage.

I ask the minister why the hollow words?

Indian Residential Schools June 11th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour all the grandmothers and grandfathers, the young and the old, to acknowledge the pain and struggle of generations of my indigenous brothers and sisters.

I rise today to honour the apology, which thousands across our great country witnessed two years ago. We honour this occasion with openness and honesty.

While I appreciate the minister's statement today, to my ears and to many others it rings hollow.

It rings hollow because this year the government ended funding for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. It did so despite the fact that the funding provided valuable services to residential school survivors.

It rings hollow because the educational funding gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal students is still an obstacle to overcoming the residential schools legacy. We, as a country, cannot afford to lose even one student in this generation, or waste any opportunity to plant the seed of education in a mind, in a community, and in a nation.

It rings hollow because the government has not kept its promise to address the issues surrounding those schools which were similar to the Indian residential schools. The Prime Minister himself made a promise to Ile-a-la Crosse in Saskatchewan. He has yet to honour those words. In Labrador former boarding school students have had to resort to a class action suit to have their voices heard and obtain justice.

It rings hollow when more than 8,000 aboriginal children are in care and the government will not listen to their pleas for more help.

It rings hollow when hundreds of aboriginal women and girls have gone missing or murdered and the outcry is little more than a whimper.

The apology was historic, it was moving, it was overdue. Unfortunately, the sincerity of the government has been in question in the days and months since. Whether through the hurtful words of a government member two years ago, or through the actions and inactions since, the words spoken in this chamber are in doubt.

The apology was significant, but it must be imbued with a true sense of reconciliation and real change.

Aboriginal Affairs June 11th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, which helped thousands of people across the country deal with the legacy of residential schools, has been killed by this government.

There were 134 projects from coast to coast to coast simply abandoned. Aboriginal students received $2,000 less in educational support than the Canadian average, and they fall further behind. There are more than 8,000 first nations children in care and the government ignores their pleas.

Where is the hope and promise the apology was to bring? Why the hollow words two years ago?

Aboriginal Affairs June 11th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, two years ago today all parties gathered in the House to recognize and apologize for the suffering of first nations, Inuit and Métis who had been mistreated and abused in residential schools. It seemed like a turning point, but unfortunately, they were merely words from the government. Since then it has been one failed policy after another.

This year the Conservatives promised to finally endorse the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but they have changed their minds.

Why does the government continue to say one thing and do another when it comes to Canada's aboriginal people?