House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was poverty.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as NDP MP for Sault Ste. Marie (Ontario)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Multiculturalism April 14th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, two recent events in Sault Ste. Marie highlight the growing multicultural diversity of our community. The Algoma Multicultural Centre hosted a successful dinner featuring food, music and dancing from several traditions and the ever growing 4th Annual Passport To Unity drew over 3,000 people for its celebration of traditional food and art.

For years, the Labour Council and steelworkers have held an anti-racism day promoting this diversity with a very clear message of understanding and tolerance. The Baha'i Faith has taken a leadership role in promoting interfaith celebration and dialogue.

All of this has helped Algoma University evolve as a centre of cultural and international exchange. New organizations are working to make Sault Ste. Marie a welcoming place where we appreciate the richness of each nationality, our customs and their talents. Sault Ste. Marie is experiencing an influx of new citizens from many different parts of the world.

It is all about community. We want to celebrate and connect the many faces of Canada within our community.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act April 13th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the member always does a thoughtful and thorough job when he speaks.

The member's colleague who spoke earlier this morning spoke passionately about Atlantic Canada and some of the challenges it faces. I live in a region of the country, northern Ontario, where we are experiencing some really serious challenges as well. If we do not have something done soon, there are communities that will no longer be viable in that wonderful neck of the woods because of an approach that has been taken over a number of years now.

In light of the collapse of the financial system last year, we have a chance to take another look at that. We used to be fairly self-dependent in northern Ontario and across Canada in terms of resource-based industries, like mining and steel and forestry. We used to sell a lot of paper domestically. We used to sell a lot of steel domestically.

When I first was elected one of the big problems that confronted us in the agriculture industry was BSE. The problem was we had turned all of our producing capacity over to the U.S. When the border was shut down, we could not ship beef into the States to get it produced to sell it back into our own market.

In the member's view, is there any way that we might turn this around so Canada's industries—

Jobs and Economic Growth Act April 13th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I commend my colleague from Thunder Bay—Rainy River for his concern about the economy of northern Ontario. I have stated the case for my area of that wonderful part of the country.

Back in the sixties, 1,200 people mined ore and shipped it to Sault Ste. Marie and 12,000 people turned it into steel. That steel was then sent across the country where thousands of people made it into different things. Those things were sold to Canadians and we traded the leftovers. We had an interconnected economic system back then that saw everybody doing well. All our communities were prospering and supporting each other.

My colleague talked about the forest industry. Could he tell us a bit about how the forest industry worked back in the sixties and seventies and how we might get back to that kind of self-sufficiency again?

Transportation March 31st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Huron Central Railway will grow the northern economy and protect the environment. While linking industry, it will also keep hundreds of transport trucks off the highway.

The current government said it would support the Huron Central Railway if the Ontario government signed the framework agreement and committed funding. Well, it has done that.

The company says it needs a decision by the end of this month. We know that is today.

Will the minister tell us today that he will keep his promise to the communities from Sudbury to the Soo and outline definitively how this will happen?

Aboriginal Healing Foundation March 30th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of that elder, I would like to ask the member how we can get the necessary resources to put a treatment centre in our area now that the healing program is going to be done in. We cannot even get the money to send people to the treatment centres that do exist.

Aboriginal Healing Foundation March 30th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, we had a residential school in my community, and many of the survivors live in Sault Ste. Marie and the two aboriginal communities that border the community. Healing centres operate out of both Garden River and Batchewana. They are very well integrated into the community and are doing some phenomenal work.

It concerns me because just last Friday I met with an elder in Garden River who has been meeting with me on and off around the issue of a treatment centre for aboriginal youth who find themselves addicted to drugs or alcohol. We do not have the services in our communities that the member just mentioned. I am told that many aboriginal communities do not have the services that she has suggested here this evening are available to all.

I note that the minister is here tonight and I appreciate the fact that he has taken time out of what has to be a very busy schedule to listen to our comments as we speak about this important program.

I am asking the member, and perhaps the minister if he will take the time to listen--

Petitions March 30th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I present petitions this morning from hundreds of people across this country, including people from my own riding.

People are very concerned about the move by the government to end funding to the aboriginal healing centres. The petitioners claim that this is not in keeping with the apology that was given by the Prime Minister in the House on the commitment to resources for healing and reconciliation.

Funding will come to an end at the end of this month. There are programs in two aboriginal communities bordering on Sault Ste. Marie where excellent work is going on to help survivors of residential schools. These petitioners, my constituents and people from across the country ask the government passionately to please continue the funding so that this healing can continue.

Union and Community Activist March 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, this weekend in Ottawa, a full house of admirers toasted longtime union and community activist Clarence Dungey on his 75th birthday. For most of his life, Clarence has been a champion of all things fair and just, including his time as Sault Ste. Marie labour council president.

He has touched a lot of people, including my own family. For many years, a virtual picture of Clarence held a prominent place above our devout Catholic family's kitchen table, alongside a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. That is because, among other things, my parents lived for the last 25 years of their lives on the pension Clarence negotiated for them.

Clarence knew the power of community working together for the common good. We should all be concerned today as we see unions come under attack in places like Sudbury and as governments look for ways to lower wages for workers and taxes for corporations.

Today I salute Clarence and all others like him across the country who support the right of workers to organize and fight for the dignity of all.

Business of Supply March 23rd, 2010

Madam Speaker, I also want to thank the member for her comments here this morning on this important initiative, if the government indeed does follow through and do the kinds of things that we all know in this place need to be done, both in other countries and at home.

It is always telling to me in trying to figure out whether somebody is sincere in his or her commitment to doing something when we look back at his or her track record, and the member for London—Fanshawe will remember, when we were government in Ontario together in the early 1900s, the kinds of things that we did to improve the lot of children, women and families in those very difficult, recessionary times.

However, subsequent to that, and this is what gives me concern here and why I ask the question of her this morning in light of the motion that is in front of us, following our time in government, we then had a Conservative government come to power in Ontario. One of the first things it did was cut welfare by 21.6%. As a matter of fact, it was the first thing it did, in order to send a message to anybody else in that province who might challenge the government in terms of its agenda where the at-risk and marginalized are concerned.

With that and shortly following that, it cut many programs that were targeted for women. One of them was a nutrition program that would give pregnant women a little extra money to buy milk so that they might have healthy children.

I am just wondering if she remembers that and if she might want to comment on the fact that the provincial government cut that program.

Transport March 12th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, once again, Huron Central Railway is on its deathbed when it should be on new rail beds with long-term infrastructure. This railway is a valuable freight line for Essar Steel, Domtar and communities from Sault Ste. Marie to Sudbury. We can return to passenger service and grow the northern economy with rail as a key player.

Is Ottawa committing to new funding and will it convince Ontario to get on board now before it is too late?