House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was parks.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Kootenay—Columbia (B.C.)

Lost his last election, in 2021, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Member for Kootenay—Columbia June 10th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, during my lifetime, I have sat in many different chairs. I have been the chair of community organizations, manager for B.C. environment, mayor of Cranbrook and chair and vice-chair of committees and caucuses in the 42nd Parliament. While I am proud of all of these roles, the most memorable one was the first time I took my seat in my chair as a member of Parliament on December 3, 2015. I felt the incredible sense of history, the stories in the walls and the sense of responsibility that comes with serving constituents and working to make a better Canada. What an incredible honour.

However, we must never forget why we get to sit in our chairs. It is because of the support of our families and the people in our ridings.

I would like to thank my wife Audrey, my children Shawn, Kellie and Adrian and my favourite granddaughter, Lalita, who is graduating from grade 12 this month.

Some members are probably thinking this sounds like a farewell speech, but it is far from it. With the blessing of my family and the good people of Kootenay—Columbia, I fully intend to return in the 43rd Parliament. Who knows, as a returning veteran, I might even get a chair closer to the front of the House.

National Security Act, 2017 June 7th, 2019

Madam Speaker, in the 2015 election Bill C-51 was front and centre in my riding. There were rallies held across the riding against Bill C-51. People were really angry with the Conservative government for putting it forward. They were almost equally angry with the Liberals for supporting it at that time.

Regarding this current bill, Bill C-59, I want to quote from Cara Zwibel, acting general counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association. She said:

All Canadian laws must comply with the Charter. Bill C-59 tries harder than its predecessor, but fails to fix some of the unconstitutional elements...contested in...Bill C-51. Troublingly, C-59 also allows intelligence agencies to engage in conduct that threatens freedom of expression, freedom of association, privacy, and public safety. The government has taken a first step, but a great deal more is needed. Canada must get it right on national security.

I am interested in my colleague's comments on this statement that Bill C-59 continues to threaten freedom of expression, freedom of association, privacy and public safety.

Child Care June 7th, 2019

Madam Speaker, in my riding of Kootenay—Columbia, there are four national parks, and I have the pleasure of having many Parks Canada employees as constituents. Many staff work non-standard hours, and they struggle with finding affordable and accessible child care.

Parks Canada's collective agreement expired last August, and as part of the bargaining process, the union is asking for the creation of a joint committee on child care to research the needs of employees, to determine challenges and to recommend solutions.

Will the government show leadership and work with Parks Canada employees to address the child care crisis?

Housing June 6th, 2019

Madam Speaker, a couple of things are problematic. First, let us look at the struggles that millennials have these days. They have to pay generally very high rents. They often have children in day care, which can cost $2,000 a month. They are trying to pay off their student loans. They have no free pharmacare at this point. When we put all that together, only 36% of millennials even have an RRSP. Saying to them instead of taking $25,000 out of their non-existent RRSP, they can take $35,000 out really is not helpful at all.

I am quite interested in the equity portion of it. One question that was not answered when this was first announced was whether CMHC would keep that percentage of equity when the house was sold. In other words, if the house goes up in value, does CMHC keep a 10% value of the profits from that home?

Housing June 6th, 2019

Madam Speaker, housing affordability is one of the top issues I hear about from constituents in my riding, along with climate change.

The high cost of housing is making it increasingly hard for students, families and seniors to make ends meet. I have also heard from small businesses that the lack of affordable housing impacts their ability to recruit and retain employees.

I had an interesting experience in that regard. I held sessions in three of my communities and invited the MLA, the mayors and small businesses to talk about their concerns. In every community, the top concern was the lack of affordable housing. The second concern was the lack of affordable day care. This was for small businesses.

The Liberals' national housing strategy is not providing the help people need now and over the long term. It may not make it any easier for Canadians to find affordable housing.

The rental construction financing initiative is one part of this strategy, providing low-cost financing to developers to build affordable rental units. However, how the affordability of projects is calculated under this program is problematic. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development advised that one way “affordable” was defined was “rents lower than 30% of the median family income” in a specified area. It is not appropriate to base affordability on median household income if we want to create housing that is affordable for low and modest-income people.

In my riding of Kootenay—Columbia, no projects have been approved under the rental construction financing initiative. However, it is questionable whether the program would create housing that would be affordable for many of my constituents, such as those living in single-income households or on a pension. These constituents have incomes well below the median.

There is clearly a need for more affordable housing in communities across the country. I know that is the case in parts of my riding, such as in the city of Nelson, which has the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the province. This is despite a lot of effort by community groups, such as the Nelson Cares Society and others, to provide homes for the needy.

If the government is providing assistance to private developers, we need to ensure the goal of increasing housing affordability will be met and maintained over the long term.

The NDP has a plan to address housing affordability for renters and put the dream of home ownership back in reach. Our plan would create 500,000 new units of affordable housing over the next 10 years, would provide rental subsidies to low-income Canadians spending more than 30% of their income on housing and would allow first-time homebuyers to choose a 30-year insured mortgage.

The NDP also has a plan to save Canadians an average of $900 per year on energy costs by retrofitting all housing stock by 2050, with half completed by 2030. Our ambitious home retrofit program would also create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is critical in the fight against climate change, and supports the transition to a low-carbon economy.

What is the government doing to ensure that projects supported by the national housing strategy will deliver long-term, affordable housing, including for low and modest-income Canadians, today in my riding of Kootenay—Columbia?

Criminal Records Act June 6th, 2019

Madam Speaker, my riding of Kootenay—Columbia has long been a place known for generations of cannabis farmers. It has been quite interesting to work through the process over the last couple of years trying to make sure that cannabis grown under sunshine and rain is as acceptable as cannabis grown under plastic and glass, and I do not think we are quite there yet.

I have consulted with constituents in my riding about this particular bill and I am personally supportive of Bill C-93. Why not go all the way to expungement now that we have started that process?

Forestry Industry May 30th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, Canada's forestry sector is a fundamental part of many rural communities, like my riding. It provides high-quality, well-paying jobs that thousands of Canadians rely on to support their families.

In British Columbia, we are seeing temporary and permanent mill closures and shift reductions. The impact of the mountain pine beetle and increasing wildfires pose major threats to our forestry industry, as does the Liberal government's total failure to get a new deal on softwood lumber. U.S. duties are hurting our communities.

Will the Liberals make the removal of U.S. duties on softwood lumber a real priority and secure a fair deal for Canadians?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns. May 27th, 2019

With regard to the Rental Construction Financing Initiative: (a) what are the details of projects approved to receive loans, including the number and sizes of proposed rental units, project locations, interest rate, and repayment period; (b) on what basis has the government calculated affordability of proposed rental units of varying sizes for approved projects; and (c) how will the government ensure rental units in approved projects remain affordable over the long term?

The Environment May 16th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank both of my colleagues for their great speeches.

In my riding of Kootenay—Columbia, there is a group called the Regional District of Central Kootenay, or RDCK, which is a collection of mayors and rural representatives who come together around important issues.

Recently, they put forward a motion recognizing that climate change is “an urgent reality requiring rapid decarbonisation of energy" and that “[p]reparing for increased resilience and adaptability is critical.” They went on to say that the RDCK “recognizes that the world is in a global state of climate crisis” and requires an imperative for all orders of government to undertake “'rapid and far-reaching' changes to building construction, energy systems, land use, and transportation.”

I would like my colleague to comment on the role of municipalities, but also on how the NDP is already proposing to deal with things like construction.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns May 15th, 2019

With regard to Gatineau Park: (a) what land within the current boundaries of Gatineau Park is provincially owned and controlled; (b) what agency or agencies are responsible for law enforcement in Gatineau Park and under what authority; (c) what are the powers of the National Capital Commission (NCC) conservation officers in Gatineau Park; (d) which level of government is responsible for the water quality of Gatineau Park's lakes, ponds and streams; (e) why does the National Capital Act not require that the responsible Minister report on the state of Gatineau Park at least every two years, as is required by the National Parks Act on the status of National Parks; (f) how does the protection regime in Gatineau Park compare to that in Canada's National Parks; (g) why is Gatineau Park not managed by Parks Canada, the only federal agency which has the requisite experience and expertise to manage an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Category II protected area; (h) how many properties in Gatineau Park acquired by the NCC since 2008 have been leased back to their previous owners or other parties, and under what conditions; (i) how many properties in Gatineau Park acquired since 2008 have been re-naturalized or been left to re-naturalize; (j) how does the NCC evaluate the impact of private property development on the ecological integrity of Gatineau Park; (k) has the NCC sought to undertake negotiations with the responsible municipalities, or the Government of Quebec, with the view to arriving at mutually acceptable standards for private property development in order to mitigate the impact of such development on the natural environment of Gatineau Park; and (l) what impact does provincial ownership of land within the boundaries of Gatineau Park have on the management of the park?