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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

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 October 31st, 2016

Madam Speaker, deficits are an interesting thing. Of course, the principle behind deficits is that we leave them to our children and grandchildren to pay. The government started during the election with a $10-billion deficit then went to a $30-billion deficit. I have heard figures as high as $47 billion.

It is easy to be in government if one is willing to write cheques whenever an opportunity comes forward, but I wonder if the member could tell us how much she thinks might be too much, in terms of accumulating debt.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 October 31st, 2016

Madam Speaker, during the election, we had 12 community debates in my riding of Kootenay—Columbia. In every one of them, the Liberal candidate talked about how the Liberal Party, if elected, would lower the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%.

Small businesses make up almost 95% of the businesses in Canada and are very important in my riding and across Canada.

I would like to ask the member, what happened to that promise? Should a promise made during an election not be kept once a party is actually in government?

Canada Business Corporations Act October 26th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I have always believed that the more diverse a committee, or a board, or the House of Commons, the better the discussion and the decision-making.

I am happy to see these changes coming forward. I also hope that the hon. member will support the amendment, and actually attach some targets to it.

I am curious, if there are no targets, what is the government planning to do to at least measure whether this is actually having any impact or not moving forward?

Agriculture and Agri-Food October 20th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, last week I was happy to spend Thanksgiving with friends and family in my beautiful riding of Kootenay—Columbia. On October 16, I celebrated World Food Day with the Kootenay conservation group, Wildsight, through its Food For Thought online summit.

The summit offered communities across the country an opportunity to engage in meaningful discussion on what we can do to raise awareness about food security at a local level. Supporting and celebrating local farmers, food manufacturers, and retailers is essential to achieving food security goals.

As we take time this week to celebrate National Small Business Week, we should also celebrate all levels of local food production in Canada. That is why I was proud to table my private member's bill, Bill C-281, which would designate the Friday before Thanksgiving each year as national local food day.

Food matters from farm to fork. I urge all members of Parliament to support our local food businesses and national local food day.

Standing Orders and Procedure October 6th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, we are here to try to make Parliament work better, and there have been some great suggestions today.

From the point of view of my constituents, question period is not exactly a shining example of how we should be working together collaboratively in the House. In fact, the system right now is partisan questions and partisan answers, which does not inform my constituents about very much at all, other than that we can be quite partisan.

I am interested in the member's views on how we can improve question period moving forward, so that we actually have serious questions and serious answers.

Standing Orders and Procedure October 6th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, as a new member to the House, I have found it interesting to watch how we work over the last year. I want to address two aspects of it.

First is the length of time for speeches. I have spent a lot of my life in communications. The principle was to never take 10 minutes to say what could be said most effectively in five minutes. I find the principle exactly the opposite here. We take 10 or sometimes 20 minutes to say what could be said more effectively in five minutes. Therefore, I would like to make a recommendation that we move to five-minute speeches.

The second aspect is on question period. I tell my constituents to watch question period if they are interested in theatre. If they are interested in actually getting information, they should probably not watch it. Therefore, my proposal is either to look at the British model, where the Speaker chooses who is going to speak, or instead go to a rotational basis for the opposition members so that all members of Parliament get the opportunity to ask their questions on behalf of their constituents on a rotational basis, which is very inclusive. Every member in the opposition would get to speak.

I am curious what my colleague thinks of those two recommendations.

Fight Against Food Waste Act October 4th, 2016

Clap for my wife Audrey, not for me.

We, as members of Parliament, have an opportunity to be leaders in this area and implement tools so that all stakeholders in the supply chain, from farmers to consumers, can reduce their food waste.

Food waste is everyone's business because it has both social and environmental impacts. At the same time that we know food waste is a problem in Canada, more than 850,000 people struggle to feed themselves each month, and 36% of them are children. Since 2008, food bank use in Canada has climbed to more than 26% of the population actually having to use food banks at least occasionally. That is simply unacceptable in a country like ours. Reducing food waste is an important part of the solution.

It is important to note that food waste is not the same as food loss. Food that has become unsuitable for consumption due to natural hazards would be considered loss. However, safe food that is thrown away voluntarily, or because it is not commercially viable, or because there is a lack of awareness of what it could have been used for to feed people or even animals, is considered waste.

To truly understand the magnitude of food waste, it is important to consider the numbers. It is estimated that $31 billion worth of food ended up in landfills or composting sites in 2014. However, that is only the tip of the iceberg when we factor in wasted energy, labour costs, transportation, and capital investments in infrastructure and inventory. Added all together, the true cost of food waste is $107 billion.

According to Statistics Canada, every Canadian wastes 183 kilograms, or just over 403 pounds of food a year. This represents the equivalent of throwing $771 per year per consumer right into the garbage. In other words, over 15% of a person's grocery cart ends up in the trash without being consumed, which costs about $50 per week per family.

With regard to the environmental impact, landfills and avoidable food waste are disastrous. The decomposition of organic matter creates methane, a seriously harmful greenhouse gas, and overwhelms composting facilities and landfills. The carbon footprint of food waste is estimated at 3.3 billion tonnes, making food waste the third top emitter of greenhouse gases after the U.S. and China. One tonne of food waste emits 5.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

It is easy to see this problem as very daunting, but taking concrete steps to reduce food waste across the supply chain is doable. Other countries, provinces, and communities are doing just that, and I would like to highlight a few examples of each to show how positive change is possible.

Food waste is an issue worldwide. To date, France has led the charge and was the first country to legislate against food waste. The law, which was passed by its parliament this past February, bans supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food, and establishes a hierarchy of actions to fight food waste. The law fines retailers who voluntarily destroy edible food, and amends the legal framework to remove liability in order to facilitate the donation of name-brand products directly by factories. Lastly, it includes an education program about food waste in schools and businesses. There is now a movement to expand the law across the European Union.

In the U.S., the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was passed in 1996. It encourages citizens to donate food and reduce waste. In Italy, Last Minute Market was created in 1998 to help shops and retailers recover and redistribute their unsold food to various organizations.

In Canada there are important examples of communities, provinces and organizations taking action on food waste reduction. In Quebec, waste reduction week is held every October, and two petition with more than 29,000 signatures have been presented to the national assembly requesting that the government facilitates donations of unsold food by food retailers.

In Ontario, the Ontario Association of Food Banks and Second Harvest work in partnership to reduce waste and combat food insecurity.

In the prairies, groups such as Alberta Care, Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council and Dig In Manitoba work to raise awareness among elected officials, consumers and retailers about food waste.

In B.C., the legislative assembly passed the Food Donor Encouragement Act which provides that people or businesses donating food are not liable for damage caused to consumers under certain conditions. B.C.'s Ministry of Environment is also working with the US Environmental Protection Agency to develop a toolkit to help consumers reduce food waste.

From my riding of Kootenay—Columbia, I am proud to share outstanding examples of community action to reduce food waste, which will hopefully inspire my colleagues in the House with what is possible and what can be achieved.

My first example comes from the city of Nelson, the Nelson Food Cupboard, with its long-standing commitment to providing its clients with healthy fresh foods. It runs a number of great food security programs including: the harvest rescue program, which allows local gardeners and fruit growers to share excess produce with volunteers and with the Food Cupboard; the Grow a Row and fresh produce donations, which encourages gardeners to drop off surplus garden produce to the Food Cupboard; and the food recovery partnership, a partnership with Nelson's historic Hume Hotel, where it receives excess food from the hotel kitchen, repackages it and hands it out to the Food Cupboard's clients, which include families with hungry children.

On a personal note, when I was mayor of Cranbrook and we had food left over at a city function, I would personally package it up and take it to Street Angels, a truly innovative organization under the leadership of the Ktunaxa First Nation. It serves a very important role in helping out homeless people of all cultural backgrounds, and I encourage all members to Google Cranbrook Street Angels to learn more about this amazing model of community support.

In the community of Revelstoke, a population of over 7,100 people, food security has been identified as a community priority. In 2014, the city of Revelstoke commissioned the development of a food security strategy. This strategy included in its goals to increase access to local and regional food that was sustainably and ethically produced through personal, business and municipal government actions, and further set as an objective to reduce food waste whereby organic waste products were used as valuable agricultural inputs and/or products that were still edible were recovered and redistributed.

Community Connections in Revelstoke collected surplus food and redistributed it by engaging local food producers and distributors, including a major grocery store. It developed and provided an affordable, reliable system for the donations of surplus food and helped donors feel more comfortable about liability concerns by educating them. It ensured the food recovery program met all food safety regulations.

It picked up donations at the weekly farmer's market. The food recovery program in August had its biggest day with over 800 pounds of food donated in one day. Over the three month period, 16,718 pounds of food were recovered, worth almost $42,000, and it was redistributed to families in need.

Comment boards were posted in the local food distribution area to capture the feedback of those receiving the food. This is what one client said, “Thank you so much. My husband and I were having a hard time making ends meet and this helped us so much. We were able to feed our son AND pay rent this month. This community has been a helping hand when we had no one else. Please keep up the program and great work. Every bit helps.” That really captures it: every bit helps.

It is time for the federal government to show leadership on this important file by building on to the momentum that is happening in communities, in provinces across the country and around the world.

The government says that it is concerned about food security, the environment and social inequity. This bill provides a clear way to take concrete action on food waste, which touches on each of these important areas.

I encourage every member of Parliament to support Bill C-231 and to support the reduction of food waste in their communities. Working together we can build a better Canada.

Fight Against Food Waste Act October 4th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the lack of food security is an important issue facing many Canadians. Today I am pleased to speak in support of a bill related to food security, Bill C-231, the fight against food waste.

This legislation aims to provide for the development of a national strategy to reduce food waste in Canada and establish a national food waste awareness day on October 16 of each year, which is also World Food Day.

Members in the House will recall in the spring when I introduced a private member's bill to celebrate local food day on the last Friday before Thanksgiving. I would encourage all members to think about that this Friday and celebrate their local food producers. If they cannot do that, it is my 38th wedding anniversary and they can all celebrate that as well.

Business of Supply September 29th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech and for the list of much-need improvements that are potentially coming.

The problem is this. In my riding of Kootenay—Columbia, my constituents care deeply about human rights and they also care deeply about well-paying jobs. When they look at what has happened recently with some of these arms sales, they tell me they are concerned that Canada's reputation, nationally and internationally, is one of caring more about money than about human rights. That is the message they give to me. That is where we are now.

The proposal we have from my colleague this morning is forward looking. How can we give Canadians more confidence in the future that Canada is doing the right thing about arms sales? A multi-party committee—I will not say all parties, respecting my Bloc and Green colleagues—looking at arms sales, making perhaps better decisions for Canada and its future, will potentially still ensure that there are well-paying jobs, but be able to change the opinion that many of my constituents have right now that the Liberal government cares more about money than it does about human rights.

Would the hon. member not agree that a multi-party committee focused on this issue may give a greater sense of confidence to Canadians as a whole and certainly the people in my riding of Kootenay—Columbia?

The Environment September 28th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Alberta has been a world heritage site for more than three decades. In response to a petition by Mikisew Cree First Nation, the United Nations began an investigation into the government's failure to protect the park from impacts of oil, gas, and hydro projects, including Site C in British Columbia. This could land the park on the UN's list of world heritage sites in danger.

Will the minister and her colleagues work together to better protect and preserve Wood Buffalo?