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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

An Act to Provide for the Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services November 23rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, this truly is a black Friday for labour negotiations and unions across Canada. I am very proud of the work done by the men and women who deliver postal services in my riding of Kootenay—Columbia. I want to read something that came from the communiqué earlier this morning from CUPW:

This morning, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) condemned the [Liberal] government’s back-to-work legislation.

When one looks at what is happening here, and I think about how important the unions were in creating the kind of Canada we have today and the kinds of benefits they brought to all workers in Canada, one wonders whether those would have happened if back-to-work legislation was in place when those improvements were being suggested for Canadians. We then add to that closure on a super-closure, which is doubling down on doublespeak in this House.

I want to try to understand how the member can possibly say that Liberals support unions and labour in Canada when they are bringing in back-to-work legislation and closure on a super-closure on debate?

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation Act November 22nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, in my past life I was both a union member and then in management. Regardless of which position I was in, I always respected fair collective bargaining as being fundamental to good labour relations. When legislation is threatened a couple of weeks ahead of time and then potentially brought in, it puts the balance very much on the side of management and takes it away from union workers. How is that fair, and how does it lead to positive labour relations going forward?

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation Act November 22nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, fundamentally what we are doing today is looking at whether it is fair in the collective bargaining process to threaten and then bring in back-to-work legislation, this time with our postal workers. Whether it is a Conservative government or a Liberal government, through rain, snow, sleet or hail, and today in Ottawa through minus 25° temperatures, our postal workers are out there delivering mail on our behalf.

When we look at these processes today we must ask this question. Is it fair to our postal workers in a collective bargaining process to threaten legislation and then bring it in? How does that lead to a balanced outcome during a collective bargaining process? It is just not right.

National Local Food Day Act November 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, clearly, local food inspires. I would like to start by thanking my constituents from Kootenay—Columbia for inspiring me to move Bill C-281, and for building our local food economy. I would also like to thank my colleagues in the House for all of their inspiring speeches. We can see how excited they are about local food in their particular ridings, as they should be.

Why should we support local food? First of all, as we know, it is healthy. We know where it comes from and who is producing it. It is important for the economy. It puts millions of dollars into the local economies and brings tourism to communities. I saw that in the farmers' markets I visited this summer. Of course, it is also important for farm-stay tourism and restaurants. When people travel the country, they look for local food in local restaurants. It is environmentally friendly. It reduces carbon dioxide and the use of plastics. It provides community food security and keeps farmers farming, which we absolutely need to do across Canada. It brings together families and communities. Healthy local agriculture also means a healthy local environment. We need healthy soils and pollinators to make farming and local food work. It leads to protection of water and watersheds, and it protects agricultural land from development.

How can we encourage local food? We can buy locally, support local growers and farmers, and ensure there are healthy local fish and wildlife populations and opportunities to harvest them in rural areas. We can ask our local mayors and councils to make vacant city lots available for agriculture right next door, and look for ways to remove any barriers from farm to fork and encourage all levels of government to focus on local food and local food security. Lastly, we can encourage our senators, locally for people around Canada, to support timely passage of this bill. For people in the House who know people in the Senate, they can talk to their colleagues there to support timely passage of Bill C-281 in the Senate so we can celebrate local food all across Canada on Friday, October 11, 2019, as part of national local food day.

I thank all my colleagues in the House.

National Local Food Day Act November 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, that is an unfortunate situation in many aspects, of course.

Again, if we can grow more food locally, most stores would be happy to carry that food and sell it locally. It would save on transportation costs. It would save the stores money, it would help the environment, and we also would not have situations like that happening, which was unfortunate for the people involved as well as in terms of the concept.

National Local Food Day Act November 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the member brings up an excellent point.

Again, when I was mayor of Cranbrook, I met with the president of Save-On-Foods, which is a B.C. company that is in many of our communities. I asked him that question. I asked, “If we end up developing a greenhouse operation in Cranbrook and producing vegetables, would you buy them locally?” He said, “Absolutely, that is the preferred way to do it.” They save money doing it that way. It cuts down on environmental costs, but also on actual costs for companies if they get products grown locally.

The more we can grow locally, the better it is. We need to have industries or stores that are leaders in their area to do that.

National Local Food Day Act November 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I have not actually done the calculations. I just know that across Canada, as local food grows in importance, we are going to get better and better at ensuring food security for the future.

I will give an example. When I was mayor of Cranbrook, we started to have a look at what kind of opportunity there was to use our vacant lots in communities. Virtually every city has lots that are currently empty. We could, instead, turn those into gardens to help grow local food.

When I was in Korea, again when I was mayor and we had a friendly city relationship, we stayed at a hotel in downtown Wonju, South Korea. What was once a vacant city block was entirely covered in vegetable gardens.

We can certainly do much better to ensure that we have food locally, and of course if we have extra, we are always happy to export it.

National Local Food Day Act November 8th, 2018

moved that Bill C-281, An Act to establish a National Local Food Day, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise today for third reading of my bill, Bill C-281, to create a national local food day the Friday before Thanksgiving every year.

For those at home who are not familiar with private members' bills or how they work, when we become a member of Parliament, our name go into a hat. There were 338 names put into a hat. Names are drawn out and whichever spot our name comes up in becomes the number of our bill. I was about 111 with respect to private members' bills.

The first introduction of my bill was on June 1 of 2016, and then it was almost two years later, May 30, that my bill was debated at second reading. A number of members of Parliament from all parties gave some really inspiring speeches about how important local food was in their ridings. I very much thank them for that.

From there, the bill went to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food and it was approved unanimously on June 20. I would like to thank the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford for his support at the agriculture committee.

Why is local food important and why is there support right across Canada for my bill? I will start locally.

In the summer of 2018, I went on a farmers' market tour around my riding. My riding is 64,000 square kilometres and there are a lot of communities to visit. I attended farmers' markets with my tent and table in 10 communities. In the 11th community, I had the privilege of opening the summer market. Over the course of the summer, I was in Fernie, Jaffray, Cranbrook, Creston, Salmo, Nelson, Revelstoke, Golden, Radium, Invermere and Kimberley. Everywhere I went, people were excited about local food and the national local food day bill.

Why is that? It is because local food benefits us in so many different ways. First, it is healthy. We know where it comes from when it is grown locally. It is important to food security. We do not have to import food that we grow locally, and food security is going to become a growing issue internationally, particularly with climate change. It benefits the local economy. I know the farmers' market in Cranbrook, after about three years of being in existence, was generating over $1 million a year in benefit to the economy.

Going around to the various communities this summer and participating in the farmers' markets, I met tourists from all over Canada and the world who had come to farmers' markets in local communities. Therefore, it also benefits tourism, as well as the economy and food security.

One of the fastest growing agriculture products in Canada is organic food, which people can get at farmers' markets, as well as many local grocery stores. According to Canada Organic, organic food, comprised mostly of fresh vegetables and fruit, was valued at $4.4 billion in 2017, with 66% of Canadian shoppers saying they bought organic food, and that is on the increase.

Growing food locally is also a benefit to the environment. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its report on October 10. One of the key messages that came out very strongly from this report was that we were already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels, among other changes. At the current rate of warming, the world is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052.

Locally grown or harvested food has a much smaller carbon dioxide footprint than food imported from around the world. It is essential to our food security. Increasingly, locally grown food is one important way to fight climate change.

A few weeks ago during question period, a question was raised about the impact on climate change of greenhouse marijuana grow operations that used a lot of electricity and plastics. The best way to counter that from an environment perspective is for the government to give priority to outdoor marijuana grow operations. I can assure everyone that marijuana farmers in the Kootenays are ready to do their part to help save the planet.

In addition to hearing directly from people, there was a petition that circulated around the riding this summer, which again drew support from across Canada. That petition talked about the need to strengthen the connection between consumers and producers of Canadian food and the need to support our local farmers. The petition underlined that a national local food day to celebrate food is one of the most elemental characteristics of all of the cultures that populate this nation. Therefore, it called upon the Government of Canada to support the NDP's Bill C-281, an act to establish a national local food day, and designate the Friday before Thanksgiving every year as national local food day.

We also circulated postcards. One of those postcards invited people to draw and send back to us what they thought represented local food. Three-year-old Madeleine from greater Vancouver sent me a postcard with a carrot drawn on it, and Lisa from Saskatoon sent a card back saying “Local Vegetables - Hooray!”, so there is a lot of support from that perspective.

There is also a lot of support from other organizations, including provincial governments. I will start with British Columbia's Minister of Agriculture, Lana Popham, who sent us a letter. It reads:

I am writing in support of Private Member Bill, C-28: An Act to establish a National Local Food Day.

...The establishment of a National Local Food Day encourages Canadians to choose local food products and supports our farmers, ranchers, fishers, hunters and food processors, while also promoting healthy living.

This is a letter from the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry from Alberta, the Hon. Oneil Carlier. It says:

The Government of Alberta recognizes the tremendous contributions that the local food sector makes to a strong and diversified economy and to the quality of life of Albertans and Canadians...

I have written a letter to Chair of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food expressing my support for your bill. I look forward to further opportunities for provincial and federal governments to work together to support our local food producers and processors, and recognize the contributions that they make to the economy, the environment, and the health and wellbeing of all Canadians.

From Manitoba, the Minister of Agriculture Ralph Eichler writes:

This letter is to express Manitoba Agriculture's support for your Private Member's Bill, C-28: An Act to Establish a National Local Food Day, which would designate the Friday before Thanksgiving each year as “National Local Food Day”....

Having a national designated day to focus awareness of food produced in Canada, especially at a time of giving thanks, is an excellent way to celebrate food and recognize the hard work that goes into its production.

From across Canada, other supporters include the Canadian Horticultural Council, the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, the Chicken Farmers of Canada, the Canadian Meat Council, the Egg Farmers of Canada, the Turkey Farmers of Canada, Restaurants Canada, food action coalitions, farmers markets, and the list goes on.

There are a number of food events across Canada. We encourage every riding, every province, to celebrate food locally as well. I will list some that are currently occurring in Canada. The national local food day complements the many local and regional farmers markets and food festivals that already take place across Canada. There are many organizations that promote Canada's culinary wealth, including World Food Day on October 16, National Food Day, Feast of Fields, the Nelson Garden Festival, Taste of the Danforth, the Shediac Lobster Festival and many more. Canadians love locally produced food and we are proud of the world-class excellence of our products. We need more opportunities to celebrate local food.

I know that each member of the House is proud of the growers, producers and harvesters in their particular part of the country. In order to help shine a light on their important contributions to food security, a healthy environment and a healthy economy, I ask that members continue their support for Bill C-281 and let it move on to the Senate. Let us join together across Canada and recognize the Friday before Thanksgiving each year as national local food day.

I very much appreciate all the support that we have had to date, and I look forward to that support continuing.

Criminal Code November 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I would like to briefly address preliminary inquiries.

Preliminary inquiries are, in essence, dress rehearsals for subsequent trials, and they are only used in 3% of cases. Therefore, eliminating these is not really going to save a lot of time. Sometimes, during these preliminary inquiries, the Crown's case can collapse entirely and one does not end up having to hold a much longer trial.

Critics also claim that their elimination can limit the rights of the accused to fully comprehend the case against them, and may increase wrongful convictions. In fact, the Canadian Bar Association said:

Bill C-75 would restrict preliminary inquiries to offences with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. This would not reduce court delays and would negatively impact the criminal justice system as a whole. As lawyers who practice in Canada’s criminal courts every day, we know the practical value of preliminary inquiries to the criminal justice system.

I am interested in what the member would have to say to the Canadian Bar Association on preliminary inquiries.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 November 6th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I would like to read a quote from Teamsters Canada:

For now, the government must continue their efforts to crack down on tax evasion. Teamsters also urge the government to eliminate the tax credit on stock options.... The write-off disproportionately benefits Canada's richest CEOs, who already earn over 193 times the average worker's salary.

I am interested in the member's comments on why the tax credit on stock options was not included in the budget. We have been asking for quite some time to have this eliminated.