Interventions in the House of Commons
 
 
 
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View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
2019-06-17 15:08 [p.29188]
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. It was one of the proudest moments of my life when I was elected to the first Legislative Assembly of Nunavut. There was such hope and promise.
However, fast-forward 20 years, and life is not better for Nunavummiut. For many, it is worse. Nunavut only works if we can build a sustainable economy, and we can only do that with the support that was promised by the federal government. It will take massive investments in infrastructure, housing, roads, ports and connectivity.
Will the Prime Minister finally work with the Government of Nunavut and fulfill the commitment Canada made 20 years ago, or do we have to wait another 20?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
2019-06-12 14:05 [p.28983]
Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister brushed off my call for an inquiry into nutrition north Canada. It seems she does not understand the serious effect the failure of this program has on northern communities. In Nunavut, over 50% of the households are affected by food insecurity. In case she does not understand that, it means they do not have reliable access to affordable, nutritious food.
In the eight years since its launch, successive governments have spent over half a billion dollars on nutrition north and all they have achieved in Nunavut is a 20% hike in the number of households affected by food insecurity. Yesterday, I was not joking when I said we should call it the “Phoenix” food program.
The government cannot continue to hide its head in the sand. Nunavummiut need help and they want answers. Why has this program failed so spectacularly? An inquiry would tell us that and help us find new ways forward to ensure food security for our communities. I call on the Government of Canada to immediately open an inquiry into nutrition north.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
2019-06-11 15:12 [p.28925]
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs.
Since it launched in 2011, successive governments have spent over half a billion dollars on the nutrition north program. In that time, the number of households in Nunavut affected by food insecurity has risen from 33% to over 50%. With results that bad, we should call it the Phoenix food program.
Nunavummiut wants answers. Will you open an inquiry into nutrition north so we can understand why it has failed so spectacularly and find a way to ensure food security for our communities?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
2019-05-31 12:08 [p.28355]
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Indigenous Services. I have been proud to fight for the funding announced last fall for an addictions and trauma treatment centre for Nunavut. However, there are no youth-specific facilities in Nunavut. Our youth face long delays and often have to leave the territory for mental health treatment, if they are lucky.
“Our Minds Matter”, a report issued by Nunavut's children and youth representative, states that our youth have rightly judged the current system to be inadequate and failing to meet their needs.
Will the minister listen to the voices of our youth and give them access to the mental health services and supports they need and have a right to in their own territory?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
2019-05-16 15:10 [p.27955]
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.
Yesterday in the House, the minister said that he would work with Quebec and the provinces to ensure that projects were approved in time for this construction season. Nunavut has a housing crisis that is contributing to high rates of poverty, suicide and tuberculosis. The territory does not have reliable access to the Internet. We need connectivity to educate our children and move our economy forward.
Will the minister extend the same courtesy to the Government of Nunavut and approve housing and connectivity projects in time for the summer construction season?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
2019-05-10 12:06 [p.27637]
Madam Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Indigenous Services.
When it comes to health care, Nunavummiut do not get the same level of support from the federal government as other Canadians. The national average for federal support is 20%. Nunavut receives less than 10%. As a consequence, the Government of Nunavut is forced to pick up the tab for programs for which the federal government is responsible. The GN spends in excess of $50 million a year above what it is funded to administer the non-insured health benefits program.
Does the Minister of Indigenous Services think this fair and will he work with the Government of Nunavut to fully fund the administration of this program?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
2019-05-09 11:08 [p.27557]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the government and the Government House Leader for allowing me some time to speak to this legislation even though they know I am not speaking in support of it. I do appreciate the opportunity.
I think it is important that my voice be heard. I am the only Inuk in the House who can speak freely and vote with my conscience. I cannot in all good conscience support this legislation, because it excludes the Inuit language.
When I voted against Bill C-91 at second reading, I said I would bring forward an amendment, and I did. The minister said in the House that he was open to amendments and was hoping to find one that would work. I spoke with him personally about the intent of my amendment, and he seemed disposed to it.
It was a pretty innocuous amendment. ITK, which has spoken out and come out strongly against this legislation, would not have supported my amendment. Its members felt that the legislation did not go far enough, that it was not strong enough. They worked with my colleagues in the NDP to bring forward other amendments at committee.
In my discussions with the minister, he indicated to me that part of the problem with the amendments and what ITK was looking for with the legislation was that it did not fit the mandate and the scope of the legislation. I was very careful to draft my amendment to make sure that it fit within the scope and the mandate of the legislation.
Having sat on the other side, I understand that we are limited as to what we can and cannot do by the mandate that we have. I was very cognizant of that in bringing forward that amendment. My amendment simply left the door open for the minister to have the ability to work with Inuit for the inclusion of our language.
We have often heard the Prime Minister and ministers in the House claim that when it comes to committees, members are independent. We hear that they are not told how to vote at committee. I now know that is not the case. At this committee, we have the same old same old. All the Liberal members voted my amendment down, as they were told. In fact, they voted down every single opposition amendment.
I may be a little naive, but I am of the belief that committees of the House are supposed to be where all members, regardless of party affiliation, can work together to make improvements to legislation. Believe me, this legislation needs improving.
To vote down amendments without regard or consideration, simply because one is a Liberal and others are not, is childish politics. It has no place in our democracy.
In Nunavut, we govern by consensus. We have no political divisions. All members work together for the good of the people. We could use more of that in this place. Bill C-91 would be a better piece of legislation for it.
Last week, I asked the Prime Minister why, in the budget, he was funding ITK directly and bypassing the Government of Nunavut to deal with our housing and health care crises, even though the Government of Nunavut is the service provider. He got pretty hot under the collar. He was very agitated when he said, “I will make no apologies for a distinctions-based approach”.
That is exactly the approach that ITK thought was being used when developing this legislation. However, it has become very clear that the government never had any intention of using it, and this is one of the major problems that ITK has with it.
In those comments, the Prime Minister seemed to be saying that for the budget he was taking a nation-to-nation approach with Inuit. Well, he cannot have it both ways, nation building with Inuit in one bill and excluding us on another.
This is very important legislation and long overdue. The preservation of languages is important to all cultures. Now, for the first time, we are recognizing indigenous languages, ensuring they are protected from extinction, just not all of them.
For that reason, because Inuit languages are not included in the legislation, I cannot support it. I look forward to any comments or questions from members.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
2019-05-09 11:15 [p.27558]
Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak for the government as to the timing of the legislation, but I have heard it was trying to bring forward other pieces of legislation that were derailed. The Liberals felt they needed to bring something forward, so this was brought forward. ITK and NTI feel that this was rushed and that more time could have been taken to ensure it was done appropriately and better.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
2019-05-09 11:17 [p.27558]
Mr. Speaker, as I said before, I agree with the principle of the legislation. The member is saying that we need to work together to continually improve things. I provided the Liberals an opportunity to do that and they chose to defeat the amendment.
I spoke with the minister. I was very cognizant to bring forward an amendment that fit within the scope and the mandate of what he had to work with. It would have given him the ability to open that door to work with Inuit. The Liberals chose to defeat that.
It was a lost opportunity. I wish the Liberals would have taken that opportunity. Bill C-91 would have been better for it.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
2019-05-09 11:20 [p.27558]
Mr. Speaker, to my recollection, that is the case. However, as the government House leader pointed out, some amendments were accepted. I would have to go back and check. When I was in attendance, all the ones that were brought forward by opposition at committee were defeated. However, I am not 100% sure if that is the exhaustive list of them.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
2019-05-09 11:22 [p.27559]
Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out, all the amendments that were brought forward when I was at committee were defeated. However, I did take the minister's word that he was looking for a solution and he would come up with an amendment that would keep everybody happy. It would be a compromise. It did not seem to be the case with my amendment.
The member has said that we are dealing with an amended bill, but none of the amendments deal with any of the issues that were raised by ITK or NTI. They stated publicly that the legislation was in no way co-developed with Inuit. As the member for Nunavut representing the largest population of Inuit in Canada, I cannot support the legislation because of the concerns they have raised, which were apparently ignored by the government.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
2019-05-09 11:24 [p.27559]
Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out, the president of ITK and the president of NTI spoke publicly against the legislation because of that exclusion. As I mentioned at the onset of the development of Bill C-91, they were led to believe it would be a distinctions-based approach to developing the legislation. It seems that now that we have it, it is not.
One of the things I tried to bring forward with my amendment, which was a soft amendment and it would have been a very friendly, easy amendment to accept, would have allowed the minister to have the door open to work with Inuit, if he chose to do so. It was not a “shall”, and it was not a “must”; it was a “may”.
I am kind of baffled as to why that amendment was defeated. It in no way committed a government, the current government or any government in the future, to any type of direction or commitment, which is something that cannot be done. I was very careful to put forward that amendment in a way that allowed the government to move forward and have the ability to recognize the wishes of Inuit in the legislation.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
2019-05-09 16:39 [p.27604]
Mr. Speaker, when it comes to voting on this piece of legislation, would the member join me and maybe three other people to stand and force a recorded vote?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
2019-05-09 16:43 [p.27605]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for committing to stand with me.
We have heard from the government how important this piece of legislation is, and members from the opposition are saying the same thing. If the legislation is so important, Canadians deserve to see how their representatives stand through a recorded vote, rather than just seeing it agreed to on division.
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