Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Essex (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2008, with 29.06% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Agriculture May 12th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, since 2000, Canada has been affected by the introduction of three devastating imported forest pests, the emerald ash borer in southwestern Ontario, the Asian longhorned beetle in Ontario and the brown spruce longhorn beetle in Halifax.

As part of its aggressive control and eradication campaign, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has ordered many trees destroyed.

Will the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food compensate tree owners for their losses?

Persons with Disabilities May 4th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the government has worked hard to break down the barriers Canadians with disabilities face on a daily basis.

Since 1996, tax relief for Canadians with disabilities and the persons who care for them has more than doubled, from $600 million annually to approximately $1.2 billion. Budget 2004 provides even greater tax relief for those who incur disability support expenses, such as sign language interpreters or talking textbooks. It also includes tax relief for caregivers who incur medical expenses and disability related expenses.

Canadians with disabilities want to be equal participants in the social and economic life of this country. The Liberal government is committed to helping them break down the barriers to mobility, employment and independence.

Emergency Preparedness April 1st, 2004

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Senate report, “National Emergencies: Canada's Fragile Front Lines”, characterized our most important border crossing, Windsor and Essex county, as being left in an unacceptable position, left to fend for itself in the event of a national emergency or terrorism threat.

Could the Deputy Prime Minister explain what measures are in place or anticipated to help emergency coordinators respond to such threats and how they are to obtain a federal response in the case that one is needed?

Commonwealth Day March 8th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to draw the attention of the House to Commonwealth Day.

Today's Commonwealth is home to more than 1.7 billion people in 54 countries, large and small, spread across every continent and ocean in the world.

This year's Commonwealth Day theme “Building a Commonwealth of Freedom” is about finding ways to overcome barriers to freedom, such as oppression, terrorism, hunger, poverty, disease and ignorance.

As a founding member, in 1931, Canada is one of the Commonwealth's strongest supporters and promoters. The dynamic and vibrant networks of partnerships that exist among the Commonwealth give the organization its unique strength in promoting democracy, development and cooperation.

Today is a day to mark and encourage the efforts that Commonwealth partners are making towards greater and lasting freedom for all. The Government of Canada congratulates the Commonwealth for its work.

Criminal Code February 23rd, 2004

Madam Speaker, today I rise to speak in favour of Bill C-12 and to oppose the motion to delete clause 7 of the bill.

Bill C-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act, supports the government's commitment announced in the Speech from the Throne to better protect children against sexual exploitation.

I would like to quote the preamble of Bill C-12, which provides:

WHEREAS the Parliament of Canada has grave concerns regarding the vulnerability of children to all forms of exploitation, including child pornography, sexual exploitation, abuse and neglect;

I am quite certain that this is a concern that all hon. members share, so I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the bill today. I would like to highlight criminal law reforms in Bill C-12. It proposes reforms in five key areas.

First, it proposes to strengthen the existing child pornography provisions by broadening the definition of written child pornography and narrowing the existing defences to one defence of public good and imposing a harms based test.

Second, it seeks to provide better protection for young persons against sexual exploitation.

Third, Bill C-12 proposes to increase penalties for offences against children.

Fourth, it seeks to facilitate testimony by child and other vulnerable victims and witnesses.

Last, it proposes the creation of a new offence or voyeurism to better protect Canadians against the surreptitious viewing or recording of a person in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy.

The motion before us seeks to delete two child pornography reforms proposed by Bill C-12. In other words, the motion proposes to maintain our current child pornography laws, including how they have been interpreted and applied in the well known child pornography case involving Robin Sharpe.

In contrast, however, Bill C-12 seeks to change the laws as they were interpreted and applied in the Sharpe case. Bill C-12 proposes two child pornography amendments.

First, it proposes to broaden the existing definition of written child pornography to include written material that describes prohibited sexual activity with children where that description is the predominant characteristic of the material and it is done for a sexual purpose.

Second, Bill C-12 proposes to narrow the existing defences into one defence of public good, a term that is now specifically defined in the bill.

As I understand this proposed reform, it would mean that no accused would have a defence for any child pornography offence where the material or act in question does not serve the public good or where it exceeds or goes beyond what serves the public good.

To me, these are very important reforms. I welcome them because they reflect what most Canadians believe, namely that written stories that are primarily describing acts of sexual abuse of children and that are written for a sexual purpose are in fact child pornography and should be prohibited.

I also believe that Canadians understand that police officers and prosecutors, for example, need to be able to possess and share child pornography for purposes related to the criminal investigation and prosecution of a child pornography case. Canadians understand that doctors may need to possess child pornography to help treat offenders. Canadians also understand that a film that laments that sexual abuse of a child or a documentary that is an exposé of a child sex abuse ring can also serve the public good.

We understand this and we expect the law to protect them, and that is what Bill C-12 does.

What Canadians do not understand is any attempt to provide Canadian children with less protection against child pornography. Unfortunately, that is exactly what this motion before us proposes. It proposes to give more protection to child pornographers and less protection to our children. That is why I cannot support this motion.

Contraventions Act February 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank the member for Yukon for clarifying some of what I will call the misconceptions that have been put forward to the House this afternoon. It is important that we stick to the facts that are in front of us, that we look at the legislation as it appears in front of us and that we look at the facts that have occurred throughout history to get us to this point in time.

I have heard some hon. members say today that we are rushing this bill through. It has been over 30 years since the last change in legislation with regard to the possession of marijuana and changes to the criminal issues around that.

We also have heard today we are legalizing marijuana. It is absolutely not true. Very clearly under the proposals included in the bill, cannabis possession and production will remain illegal in Canada under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. What is going to change is the approach to enforcement. Let us be very clear with Canadians on what exactly is happening and why we are doing it.

It also is important that we talk about fairness and about all Canadians because that is something that Canadians expect from Parliament, their legislators, law enforcement officers and the laws of the country.

I want to clarify and continue on the point the member for Malpeque explained earlier. In about half of all incidents in which law enforcement officers encounter individuals in possession of cannabis, no charge is laid. In large urban centres, police are much less likely to lay a charge for possession of small amounts of cannabis than in other parts of the country. Where a charge is laid in large urban centres or in other parts of the country, the accused is more likely to receive a discharge, particularly in large urban centres. We know that large urban centres and smaller rural communities are being treated differently under the current law.

We also know that heavy use of cannabis is linked to serious health problems, like respiratory damage and the impairment of physical coordination. The government believes that in the interests of health, cannabis use must remain illegal. When we put those together, how do we make this work for all Canadians?

We have to ensure that all Canadians are being treated fairly and equally under the law. What is in front of us is a proposal that would create different offences.

First, we begin with the offence of a fine for small quantities of possession. Why is that? It is to ensure that Canadians are treated fairly and equally. It is to ensure that when people are charged, they do not receive a criminal record for a small quantity, as was raised by the hon. member for Yukon and the hon. member for Malpeque, so they can continue on in their lives with their educations and careers. Therefore, someone who takes the opportunity to try marijuana or smokes one joint, as it is called, or takes a toke is not faced with a lifetime of prohibition against certain job activities or with problems as they cross the border into the United States because they have made that mistake one time.

We recognize there are other types of laws, and I correlate it to speeding. We recognize that speeding is illegal. Yet I guarantee that a large majority of members of the House have often gone over that maximum speed limit posted on the side of the road. It graduates into different offences as well and at some point it becomes reckless. At the point when it becomes reckless, people then suffer criminal consequences. Otherwise, people are faced with fines.

Who are we really after? We are really after the growers. We are really after those large grow ops. I heard the member for Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge say that over 90% comes from farm grow ops. We know the marijuana problem in our country stems from the grow ops. What are we doing in this legislation? We are addressing the problem. We are increasing the penalties. We are changing the law from a single offence to four separate offence categories. To me, we are dealing with the issue.

Let us take a look at those four new separate offences are. Before there was a single offence punishable by up to seven years of imprisonment, whereas today, under the law in front of us, an individual found growing one to three plants would face a summary conviction with a fine of up to $5,000 and/or 12 months in jail; four to 25 plants would constitute an offence punishable by up to $25,000 or 18 months in jail; 26 to 50 plants would result in a jail sentence of up to 10 years; and the penalty for growing more than 50 plants would be up to 14 years, which is double the current maximum term of imprisonment.

That to me goes to the heart of the problem, as recognized by those who have just spoken against the bill. Some 90% of the marijuana that is produced in this country is by grow ops. We are doubling the punishment those growers can receive to prohibit, stop and deter those types of operations.

We found those operations in small towns and in large communities. We know we must have better enforcement and deterrents. What else are we doing? We are providing those resources. Let us remember that not only do we want to be tougher on grow ops and be consistent in how we apply the law, we also want to ensure that this is in coordination with the national drug strategy, which it is.

That strategy aims to reduce the demand for and supply of drugs by addressing a number of underlying factors that are associated with substance use and abuse. Specifically, the strategy aims to: decrease the prevalence of harmful drug use; decrease the number of young Canadians who experiment with drug use; decrease the incidence of communicable diseases related to substance abuse; increase the use of alternative justice measures like drug treatment centres and courts; decrease the illicit drug supply, and address new and emerging drug trends; and decrease avoidable health, social and economic costs that are related to substance abuse.

The strategy goes further because it will be implemented in partnership with the provinces, territories, communities and stakeholders. The strategy would include education, prevention and health promotion initiatives, as well as enhanced enforcement measures. It addresses the concerns that have just been raised by members who are opposed. The government is doing exactly what people are suggesting we should be doing.

Activities to be undertaken would include community based initiatives that would focus on prevention, health promotion, treatment and rehabilitation. Public education campaigns would consist of and deal with substance abuse, with a specific focus on youth, with the issue of illegality, as well as educating our youth so they understand that the laws in Canada are different than the laws in other countries.

It is particularly important in a community like mine that borders on the largest international border crossing in the world. It is important that the youth in Windsor and Essex county understand that it is illegal to possess marijuana and that they understand that in Canada they will receive a fine for small possession, and they will go to jail for trafficking and growing large quantities of growing. If they cross the border with marijuana into the state of Michigan, they will suffer serious penalties and serious consequences.

It is important that we educate our youth so that they understand the differences between the countries, and that they understand what the law is about and why Canada has laws. It is important that they understand why the Americans have different laws. That is part of the plan, to educate.

We also want to have new funding for research activities on drug trends to enable more informed decision making to take place; a bi-annual national conference with all stakeholders to set research, promotion and prevention agendas; as well as new resources such as funding for increased enforcement efforts against marijuana grow operations and clandestine drug laboratories. That is exactly what I heard members on the opposite side telling us.

We had two committees that travelled across the country, a Senate committee and a House committee. Members of Parliament and Senate listened to Canadians. The House committee came back with a unanimous recommendation. There was no objection other than that the quantity should be smaller. Recommendation 41 stated:

The Committee recommends that the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Health establish a comprehensive strategy for decriminalizing the possession and cultivation of not more than thirty grams of cannabis for personal use.

This strategy should include: Prevention and education programs-- [which I just outlined].

The government is responding to the work of the members of Parliament and Senate. I hope that we are able to come together and recognize that we have a law that is 30 years old. Problems are being created for young people in the country, and older people as they are trying to go on in careers as we are changing the rules to cross borders. We need to change our laws. We need to react. We need to be proactive and we need to ensure that we go after the people who are responsible for 90% of the growing of marijuana in the country, which are the grow ops.

Georgian Express Flight 126 February 3rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, January 17 just off Pelee Island, Georgian Express flight 126 tragically crashed into Lake Erie with 10 people aboard.

As the minister responsible for the operations of the Canadian Coast Guard, could the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans please update the House on the recovery efforts which took place?

Georgian Express Flight 126 February 3rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I rise today under the provisions of Standing Order 31 to pay our respects to the 10 passengers and crew whose lives were so tragically lost in the crash of Georgian Express flight 126 into Lake Erie on January 17, 2004 shortly after takeoff from Pelee Island.

The passengers' families, friends and their communities sadly lost loved ones who had shared the enjoyment of one another's company on a hunting trip to the island. Also tragically killed were the young pilot and his friend from California. The names of those lost are: Jim Allen; Robert Brisco; Fred Freitas; Larry Janik; Jamie Levine; Wayne Price; Ted Reeve; Tom Reeve; Walter Sadowski; and Ronald Spencler.

In an instant our world can change. We can only imagine the anguish of the victims' survivors as the recovery efforts were hindered by severe weather and ice conditions out on the open lake. On behalf of the House, I extend my deepest sympathies to each of them, and our thanks to the courageous men and women of the Canadian Coast Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Transportation Safety Board, the coroner's office, and all others who made recovery possible while Erie was in winter's icy grip. God bless them all.

International Cooperation November 3rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the Butterfly 208 contest is about young Canadians who are looking for ways to make a personal contribution and to make a real difference in the world. It is an opportunity for us to get youth involved for an essential piece of the puzzle for development.

All hon. members in the House will be receiving a Butterfly 208 kit that talks about all the youth initiatives. I would encourage them to do as the hon. member for Peterborough has already done, to get involved in their communities, to educate their youth and to have them help and learn about what is happening in the developing world.

It is an opportunity, as I said, for Canadians to extend themselves to help face and make differences with the challenge of poverty.

International Aid October 8th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the government is very pleased to hear how far India has come in terms of its own development. The announcement by the government of India highlights that its ability to take a leadership role in its own development is very important.

We will continue to work toward reducing poverty for sustainable development around the globe to ensure that all countries, including Canada, will see the benefits of those results. The hon. member should be well aware of that.