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Last in Parliament May 2004, as Canadian Alliance MP for Edmonton North (Alberta)

Won her last election, in 2000, with 51.22% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions May 12th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, this may be my last chance for me to present a petition. I would like to present a petition on behalf of many Canadians. I have presented thousands already for people who use alternative medicine, such as vitamins and supplements. They spend thousands of dollars out of their pockets.

Now it says in the Income Tax Act, “as recorded by a pharmacist”, but there should be licensed health food stores that allow that as well. Also, because they spend many thousands of dollars on vitamins and supplements, they believe they should be GST exempt. This of course would help us in the long run as we baby boomers grow older.

Therefore, these petitioners call upon Parliament to take necessary steps to change paragraph 118.2(2)(n) of the Income Tax Act and that these things should be GST exempt.

I would like to pay tribute to Stella Melnychuk and her group Citizens for Choice in Health Care for their tenacity in bringing this issue forward time and again to Parliament, and certainly pray that something would be done about it finally.

The Love Boat May 5th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, on this day in history, May 5, 1986, the TV series The Love Boat docked for the very last time, but it seems the Liberal government is working on its sequel.

Let us see. Well, we certainly have the pleasure boat. Canada Steamship Lines is riding high, collecting a reported $161 million of taxpayer money.

Prime minister, Captain Stubing, is making Canadians seasick with his toing and froing about when to call the election.

Meanwhile, the always friendly ship's crew is busying handing out freebies to Liberal passengers on the Earnscliffe deck.

And health minister, Doc Bricker, with all that hair, might just be more charming than effective. From day to day his health care policies range all the way from port to starboard.

Oh look, it is time for a $100 million sponsorship break.

And now we are back. All aboard. Our good ship Liberal lollipop seems headed for rough electoral waters.

Whoa. It looks like the member from Hamilton is our first woman overboard. Was she pushed by the captain? Surely not. Anchors away.

It seems this Liberal love boat has run aground on fantasy island.

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act April 20th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the debate today. We could look at all the political ramifications of the bill, whether it will be tossed through before an election. However, I do not think that is the point. We are in this place to make good legislation. That has to be uppermost in our minds, regardless of whether the House prorogues.

What we need to do is look at some of the pros and cons. There is never anything totally wonderful about any particular bill. There is also never anything totally wrong about a bill either. We need to weigh the pros and the cons. Although, there is a lot of good stuff in this bill, there are some concerns, and I would like to address a few of those.

I too, like my colleague from Nanaimo—Cowichan, have lived on a reserve and have been a foster parent of many native children as well. I probably bring a somewhat different perspective to the table. I am somewhat familiar with that culture because I have lived in it and, of course, had children as well.

What we need to do, first and foremost, is realize that these are real people who have real concerns. I know the Westbank area is a tremendously prosperous area. The people have done a really good job in ensuring that businesses operate well and effectively. As some people have brought out, it is a concern that this will be a template for other agreements across the country, and there may be areas where business wise they are not as prosperous.

We need to ensure that whatever template we set in place that it is productive, useful and effective for any other group or area across the country.

As this debate rages, there has been talk about whether the people will be protected under the charter, or whether they will have a right to vote or have a say in matters. We know that about 8,000 people resident there, with only 430 members, I think it is. I believe the vote to go ahead with this was 195 to 170. This is not exactly what I call a screaming endorsement of something by any stretch. However, 50% plus one always wins. If children are playing soccer in recess in grade three, the guys with the most points always wins.

We know though that this agreement has been endorsed. However, if I were either a resident of Westbank or had a business there and if I were paying taxes, I would want to have a say. I have always said that about people and elections. People grumble and gripe about whoever is in power, and they go on a rant. When I hear that, I ask them if they voted. If they say no, but they say that they still have their opinion, I tell them that they do not have that right because they did not vote or participate in the process. We can understand the flip side of that also, if people are paying taxes and running some very successful businesses there.

It seems to me that if I were one of those people, I would want my say. I might not get my way, but I would certainly want to have my say and be included at the table. I think there are some questions about the bill and whether that will happen.

In terms of the charter and what jurisdictional area is in place or what the powers are, if it is a municipal government or a provincial or federal government, I think there are some concerns from legal experts. These concerns are certainly not from me because I am not that familiar with the situation. I have however alarm bells that go off and I want to ask particular questions about things, such as would that law supercede federal law. Of course we have people on both sides of the issue saying whether it will or not. However, before we pass legislation, we ought to know the answers to those questions first and foremost, so we know exactly what we are getting into.

In terms of people having rights or if there is taxation do they get representation, I am reminded of something else that we went through in the House several years ago, with people who owned homes on the Musqueam reserve in Vancouver on the UBC grounds. If a long term lease is taken out or if there is a commercial operation and people enter into that lease, they have the right to say they are going to quadruple or multiply by 10 that lease. There was a long term lease in place and when people signed it, they thought they would be safe. It looked like there would be some retirement income for them as an investment. However, what happened was pretty frightening for many of the people who had very expensive homes.

We need to have some of these questions answered before this gets rushed through the House. We should not put something through and then ask later if we made a mistake. It is better to look at it ahead of time.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004 April 1st, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I had no idea this was coming, that is for sure, but I am grateful. I want to thank my colleagues for talking about being skewered; I will continue to do that, maybe not from within these walls, but my colleagues know that I am an equal opportunity heckler. I heckle my own guys as much as I do anybody else. They understand that.

On my tribute to my mother, let me say thanks to the hon. member for Willowdale. She is deluxe and I appreciate her and my whole family. My colleague from the Island talked about 1867. I know I have been here a while, but in fact the only thing I share with our actual Confederation is that I was born on July 1. Although some days I feel like I have been here since 1867, in fact I share that anniversary with it.

I wish to thank my colleagues from the NDP and the Bloc so much. It has been just a great run.

Agnes Macphail was mentioned. She is one of my all-time heroes. Colleagues will know this and every now and again pages ask me about this. Every time I walk into the chamber through the foyer, I see that bust of Agnes Macphail there and I give it two pats on the head just to say thanks for what a wonderful job she did as the first ever woman in this place.

She was here in the 1920s when there were not the wonderful sound systems we have now. One of my favourite lines from my mentor, Agnes Macphail, is that some fellow, a parliamentarian, came up and asked her , “Well, Agnes, have you ever been mistaken for a man?” She said, “No, have you?” I will tell members there is a great way to get things across, is there not?

Mr. Speaker, let me just wind down because I know we have gone way too long, but I think what is important for us in life is to reproduce ourselves in other people, some physically; I have never given birth to children, although I may have grandkids some day through my stepchildren, Kari and Lane. I think it is important that we have the ability, whether it is in the House of Commons, physically, emotionally or spiritually, to reproduce ourselves. When I was first elected, Doug Campbell came to a banquet. He was one of the original Reformers, and a Progressive as well, and went on later to become the premier of Manitoba. Let me finish by saying for everyone who hears this that they should fancy themselves a reproducer of themselves in other people. This poem is called The Bridge Builder :

An old man, going a lone highway, Came at the evening, cold and gray, To a chasm, vast and deep and wide, Through which was flowing a sullen tide. The old man crossed in the twilight dim; That sullen stream had no fears for him; But he turned, when he reached the other side, And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near, “You are wasting your strength in building here. Your journey will end with the ending day; You never again must pass this way. You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide, Why build you the bridge at the eventide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head. “Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said, “There followeth after me today A youth whose feet must pass this way. This chasm that has been naught to me To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be. He, too, must cross in the twilight dim; Good friend, I am building the bridge for him .”

Budget Implementation Act, 2004 April 1st, 2004

He says they have done it seven years in a row and I say hear, hear for part one. However, the way they have done it, part two says “Whoa, let us increase spending and just bring in the cash”. It is awfully easy to balance a budget when they just rake in more cash. If I had any discrepancy with my Liberal pals or any criticism to make of my Liberal pals, it would be that it is pretty easy to drag in the cash and then say, “Well look at us. Are we not heroes?”

They talk about social programs. Oh my have I been attacked about social programs over the years. The worst attack on social programs is spending an enormous chunk out of every tax dollar just to pay interest on the debt. That is what attacks social programs. The biggest single ticket item is interest on the debt. Hundreds of billions of dollars simply go toward paying interest on our debt.

Anyone out there who charges too much on their Mastercard knows exactly what I am talking about. If people cannot pay the full bill when it comes due, the interest on that sucker compounds the next month and it gets bigger and bigger.

I served my first term under the Mulroney Conservatives and then the Liberals came in in 1993. The present Prime Minister wrote the red book. As members know, I lost my copy of the red book some years later. It landed out front here somewhere. However I was amazed and rather amused that the Prime Minister, as a backbencher at the time sitting with me in the back row a decade and a half ago, wrote the red book. When the Governor General was handing out literary prizes the other day I was thinking that the Prime Minister should have received an award for the red book for best fiction, or something like that. I think the Governor General would have been very impressed by that.

Yes, I will give the Liberals a tick mark for having balanced budgets and for cutting a little spending, but it was at the expense of health care. If Canadians want government to spend money on anything it is on health care. The government is responsible for cutting $20 billion out of health care over the years. It is unbelievable.

How about government being involved in business? Maybe that is something it should have thought about. How about when the government blasted defence and virtually stripped our defence department of so much; the front lines, soldiers, equipment, manpower. These were the items that were cut but there are many areas that could have been looked after as well.

Instead of the Liberals saying that they would look after this by changing their attitude toward spending and instituting measures that would prioritize and control federal spending, the kind of stuff that we know we could change, they missed the opportunity to walk through the door of responsibility by saying that they were holding the money in trust. They just raked in more cash and missed the opportunity to get things under long term control.

I appreciate that they have had a balanced budget for seven years running, as they say, and that there is a surplus, but I cannot help but think of the human cost because health care has been absolutely ripped to shreds under the Liberals.

I heard the member from Toronto say that public dollars into health care were not sustainable and that the Prime Minister and the premiers needed to work out a sustainable path. Sure. However any time any province even hopes to address its health care crisis, those people jump all over them and say that, no, they cannot do it that way. Somehow we need to come up with an answer for this.

Again, it is just the premiers going after the Prime Minister and the federal government, and the federal government going after the premiers. It is like the spitball thing again. I do not care whose responsible. If my mother is sick, I do not care who is responsible, I just want to make sure that she receives good health care. It is about as simple as that. I think every citizen feels that way. Canadians do not care what level of government is providing that service. They just want care. If they need an MRI, a hip replacement or whatever, they need to know that that health care will be there for them no matter what and not 25 months later, or something like that.

This budget, and here we go again, is an announcement of the reannouncement of the announcement of $2 billion back into health care and into homelessness that my colleague just spoke about. They are long term promises.

Over the next 10 years the federal government will give Canadians, what? How could the government say that? When I married my husband, Lewis, I made a commitment to him that I would be with him on the long term. It was not up to the voters to decide whether I would stay with my husband or not. That is a long term commitment I made.

For the government to promise to give Canadians something in 10 years but to also say that it is conditional upon Canadians re-electing it, is transparent. Sure we need long term commitments, but we not need a government saying that the 10 years is conditional on whether it is re-elected. That is clandestine and unbelievably self-serving. It is foolish, to boot, as the Liberals are getting ready to go to another election after a little over three years, I might add.

We all know that doors are always open but sometimes we have to pull kind of hard on the latch to open them. I have made a decision, voluntarily, I might add, to leave this place, which is a nice way to go out. I am ready to move on to a new chapter but I have absolutely no idea what that will be. However, as I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, like opening any other door there is apprehension, adventure, opportunity and stark terror, to be sure, but if we are to keep growing and keep moving we must be grateful for the doorways.

I am very grateful for the 15 years that I have spent here in Parliament but I feel I am ready to move on. One of the greatest philosophers of all time, Kenny Rogers, put it this way, “You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, Know when to walk away, know when to run”. And know when not to run. I have made the personal decision not to run again.

I came to this place as the first Reformer 15 years ago. I am pleased to see now, 15 years later, that the cycle is complete in the Conservative movement in this country. I am glad to see that the new Conservative Party is a united force, not just as an effective opposition but that it is offering Canadians a true, clear alternative. Canadians will make their decision. We cannot make it for them.

I have let go of one trapeze and I am ready to reach out to the next one. I do not know what that will be yet. I actually feel like I am in free fall right now. However I know God has looked after me to this point in my life and he will not throw me to the wolves now.

I would like to thank my family who have been tremendously supportive over my career and my entire life. My mother, Joyce, who has been an incredible role model and mentor to me, summed it up best when somebody was doing a publication on my life last fall. Michelle Lavoie from CPAC phoned my mother in Victoria and said “I'll bet you are really proud of your daughter”. My mother said “Yes, but which one?” She has four daughters. I am one of four girls. If that does not sum up character, then I do not know what does. I therefore would like to pay public tribute to my mother and all my family.

I want to tell my husband, Lewis, to whom I have been married for ten and a half years, that I will be moving home full time now. In fact, we are so fond of each other that we will move in together now. I am looking forward to that.

I also want to pay tribute to the people of Beaver River in Edmonton North and my colleagues across the way. I have appreciated them over the years.

I think all of us, whether we are leaving, coming, going, or whatever, need to have a personal mission statement, and this is mine: a truth teller, an advocate, an encourager who loves to see people grow into their potential as human beings. If, in any way, I have been an encouragement or an advocate for anybody, a constituent or any other Canadian, I am grateful for that opportunity.

I am grateful for having served four terms here in the House of Commons. My prayer is that in some small way I have been able to do that in this chapter through this door. As I leave here voluntarily and open a new door into a new chapter of my life, whatever that will be, I pray that I will be able to use the resources and the learning experiences that I have had here.

I thank everyone. I have had a great run. God bless you all. Amen.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004 April 1st, 2004

A member says that is exactly what they are doing. Well, that fact has slipped past some of us actually.

The budget needed to be balanced. I do not think anybody would question that. If someone asked me, “Well Deb, what did you accomplish in 15 years on the Hill?” I am not going to take credit for this single-handedly for sure, but I will say this. The words “budget balancing” and “Liberals” did not fit in the same lexicon. I am glad to see that at least Liberals now are talking about budget balances and zero deficit spending.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004 April 1st, 2004

Mr. Speaker, we are looking at another budget here but probably the wrap up of another parliamentary term. Therefore, I would like to address the House and make some reflections on my 15 years here. In fact, this is my 16th budget. I will try to do that in 15 minutes, so wish me well.

I would like to encapsulate my remarks in thinking about not just a budget or about Parliament but about our lives in general. We are always walking through a series of doors. Life is always comprised of new chapters, whether in our family life, our community or here in Parliament. I guess every budget is a hallmark for that because there are new ideas and new spending initiatives for the government.

I would like to focus my remarks around the whole idea of always moving forward in life. Every door and every chapter presents an opportunity of hope, wonder, adventure, surprise and also apprehension. There are negatives to it as well and sometimes just raw terror.

However, it is incumbent upon all of us, not just as parliamentarians and legislators, but as individuals, family people, community people, to walk through those doors with a sense of confidence, opportunity and altruism that we would make our world a better place.

When I think about some of the doors that we walk through in our life, some them we get to choose and some of them we do not, but we make our choice an attitude. Even if we walk through a door that is difficult, sometimes we do not get to pick what door, for instance, what family we are born into.

I was born into an alcoholic family in Vancouver, July 1, 1952. I did not get a choice about that. I am grateful for that, but I learned some very difficult lessons in my growing up years. I am glad to say this many years later, having grown up in a single parent family, which was certainly not as prevalent as it is today. I admire my mother so much for taking five kids by the scruff of the neck and raising us single-handedly.

I am happy to report many decades later that my father Mansell is sober. I have addressed the topic of drinking and driving painfully and emotionally in the House. I could tie that to budgetary figures about health care costs and how much the health care system is under this increasing burden of the results of drinking and driving. My dad Mansell is sober now and I am so grateful for that. We are able to work on this together; me from the parliamentary side and him out in public being involved with AA.

That door opened to me and I had to choose some lessons in my family situation. I made a realistic and practical decision. I walked through a door at age six, saying that I would never drink. I am grateful for that. Many people across the country know that I get into enough trouble dead sober, so I am very grateful to be an abstainer.

I then chose in my adult professional life to become a teacher. So I walked through that door of making an impact in young people's lives, but also turning all this legislative stuff into real life somehow, trying to help kids understand the way things are in Canada, how legislation affects them, and how budgets in fact affect them when we look at post-secondary education.

I was also a foster parent. That was another door that I chose to go through as a single parent. I recall some of these situations I had, again with reflections from federal budgets, regarding Indian affairs when I had native foster kids for many years from reserves, one of which I taught at and then some surrounding ones as well.

The whole idea of increasing funding, that is, throwing money at a situation is supposed to decrease problems. However, on a first hand basis, I realized that throwing money at the dreadful circumstances which many people face on reserves--this many years later as well, and I fostered almost 20 years ago--would not decrease the corresponding problems.

I am sad to say that in that area, with budgetary increases year after year, the problems have been increasing with the quality of life on reserves. Somehow we need to grapple with that on a human level rather than just give money and hope that it works, because it clearly does not. I think that members on all sides of the House would agree with that.

I walked through that door and then had a neighbour dare me to walk through the door of running for the Reform Party back in 1988. I took that dare and made Canadian history. It was a bit of a surprise to me. On March 13, 1989, I found myself going from my classroom in Dewberry, Alberta, to the House of Commons, my new classroom. That was an interesting door to walk through, to be sure.

I was sworn in on April 3, 1989, and some will remember the deep, dark history as that was the year of the budget leak. I do not know how many people here even remember that. Probably not many; everyone looks like kids around here.

In April 1989, Doug Small, who worked with Global TV, got a copy of the budget before it was released by the Mulroney Conservatives. Of course, the Conservatives were in power then. There was a great hoopla that the markets were going to react to this because they had advance notice. I wonder what Martha Stewart was doing about then, but anyway, when I think about what happened then, I was amazed, not amused, at the behaviour of the Liberals and the NDP members who were sitting here in opposition. They got greatly exorcised about this and they all walked out of the House.

So, for budget 1989, here I was, the kid from Beaver River sitting in my little place back over by the curtains, the only Independent in the House at the time. I was a Reformer but we did not have 12 members. I listened to the finance minister, Michael Wilson, present the budget to me. It was just an amazing experience for me.

The annual budget deficits in those years, the amount of money that was spent more than was brought in, racked up to a total of $42 billion. That is more money out of one's allowance being spent than being taken in. It does not work. I am not good at math. I am an English teacher, but I know that does not work.

So I was interested, because the Liberals always blamed the Conservatives by saying that they got their mess. The Conservatives always said that they got the Liberals' mess. I am going to say two things on this. If we trace the roots, it was one finance minister in the early seventies by the name of Jean Chrétien who started deficit financing in this country. I say shame. Then the Liberals came into office and said that they inherited this terrible deficit from the terrible Conservatives, and all they were trying to do is just save the day.

If I go back to my teaching career, I used to say this to my grade eight students, “I do not care who threw that spitball on the ceiling, I just do not want to see another spitball”.

So, let us quit the blame, quit the accusations that the Conservatives did it or the Liberals did it. Who cares? Canadians do not give a sweet fig. They want to see that a government can live within its means, as their families have to live within their means, and as their communities need to live within their means as well.

Points of Order March 25th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, in light of his remarks, it seems we have two completely different answers: one from the minister of the Privy Council and his ally and one from Huguette Tremblay. These two answers are diametrically opposed. Somebody is lying in this, and I trust Huguette--

Petitions March 25th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I have already submitted 25,000 names, and several thousand more today, of Canadian citizens who use alternate medicines, such as supplements and vitamins, for preventive health care. This is kind of a novel idea that we would look after our health before we become sick.

The petitioners think that it is very important and essential to get tax relief on personal income tax returns by means of using receipts from licensed health food stores and not only “as recorded by a pharmacist”, as the government says in the Income Tax Act.

The petitioners are praying that the government will take the necessary steps to change section 118.2(2)(n) of the Income Tax Act.

These are people right across Canada. I say good for them for trying to look after their own health before they get sick and not after.

Supply March 11th, 2004

Hear, hear.