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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was women.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Winnipeg South Centre (Manitoba)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 37.00% of the vote.

Statements in the House

International Co-operation March 2nd, 2011

At last, Mr. Speaker. Now that she is finally on her feet, finally willing to be heard and not just seen, will the minister simply explain herself? Who told her to cut KAIROS' funding? We know it was not CIDA. And why did the funding request sit ignored on her desk for months?

Will she stand up again, assert her independence from the Prime Minister's control and finally do what is right; tell the truth?

International Co-operation March 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister officially asked for over three billion taxpayer dollars in spending for CIDA in the next fiscal year, but we see no real evidence that she is even in charge of this agency.

Will the minister commit now in this House to come before committee to at least answer questions somewhere about her job, or is she just a minister in name only?

First Nations Financial Transparency Act February 28th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this bill.

My colleague opposite very effectively chairs the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, but I was very surprised at his remarks. I know him to have an understanding of first nations issues. I know he has an understanding of the importance of the duty to consult. I know he understands the importance of collaboration and consultation. I know he understands the real meaning of transparency. He used words such as to “compel all first nations governments”. When I heard him say that, I thought to myself that with respect to transparency for Canadians and for parliamentarians to do their work, we cannot compel the Conservative government to provide documents, so why is one group singled out? I am quite struck by the irony of it.

I want to make clear at the outset that Liberals stand for transparency. We certainly stand for accountability in all governments, including first nations governments. We will fight for accountability and transparency with respect, with collaboration and in consultation with those affected. We will do it by being critical of this bill and asking the tough questions that need to be asked. There is nothing wrong with affirming and standing up for the principles of accountability and transparency.

I want to compare this bill with the Kelowna accord which, as members of the House know, was not honoured by the Conservative government.

The Kelowna accord represented 18 months of negotiation, collaboration and consultation. It was a high-water mark for the Government of Canada and aboriginal people, not just first nations, but Métis, aboriginal women and Inuit.

The process was as important as the outcome. Under the Kelowna accord, there was an elaborate, wholesome accountability for a results framework. It was broad based and comprehensive. It was not simply about reporting a number, but about how to deliver results for a community and for the people who live in that community. The most important aspect of the Kelowna accord was that it was mutual. It was not one-sided at the federal government level and it did not compel. It included a real collaboration between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people alike.

The recommendations coming out of the Kelowna accord included the establishment of a first nations auditor general and an independent body funded to oversee the accountability framework. The accountability framework was there. It was arrived at by aboriginal people working together with government through a process to determine how it would be done.

What I find extraordinary about this bill is that the paternalistic and maternalistic attitude of members opposite has come forward once again. There seems to be no respect for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the government belatedly agreed to. The bill defies the principles of reconciliation that we heard the government speak to in the House many months ago.

As the sponsor of the bill has stated, much of what is in the bill is already being done. A financial statement approved by a chartered accountant is being done with a contribution by INAC. Generally accepted accounting principles are applied and there is an auditor.

Regarding transparency, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has the power, and did in 2005, to make sure that disclosure is there for first nations and anyone else.

It is not fair to imply that none of that is being done or that it cannot be done even under the existing protocol program.

Therefore, the question is: why has the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development not been compelled to have this done under his own authority under the act? Why is it a private member's bill and not a government bill? Why is this being done through the back door and not the front door?

The government and members opposite know full well that the government has a legal duty to consult with aboriginal people on issues that affect their rights and treaties. It is clear this consultation has not happened. Again we have heard the word “compel”. We have heard that it is mandatory for transparency.

I would reiterate that what is mandatory for transparency is also mandatory for transparency in this House. Again, is this bill compliant with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? I think not. Does the government truly believe in the right of self-government? I think not.

This appears to be an attempt to brand all first nations chiefs and councillors as somewhat corrupt. It is making an insinuation about the nature of first nations leadership and governance. It perpetuates myths and stereotypes that communities right across this country have been working hard to overcome.

There needs to be a different approach, one of collaboration and consultation. There should be a need to support substantive issues surrounding transparency, issues related to housing, water, education and health in first nations communities.

Many groups have commented on this bill. The Quebec native women's association stated in a press release that Bill C-575 “seems to be motivated by a prejudicial and racist view of aboriginal peoples as 'living off society', by implying that the federal funds coming from 'good taxpayers' money' granted to aboriginal chiefs and councillors are ill spent.

The association went on to say that the minister's support for the bill is a violation of his duty to consult and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Auditor General has spoken about fiscally responsible aboriginal organizations and communities. She has spoken about the onerous reporting requirements of first nations communities and says that there is in fact 98% compliance with all of the reporting requirements for first nations people.

Fiscal relationships between first nation governments and the federal government ought to be akin to intergovernmental transfers rather than typical grants and contributions as depicted in Bill C-575.

Transparency and accountability are necessary, there is no question. They are necessary in this House as well as outside the House. They are necessary in all levels of government. However, compelling a mandatory accountability and compelling mandatory disclosure is not the way to deal with Canada's first nations people.

The Liberals support transparency and accountability, but I reiterate that it must be done in collaboration and in consultation. Members opposite know that.

International Co-operation February 17th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, that is another response that is unbelievable.

The actions of the Minister of International Cooperation show nothing but contempt for our democracy and for the integrity of CIDA officials. KAIROS was funded for 35 straight years, even by the Progressive Conservatives. It should not have been cut.

When will the Prime Minister let the minister resign? When will he show the young people who come to the House that he knows the difference between right and wrong, the difference between the truth and a lie?

International Co-operation February 17th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have a very strange definition of trust. Every time a Conservative rises in the House, we have been asked to believe the unbelievable. They do not just say it is okay to doctor documents; they say it is the right thing to do. They do not just say that it is okay to lie to the House and to Canadians; they say it is the right thing to do.

The Prime Minister is using the minister as a shield to protect himself from blame. Why is he hiding behind the minister and why will he not let her resign?

Petitions February 16th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition in support of my private member's bill, Bill C-439, An Act to amend the Hazardous Products Act (products made with dog or cat fur).

Members in the House may be surprised to know that there are currently no measures in place to ban the sale of products made with dog or cat fur in Canada, which makes Canada an international laggard.

In January 2009, the European Union passed an act prohibiting the trade of all dog and cat fur. More recently, U.S. President Obama signed into law the truth and fair labelling act which, along with the dog and cat protection act of 2000, ends the legal sale of dog and cat fur in the United States.

The over 2,200 Winnipeggers who signed this petition want Canada to take action to stop the sale of dog and cat fur in this country. It is time for us to update our animal welfare laws and pass Bill C-439.

Aboriginal Affairs February 11th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, Sisters in Spirit is a groundbreaking program that has brought together the families of 600 missing and murdered aboriginal women across the country, all victims of crime.

Despite the importance of Sisters in Spirit and the quality and depth of its research, the Conservatives cancelled its funding. Now the government is advising that an unelected senator is the government's spokesperson on this file, not the part-time minister for the Status of Women.

How many more women need to die before this matter becomes a priority for the government?

Aboriginal Affairs February 11th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development must apologize to the Métis people of Canada for failing to consult with them on a government effort to standardize Métis registration.

It is an insult that the government signed a sole-source contract with the Canadian Standards Council to help determine Métis registration without consultation and without assessing the registration data and processes of the Métis themselves.

How can the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development explain this grave insult to the Métis of Canada on a matter so integral to their collective future?

Situation in Egypt February 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the young woman who contacted my colleague was able to find her way home back to Canada in a quick and orderly fashion.

It is not for me to prescribe how one predicts. It is incumbent upon the government to ensure that consular services are available both here in Ottawa and abroad when a situation arises. We have heard too many stories of people not being able to get through on phones, that perhaps more people could answer the phone and that emails were not being responded to. The Department of Foreign Affairs has very fine people working for it but it clearly does not have enough people assigned to consular services. Part of the planning for any crisis is an immediate response team, and that clearly was not in place.

Situation in Egypt February 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to answer that question without knowing the realities of the situation and what the country of Egypt will be dealing with.

I think it is incumbent upon Canada to assure Egypt that it is there to assist in the transition to democracy, to listen to the people and to provide the supports that are required, whether they be diplomatic, for building capacity, listening or training. I think it is too early to prescribe what would be required but I think what is needed is an open mind and an open heart to respond to the needs as are articulated by the Egyptian people.