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  • Her favourite word is chair.

NDP MP for Newton—North Delta (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 33.40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's very calm and thoughtful question. It is always nice to get thoughtful questions from the other side that are well explained.

Removing clause 11 will not put this legislation into any kind of jeopardy. Right now there is an article in the convention that explicitly allows for continued military interoperability with non-party states. Therefore, we have that already, and if we import that wording into the bill, it is there. However, clause 11 goes much further. It actually broadens the criteria for exceptions.

I do not want my colleague across the way to take my word for it. Earl Turcotte, former senior coordinator for Mine Action at DFAIT, was the head of the Canadian delegation to negotiate the convention, and this is what he had to say. He stated:

The proposed legislation is the worst of any country that has ratified or acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions to date.... It fails to fulfill Canada's obligations under international humanitarian law; it fails to protect vulnerable civilians in war-ravaged countries around the world; it betrays the trust of sister states who negotiated this treaty in good faith, and it fails Canadians who expect far better from our nation.

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, first, let me congratulate my colleague from Surrey North on his very thoughtful speech on this important legislation.

Once again, let me reiterate that time allocation has been imposed for the 73rd time, this time on a bill that I think everyone in this room would agree is critical. This is not something to make light of, this is not comic relief. This bill deals with the very serious issue of cluster bombs.

I want to remind all members that when we look at this, Canadian soldiers have been victims of cluster bombs. In 2006, 22 Canadian Forces members were killed and 112 wounded in Afghanistan as a result of land mines, cluster bombs, and other explosive devices. It is important that when we deal with this legislation, we get this right. The expediency of pushing things through and not addressing all the issues that have been raised by both experts, our international partners and by the opposition should not be made light of in this context.

We all know that cluster munitions can release hundreds of explosives over a large area in a very short time. We also know that it is civilians who end up being the victims after the conflict has ended.

We took part in the Oslo process to produce a convention to ban the use of cluster munitions. That came on the heels of the successes of the Ottawa treaty on banning land mines. I still remember when that happened. I was in my classroom going over this with my students. I remember how critical it was. Some of us worked on that for years. When I look at the legislation, I think of it as critical legislation that goes hand-in-hand with land mines and the government is trying to water it down by building more exceptions into it.

I understand some countries have not signed it, such as the U.S., China and Russia. They have stockpiles, and we have no control over that. What we do have control over is how we put a treaty into operation, a convention that we have signed with many other countries. That is the critical issue today.

I hear a lot from my colleagues across the way that we need to learn to compromise, that we should not continue to debate things, rather we should vote to expedite everything through the House. My appeal to my colleagues across the way is that they listen to some of the input from the experts and the specialists, pay attention to what we have signed, and work with us to make it the kind of legislation that we pass through the House by unanimous consent. We should work toward that.

Clause 11 is unnecessary. If it is addressed, then I believe we could expedite this whole process and we would have agreement. Imagine what that would feel like. For that matter, how would I know what that feels like? Ever since I have been in Parliament, all I have seen are time allocations and bullying type tactics to limit debate and push legislation through at a very fast pace. It is at this time we wonder what do we have to gain by doing this. However, it points to an ideology, an ideology that is a plague.

I am beginning to question the government's commitment to this convention, which was signed by Canada. If the Conservatives were really committed to it, why would they be watering it down right now?

When it comes to international conventions and implementing them, it is really important to keep the language clear and not have too many grey areas, because those grey areas give escape hatches to all kinds of people. There are 113 countries that have signed the convention and 84 have ratified it. How many years has it taken us? We signed it in 2008 and we are now in 2014.

By the way, the Conservatives first tabled this in the House of Commons in December 2012. When did they decide to bring it back into the House? A couple of days before the summer recess. That is the importance they put on critical legislation. Then they use these very obtuse arguments and say that it is urgent, that we need to get it done quickly, and so we now have time allocation. I have been elected to come to the House to debate issues.

I find it interesting that ever since time allocation was moved, I have not heard any speakers outside of the NDP, which makes a mockery of parliamentary debate. Not only do the Conservatives limit the amount of time, but they sit there and refuse to participate by putting their perspective forward and giving us the opportunity to be persuaded by their brilliant answers to the questions we may ask. I am always open to be persuaded in debate. That is what good debate does. However, that can only happen when all parties take that debate seriously.

When I stand to speak in the House, I stand not only to represent my constituents, but as a Canadian. As a member of Parliament whose government signed a convention, which we are now looking to implement, I am embarrassed by the weakening of it.

Over the last number of years, many of my constituents have come to me and said that they are really getting worried and concerned about how we are perceived internationally.

Let us go to a topic that is very close and dear to my heart, which is the living conditions for some of our aboriginal people. When the rapporteur reported, all my colleagues across the way could do was to vilify instead of acknowledging that we had some serious issues that we all needed to work together to address.

When it comes to labour issues, colleagues across the way, again, have no difficulty in contravening our ILO conventions. When it comes to environmental protection, we seem to look the way and stretch the elastic as far as we can. This is a major concern. However, this is on cluster munitions.

I am very fortunate, as are many of us, that I have not experienced war in my lifetime. I have talked to many veterans and they have horrendous stories to tell from past and current experiences. I think if we were to get them into a room, they would say absolutely no to cluster bombs. We should not be weakening our conventions.

I have so much more to say, because there is such brilliant expert testimony on this to support what I have said, but my time is up. However, I would urge my colleagues to delete clause 11 and I will stand with them to support this legislation.

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the foreign affairs minister is always entertaining in his responses, but I know he realizes the importance of the legislation on which we are debating time allocation.

I have also heard him say that there is only one component of the bill on which we have a disagreement. Is he willing to remove clause 11 from the bill so we can proceed expeditiously with the legislation?

Social Development June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, a new system and no transition plan leaves thousands of Canadians waiting years for a hearing. That is nothing to be proud of.

Last year, the income security section of the Social Security Tribunal held only 178 hearings. It will take nine and a half years just to hear all of the current cases. These are senior citizens, people with disabilities, our most vulnerable, heartlessly being left behind by the government.

Where is the minister's plan for fixing the mess that Conservatives have made of the Social Security Tribunal?

Georgian Bay Channel to Lock 45 – Port Severn June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am standing in support of this motion, mainly because I think it is time for us to seriously look at sensible, environmentally safe investments in our infrastructure. Here, we are talking about a lock that is going to have economic gains for the region. Not only will it benefit the cottage industry, it will benefit tourists. Industrialists around that area have no problem with this.

When I think about infrastructure, I think of the massive infusion of money that is needed in order to address transit, especially in Surrey, where we are in dire need of these additional resources, not only for environmental reasons, but for quality of life reasons. We have serious issues. I would also say that when we are talking about dredging and getting this lock ready, it reminds me of the Fraser River, which goes through the edge of my riding, and the need that we have and that I hear about of the desalting that needs to take place.

The current government really believes in economic growth. If it was really committed, the number one thing that it could do right now would be to invest in infrastructure from coast to coast to coast. Every region has different needs. That is where the government needs to work with provincial and municipal governments as a team, because jobs are not plentiful. We have very high unemployment, and we know that the best stimulus to get the economy going is to invest in our infrastructure. The infrastructure then boosts our economy in other ways. In this case, it might be for tourism, and we know how much money tourism brings into our country.

In my riding, Surrey and the Newton area, as I mentioned earlier, investment in infrastructure might result in an effective public transit system. It would be a public transit system that makes life so much easier for people living in Surrey. They face traffic gridlock every morning and every evening. Do not only think about the number of hours that are wasted that people spend sitting in a car; think about how much damage is being done to the environment as well.

It makes good environmental sense. It makes good economic sense, because all of those hours sitting in the car could be spent being more productive at work. Those hours would also add to the quality of life. Just think of the joy on people's faces when they get to spend more time playing with their children or visiting their elderly grandmother.

Citizenship and Immigration June 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the question is not about how many have been approved. The question is how many of them are now actually in Canada.

It is not just the refugee file the minister is bungling. He is also pushing forward legislation that tramples the constitutional rights of Canadians. We would think they had learned their lesson after seeing multiple bills overturned by the courts. Now the odds of this badly drafted bill being shot down by the courts are very high.

Can the minister tell us how revoking the citizenship of Canadians born in Canada will stand up to the scrutiny of the Supreme Court?

Citizenship and Immigration June 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the question is not how many have been approved, but how many—

Citizenship and Immigration June 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the minister's antics are just getting embarrassing. He has been unable to give clear answers time and again about Syrian refugees settling in Canada. This is not about under-protection or anything. He even hung up in the middle of a radio interview yesterday.

In March, only 10 refugees, which is not many out of the 200 they had promised to settle, were in Canada.

This is a really simple question for this minister, and he cannot hang up this time. Exactly how many government-assisted sponsored refugees are now living in Canada?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 June 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I was really fascinated with the tale that my colleague delivered. When I heard him talk about immigration, I began to wonder where he had been over the last number of years. Under the Conservative government, the door has been shut on family reunification, which has been turned into a lottery system; applications from skilled workers are being shredded by the hundreds and thousands; and the floodgates have been opened up to temporary foreign workers based on absolutely no reliable data, which even the government has now acknowledged. He talked about all the great jobs that have grown. From what I have seen and I experience in my riding, a lot of these jobs are temporary, short-term, part-time kinds of jobs closer to minimum wage.

What is his response to all those Canadians who have been turned away from jobs or have been fired because his government has allowed the temporary foreign worker program to balloon?

Employment June 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, future changes are no consolation to Canadian workers who are losing jobs today. The minister's own department is continuing to approve labour market opinions that allow temporary foreign workers to replace Canadian workers, and they are doing so despite documented abuse in this sector.

The minister stands here and claims he will act, while his department continues to rubber-stamp requests. Will he finally call an independent review and fix the mess the Conservatives have created?