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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word is budget.

Liberal MP for York West (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 47.00% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the focus continues to be very much more on those who have a lot. When we talk about the TFSAs and the possibility of doubling them, or whatever it is, that really helps an awful lot of people who have money. It does not help the people who do not have the money to put away. We do not find 35-year-olds having a whole lot of money to put into TFSAs because most of them are trying to balance their families.

Having fully refundable tax credits, no matter what it is, then maybe we really are helping those in the middle class. However, to bring in things like income splitting would only help those in the upper levels.

Again, it is very reflective of the government. The people in the lower levels who are struggling, where the mother and father are both working and kids are in daycare, if they have them. Many of those kids end up at home by themselves with no one to look after them. They are struggling to pay the mortgage and put bread on the table.

There is nothing in Bill C-43 at all that would help those families. When they sit around the kitchen table tonight, they will not to say that Bill C-43 is wonderful, that budget will help them in all kinds of ways. No, they will wonder how they will get through to the weekend. That is the reality.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, when the current government came to power, there was a $13 billion surplus. It used it in the following two elections to buy every vote it possibly could by promising everything it possibly could. Through all this period of time, we are now starting to see the 2011 election promises come to reality. However, the government made people wait until the next election. It is simply using the process to buy votes.

As far as how to run an economy and how to build a country, it is by investing in things like innovation and infrastructure that help create jobs in a positive environment. That is how to balance a budget and that is how to turn around and look after the economy.

Our leader is very competent, very knowledgeable on these things. When we hear a comment like that, if we look into it, what do we get from C.D. Howe and the rest? Invest in infrastructure, the economy and, yes, the books will be balanced.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add a few words to this important debate on a 460-page omnibus bill.

Before I make my comments, I would like to wish everyone, including my colleagues, my constituents at home, and those watching, a merry Christmas and happy holidays. I hope 2015 is a great year for everyone.

I am pleased to be able to speak to Bill C-43, as much as I am frustrated with the 460-page document that I am willing to bet very few in the House have gone through. I know that we certainly attempted to, but no matter how hard one tries, it still is such a large document with so many different things in it, everything but the kitchen sink, as with previous omnibus bills.

We will find out later, after things are passed without sufficient scrutiny, that there will be a variety of mistakes and that corrections will have to be made. There will be some pretty poor pieces of legislation as a result of this omnibus bill. That is going to land at the feet of the government. Certainly the opposition points pieces out, but the government does not choose to listen. It will have to deal with those things when people raise them, and there will be no justification to argue back.

In the simplest of terms, I oppose Bill C-43 because it implements a budget that fails to address the real challenges that each and every one of us here faces every day and every weekend we are in our ridings.

Worse yet, the government is abusing the very process for the budget by again tabling an omnibus bill, and then limiting debate and study. It will go through it in a short period of time. It is 460 pages, and it is a joke to think that anyone will get the time to really go through and examine it. The government has also limited the amount of time we can challenge it and give it an opportunity to improve the bill. The government is continuing its same reckless pattern since coming to power. It pursues a reckless and very anti-democratic course.

From my own perspective and that of my party, I will not be supporting Bill C-43. My opposition to Bill C-43 is not just rooted in the government's failure to understand or respect our democratic institution, which it clearly does not, but also in my much deeper concerns with it.

Bill C-43 is clearly the product of a tired, old government that has lost touch with Canadians, or least Canadians outside of the corporate boardrooms of the nation. Sadly, the Prime Minister has forgotten what it is like to struggle to make ends meet. He has forgotten what it is like to make financial choices based on how to stretch a dollar a little further. He has forgotten how hard it is out there for the blue collar crowd sitting around their kitchen tables, figuring out how they are going to make ends meet.

The Prime Minister is the sixth highest paid world leader, and he has a strong and stable retirement income waiting for him. It is too bad that most Canadians do not have a chance to have even half of that.

This Prime Minister's ambivalence to the middle class struggles was clear when he attacked income trusts and slashed the OAS, making people wait until the age of 67 for eligibility. I do not know about their ridings, but certainly in my riding I have people in their mid-50s coming in who have worked in construction, mining, and other hard labour jobs and who cannot make it to 65, never mind 67. This is only going to make it that much worse.

One needs to look no further than the government's reliance on measures such as TFSAs and non-refundable tax credits to see that this is a philosophy premised on giving people with extra money the ability to put it away at a higher rate of return. For people who do not have extra cash to invest, Budget 2014 offers nothing.

It offers less than nothing actually, because the government continues to chip away at the federal government's fiscal capacity, which hinders our ability to help those who need help the most. Maybe that is the Conservatives' objective, to squander every cent of money left so that if we are given an opportunity to form government, we will have a really hard time when the money has all been spent and we are running into more debt. Maybe that is the goal here.

In the context of Bill C-43, the question remains, what about those without extra money to invest? What about seniors, students, and working families who have too much debt at the end of the month and not enough money? Again, why has the Prime Minister turned his back on struggling Canadians?

The middle class is working harder under the current government and working families are falling further behind. This year's budget would do nothing to address the very real challenges facing the middle class.

The real problem with Bill C-43 is the missed opportunities with things the government could have done with a good surplus, the things it could have invested in that really would have helped the average Canadian have an easier life.

We Liberals believe that the government must not only create the right conditions for economic growth, but also ensure that growth is sustainable and would finally help middle-class families. This would require investments in infrastructure, training, innovation, and in expanding trade, as well as competitive tax rates. It is not only about taxation. It is about investing in our universities and our colleges, investing in the entrepreneurial hubs we have across the country that are looking for support, for new ideas.

However, instead of creating real jobs and growth, Bill C-43, would encourage businesses to stay small and would actually punish them if they grow. It would actually create an incentive for some businesses to fire workers, as ridiculous as that sounds.

The PBO, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, says that the EI tax credit in Bill C-43 would only create 800 jobs over the next two years, and big thing is that it would cost $700,000 per job.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer is an independent officer of Parliament. He does not belong to any party. He does not belong to the government or the opposition. He is an independent officer who is there to examine all of these things. Therefore, his analysis and his figures need to be paid attention to.

The Liberal plan for an EI holiday on new hires would actually reward businesses that create jobs. It has been applauded by job creators like Restaurants Canada, the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Then, again, Budget 2014 is certainly not a budget in the traditional form. Bill C-43 is full of changes that do not belong in a budget bill, such as a mean-spirited rule change that would help deny social assistance to refugee claimants.

Bill C-43 would also add GST and HST to various services provided by non-profit health care facilities, such as residential services at old age homes. This would, again, punish Canadian seniors who are already struggling to get by on a fixed income.

This is another example of a government bent on attacking the most vulnerable, and Conservative closure tactics are preventing those of us who actually care about middle-class Canadians from offering any level of protection.

At 460 pages, with over 400 separate clauses amending countless different laws, Bill C-43 represents nothing short of a clear abuse of powers. It will be years before we find out the impact of many of those clauses, no matter how much time is spent on them.

It is anti-democratic for the Conservatives to use an omnibus budget bill to limit debate and ram so many unrelated measures through Parliament. It prevents MPs from properly scrutinizing the legislation. It is called a budget bill, and it is anything but a budget bill. It begs the question: what are the Conservatives so afraid of?

I think we all know the answer to that question. The current government is afraid that middle-class Canadians will see the reckless and mean-spirited actions of the government.

However, in addition to the tone and abuse of power problems underscored by Bill C-43, it cannot go unnoticed that Bill C-43 is just poorly written legislation. I continue to be shocked by the level of incompetence demonstrated by the government on such fundamental items as the laws of the country. Certainly, I have long questioned the government's general compassion and fiscal competence, but I would have expected some level of proficiency in preparing legislation.

I am thankful for the opportunity to offer my comments and my disappointment that the government continues to put forward omnibus budget bills that are clearly meant to put everything but the kitchen sink through and which reflect little of what Canadians really need.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I think if Mr. Flaherty were here, he would be quite pleased with the glowing attributes that were shared about him today, certainly about being quoted.

The hon. member's comments were so glowing about Mr. Flaherty, but there are also his thoughts on the issue of income splitting, which is an important issue for Canadians to be knowledgeable about and understand the implications of that. Mr. Flaherty said, in his last days as finance minister, that he did not think income splitting was a good idea.

I would be interested to know, since my hon. colleague is so interested in and so much a follower of Mr. Flaherty, why does she not support his vision of income splitting being bad for Canada?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Let's go, let's go.

Government Accountability December 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, at a time when Conservatives are slashing veterans' programs and old age security, Canadians rightly expect accountability for how taxpayers' money is spent. Despite this, the Auditor General has again confirmed that the current government is fiscally incompetent. Let us take the case of the 2009 auto bailout; we supported it, but we certainly did not expect a blank cheque with no conditions. Can the Prime Minister explain to Canadians how he spent $9 billion of taxpayers' money with no oversight?

Infrastructure November 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, for most Canadians, there is nothing better than spending time with family after a long day at work, but for many in the GTA, getting home now takes much longer. Traffic gridlock in Toronto costs the economy up to $11 billion and adds frustration and expense to the work day. Worse yet, it robs people of quality time with their families.

Rather than running ads and re-announcing and re-announcing old promises, as the government does, when is the government going to take things seriously and start investing in the serious infrastructure and transit needs of all of our cities?

Camp Liberty November 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is said that all evil needs to triumph is for good people to do nothing. Unfortunately, too many good people are sitting back refusing to stop the atrocities now occurring at Camp Liberty.

Camp Liberty is a refugee camp in Baghdad that now houses thousands of MEK members, Iran's primary opposition. These people were fighting for democracy, but now they are fighting daily torment and the very real threat of execution.

If we are to help foster democracy in places like Iran, we need measures that guarantee the basic security of Camp Liberty residents. The Canadian Friends of a Democratic Iran want the UN to send Security Forces to Camp Liberty today. I want to add my voice to that chorus.

Canada has always stood for what is right, and I ask the government to step up. Inaction should not be a death sentence for those fighting for peace.

Business of Supply November 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I applaud my colleague and the comments she made. She understands this issue very well and certainly continues to fight for all of us, in particular on behalf of health issues.

On this particular issue on thalidomide and the terrible things that have happened, my concern is that although the Conservatives say they are going to sit down and talk with the individuals, on many previous occasions they indicated they would do something and have a conversation, but when it came to actually putting that kind of money and help on the table, it did not seem to be there.

I am concerned about whether the government is going to actually do that. I want to know what my colleague thinks about that aspect.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns November 7th, 2014

With regard to government funding, for each fiscal year since 2007-2008 inclusive: (a) what are the details of all grants, contributions, and loans to any organization, body, or group in the electoral district of York West, providing for each (i) the name of the recipient, (ii) the location of the recipient, indicating the municipality, (iii) the date, (iv) the amount, (v) the department or agency providing it, (vi) the program under which the grant, contribution, or loan was made, (vii) the nature or purpose; and (b) for each grant, contribution and loan identified in (a), was a press release issued to announce it and, if so, what is the (i) date, (ii) headline, (iii) file number of the press release?