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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

Taxation February 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has slashed old age security, and infrastructure for our cities, has taxed income trusts, proposed income splitting for the rich, and now plans to double TFSA contribution limits, something the Parliamentary Budget Officer called fiscally irresponsible this morning. Doubling the TFSA limit is another expensive Conservative scheme that will only benefit the wealthy more than others.

While the Conservatives insist on giving 100% to the top 10%, working families are asking, what is left for us?

Business of Supply February 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, what is the government's plan?

We have put forward a proposal to start consultation. This is a very difficult and complex issue. It is probably one that none of us really want to have to deal with, but the reality is that the Supreme Court has referred it back to Parliament and has told us we have 12 months to come up with something. Therefore, we have put forward a proposal to start the process moving in a non-partisan way.

What is the government's proposal, other than putting something up on the Internet and talking about already asking for an extension, rather than starting to deal with this difficult issue?

Justice February 20th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, nothing is more important than protecting our children. I believe we all agree with that. However, the Conservatives have chosen to use $10 million from the fund the RCMP uses to fight child pornography. This is the same government that just spent $2.7 million on glamour photos for its cabinet ministers. Just yesterday, it had the nerve to ask Parliament for an additional $11 million for partisan TV ads, and we have all seen enough of those.

When it comes to stomping out child pornography, it is all about budget cuts. How can the government continue to make these kinds of talks, saying what is important and what is not when its priorities surely are not the priorities of—

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I realize that this issue is a critically important issue, not only for all of us in Parliament but for all Canadians. Sometimes we have to put water in our wine, as the saying goes. We are saying that the most important thing is to make sure that we are reinforcing the security of Canadians.

If we can get some amendments that will protect people's privacy and allow people to have open discussion and debate without having to be fearful of being put in jail and so on and we can get those amendments through, I think we are doing a good thing on behalf of all Canadians.

Would the hon. member like to elaborate a little more on the lawfulness issue and what that would mean to people who would like to be able to go out on a Sunday to join a protest in their neighbourhood? What could actually end up happening if we cannot get our amendments through?

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke extremely well and certainly enunciated an area that I am very concerned about when it comes to the issue of lawful demonstrations.

I have been part of and have viewed hundreds, if not thousands, of demonstrations on a variety of issues. Did they have permits? No, they did not, meaning that they were unlawful under the current understanding, which is why we very much, in our amendments, want the word “lawful” restricted and taken out of there.

However, does the member not recognize that there are some good things in the bill? There are the changes to the no-fly list and improvements on the powers of preventative arrests.

There are issues, and we continue to have some significant issues with the bill. We are hoping to change that with our amendments, but does the member not see any of the positives that are in the bill when it comes to protecting Canadians?

Infrastructure February 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the only thing that is more snarled than GTA traffic is the government's jumbled priorities when it comes to municipal infrastructure. Roads, sewers and bridges are vital job creation tools, but Conservatives have flushed over $750 million of infrastructure money into taxpayer funded partisan ads. Roads are cracking, bridges are rusting and the Conservatives are using infrastructure money to buy votes, not infrastructure, not steel and not concrete.

Does the minister agree that the only thing growing faster than GTA potholes is the Conservative addiction to lavish partisan ads?

Victims Bill of Rights Act February 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would be interested to know exactly how this is going to improve the lives on a financial basis for the many victims. I have a constituent who was the victim of a random shooting, a young mother, who was left paralyzed from the neck down. There was very little out there to help her and her family move forward.

I would like to hear from the minister just exactly how this recent legislation is going to benefit people like her.

Business of Supply February 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I think a lot of the issues my fellow colleague has raised with regard to the CETA agreement and Newfoundland and Labrador and the impact have to do with trust, the relationship, and the sharing of the knowledge of where the benefits will be for Newfoundland and Labrador.

If Newfoundland and Labrador has taken the position that it would not support this because the benefits are negative in other areas, is there not an opportunity for further conversation, recognizing the importance of having Newfoundland and Labrador as part of all of this?

We recognize the benefits in some other areas, but when there are clearly other areas that are giving it difficulty, do you not think it would be advisable to sit down at the table with the premier?

An Act to amend the Statistics Act (appointment of Chief Statistician and long-form census) January 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you are glad that the previous debate is over and that this will be a much quieter period of time.

I am very pleased to rise, both as the representative of the people of York West and the Liberal industry critic, to lend my support to Bill C-626.

I would also like to congratulate my great colleague from Kingston and the Islands for his leadership and perseverance on a matter that is really of the utmost importance to all Canadians.

This is a perfect example of how science does matter in politics. Certainly there are those of us on this side of the House who understand the short-sighted actions of this government when it comes to census cuts. Bill C-626 would go a long way to righting many of those wrongs.

I think most would agree that in order to run a country that is fiscally prudent and socially responsible, which I know is very difficult for the government to understand, governments have to use real science and collect reliable data from the people they hope to serve. That is precisely what Bill C-626 is about.

The bill seeks to restore Canadians' trust in Statistics Canada by strengthening the political independence of the chief statistician over matters related to data sources, methodology, and professional standards.

Politicians need to focus on politics and leave scientists and statisticians to do what they do best. Muzzling and stymieing them serves no one.

In simple terms, Bill C-626 seeks to re-establish the role of internationally recognized best practices for official statistics in guiding the work of StatsCan. This reliability issue strikes to the heart of this discussion and many other discussions like the one we had today.

Census data allows governments to understand and become more aware of vulnerable sectors in Canadian society that require addressing. It allows governments to plan how and where to deliver services such as health care and education. If the information available is incomplete, skewed, or faulty, the ability of governments to respond effectively to the needs of Canadians is directly impacted. We are already seeing that on a daily basis.

The Liberal Party is committed to evidence-based policy. In order to develop this evidence-based policy, we must have access to reliable and trustworthy data. This is the bottom line and it is the spark that led to Bill C-626 being drafted in the first place.

The government's ill-fated 2010 decision to cancel the long form census was short-sighted and driven by a misinformed ideology again, but true to form this government plunged forward regardless.

Replacing the long form census with the national household survey has already compromised data quality and means that the data cannot be reliably compared with earlier census data. Worse than losing the ability to track population trends, the national household survey will cost taxpayers $22 million more than the census would have. This will not save even one penny for the public purse. Instead, the government is spending more than ever for incomplete and unreliable data.

Perhaps this back-of-the-napkin approach can help to explain why the Conservatives has been so hard-pressed to balance the books. Perhaps it is time to hire a real economist to help them out? In contrast, Liberal Party remains fiscally aware and committed to evidence-based policy.

So what does all of this mean from a public policy perspective? How would Bill C-626 help us to serve Canadians better? Put simply, in order to develop effective, evidence-based policy, governments need access to reliable and trustworthy data, but that is no longer the case and this government cares more about partisan advantage than about helping middle-class families, seniors, and students to get ahead.

Experts agree that the cancellation of the mandatory long form census has damaged research in key areas, from how immigrants are doing in the labour market to how the middle-class is faring. It is also making it more difficult for cities to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely.

Sadly, the impact from the loss of the long form census extends far beyond Parliament Hill and the federal government. Everyone from planners and researchers to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce agree that the government has no idea where to credibly spend taxpayer dollars to best deliver key programs and services.

Worse yet, as the available data become more and more outdated, the problem will get worse. Unfortunately, we have seen the government's economic incompetence, but now the dearth of information promises to compound Conservative fiscal ineptitude even further. Yet again, Canadians of tomorrow will suffer because of decisions the government has made today.

Allow me to be clear. The government's decision to cut the long form census will have an impact in every single community in Canada. The switch to a national household survey has created difficulties in determining income inequality trends, housing needs, and whether low-income families are getting adequate services. I do not think the government cares an awful lot about any of those, though. What this means for a resident living on Jane Street, or Islington Avenue, or Hucknall Road in my Toronto riding is that they will potentially not receive vital government services in the years ahead, because no one will know what they need.

The people living in my riding and every other riding are expected to continue working and paying their taxes, but the government is taking steps to ensure that they will not get the help they need and deserve. Some may have trouble seeing the connection, but we are already witnessing the negative impacts caused by the lack of a mandatory long form census. This will only get worse in the years ahead. Broadly speaking, lack of reliable information has inhibited research on inequality and on identifying winners and losers from economic growth, research into understanding the national problems of the have-nots in the economy, and research into how best to help local government services.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, whose network represents 200,000 businesses across the country, knows this. The chamber is publicly calling on the federal government to restore the mandatory long-form census. I join it in that call.

Yet again we are seeing a government that is entirely out of its depth. It does not understand science, it does not understand long-term planning, and it does not understand the economic impact of its decisions. It only understands what is politically expedient for it to do.

The government may try to blame others, as it does every single day, for its woes, but this issue demonstrates that the government is out of its depth and struggling under its own incompetence.

Business of Supply January 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, there was a period of time when I had the good fortune to be a minister in the Paul Martin government. Let me tell the members how beneficial those meetings were.

We sat down with the premiers and the bureaucracy to hear about some of the issues. In advance of that meeting, officials in the bureaucracy, who knew there was a meeting coming up, would be in contact with each other all across the country.

When the meeting actually started, the bureaucracy already knew some of the issues that would be raised and had already started working toward finding solutions. At the end of the meetings, we were always able to come up with recommendations to deal with the pressures that the different premiers or territorial leaders were experiencing, rather than just coming forward with a press release that said there was a meeting and that was it.

We were always able to find solutions to problems, and if we could not find solutions for everything, we could at least commit to working more closely with the premiers of those different provinces to find those solutions.

I am very proud of the record of both the Chrétien government and the Paul Martin government. The relationship we have with the municipalities is the result of the Liberal government. That is how we build a country: by building on a continuous basis, talking to each other, and understanding the pressures that our cities and municipalities and communities are facing. That is how to build a country. It is not by ignoring them, staying in the office, and not meeting with people