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Liberal MP for Etobicoke North (Ontario)
Won her last election, in 2011, with 42.40% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Status of Women December 6th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, on this sad anniversary, we remember 14 young women and their families. As we draw together, we invite the government to take the lead to end violence against women and girls in Canada.
Working with our partners across the country, the provinces and territories, first nations, women's groups, victims' groups and law enforcement, can we all come together to develop a national action plan to end the tragedy of violence in our country?
Violence Against Women December 6th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, today we remember 14 young smart women who had bright futures ahead, their families and all those who knew them. Each of us in the House hopes their families feel the loving arms of the nation around them.
Those young women were killed that terrible day simply because they were women. That night, all parents held their girls just little bit tighter in their arms. Today, the scars remain.
Let us honour these young women's memories by being strong women who fight hard for other women and by ending violence here in Canada and around the world.
To the families, we would like them to know that their daughters are not forgotten. They instill courage, they inspire and they remind us all to fight tirelessly to end violence. We profoundly thank these families for sharing their daughters with us and we keep them in our prayers.
National Defence December 5th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, post-traumatic stress disorder is a major issue facing Canadian Forces personnel, as has been made painfully clear in the last week.
Has the Department of National Defence reached out in person to the more than 75,000 Canadian Forces personnel to remind them of the resources available to them if they need help?
Petitions December 5th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition regarding concussions. The signatures were collected by two extraordinary young women in my riding, Sandhya and Swapna Mylabathula, who have spent almost three years working on a bill proposal for a pan-Canadian concussion strategy.
Those living with concussions deserve comprehensive action and support. The petitioners call upon the government to enact a pan-Canadian concussion awareness week; a pan-Canadian strategy for prevention, diagnosis and management; and a centre of excellence for concussion research.
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns December 4th, 2013
With regard to the letter dated June 12, 2013, I received from former Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews in response to my letter dated May 8, 2013, regarding homicides and attempted homicides among Somali-Canadian males in Canada since 2006: (a) what conferences supported by Public Safety (PS) with the Somali-Canadian community have taken place since 2006, and for each conference what were the (i) locations, (ii) dates, (iii) funds provided by PS, including but not limited to, funds allocated to advertising, set-up, speakers, reports, and others; (b) what events has PS supported with the Somali-Canadian community since 2006, and for each, what were the (i) locations, (ii) dates, (iii) funds provided by PS, including, but not limited to, funds allocated to advertising, set-up, speakers, reports, and others; (c) what “outreach sessions” has the PS hosted with the Somali-Canadian community since 2006, and for each outreach session what were the (i) locations, (ii) dates, (iii) funds provided by the PS, including, but not limited to, funds allocated to advertising, set-up, speakers, reports, and others; (d) what meetings has PS hosted or attended since 2010 with “community representatives”, to “discuss issues including the number of Somali-Canadian men killed in gang-related violence”, and for each meeting, what were the (i) locations, (ii) dates, (iii) why was there a delay of four years in hearing about the homicides; (e) what meetings with “Imams” to “discuss issues including the number of Somali-Canadian men killed in gang-related violence” have taken place since 2010, and for each meeting, what were the (i) locations, (ii) dates, (iii) why was there a delay of four years in hearing about the homicides; (f) what meetings with “mothers” to “discuss issues including the number of Somali-Canadian men killed in gang-related violence” have taken place since 2010, and for each meeting, what were the (i) locations, (ii) dates, (iii) why was there was a delay of four years in hearing about the homicides; (g) how many times have “officials” met with mothers who have lost their sons, broken down by location and date, (i) why did the Minister choose not meet with these grieving mothers, (ii) how does his personal absence from such meetings reflect an appropriate level of “concern” that would give the Canadian public the “assurance” that PS is taking this issue “very seriously”; (h) what stakeholder groups amongst the Somali-Canadian community did the Minister meet with in June 2012 in Toronto, (i) what was the location and date of the meeting, (ii) were the homicides discussed and, if so, why was this not mentioned in the June 18, 2013 letter and, if not, why not, (iii) what concerns were identified, (iv) what “possible ways forward” were identified for the homicides; (i) what specific stakeholders had input into the “joint work plan”, (i) what “various meetings over the past year”, their dates, and locations were the basis for developing the work plan, (ii) what stakeholders had input into the prioritization of issues, (iii) what issues were prioritized and in what order, (iv) were homicides included in the priorities and, if so, at what rank, (v) with what stakeholders was the “joint work plan” finalized; (j) how were “Somali-Canadian leaders, youth, mothers and Imams from Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, and Calgary” contacted to be part of the “October workshop”, (i) what was the date and location of the workshop, (ii) what stakeholders were present, (iii) how many grieving mothers attended, (iv) what issues were on the agenda, (v) what Members of Parliament were invited, (vi) what was the total number of participants; (k) what is the function of a PS “community’s primary point of contact” and how does this function relate to other avenues of contact, (i) how common is it for PS to have a “community’s primary point of contact”, (ii) does PS have a community primary point of contact for other communities than the Somali-Canadian community, (iii) if so, what is the name of each community for which PS has such a contact; (l) is the funding relationship between a “community’s primary point of contact” and other departments of the government considered in the acceptance of such point of contact by PS and, if so, how, including the possibility of conflicts of interest, bias, or incomplete information; (m) is the location between a “community’s primary point of contact” and other departments of the government considered in the acceptance of such point of contact by PS and, if so, how, including the possibility of conflicts of interest, bias or incomplete information; (n) how was the organization of Canadian Friends of Somalia in Ottawa chosen to be PS’s “community’s primary point of contact”, (i) was a memorandum of understanding signed and, if so, on what date, (ii) was any funding provided and, if so, by whom and on what date, (iii) what other organizations were being considered for this role by the community, (iv) is it common for PS’s “community’s primary point of contact” to be funded by other departments of the government; (o) what are all the “community steering committees” established across Canada and, for each, what are (i) their goals and milestones, (ii) the timelines for achieving the established goals; (p) what are the dates, locations, and number of people who attended each “outreach session“ with the RCMP and the Somali-Canadian community, and how were these events advertised and at what cost; (q) why was Ottawa chosen for the February 20, 2013 youth employment session hosted by PS when Toronto has a Somali-Canadian population of 140,000, Ottawa has a population of 20,000, and Edmonton has a population of 17,000; (r) when does PS plan to “extend these sessions to other cities”, (i) what are the planned locations and dates, (ii) at how many of these sessions will the RCMP be present to discuss job opportunities, (iii) why was this information not given in response to my Order Paper question which was answered June 18, 2013; and (s) what input did the Somali-Canadian community have into Bill C-51, the Safer Witness Act, (i) what stakeholder groups were invited to comment, (ii) what stakeholder groups did comment, (iii) did the Canadian Friends of Somalia in Ottawa comment, (iv) did the “community steering committees” comment, (v) did the grieving mothers comment, (vi) what specific comments as to whether the Bill would or would not encourage Somali-Canadians to come forward after a homicide or attempted homicide were made and by what stakeholders were each specific comment made and on what date?
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns December 4th, 2013
With regard to Enbridge’s Line 9 reversal project (Line 9 Phase l Reversal Project and Line 9B Reversal and Capacity Expansion Project): (a) what are the results of all government reports, details of briefing notes, or meeting summaries that were produced between January 1, 2011, to June 1, 2013; (b) what studies, analyses or assessments did the government undertake to determine the safety of the project, (i) what are the dates of all studies, analyses, and assessments, (ii) what are the results of each; (c) what are the details of the studies, reports, briefing notes, or meeting summaries that the government has produced regarding the economic and environmental impacts and, what are (i) the results associated with each, (ii) the costs associated with each; (d) what studies, reports, briefing notes, or meeting summaries has the government undertaken regarding greenhouse gas emissions if the Line 9 pipeline was reversed and filled with diluted bitumen, (i) what were the results of these studies, (ii) how are emissions expected to impact Canada’s ability to achieve its climate commitments; (e) what are the dates of any correspondence between the government or the Minister of Natural Resources or the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Portland Montreal Pipeline Company, and what are the key points for each correspondence; (f) what are the dates of any correspondence between the Minister of Natural Resources and the National Energy Board regarding the hearing process and applications for participation and intervener status; (g) did the Minister of Natural Resources have a role to play in the National Energy Board changing its approach to public participation in hearings, particularly those concerning the proposal to reverse and expand Line 9 and, if so, what was that role; and (h) what effect have the changes adopted in the government’s 2012 budget bills had on the Line 9 review process to date?
Petitions December 4th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition regarding climate change, our most pressing environmental issue. Climate change is expensive. By 2050, the annual adaptation costs could be $21 billion to $43 billion annually. In 2011, the U.S. experienced 14 extreme weather events that each cost $1 billion.
The petitioners call on the government to model climate impacts to inform decisions about adaptation and to allocate resources to help Canadians adapt.
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2 December 3rd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, we actually had a poverty-reduction strategy. We are fighting very hard for incomes and equality.
The hon. member asks me one thing I would do. It would be to feed our children in school. There are 169 countries that feed their children every day. Some have had national breakfast programs for 50 or 60 years. Canada does not.
In Toronto, we feed over 180,000 children every morning in our city, because 42% of elementary school students go to school hungry and 62% of secondary students go to school hungry. Hungry children cannot learn. It can affect long-term development and it can affect their achieving their full potential in life.
We need a national breakfast program in this country.
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2 December 3rd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, colleges, universities, and training are important. They are fundamental drivers, but if our kids, our students, cannot get jobs afterwards, it is a problem.
I had students come to my constituency office every day this past summer. They have been out of school for two years. They have been out of work for two years. The system is not working.
I will give an example. We had a lady looking for help. She was in agony due to an ear infection that had raged for three weeks. She had pus and blood running down her face. The sad reality is that she could not afford antibiotics because she could not find a job.
I have MS patients begging for help because they cannot afford their drugs, which are $25,000 to $50,000 a year. Instead of taking them daily, they are taking them once a week.
My question is: How many more stories are there out there? The bill does not get the promised jobs. We are 225,000 jobs short for our students.
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2 December 3rd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, today I rise to speak at third reading of Bill C-4, an act to implement measures contained in budget 2013. The bill fails to address the very real challenges faced by the middle class in Canada and those wanting to join the middle class.
For the past 30 years, governments of all stripes have been elected and re-elected in Canada on a similar economic platform: fiscal discipline; investment in infrastructure, research and skills; openness to trade; and tax competitiveness. Middle-class Canadians and those wanting to become part of it supported this agenda because they were promised it would create shared prosperity; but this has not happened. While the economy has more than doubled in size in the past 30 years, middle-class incomes have increased by only 13%. If we do not solve this problem, Canadians will eventually withdraw their support and we will all be worse off as a result.
Canadians who have lower incomes have an even greater stake in the well-being of the middle class. Today, Canadians feel it is more likely that they will fall from the middle class into poverty, rather than rise out of poverty into the middle class. The bill does little to help the economy and to create jobs. In fact, the so-called job measures in the bill are just a continuation of the status quo, which simply is not good enough. My riding needs jobs, and our young people need jobs.
Previously the government introduced a jobs training program, shortly after the last budget, but the program is still not running because the government forgot to talk to the provinces. Therefore, there is no jobs training program. While the government spent millions of dollars advertising the program, I repeat, there is no program. This is a government that invests money in self-promotion, but does not “get the job done” when it comes to putting in place the kinds of measures to create jobs and good training to help close the job skills gap.
The only indicator that has grown apace with GDP for the middle class is household debt. Middle-class Canadians are rightly worried about their finances as they face record levels of personal debt, amounting to $1.66 for every dollar of disposable income. They are struggling to make ends meet while interest rates are low and are rightly concerned about what will happen in the future if interest rates start to rise.
One of the driving forces behind this accumulation of household debt is the financial subsidization of adult children who cannot yet make it on their own. These young people are unable to pay rent and are forced to live at home. In fact, 43% of Canadian families have financially subsidized young people who have lived for extended periods of time at home with them because they cannot make ends meet. Sadly, young Canadians have been left behind during this so-called economic recovery. That is, they still have 225,000 fewer jobs than before the downturn.
I saw the lack of jobs for young people first-hand, day-after-day this summer. I had university graduates who came in to get help after being out of school and out of work for two years. I had grandparents who came on behalf of their grandchildren, the first in the family to graduate from university and college, asking why they had fled their country of origin to come to Canada, the land of promise, so their children could have an education. Now they have education and they still do not have a job.
The people in my constituency need jobs, and I have worked hard to get them jobs. In fact, I obtained funding for a completing the circle program, a $500,000 jobs program in our community. I personally review and edit resumés late into the night, sometimes doing two and three drafts. We get our people into jobs programs. We follow up with them to make sure their job searches are going in the right direction, and while they search, we help them with food, clothing and whatever other supports they might need. We should all remember that we have seen a 31% increase in food bank usage since 2008. At critical times, I have personally bought bedding, food, furniture and medicine.
Therefore, it was particularly hard to hear from service providers that federal funding was being cut for job and training programs in our Etobicoke North community. My community depends on these jobs programs. We cannot afford to have them shut down. That is why I contacted the minister's office. I hope this will be rectified.
What I was looking for in the budget, first and foremost, was real help for the people of Etobicoke North for jobs. Instead, we have 308 pages, with 472 separate clauses amending dozens of different pieces of legislation. It is another anti-democratic omnibus bill meant to limit debate and ram through as much unrelated legislation as the government can get through Parliament.
Once again my constituents are saddened by the fact that this is an omnibus bill with multiple sections that were deserving of full and proper hearings in committee and full parliamentary scrutiny.
While Conservative members claim, based on their talking points, that omnibus bills are nothing new, it is only under the current Prime Minister that we have seen omnibus budget bills that top 200 pages. The 2010 omnibus budget bill was almost 900 pages. In 2012, the Conservative government started a new practice of putting forward two omnibus budget bills. Canadians will remember Bill C-38, the 400-plus page omnibus budget implementation bill, which sprung sweeping changes on our country, affecting everything from employment insurance, environmental protection, immigration, old age security to even the oversight that charities receive. None of these changes were in the Conservative platform. They were rushed into law by “an arrogant majority government that's in a hurry to impose its agenda on the country”.
One newspaper stated that omnibus bills are:
...political sleight-of-hand and message control, and it appears to be an accelerating trend. These shabby tactics keep Parliament in the dark, swamp MPs with so much legislation that they can't absorb it all, and hobble scrutiny. This is not good, accountable, transparent government.
Canadians should remember that in 1994, the hon. member for Calgary Southwest, today's Prime Minister, criticized omnibus legislation, suggesting that the subject matter of such bills is so diverse that a single vote to the content would put members in conflict with their own principles and that dividing the bill into several components would allow members to represent the views of their constituents on each part of the bill. The right hon. member is now using the very tactics he once denounced. It is a shame that he changed his tune when he was elected to the highest office in the land.
There are similarities among the government's omnibus bills. Over and over we see, for example, increasing ministerial discretion, reducing objective criteria, and removing agencies and boards. Canadians should be deeply concerned by these similarities in different omnibus bills and by yet another of the government's end runs around the democratic process.
For the people of Etobicoke North and for young people across Canada, Bill C-4 offers very little. My constituents and Canadians need better and deserve better.