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  • Her favourite word is violence.

NDP MP for Churchill (Manitoba)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 51.10% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Status of Women December 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, initiatives are not enough, and they certainly did not save the life of Zahra Abdille, who was murdered along with her two children a few days ago in Toronto.

It is a heart-wrenching case of the way the system has failed Canadian women: no access to housing, no access to legal aid, nowhere to go. That is what happened to Mrs. Abdille.

Will the government commit to action, a national action plan to end violence against women, for women like Zahra and other women across our country?

Status of Women December 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, this week we commemorate 25 years since the massacre of 14 women at École Polytechnique. As we think of these women, their families and the countless others who have been victims of violence across our country, we also need to take action.

Today, half of women in Canada experience violence at least once in their lifetime. While violent crime goes down in our country, sexual violence rates remain stagnant. The reality is stark.

Canadian women deserve action from their federal government. Will the government work with us and support my motion for a national action plan to end violence against women today?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns December 3rd, 2014

With respect to the Action Plan to Address Family Violence and Violent Crimes Against Aboriginal Women and Girls mentioned by the Minister of Status of Women and found on the Status of Women Canada’s Website: (a) what is the definition of the word “community” as used; (b) what is the definition of the word “aboriginal” as used; (c) how much of the funding mentioned in the Action Plan was announced for the first time in the Action Plan; (d) what criteria were used to justify the funding granted through the Action Plan; (e) what consultation was conducted in order to create the Action Plan, (i) who was the consultation conducted with, (ii) what are the details of any records or documents pertaining to these consultations; (f) how much of the overall funding discussed in the Action Plan is reserved exclusively for (i) First Nations peoples, (ii) Inuit peoples, (iii) Metis peoples; (g) how will the funding and programs mentioned in the Action Plan specifically include or exclude First Nations, Inuit and Metis regardless of residence; (h) how will Inuit, Metis and First Nations fairly benefit from funds and programs promised in the Action Plan; (i) what criteria will be used to ensure fair distribution; (j) what are the expected outcomes and outputs of the Community Safety Plans, (i) how do organizations, individuals, First Nations or communities apply for funding, (ii) how are funding recipients expected to account for that funding, (iii) what studies have been done to assess what resources will be needed in order to apply for and account for that funding, (iv) how was the need for this amount of funding determined; (k) what are the expected outcomes and outputs of the funding allocated to Justice Canada in order to “break intergenerational cycles of violence and abuse”, (i) how do organizations, individuals, First Nations or communities apply for this funding, (ii) how are funding recipients expected to account for that funding, (iii) what studies have been done to assess what resources will be needed in order to apply for and account for that funding, (iv) when will this funding be made available, (v) how was the need for this amount of funding determined; (l) what are the expected outcomes and outputs of the funding secured for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC)’s Family Violence Prevention Program, (i) how do organizations, individuals, First Nations or communities apply for this funding, (ii) how are funding recipients expected to account for that funding, (iii) what studies have been done to assess what resources will be needed in order to apply for and account for that funding, (iv) when will this funding be made available, (v) how was the need for this amount of funding determined; (m) what are the expected outcomes and outputs of the new 5 million dollars over 5 years secured for Status of Women Canada, (i) how do organizations, individuals, First Nations or communities apply for this funding, (ii) how are funding recipients expected to account for that funding, (iii) what studies have been done to assess what resources will be needed in order to apply for and account for that funding, (iv) when will this funding be made available, (v) is this funding to be distributed through the existing Women’s Program, (vi) will this funding be renewable after two years, (vii) will this funding include projects pertaining to research or advocacy, (viii) how will this funding be distributed fairly among First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples, (ix) how was the need for this amount of funding determined; (n) of the 241 million dollars invested in the On-Reserve Income Assistance program, what percentage of this funding was allocated to women, (i) what gender-based analysis has been conducted for this program, (ii) how much of this funding was made available to Inuit, (iii) how much of this funding was made available to Metis peoples, (iv) how much of this funding was made available to First Nations; (o) what are the expected outcomes and outputs of the 1 million dollars secured for Status of Women Canada’s Women’s Program, (i) how do organizations, individuals, First Nations or communities apply for this funding, (ii) how are funding recipients expected to account for that funding, (iii) what studies have been done to assess what resources will be needed in order to apply for and account for that funding, (iv) when will this funding be made available, (v) how was the need for this amount of funding determined; (p) what are the expected outcomes and outputs of the 1.5 million dollars secured for Justice Canada to support Aboriginal Victims Family Violence Prevention Program, (i) how do organizations, individuals, First Nations or communities apply for this funding, (ii) how are funding recipients expected to account for that funding, (iii) what studies have been done to assess what resources will be needed in order to apply for and account for that funding, (iv) when will this funding be made available, (v) how was the need for this amount of funding determined; (q) how much money did the government spend on the Family Violence Prevention Program of AANDC between 2010 and 2015; (r) what are the expected outcomes and outputs of the 158.7 million dollars secured for the Family Violence Prevention Program of AANDC, (i) how do organizations, individuals, First Nations or communities apply for this funding, (ii) how are funding recipients expected to account for that funding, (iii) what studies have been done to assess what resources will be needed in order to apply for and account for that funding, (iv) when will this funding be made available, (v) how was the need for this funding determined; (s) what are the expected outcomes and outputs of the 18.5 million dollars that will directly support shelters, (i) how do shelters receive this funding, (ii) how are shelters expected to account for that funding, (iii) will this funding be made available to build new shelters, (iv) what percentage of this funding will be accessible to Inuit, (v) what percentage of this funding will be accessible to Metis, (vi) how much of this funding will be allocated to each reservation, (vii) how was the need for this amount of funding determined; and (t) how much funding did on-reserve shelters receive yearly from 2010 to 2015?

Respect for Communities Act December 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it truly dumbfounding that we are at this point in discussing a bill that has been on the table for months, after all the incredible work at committee to get the point across to truly respect what we have heard from all the entities and experts and survivors that support it, as my colleague pointed out. It is dumbfounding to still be at this point, fighting a bill that is obstructionist, does not make any sense, and is purely based on ideology. It disconcerting that the current government is not only not looking at evidence that supports the important work of harm reduction and safe injection sites, but it is also once again failing to respect the Supreme Court decision from a few years ago. It is sadly not a surprise with the current government, which has gone far out of its way to shun and disrespect the role of the Supreme Court at many junctures in our country's recent history.

The fact remains that this is an issue of life and death for too many people, and we have the opportunity to use evidence, science, and expert advice to make the right decision. Sadly, the government is once again shunning all of that and turning to its narrow fear-based ideology to do the opposite.

Respect for Communities Act December 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question. Sadly, though, as we know from the work that was done at committee, this bill is actually a veiled attempt at making it more difficult for places like InSite to operate and almost impossible for a place like InSite to open elsewhere in Canada.

Obviously we all believe that consultation is critical, but the way certain aspects of this bill are framed in this case is not actually to that point. It is about shutting down possibilities for continuing to do this important work in our country. We have heard this over and over again from experts. We have heard it from survivors of addictions. As I have pointed out, in article after article, peer-reviewed journal articles lead us to understand that the current government's rhetoric is actually not in line with best practice and where we need to be going.

Respect for Communities Act December 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House to speak to this important piece of legislation. I recall speaking to it at a previous stage, and sadly, I continue to be dismayed by the points raised by government members and the ongoing desire of the government to stifle what is important policy. It continues to disrespect the decision made by the Supreme Court, and more fundamentally, to actively remove some of the safeguards that would allow people, to put it as simply as possible, to stay alive.

This is an issue of life and death. Sadly, some of the rhetoric we are hearing from the government side, rhetoric that is not evidence based, does not take into account the difference safe injection sites make, whether it is here in Canada on the Vancouver east side or around the world. It is truly ideological rather than in the best interest of people living with addictions or in the best interest of people in our communities across the country.

We in the NDP have supported amendments to this bill, amendments that were not supported by the government. We oppose the main motion at report stage. The amendments proposed by the member for Vancouver East were to delete every clause of this bill.

We know that this is a thinly veiled effort to stop supervised injection sites from operating, which is in direct defiance of a Supreme Court ruling on these sites.

This legislation sets out a lengthy and arduous list of criteria that supervised injection sites would need to meet before the minister would grant them an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. These criteria would make it much harder for organizations to open safe injection sites in Canada.

We in the NDP believe that decisions about programs that may benefit public health must be based on facts, not ideology. In 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that InSite provided lifesaving services and should remain open with a section 56 exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The court ruled that it was within InSite users' charter rights to access the service and that similar services should also be allowed to operate with an exemption.

Over 30 peer-reviewed studies, published in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, and the British Medical Journal, have described the beneficial impacts of InSite.

Furthermore, studies on over 70 injection sites in Europe and Australia have shown similar benefits. InSite is one of the greatest public health achievements in our country, and we believe that it and similarly beneficial sites should be allowed to operate under proper supervision.

We want to outline that this is a deeply flawed bill based on an anti-drug ideology and false fears for public safety. This is another attempt to rally the Conservative base, as evidenced by the “Keep heroin out of our backyards” fundraising drive that started hours after Bill C-2 was introduced in Parliament. This bill, which will make it almost impossible to open safe injection sites, will actually put heroin back into our neighbourhoods.

We would also point out that Bill C-2 directly defies the 2011 Supreme Court ruling, which called on the minister to consider exemptions for safe injection sites based on a balance between public health and safety. It called on the minister to consider all the evidence on the benefits of safe injection sites, rather than setting out a lengthy list of principles by which to apply judgments.

The NDP believes that any further legislation on supervised injection sites should respect the spirit of the Supreme Court's decision, which is not the case with this bill. We believe that harm reduction programs, including safe injection sites, should be granted exemptions based on evidence of their ability to improve a community's health and to preserve human life rather than on ideology.

Along with my colleagues, many of us have pointed out that since InSite opened on Vancouver's east side, we have seen a 35% decrease in overdose deaths. Furthermore, InSite has been shown to decrease crime, communicable disease infection rates, and relapse rates for drug users.

It is not missed by me, and I am sure many others, that today, on International AIDS Day, we are recognizing the importance of supporting public policy and public health strategies that save lives instead of endangering them. Sadly, what we are seeing is the government use ideological arguments and fearmongering to both disrespect the Supreme Court and to come up with policies that put people at greater risk.

Throughout my years of being a member of Parliament, I have travelled and have spent a lot of time visiting in my constituency. I have met many people who suffer from addictions. Many people can trace that disease back to the trauma they have gone through, whether it be because they were residential school survivors or the children of residential school survivors or whether it be the trauma related to intense physical or sexual abuse or the ongoing trauma that comes with living in poverty and in a state of hopelessness.

One of the recurring messages I get is how much people want and need help. We know that not all people living with addictions are in a place where they can get help, but the reality is that many people, through the support of friends and maybe family, get to that point, and maybe more than once in their lives. We need to make sure that they have somewhere to turn once they have made that decision, once they know that they can no longer keep going down the path they are going, a path that will almost certainly lead to destruction, or even death. We need to make sure that there are institutions and services where people can get help.

As I hear these compelling stories from people who need help and want help, I see too many examples in my constituency of there being nowhere to turn.

I think of the medicine lodge in Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation that has struggled to secure federal funding year after year to provide healing and addiction services to indigenous people who go there to get help, not just from our area but from across the country. It has had to fight to secure funding for programming that works, for culturally appropriate programming, and for support for indigenous people across Canada.

I think of Whiskey Jack, an incredible program for young people in our constituency, located in the PCN. It is a program that works with many underage youth who are suffering addictions, some of them at risk of falling through the cracks in their communities and in our society. This service that is run by committed people in our north is there to help them. Sadly, support from the federal government has always been an ongoing issue.

We need more services. In Thompson we were very excited to hear about the new detox beds in our local centre, yet all of that money came from the provincial government rather than from any partnership with the federal government.

The reality is that the current government is not just pulling away from InSite and from supporting people with addictions; it is pulling away from people who live on the margins of our society and have so much to lose, including their own lives.

I take seriously the need for us to take on our duty as leaders, as legislators, to make decisions based on evidence, based on fact, and based on respecting humanity rather than on ideology, as we see from the current government.

Petitions November 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition on behalf of my constituents in Flin Flon and Thompson, as well as Canadians from Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The petitioners call on the federal government to change course, protect home delivery and protect our postal service, which is an integral service to all of our communities across this country.

Northern Development November 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, what is truly shameful is that people in my part of the country continue to go hungry because Nutrition North is not working for them, just as it is not working for northern people across our country.

As for the people of Rankin Inlet, they deserve more than intimidation and empty rhetoric from the current government.

We should be doing everything we can to ensure that no one in the north has to go to the dump to get food. We need to get to the bottom of the demand that the minister made to Rankin Inlet officials.

When did she ask her office to apologize to them? Was this a directive from the PMO? Do they truly believe that is how northern people deserve to be treated?

Northern Development November 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, nearly 100 people in the north are being forced to rummage through garbage for food to survive. Food prices are outrageous. Some fresh foods cost 10 times what they do in the south.

Instead of reaching out and moving heaven and earth to resolve the situation, all their MP is doing is making intimidating phone calls. That is unacceptable.

Can the government tell us when it learned that people in Rankin Inlet were going to the landfill to find food and what it has done to deal with this crisis?

Business of Supply November 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley for turning part of the focus of this discussion to the role of the government in regulation. While we are working in good faith on this very issue, the reality is that the current government has an abysmal record when it comes to looking out for the safety of Canadians. We are not just seeing a dangerous path being taken when it comes to pharmaceuticals. As we have seen with our own eyes, communities in this country have paid a high price for deregulation when it comes to rail safety. We have seen it when it comes to environmental safety. We have seen it when it comes to our food supplies.

Regarding this spirit that has taken over and the desire of the government to right wrongs of the past, I hope that same sentiment and precautionary principle will be taken and applied, and that a result the Conservatives will increase regulation and support those who keep us safe, in whatever sector they might be, so that we do not end up here 50 or 60 years later having to find recourse for the deep, tragic mistakes that we have made.