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  • Her favourite word is clause.

NDP MP for Parkdale—High Park (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 47.20% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Infrastructure February 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' failure to fund infrastructure is taking an environmental and economic toll on our cities. At a community meeting in my riding last night, people raised serious concerns that the planned electrification of the Union Pearson rail link in Toronto could be in jeopardy.

Diesel service is unacceptable and has been banned in places like New York City for over a century, so federal support is badly needed. Cities are crying out for infrastructure funding and clean trains.

Why is the federal government failing to act?

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, at a minimum, obviously we want to have the kind of oversight that the inspector general provided under CSIS, but even that was not enough. I cite the Campbell Clark article from the Globe and Mail today, where Mr. Clark talks about getting warrants. He said that when CSIS applies for warrants, a judge only hears one side of the argument; the judge does not hear a counter-argument to that. It is up to CSIS if it wants to get a warrant. Judges just routinely give these warrants.

We need better oversight of the existing powers of CSIS. These extended powers are not warranted—at least the government has not made a case for them.

I would urge my colleague from Trinity—Spadina and all of his colleagues in the Liberal Party to please not just rubberstamp the bill. I would urge them not be stampeded by the Conservative government and fear of public opinion. I would urge them, please, to take a principled stand and to stand up for Canadians' rights and oppose Bill C-51.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, in response I would ask the minister whether there are not already laws that deal with these activities. Can he give us an example of an aspect of terrorism that is not covered by existing laws?

Could he also tell us why the RCMP's annual expenditures have been cut by $420 million over the past five years and those of CSIS have been reduced by $44 million?

That is not going to enhance terrorism legislation.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-51. I have been getting many email messages from constituents in my riding. I have been collecting them. They are unanimously critical and opposed to the bill. I think as more Canadians find out what is in it and they understand the implications of it, that opposition will increase.

I want to be very clear in criticizing the process with which the Conservatives are rushing the bill through the House. It is of course another omnibus bill that changes many existing pieces of legislation. After two hours of debate in the House, they brought in a closure motion, which will mean that after a grand total of 10 hours of debate, they want the bill hustled off to a committee, which, hopefully, they will not rush through in order to have a very full study. However, that has not been their practice so far.

I want to be clear that the Conservatives could have continued the very collegial atmosphere last October when we were all shocked by a shooting on Parliament Hill. Two young men lost their lives. It was frightening, it was shocking, and we all agreed at that time that we would work together and that we should not sacrifice our democracy and our principles in a rush, in a stampede to act out of fear and insecurity.

I now feel the Conservatives are in fact rushing to bring this bill in and get it passed out of political expediency, because they think it will help them get re-elected. They also do not want to give Canadians the time to actually find out what is in the bill. They know that once they do, they will be more opposed to it.

The New Democratic Party, and I believe our leader has articulated this very clearly, believes we should have legislation that provides security, that will keep Canadians safe, but that also protects our civil liberties. Security and civil liberties and public safety are all Canadian values, and they are not a trade-off, they are not a balancing act. We need to have both security and our civil liberties. We need to protect our freedom as much as we protect our security.

We could have, and there is still time for the government and the third party to agree to this, a more serious, evidence-based approach to anti-terrorism legislation. We could stop playing politics with this and we could hear from experts in Canada and around the world. We could look at what other countries are doing. We could, in fact, choose the best. After a thorough review, engaging all parties, all of our ideas, coming to the table and after a full debate, we could come to what I believe would be an effective bill for public safety, one that would include strong oversight of our security and intelligence agencies, one that would devote appropriate resources to security and intelligence agencies rather than make cuts to these agencies, which the government has done, and one that, rather than fanning the flames of Islamophobia, would work with at-risk communities on counter-radicalization programs. That is what is needed in our country and that is where the government has failed.

The criticisms of the bill are of course many, but let me highlight just a few of them. There has been a lot of concern about how sweeping this law is, how vague it is and probably how ineffective it is. In the short time allotted to me today, I do not have time to get into a detailed analysis of this.

I would just say that after repeated tough questioning in the House of Commons by the Leader of the Opposition, neither the Prime Minister, nor the Minister of Public Safety, nor the Minister of Defence could offer a single example of a crime that could have been stopped or a danger thwarted by this legislation that is not already covered by existing legislation. They could not offer even one example to the House, which is pretty shocking. Surely, if they are going to fix the problem, they had better understand what the problem is and better know that what they are proposing will fix the problem. They could not give one single example. That is pretty shocking.

There is serious concern that because of the vagueness and overreach of the legislation, those who are engaged in legitimate lawful dissent, or in some cases perhaps pushing the limits a bit, might also be swooped up under the bill.

Coming from the city of Toronto in particular, I think of the people who were detained and kettled in downtown Toronto during the G8 and G20 talks. Not one charge was laid, but these people were detained in very difficult conditions and their rights were not respected. To me, Bill C-51 is continuing down that very slippery slope.

When constitutional lawyers across the country, former prime ministers, and former premiers are all sounding the alarm bells about the constitutionality and the dangers of the bill, perhaps we should pay attention. Again, it is not necessary that we violate our civil liberties in order to provide for public safety.

I live in a neighbourhood in our country where people are worried sick about highly flammable toxic substances transiting our riding in tank cars. These are the same kind of tank cars that exploded and incinerated people in Lac-Mégantic. I would like the government to invest more in public safety for rail safety and food safety. I want to see investment in all aspects of our public safety, not just in a knee-jerk response like we are seeing with Bill C-51.

Lack of oversight is also a serious concern that has been raised. As the former vice-chair of the finance committee, I was on the finance committee in 2012 when an omnibus bill was brought before that committee. We had as a witness, Paul Kennedy, who was one of the people involved in setting up our spy agency, CSIS. He, at that time, was sounding alarm bells about a proposal in the budget bill to get rid of the oversight of CSIS. I want to quote him, because I think his comments are very important:

For anyone to sit here and possibly think that because CSIS doesn't like this, CSIS should be accommodated and it should be removed is sheer insanity.

It really is. CSIS does not get to make that call. The minister's job is to give the public assurances and to make sure the tools are there. If someone came up with a better model, fine, but he was critical that existing oversight model of CSIS was being removed. When that model was set up, the spy agency was separated from policing. There was CSIS and the RCMP. What Bill C-51 does is to blur those two. Yet, having taken away the oversight, not replaced it, and in fact having cut resources to CSIS and the RCMP, somehow the government wants the public to believe that it is treating security and public safety seriously. I do not buy it and, increasingly, neither do Canadians.

Thank goodness there is one principled leader in this country, the leader of the official opposition, who is standing up and challenging the government and poking holes in the error of this legislation. All Canadians will be thankful for it.

Automotive Industry February 23rd, 2015

Just to be clear, Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives will not rule out selling GM shares at a loss of hundreds of millions of Canadian tax dollars for their political gain.

The Conservatives have never taken the auto sector seriously. Under their watch, we have lost tens of thousands of good paying auto jobs, and many plants still face uncertainty, including the GM plant in Oshawa.

Why is the government in such a hurry to sell off GM shares at the expense of Canadian workers and Canadian taxpayers?

Automotive Industry February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are apparently considering selling off General Motors shares in order to balance the budget, even though Canadians would lose $600 million in the process.

Can the Minister of Finance tell us whether he is really planning to sell the GM shares at a loss in order to balance the upcoming budget?

Employment February 18th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, unemployment is up by 200,000 since before the recession, and somehow the minister thinks he is doing a good job.

The fact is we have seen so many plant closures on the Conservatives' watch that the sector cannot even take advantage now that we have a lower dollar. In order to help manufacturers compete and create jobs, we need to support investments in equipment and innovation, which is exactly what the NDP plan would do.

Why do the Conservatives refuse to support good middle-class jobs for Canadians?

Taxation February 17th, 2015

What is clear, Mr. Speaker, is that the Conservatives cannot be bothered to help ordinary Canadians, but they will bend over backwards to help the well off, even if it means turning a blind eye to tax evasion. Leaked documents show that more than 1,800 Canadians are holding secret Swiss bank accounts with HSBC, but there have been no charges of tax fraud or tax evasion.

Why are the Conservatives using kid gloves on wealthy tax cheats while ordering public servants to deny EI benefits to the unemployed?

Arts and Culture February 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to our nation's artists and cultural workers, many of whom call my riding of Parkdale—High Park home.

The arts and culture sector contributes $47.8 billion to the Canadian economy annually and strengthens communities by allowing us to share our stories and find new ways of understanding the world we live in.

Sadly, under the government, artists are struggling to have their contributions respected. Conservative cuts to Canadian Heritage, the CBC, Telefilm, the National Film Board, and Library and Archives Canada will have a negative and lasting impact.

Without a strategy for ensuring that Canadian content is present in the digital realm, producers are missing key opportunities, and Canadian stories and voices are being drowned out.

New Democrats respect our artists and are committed to supporting them with stable funding for our national institutions, reversing the cuts to the CBC, and fostering continued growth in the cultural sector.

Parliamentary Precinct Security February 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and for the letter he sent.

Indeed, there are other measures we could take to keep Parliament safe and to retain the responsibility, power and independence of the speakers of the two chambers, instead of consolidating the power in the hands of the Prime Minister. That is the flaw in the government's motion that we are trying to fix.