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  • Her favourite word is chair.

NDP MP for Scarborough—Rouge River (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 40.60% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Social Development October 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, this week, UNICEF reported that child poverty in Canada is at 21%. That is one in five Canadian children growing up with the stress and deprivation of poverty, struggling to learn without adequate nutrition and facing the likelihood of poorer health.

When is the current government going to stop leaving so many children behind and get serious about eradicating child poverty?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 October 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my question to the hon. member is with respect to the pay-to-pay fees the government has said it would like to get rid of. The government says it is unfair for broadcasting and telecommunication companies to charge Canadians a $2 fee to receive their bills to pay their bills.

Why does the government continue to allow banks to continue this unfair practice?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 October 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the minister of state mentioned earlier that talking about the New Democrats' and Liberals' differences is taking time away from this very important budget implementation bill and that he would like to see more debate in this House.

Why is the minister actually stopping debate from happening before it even starts? This minister of state is supporting the time allocation motion that would end debate in this House.

I come from a constituency that represents almost 140,000 constituents, and when I say that I may not be able to speak to this because he is moving time allocation and ending debate, cutting the time here, he says to talk to my people and that it is my fault that I am not speaking. Actually, no. I am here. I want to speak to this budget implementation bill, but he is not allowing me to, because he and the government are stopping debate before it even happens by moving time allocation. They are making sure that I might not be able to speak to this. He is blaming the victim. Why is he doing that?

Petitions October 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to submit petitions on behalf of residents from all throughout the greater Toronto areas with respect to the Rouge national urban park.

The petitioners request that the Government of Canada protect the irreplaceable 100 square kilometres of public land assembly within a healthy and sustainable Rouge national park. Since this land is the ancestral home of the Mississauga, Huron-Wendat, and Seneca first nations and their sacred burial and village sites, people would like to see the cultural and historical aspects of these lands protected, as well as assurance that there is an enjoyable nature experience and agricultural experience for people who live within the greater Toronto area.

Petitions October 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to present petitions on behalf of residents of the GTA with respect to the creation of Rouge national park. We know that there is a 100 square kilometre public land assembly that surrounds the Rouge River and Duffins Creek watersheds in Toronto, Markham, and Pickering. This publicly owned federal, provincial, and municipal land is predominantly designated as a provincial greenbelt natural heritage system. It is the ancestral home of the Mississauga, Huron, Wendat, and Seneca first nations and their sacred burial and village sites.

The petitioners are requesting that the Government of Canada protect the irreplaceable 100 square kilometre public land assembly within a healthy and sustainable Rouge national park and ensure that all people and organizations within the community are consulted in the creation of the Rouge national park.

Committees of the House October 28th, 2014

moves that the second report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration presented on Monday, March 24, 2014 be concurred in.

Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act October 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Davenport hit the nail on the head when he said that the government makes announcements, shows up for ribbon cuttings, and then does not do much to maintain whatever it is that has been opened.

I am very concerned. There is already a $3-billion backlog in deferred maintenance at Parks Canada. There have been staffing cuts of 33% in science at Parks Canada. There has been a large budget announcement for spending, but the spending is not going to happen until after the next election. One government cannot bind the hands of a future government. It is promising money that a future government will spend which will not be a Conservative government.

The Conservatives are expecting that the $386 million will be spent after 2015. That will be under a New Democratic government, and the Conservatives are saying that New Democrats are going to spend it. We will spend money to ensure that our parks are maintained, but why is the government not spending the money that it says it is going to spend today?

Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act October 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing is absolutely correct. The commissioner of the environment identified that there is consistently a wide gap between what the government commits to and what it is actually achieving.

I did mention the departmental performance report in November 2013 and the $3-billion backlog in deferred maintenance at Parks Canada. There has also been the elimination of jobs within Parks Canada. Budget cuts have had a huge impact, and it has led to 33% staffing cuts in science in Parks Canada There is 60 of the 179 positions that were eliminated.

When we create new parks, existing Parks Canada staff are responsible for the creation and maintenance as well as the infrastructure, yet the government is taking 33% of the parks support to do that. It does not make any sense.

In the 2013-14 budget announcements, there was announcement of money to be spent on infrastructure and maintenance of the parks. However, I believe the timeline has been absolutely ridiculous. The budget announcement said that this year, 2014, the government would spend $1 million; in 2015, it would spend $4 million; and then, of course, after the next election, it would spend another $386 million. I think it is absolutely absurd that the government is committing to spending $386 after the next election.

Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act October 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as this is the first time I am rising in the House since the incidents of yesterday, I just want to take a moment to thank all the House of Commons security services and all our security partners who helped. I extend my deepest condolences and those of my constituents in Scarborough—Rouge River to the family of Corporal Nathan Cirillo. Our thoughts and prayers are also with Constable Son, of the House of Commons security team, who suffered a gunshot wound, in the line of duty, protecting our House of democracy.

I will move on to Bill S-5, which would amend the Canada National Parks Act to create the Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve of Canada. The Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve is in the Northwest Territories in the South Nahanni watershed. The proposed area for the park covers an area of 4,895 square kilometres, situated entirely in the Tulita district of the Sahtu settlement area. The proposed area for the Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve has been long recommended for conservation by the aboriginal Sahtu people, who have been the guardians of that land for thousands of years. They have said that land use should be for conservation.

I was reading from CPAWS, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Northwest Territories Chapter, when I was doing some research to learn about the Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve. The first thing that came up is the following:

Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve lies in the headwaters of the South Nahanni River watershed, upstream from and adjacent to Nahanni National Park Reserve...and World Heritage Site. These two parks, working together, are necessary to protect the globally-renowned land, water and wildlife of the South Nahanni Watershed.

Right away, when I was doing my research, the first words that came up were about the importance of conservation for the aboriginal people of the Sahtu, who have been the protectors of those lands for thousands of years. Then, from CPAWS Northwest Territories, the word that stood out for me was “protect”. It is to protect the land assembly and the groundwater table and the entire watershed.

The proposed Rouge national urban park has a potential land assembly of 100 square kilometres, which includes land surrounding the Rouge river and the Duffins Creek watershed in Toronto, Markham, and Pickering. It is the ancestral home of the Mississauga, Huron-Wendat, and Seneca first nations and has sacred burial grounds and village sites.

This past weekend, I spent four hours in the Rouge visiting the sacred burial grounds, the location of a past ossuary. I spent time with an aboriginal elder, David Grey Eagle, who has been protecting these lands, working with the Friends of the Rouge Watershed and many other local people who care about Rouge Park.

We have been fighting for 100 square kilometres of park, but what the government has proposed for the study area, not even the actual final park size but the study area, is 57 square kilometres. The reason I am talking about Rouge Park is that I see the same pattern with the Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve.

When the government did the consultation with the community for the Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve, there were three options presented: option one was a total area of 6,450 square kilometres; option two was 5,770 square kilometres; and option three, which was the smallest of the proposals, was 4,840 square kilometres. Of the people who sent in responses and comments through the consultation process, 92.3% supported option one, which was 6,450 square kilometres; 4.6% supported option two; and 3% supported option three.

The government ended up making minor adjustments, and the option it is putting forward is the closest to option three. The government is supporting approximately 3% of all the people who were consulted on what they wanted for that protected land area. It does not make any sense. The government should be supporting the comments of 92.3% of the people consulted rather than 3%.

The Nahanni National Park Reserve, which is just south of the Nááts'ilch'oh national protected reserve, would protect approximately 86% of the watershed of the South Nahanni River. Protecting 86% of the watershed would not ensure the ecological integrity of the entire watershed. It is important that 100% of the watershed be protected, not 86%.

It is also important to note that the area is rich in mineral resources. The final park boundaries put forward by the government were selected so that a maximum amount of mineral resources lie outside the boundaries. This is disconcerting, because new mining stakes are prohibited within the park boundaries. It would seem that the boundaries have been adjusted and rejigged to allow for new mining stakes to occur just outside the park boundaries. This is concerning, because through mining processes, the watershed will continue to be affected in a negative way if it is not done in a sustainable manner. I and 92.3% of the people in the area are concerned about the proposed boundaries.

It would also leave out critical wildlife areas that lie outside the Nááts'ilch'oh national park reserve. When I say critical wildlife areas, I mean the caribou calving and breeding grounds. Major upstream tributaries of the South Nahanni River flow downstream into the Nahanni National Park Reserve, which makes it more of a concern, because it would not be just the Nááts'ilch'oh national park reserve but the Nahanni National Park Reserve that would be affected, because its tributaries would potentially be affected.

I would like to quote Mr. Stephen Kakfwi, the former premier of the Northwest Territories, who said that he is “disappointed with the way the boundary lines are drawn”. He said in an interview that the Prime Minister “is protecting the mining interests more than environmental interests. Unfortunately I think [the Prime Minister] has let down Canadians in his choice”. He went on to say that local people were put in a corner, because it was either the smaller protected area that was put forward or it was nothing.

I am in the same position. All New Democrats have the same belief. We want more protected areas. We support the creation of a national park, but it is not fair to put the community in a corner and tell it that it will get this tiny piece of land as a national park or it will get nothing. Why can we not just do it properly? If we say we are committed to conservation and ecological integrity, then why do we not commit to conservation and ecological integrity instead of saying that we will commit to a small piece and not the whole area?

Another issue I want to talk about is the maintenance of parks. The Toronto Star reported in December 2013, after a departmental performance report by Parks Canada in November 2013, that there is approximately a $3-billion backlog in the deferred maintenance at Parks Canada.

With new parks being created and already a $3-billion backlog in maintenance of these parks, I am concerned for the future of Nááts’ihch’oh. I am also concerned for the future of the Rouge national urban park, which is to be created in my backyard. I want to know that when we are creating national parks, we are committing to ensuring that they are protected, conserved, that there is ecological integrity of the ecosystems and the habitat, and also that they will be maintained for future use for the generations to come.

Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act October 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my question is around the very similar topic of boundaries. I know that, with the creation of the Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve, there would be a large piece of this land assembly that the people who live on those lands have requested be included in the national park reserve. With the consultation, 92% of the people had requested option one, which was the largest option that was being considered, and it seems that the boundary that has been chosen by the government is leaving out large pieces of land that are mineral rich.

There are lots of resources that would lie outside of the park's boundaries, and this would allow for new mining stakes, which are prohibited inside the park boundaries, to occur just outside. We know that mining for resources does affect the ground water tables. This national park reserve would be at the headwaters of the South Nahanni River. How would that impact the tributaries, as well as the other rivers that are feeder rivers from the South Nahanni?