Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was burlington.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Burlington (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2008, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

International Women's Day March 7th, 2005

Madam Speaker, on Thursday, March 3, over 160 very interesting women of all ages gathered in Burlington for our ninth annual International Women's Day Breakfast.

Mary Munro, who was mayor of Burlington from 1977-78, was our speaker this year. A community leader, child advocate, environmental commissioner, volunteer extraordinaire and mentor, Mary Munro reminded each of us that people who wish to win a lottery need to buy a ticket.

Her anecdote, of course, reminded all Canadians, particularly women, who are under-represented in this place, that we need to get involved. We need to make our voices heard, write the letters and support the candidates in order to create the communities, the country and the society we want to inhabit.

Once again, Roxanne Moffat of Botanical Traditions created beautiful arrangements for our tables. Our event was sponsored by Rosemary Fisher of the law firm Simpson Wigle, Diane Gaudaur of Royal LePage, and the Holiday Inn, which enabled us to welcome two young women from each high school in Burlington to come and network and celebrate women's accomplishments in our community and right across the country and the world.

Interparliamentary Delegations February 24th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Delegation of the Canadian Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

This report concerns the participation of members in the 111th assembly and related meetings of the Interparliamentary Union held in Geneva, Switzerland, from September 28 to October 1, 2004.

I hope all members will avail themselves of the report with regard to the issues that were raised and the participation of members from all parties of the House who worked diligently on behalf of Canada and Canadians and distinguished themselves once again.

Gasoline Prices February 11th, 2005

Then, Mr. Speaker, I would encourage members to look at the changes to the Competition Act that are currently proposed by the Minister of Industry. These are important changes which will make sure that we have the best possible Competition Act, because it is in industry's favour to make sure that it is being held to the highest standards. More important, it is in Canadians' and consumers' favour to make sure we have a Competition Act that serves the interest of consumers in Canada and makes sure they have the safeguards to protect their rights.

This proposal should be considered by the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology during the hearings on Bill C-19, but until the research is done and the possible implications are clearly understood I do not think the motion before the House today should be supported.

Gasoline Prices February 11th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity brought forward by Motion No. 165 to address the issues of competition, particularly in the gasoline sector.

The second part of the member's motion proposes that the government bring forward amendments to strengthen the Competition Act, including measures to ensure that the competition commissioner has the power to launch investigations, summon witnesses and ensure confidentiality.

The challenge of the motion, of course, is that it is not at all clear what kind of amendments it is proposing. While it proposes amendments to strengthen the Competition Act and provide some non-inclusive list of examples, these examples refer to powers that already rest with the Commissioner of Competition.

Currently, as the member for Edmonton—Leduc has identified, if the commissioner has reason to believe that an offence has been committed under the Competition Act or that grounds exist for the making of a remedial order by the Competition Tribunal, she can, subject to some qualifications, “launch investigations, summon witnesses and ensure confidentiality”.

In the past, some members of the Bloc Québécois publicly indicated that they wanted to amend the Competition Act so that the Commissioner of Competition would have the power to conduct inquiries into markets and examine competition issues even if there was no reason to believe that an offence had been committed. I have some problems with that.

A study of the gasoline industry, which has been cited by some Bloc Québécois members, is an example of when such a power would be useful. Since the introduction of the motion refers to gasoline specifically, the member must realize that the issues they address would apply in a more general nature to the entire market and the potential for the commissioner to launch investigations in all areas of competition.

The first issue raised that must be addressed is that while some competition authorities in other countries, such as the U.S. and the U.K., found that these kinds of general or market inquiries were useful tools that we should look at that, I really think there needs to be appropriate checks and balances.

In the 1980s, for instance, a gasoline study was conducted by the Restrictive Trade Practices Commission in Canada. It gathered over 200 witnesses and the study took five years to complete. This has enormous cost implications for all of us.

I would also suggest that the example of the gasoline inquiry highlights the need for safeguards that could help ensure that the inquiries are initiated only when there is information suggesting legitimate competition issues that could be addressed by the inquiry.

While the member opposite has suggested that there is some kind of collusion going on between the Conservatives and the Liberals on this issue, let me say that the member for Edmonton—Leduc and I sat on a committee. The committee wrote a report to which I would refer the member opposite. All of us sat around the table and none of us got together out of some kind of crazed idea of colluding, but in fact because we had studied this issue and examined the facts.

There have been many studies on gasoline prices and all have concluded so far that there is no evidence of price fixing or other types of anti-competitive conduct that would substantially lessen competition.

The report that I referred to entitled “Gasoline Prices in Canada” by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology in November 2003 represents one of the most recent studies. In our report, the committee indicated that it was satisfied that the Competition Bureau was adequately overseeing competitive aspects of the petroleum industry. Based on information, as the member opposite has suggested, from the International Energy Agency, Canada's retail gasoline prices have consistently compared favourably to other major industrialized nations.

This brings me to a second issue. I am always concerned about any cost inputs to any aspect of Canadian industry. I am concerned when gas prices go up and small business operators who have to deal with high input costs have to face these issues, but let us also look at the other side of this. Sometimes higher gas prices help people look at other options, like public transit.

One of the more recent blips in gasoline prices, I read with astonishment, is that young are making absurd claims in the newspaper like, “At this rate it hardly justifies having a car”.

However, maybe people do need to think about the choices they make. If somehow the change in gasoline prices makes people think twice and makes them wonder about buying an energy efficient car or taking public transit, I would be quite excited about that. I just bought a hybrid and I am happy with my car choice because it is showing by example. I bought the Honda Accord hybrid and of course Honda has a vibrant plant in Ontario.

I would also draw the attention of the members opposite to Bill C-19, an act to amend the Competition Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. The bill, already before the House, followed extensive national consultations conducted by the Public Policy Forum, an independent non-profit organization that the government hired to look into this issue. The consultations proved very useful and helped provide a well thought out and balanced package of legislative amendments that addresses the interests of consumers as well as those of small and large businesses.

Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of cooperation could I just seek clarification? If I sit down, does the member opposite get to make a concluding statement?

Tsunami Relief February 11th, 2005

Absolutely not, Mr. Speaker. The Prime Minister has made incredible commitments and our commitments are being honoured in every way.

Canadians can be very proud of the fact that this government has responded with $425 million worth of support. Canadian NGOs, international NGOs and the multinational community are working together to ensure aid is getting into the affected regions. Canadians are making sure our commitments once again are being honoured in that area.

Employment Insurance Act February 8th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, to my way of thinking, one actually does not get economic growth or have a viable economy unless one has respect for human rights and one works toward educating, in particular, minority populations.

That is why our programming focuses on those individuals. That is why we partner with organizations like World Vision and others who are working on the ground with individuals to make a difference. That is how they are going to be successful. We can show, through our inclusion, diversity and respect for human rights and religious freedom in Canada, a way forward for Vietnam and other countries.

It is how one gets a more successful economy, as demonstrated by Canada.

Employment Insurance Act February 8th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have this opportunity to contribute to our dialogue about Canadian aid to Vietnam.

As a number of members know it, at the end of the 1980's, the Vietnam government undertook a series of important economic reforms. Those reforms, combined with the entrepreneurial spirit of the Vietnamese people, will enable their country to switch from a planned economy to a market economy.

These are important changes. The rate of poverty has in fact dropped from over 70% of the population to some 29% of the population as of 2002. It is still a significant portion of people but it is an improvement.

Despite the growth in the economy, Vietnam remains a poor country and many Vietnamese still live marginally above the poverty line. The member opposite will be interested to know that this is especially true for disadvantaged groups, including ethnic minorities living in remote regions of the country.

In 2002 the Government of Vietnam released the country's comprehensive poverty reduction and growth strategy around which the international donor community, including Canada, rallied its support.

We do not give money, as the member opposite has recognized, directly to the Government of Vietnam. CIDA works with NGO partners. It makes a difference in implementing programs for these affected people.

As we have seen in the outpouring of compassion and generosity after the tsunami disaster, Canadians care deeply about the well-being of people around the world. Canadians believe very strongly in helping others to help themselves and CIDA is mandated to do just that. We are working hard to support Vietnam's efforts to ensure that its economic growth is equitable to reduce the number of poor among its population.

The Government of Vietnam is expanding its social services and targeting poverty reduction efforts to disadvantaged groups and regions. The world community is working to ensure that Vietnam is accelerating its legal and regulatory reforms with a view to further integrating its economy with the region and the world as it moves toward its goal of WTO accession this year.

Vietnam is working to improve its professionalism, its capacity and accountability so that effective and equitable policies can be developed and successfully implemented. Its strategy advocates the rule of law and the member will be pleased to know that it calls for an end to corruption and waste.

How does CIDA help in tackling these efforts? The Minister of International Cooperation approved CIDA's new country development programming framework, CDPF, for Vietnam in May 2004. It supports Vietnam's transition through programming in governance, agriculture and rural development, and basic education.

Our program is implemented through various partners: NGOs who are on the ground; and, organizations that work with individuals, some of which will be working with minority and religious populations or faith based populations.

More specifically, the program supports equitable economic growth through reforms that promote transparent and accountable governance. It improves rural livelihoods through support for agriculture and rural development. It improves access to quality basic education, especially for the rural poor and disadvantaged girls.

We support legal reform and will provide judicial training through a Canada Corps initiative in Vietnam so that the rights of all Vietnamese citizens can be respected, promoted and protected in a more equitable manner.

CIDA is supporting Canada's overall foreign policy efforts to promote respect for human rights and the rule of law. Canada is among members of the international community, as the member has recognized, to engage in dialogue with Vietnamese authorities on issues of human rights. Recently there has been significant progress on this front.

On February 1 of this year the Government of Vietnam announced that five well-known political prisoners were to be released, along with 8,428 others.

Telecommunications Act February 7th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-37. It was very important that the minister introduce this bill. I was quite surprised, during this debate, to hear the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt.

Saskatchewan is one of the provinces that has been leading the way in assisting consumers to put themselves on a list. SaskTel has a specific service to aid consumers who want to stop these unwanted calls.

Let us be clear. The telemarketing industry is an important industry in Canada. It has a very legitimate place in the marketing grid. Marketing is important. Marketers have to get their product to the right people at the right time and in the right place, but they want to ensure that they do not annoy customers. All of us as members of Parliament have heard from constituents who are spending precious time with their families, trying to instill good values and have some quiet time, yet are being inundated by callers. They need a do not call registry.

The other day I was helping out somebody who had been away for a couple of days. I opened the individual's voice mail and found that seven out of ten calls were from unwanted telephoners. They are the kind that I want the minister to include in the legislation, the kind that are dumped in, as somebody mentioned earlier, to the voice mail system.

Telemarketing is important to our country. It provides important jobs. It is important to the business community. That is why the business community particularly supports the bill. The Canadian Marketing Association and I have been working on this. My private member's bill, Bill C-520, was introduced in the last Parliament and enjoyed support from consumer groups and businesses. They want to clean up the industry.

Right now they are maintaining, as individual companies, a whole series of registries to avoid calling people who do not want to be called by these individuals. It will be cheaper, more effective and more efficient, particularly for Canadians, to have one do not call registry, one that would list their names, addresses and phone numbers in case there are two people living in the same location sharing a phone number. It has to be specific to the individual and to the address in case phone numbers are reissued to other individuals.

The member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel also has a private member's bill in Parliament on this issue. I would encourage the members of the House to vote for Bill C-37 and for the private member's bill to ensure that both bills are considered and that the details of how we deal with the registry, how we instruct the CRTC to consult on this, and I hope they will do it forthwith, will ensure we get a call registry up and running as quickly, as efficiently and as cheaply as possible. One registry for all Canadians will make sense.

The member for Saskatoon—Humboldt talked about exemptions. My bill exempted charities, and I believe they should be given that exemption. It should also make an exemption for businesses that are calling current customers. Let us face it, that makes sense.

I was telemarketed by the Globe and Mail , which I am a subscriber to on Fridays and Saturdays in my constituency. It called me with a great offer for the Sunday New York Times , a legitimate, perfectly positioned telemarketing call. It was on the money. I was happy to hear from it and to get that service. To have continued to call me when I did not want its services, would have been a bad business practice. The businesses in the first case should be exempt, but in the second case they had better be sure to take off customers who do not want to hear from them.

There has been a lot of discussion about the need for this bill. I encourage all members to participate in it. Again, we need to recognize that there is some concern in the industry from those who are operating call centres in all our constituencies. If we can single out the calls that are on the money and that are directed at the right people, it is more efficient and more effective, rather than all the noise coming at people right now.

It is the same thing with direct marketing and the flyers that come in our mail. We will see the ones we want to see if we clean up the industry. I had a private member's bill that good pieces of consumer protection legislation, which were adopted by the minister of industry of the day, in this case a do not call registry in the last run through of the Competition Act, to ensure that we cleaned up and had the highest standards for Canadians and that we ensured the industries that were marketing, marketed effectively. They are important.

We have an example, as the Bloc Québécois member mentioned. He talked about how important it was to look to our neighbours to the south. They have had this registry for a number of years. They still have a vibrant telemarketing industry. They still provide an opportunity for people to market through the use of the telephone. More important, there is an opportunity for consumers to take their names off these lists and to be protected so they can have quiet time and not be harassed by nuisance calls.

When the CRTC does this consultation, I want to be sure that it includes, contrary to what its most recent ruling was, the kind of calls that dump a message into our voice mails when we are not there. This type of call is causing great concern, particularly among a number of constituents who do not understand how they necessarily work, especially when a person receives a call from a moving company. It is a bit disconcerting when a person has not heard the phone ring and all of a sudden the company is trying to move that individual out of his or her place of residence. We have had concerns from constituents who are not quite sure what this is.

For anyone who is exposed to the possibility of dealing with the experiences of loved ones in some early stages of dementia, it can be extremely disconcerting. We need to protect consumers.

Some of the calls that are more harassing in nature are also a real concern to me. Again, guidelines by the industry are important. However, not everyone in the industry follows the guidelines.

Under this system, everyone will have to follow the guidelines or there will be punishments. In the minister's bill there is an infraction per call per day. In my bill there were very strict penalties: $25,000 on a summary conviction, a maximum or an imprisonment of six months or on an indictment, a fine of not more than $1 million or imprisonment to a term not exceeding five years.

It is important to ensure that we clean up the industry. We must have everyone follow the same rules. We have to ensure that people are not harassed into giving money or buying products for which they are not interested. However, we know they become quite intimidated by the callers. As I said, yesterday seven out of ten calls were an annoying waste of my time and that of the individuals.

There is also the ability for people to fax when we are least expect it. That costs money. It costs money for the cartridges and paper for the fax machine. Those companies too must follow these guidelines. I send back the faxes, just as all the members of this House have, and ask to have my name removed from the list. However, I still manage to get them.

Before the legislation goes through this House and the Senate, I want CRTC to begin consultations. Canadians are ready for the bill. We have a need for the legislation. We need protection of consumers. We need to ensure that telemarketing and other forms of marketing are as effective as they can be.

Why not set the highest standard possible? Why not have one system for the whole country? Why not make it easy for people to follow through on this?

I have received a fair bit of correspondence on this. SaskTel has a system where a person can get a tracing of the numbers that have called. That will be an important piece of this, to ensure that when we take our names off a list, we will have those convictions. If we are to have those high standards, we need the ability to track from where the phone calls come.

Ironically, I called a telemarketer who had called the number I checked yesterday. Unfortunately, I had to call another set of numbers to remove those calls. That is more time and money. They were long distance calls for me.

Finally, ironically, like most people in this House, I am never home. I rarely receive telemarketing calls. Lately, however, I have been inundated. I would ask those telemarketers to take my name and phone number off their list. I am happy to buy their products, but only if I they do not call me.

This has been interesting. As a consumer, I am interested to hear what my constituents are subjected to on a regular basis. I get a lot of hang ups because I am not there.

Also, as a member opposite mentioned, we are put into a locked in system that ties up the phone line. This has implications for people who have emergency situations. It has implications for those of us who have people trying to reach us. We need to clean up this industry with one easy registration system for constituents across the country.

I commend the Minister of Industry for getting this legislation to the House. It is important consumer protection. I hope the bill will proceed to committee as quickly as possible and that it will look to other examples of private members' bills that address the issue as well.

International Cooperation December 13th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has increased its ODA budget and is committed to doing that in each of the next years. Beyond that, we have also better coordinated the aid, received better ownership on a local basis, and made sure that Canada's aid is the most effective possible.

There is a great need in the world. Canada and Canadians play a role from coast to coast to coast in helping others in less fortunate positions. We will continue to be a leader in helping to coordinate that aid dollar.

International Cooperation December 13th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member very much for her question. She knows that the government has considerably increased the ODA budget.

We also want to improve the situation year after year. I hope that the Minister of Finance is listening, because I think there is a great need in the world.