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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was children.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Thornhill (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2008, with 39% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Israel April 24th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I stand here today to mark the celebration of Israel's independence.

On its 59th birthday, it is imperative to remember that Israel was conceived as a nation out of one of the darkest days in our collective history, the Holocaust. It is from that deep anguish that great hope was born and Israel was established. Today more than ever we must pledge to protect Israel against those who brazenly seek its destruction.

Right now, proud Israelis are filling the streets wearing blue and white, singing and dancing with pride in their country.

Today we celebrate not only another year on the calendar, but rejoice in the freedom, democracy and perseverance that is Israel. The desert land that was once nothing more than a dream and a vision has since become a beautiful, thriving state filled with the richness of history and booming urban centres. It is a remarkable feat that Israel has become a leader in the 21st century of discoveries and innovation despite these challenges.

I look forward to sharing in the great spirit of Israel's Independence Day today and in the years to come.

Persian New Year March 21st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, today is the beginning of the Persian new year, Norouz. I wish the Iranian community in my riding and across Canada a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

Norouz is a rich and ancient tradition celebrating life, renewal, family and spring. This joyous holiday is celebrated with great enthusiasm, warmth and inspiration. Norouz enhances the cultural fabric of Canada, enriching our community and the diversity of our country.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a Norouz celebration that showcased performances by young students of the international languages Farsi program under the exemplary leadership of Pary Missaghi held at Thornlea Secondary School.

In the coming days I look forward to participating in the numerous celebrations taking place in my riding of Thornhill which has benefited significantly from the vibrant spirit and contributions of the Iranian Canadian community.

Best wishes and a happy Norouz to all those celebrating at this very special time of year.

Varley Art Gallery March 1st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, recently I had the honour of attending the opening of an unique art exhibition titled “Canadian Artists Without Borders” at the Varley Art Gallery of Markham. The multimedia display features the work of artists who have been living in Canada for 10 years or less. This special exhibition launches the Varley Art Gallery's 10 year anniversary celebration.

I am very proud to support my constituent, Shamsi Sharokhi, as a featured artist in this exhibit. Shamsi has pioneered an award winning painting technique called heat drawing, where she creates images and shapes on thermal papers by applying heat to their surfaces. Her beautiful artwork as well as the creations of 22 other artists from 15 different nations are displayed in the show.

Art enhances the quality of our lives. I encourage everyone in the House to visit the exhibit which is on until May 13. Together we can support and appreciate the significant contributions new Canadians are making to our country in all areas, including art.

I applaud the participating artists who are sharing their remarkable talents and therefore are helping to strengthen the cultural fabric of our nation.

National Flag Day February 15th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, with great pride I rise to mark the National Flag Day of Canada. Chosen by Parliament in the time of Lester B. Pearson, today is the 42nd anniversary of the first hoist of the maple leaf emblem over the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill.

This moment in our rise from colony to nation is one in which all Canadians take pride. Around the world the maple leaf is a symbol of justice and hope because Canada is a new nation, an immigrant nation, where peoples of all national origins have united in a peaceful and tolerant society.

For our soldiers killed in action, the ultimate symbol of respect is to half-mast our national flag. On this Flag Day, when we have cause to reflect on a year of sacrifice, I call on the Conservative government to reverse its disturbing decision to cease this practice.

To honour all fallen Canadian soldiers, the government must obey the dictates of decency and honour and order the flag half-masted whenever one of our own is killed in action.

Business of Supply February 1st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I wish it were true but the reality and the facts speak for themselves. The NDP has no credibility on this issue as it helped to support the backward motion of the Conservative government, triggering the election that effectively killed Kyoto, Kelowna and the national child care and early learning programs.

The NDP does not want to move forward. It has shown it with its actions. It has no credibility whatsoever. We are the only ones who actually put in place a plan and never moved with the government and the opposition to dismantle it--

Business of Supply February 1st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the government sent the wrong message to all industries. It sent the message of retraction, as I said before. Its naysayer attitude is undermining the capacity and the great drive of many as we speak now to develop this new technology. It is precisely because of the 13 years that the member's party was a government in waiting that it did not come up any clear alternatives to Kyoto rather than repackaging our ideas as its own.

It is one thing to build on improvement but it is another to do nothing at all and set the wrong tone. The government is sadly lacking in leadership and stewardship on this most important issue. It is very disingenuous for anyone from the Conservative government to talk about moving forward when all it has done is steadily move us backward and lost time.

Business of Supply February 1st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Don Valley West.

I rise today proudly representing my constituents in Thornhill who wish to make their voices heard loudly on this compelling issue of our time. The residents of Thornhill want a sustainable environment, one where they can breathe clean air, where their children will have a healthy long life and ensure that their children's children have a healthy planet they can call home.

Like many of my constituents, I am deeply concerned that our environment is deteriorating at a rapid rate before our very eyes under the current minority Conservative government. By not charting a course that will put Canada in the lead, the Conservatives are abandoning our environment, the health and welfare of Canadians, the need to combat climate change and map out a strategy for the transition to clean energy, putting our future well-being and prosperity in jeopardy.

There is worldwide recognition, backed up with concrete scientific evidence and wisdom, that the climate is changing at a rapid rate as a result of human causes that require man made solutions. This is a global, borderless problem. The IPCC report, which is due to be released tomorrow in Paris, states “the warming of the climate is unequivocal”. A solution will require the efforts of all citizens of the globe and all countries to do their parts. This can only be done with strong leadership and multilateral action. Canada has an absolute obligation to future generations and to all citizens of the planet to make the fight against global warming a top priority.

Canadians are already feeling the effects of climate change as extreme weather has become the phrase of the 21st century. As each summer gets hotter, we see the number of severe storms and floods increase.

Global warming is a real and serious threat to our planet, which cannot be ignored. The Conservative government's role is to work on behalf of Canadians. It cannot afford to abandon Canada's commitment to the Kyoto protocol. What I do not understand is, with this knowledge, why does the Conservative government have its head stuck squarely in the sand, which has cost Canadians one full year of progress on this most pressing issue of our time?

Under programs set in place by the former Liberal government, we already had a made in Canada approach and a plan to ensure that future generations would enjoy clean air, water, land and energy. Project green, the climate fund, the partnership fund and the EnerGuide program were all made in Canada. We had a progressive, collaborative and multilateral approach to achieve our goals and worked hard toward meeting our commitments to the Kyoto protocol.

The former Liberal government signed on to Kyoto as a partner in a global commitment to take action on global warming and the environment. How can Canadians trust the Prime Minister to take charge of the environment when the very same Prime Minister has said that the science of climate change is “tentative and contradictory”. He ridiculed the Kyoto accord as nothing more than a “socialist scheme” and “environmental fraud”. It is comments like these that make the House, and in fact all Canadians, seriously question the credibility of any plan or hastily put together announcement put forward by the government on the environment.

It is time that the government gets the environmental policy out of reverse, put us back in first gear and reconfirm Canada's commitment to Kyoto. The clean air act has done nothing except undermine Canada's long-standing commitment to protecting our environment. The act allows for greenhouse gas emissions to rise until 2025, delaying action for decades, decades in which a firm commitment and action on environmental protection is critical to our planet and future generations.

Not only has the Conservative government called into question Canada's commitment to the environment on the world stage and caused international embarrassment with its isolationist approach, it has also cut important federal partnerships with the provinces and territories, increasingly narrowing our capacity to lead and diminishing our national potential. Last year the Prime Minister refused to honour a $538 million agreement between the governments of Canada and Ontario to shut down coal-fired electricity production plants. Further, the minority government refused to honour commitments in the partnership fund to fund climate change programs undertaken by provinces and municipalities, for example, resulting in a $328 million loss to the province of Quebec alone for its Kyoto plan.

The provinces want to effect change in the environment and so do Canadians. Why is the Prime Minister ignoring these clarion calls and sending successful programs to the cutting room floor? The proof is loud and clear in the Conservative's swift actions to arbitrarily gut 92% of the program funding for climate change programs based strictly on ideological reasons and not in what is in the best interests of Canadians.

The Conservatives cancelled and shut down successful climate change programs in Canada like the one tonne challenge, EnerGuide, the wind power production incentive and the renewable power production incentive and then, a year later, they turn around and reintroduce many of the same programs, watered down and wrapped with a big blue ribbon and try to pass them off as their own.

I know first-hand that the residents of Thornhill do not need to be woken up by polls to the importance and urgent need to take steps proactively to protect the environment. I have met with and have received letters and e-mails from Thornhill residents of all ages, backgrounds and professions. The message is consistently clear. They are calling for a federal government that will be responsible on climate change and the environment and not sit on the sidelines. Canada needs to be at the table internationally.

Canadians also want to know what they can do. The way they see it is that the more we can do now, the more their children and grandchildren will benefit down the road.

My constituents want a federal government that will take steps toward protecting their health, their safety and their infrastructure, the fate of all which rests squarely on a sustainable environment. Thornhill residents value deeply our quality of life like all Canadians. They want a more energy efficient and sustainable economy that will provide and ensure a better quality of life for themselves and for generations to come.

The previous government, under the leadership of the Liberals, did set in place a multifaceted foundation, a plan with a mission: to combat the damage done and prevent further damage from occurring through education, conservation and refocusing our need for energy through the development of renewable and clean energy sources and innovative technology.

The one tonne challenge provided funding to grassroots organizations in their efforts to educate and engage Canadians to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to launch a national educational program and campaign to make Canadians more aware of our habits, our energy use and encourage, by virtue of that, our conservation.

In total, the previous Liberal government committed $4 billion in the 2005 budget for its climate change plan, which included expanding the one tonne challenge as well. Programs, like the EnerGuide for houses retrofit and the EnerGuide for low income households, were exactly the positive, cost effective, made in Canada energy efficiency programs the Conservatives themselves endorsed in the last campaign.

On hearing of the cancellation of these programs, the York Regional Municipality, among others, immediately passed a motion outlining the detrimental and far-reaching effect this decision would have in our community and our country. It requested the federal government to reconsider its faulty decision. For low income households that were struggling with the 60% rise in home energy costs between 1992 and 2005, this program achieved two important goals: conservation and real savings for Canadians who needed it most.

These programs were oversubscribed. The Liberals set in place a program that was well received. It was engaging Canadians who wanted to contribute and who wanted to be part of the solution of preserving our natural environment, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and offered them the great opportunity to save their hard-earned money by reducing their energy bills at the same time.

There is no logic in systematically dismantling programs and then resurrecting them a year later when the government realizes the horse has left the barn and it needs to quickly show some action.

The issue of climate change, as I have said before, is a borderless issue and one where strong leadership and a will for collective responsibility is a prerequisite for making progress on climate change. The Conservative government, with its ill- conceived clean air act, is abrogating its responsibility, just as it has demonstrated with its short-sighted cuts to other areas such as literacy and women's programs. It illustrates definitively a complete disconnect between Conservative members and the needs of Canadians.

We must fully honour our commitment to Kyoto. The Liberals have laid the groundwork and now we must move forward decisively. We must rejoin the battle on climate change, not retract. We must return to Kyoto. Reducing greenhouse emissions and cleaning up our global environment with our international partners together is critical to the future of our planet and to all of us. Instead of playing politics and focusing attacks on the opposition, the government should be attacking the issue head on.

There is no silver bullet and no single policy or program that will immediately solve the challenge we face in protecting our environment. We need to take action now, together. We must be fully committed partners. We must take action on all fronts in developing energy efficiency, encouraging and supporting innovation and renewable energy sources so that we and future generations can enjoy clean air, clean water and clean land.

We are global citizens and we must not turn our backs on our collective responsibility. Canada needs to recommit to fully honouring the principles and targets of the Kyoto protocol now in their entirety. The government must create and publish a credible plan to reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions to meet Canada's Kyoto commitment.

International Day of Commemoration January 29th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to remember victims of the Holocaust on the second annual UN Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is imperative that we never forget those who perished and suffered at the hands of the Nazi death machine and strongly condemn those who are today committing genocide, as in Darfur, and those who wish to.

Those who deny the Holocaust are not merely historical revisionists. They want to repeat it.

The President of Iran denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map in the same breath. Let us never forget the Holocaust began with words of hate and anti-Semitism.

As we think of the victims and their immeasurable sorrow today, let us recommit ourselves and Canada to never again sit idly by and allow the systematic massacre of innocent men, women and children but rather do everything in our power to stop genocide in its tracks.

There can be no more powerful way to honour the victims of the Holocaust than to do that today.

As the survivors of these horrors, who have lost so much, show remarkable leadership and courage teaching the next generations, we can do no less.

Violence Against Women December 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, today as we observe the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, lamenting the 1989 tragic and unthinkable shootings at École Polytechnique, we must stand strong together in Parliament, all of us, condemning violence against women and pledging to keep our women safe.

As this is a pervasive, urgent crisis for women and their families, it is inconceivable that the current government short-sightedly cut Status of Women Canada's policy and research fund, which provided vital information and direction on preventing violence against women.

Simply put, women and their families cannot afford to bear the brunt of these cuts. Rather, we need to use every opportunity to do more, much more, not less, to eradicate violence against women, including increasing funding, not decreasing it.

As we reflect on that dark day in 1989, we must honour the victims truly and do everything in our power to prevent even one more woman from becoming a victim. Women at risk are relying on all of us. We cannot fail them.

Juvenile Diabetes October 26th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, Canada has one of the highest rates of type 1 juvenile diabetes in the world and more than 200,000 people suffer from this disease, which develops in children and young adults.

Canada is a leader in diabetes research. Canada' s Dr. Banting and Dr. Best were the pioneers of the discovery of insulin in 1921.

We need to continue to build on our record of success with substantial and consistent research investment by the federal government. With efforts from thousands of Canadians, including Thornhill residents who support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and an even greater commitment from our government in research support, Canada could very well be the nation that actually delivers a cure for type 1 diabetes.

I applaud the work and efforts being done by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and urge all my colleagues in the House to attend the “Kids for a Made in Canada Cure” luncheon on Parliament Hill on October 31.