House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was standing.

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

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 31% of the vote.

Statements in the House

April 9th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, in February I asked a question in this House concerning the federal government's lack of interest in the recent job losses in Canada's automotive industry.

On that day General Motors in the United States announced the largest loss ever and the elimination of 74,000 jobs. At that very same time Kitchener Frame, Kitchener's largest automotive part maker, indicated it would be shutting its doors and eliminating 1,200 jobs in my community.

The region of Waterloo is home to over 62,000 workers who make their living in the manufacturing sector. Several companies, particularly those involved in the automotive sector, have made deep cuts in their workforce or have closed their doors entirely.

Ledco Ltd. closed its doors this year, after 76 years in operation; Lear Corporation laid off close to 300 employees prior to the new year; Nova Steel shut its doors entirely, this month; and BFGoodrich shut its doors last year.

This is a serious crisis and it is having a tremendous impact on the economy of Kitchener Centre. The crisis in the automotive sector is having a devastating effect in communities right across Canada.

However, the government continues to ignore calls for an automotive policy. Ottawa's reluctance to intervene on behalf of the automotive sector is both disappointing and, frankly, quite surprising. It is surprising because these companies are faltering through little fault of their own.

I think it is fair to say that Waterloo region is home to one of the most resilient, determined, innovative and diverse economies in this great country of ours. At various times in our history, Waterloo region has been known as the furniture capital of Canada, the button capital, the shoe making capital, and the rubber capital.

In spite of deep cuts, it remains an automotive capital with an expanding presence due to Toyota. Food processing has been a mainstay in Kitchener and Waterloo region for more than 100 years. There is diversification beyond manufacturing with a large financial services component through Manulife Financial and Economical Insurance, as well as other insurance companies.

We have embraced the new economy with a tremendously vibrant high tech industry. Waterloo region is a good news story, but even at that the manufacturing sector has been hit very hard.

Some of these plants in my constituency of Kitchener Centre are seeing some of their highest productivity rates ever, but despite this, they have lost their markets. They are well-versed in the causes of the manufacturing slowdown. The strong Canadian dollar has erased Ontario's economic advantage and encouraged companies to shift production to the United States or Asia.

Further, the slowdown in the U.S. economy has had a huge impact on the Waterloo region's economy since the majority of the goods manufactured in Waterloo region, and I dare say across Canada, are shipped to the south, the United States.

The manufacturing industry as a whole has been facing significant challenges in recent years as a result of the rapid, unexpected rise in the Canadian dollar, increased competition from emerging economies as well as the higher energy prices.

This Conservative government remains unwilling to address these big problems. I am not certain if it lacks vision or courage, or perhaps both. It is impossible to imagine that--

April 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend does a better job than I ever could of talking about the government's vitriol and hyperbole.

What I have done in the House for the last 11 years is fight for my community. I supported Technology Partnerships Canada, which helped places like Budd Automotive, as it was called at the time, Teleflex GFI and ATS bring new technology, often green technology, to the marketplace.

His government, in its wisdom, not only cut back these programs, but then decided it would reintroduce them at a much reduced level. It also did away with a lot of the green initiatives that our government had implemented, which would have boded well for the future of Canada and Canadians.

The $1 billion community fund that he talks about is a great start if it happens to be a single manufacturing or resource sector in northern Quebec dealing with forestry or mining. We have a very diverse economy. I challenge the government to come forward with any kind of comprehensive plan that will indeed help Canadians, help the manufacturing sector, which is huge in Ontario, instead of supporting a finance minister who—

April 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, in February, I asked a question in this House concerning the impact of the crisis in manufacturing on my constituency of Kitchener Centre and across the Waterloo region.

The Waterloo region is home to over 62,000 workers who make their living in the manufacturing sector. Several companies have had to make deep cuts to their workforce or close their doors entirely. This is a serious crisis and it is having a tremendous impact, not only on the economy of Kitchener Centre, but on the individual lives of those affected.

The manufacturing crisis is having a devastating effect right across Canada. In response to my very serious question on a serious issue, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance chose to speak to the burgeoning job market in the oil and gas industry in Alberta.

The manufacturing industry has been facing significant challenges in recent years as a result of the rapid, unexpected rise of the Canadian dollar, increased competition from emerging economies and higher energy prices.

The manufacturing workers in Waterloo region are worried about the future of their jobs and these workers have good reason to be concerned. Over 130,000 manufacturing jobs were lost last year. These are jobs that Canadians cannot afford to lose.

We are disappointed in the government's dismissal of this very important issue. In February, I asked the government when it would introduce and implement a plan to deal with this crisis in manufacturing. I asked the government to consider the financial and emotional repercussions felt by thousands of Canadians who worry about the future of their jobs.

I asked those questions because the workers of Kitchener Centre, just like the workers right across Canada, deserve better than the government's “laissez-faire, I don't care” approach to our economy.

The answer I received when I asked this question in the House speaks volumes to the Conservatives' fend-for-yourself attitude toward governing. Instead of acknowledging what is a very real crisis facing Canada's manufacturing sector, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance skirted the issue and replied that he would be cautious in his comments about Kitchener-Waterloo because he did not want to comment on the kind of representation it deserved.

Sadly, this kind of partisan jab is typical of the Conservative government's divisive style of governing. Instead of coming up with a plan to help Canadian workers, the Conservatives busy themselves coming up with empty catchphrases and baseless accusations to try to distract Canadians from the real issues at hand.

In fact, the Prime Minister made a similar glib comment when he met with the Canadian Auto Workers on a visit to Kitchener. The Prime Minister suggested to the members of the CAW that those out of work might consider seeking employment in Alberta.

I and my colleagues on this side of the House have no interest in playing games with the livelihood of Canadian families and with our national economy. We simply cannot ignore the devastating impact that the crisis in manufacturing is having on Kitchener Centre. The loss of good, well-paying jobs has a significant impact in even the most diversified local economies such as Waterloo region enjoys.

Waterloo region is home to a heavy concentration of manufacturing businesses representing a diversity of sectors, including food processors, furniture makers, high tech and digital media sectors.

April 3rd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting way for the parliamentary secretary to end his intervention, because if it were not for this opposition party coming together with what was a Canadian motion, with a Canadian stand in Afghanistan, I really do scratch my head at what this minority government thinks it would have done for our men and women in Afghanistan.

Clearly there is a line in the sand. The parliamentary secretary mentions that we are a member of NATO. It was a Liberal government, under the auspices of NATO and at the invitation of President Karzai, that went into Afghanistan in the first place.

I would like know that Canadians have a transparent and clear view of what we are doing as we go forward. Quite clearly, I think there has been evidence that the government has used the motions in the House as political cover for this very important mission, so I would not want the House to be misled in any way. It would be very refreshing to have Canadians and parliamentarians know what is going on in Afghanistan as we move from the current--

April 3rd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, in January I asked a question in this House concerning a statement made by our Prime Minister. The Prime Minister told this House that the medium lift helicopters and the unmanned aerial drones were already on order.

In fact, neither contract had been signed, contrary to what the Prime Minister stated, and at that time there was no agreement in place to obtain the helicopters' unmanned aerial drones for our soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. This week, we have learned that the Canadian government has partnered with the United States in obtaining the needed military equipment.

However, I should not have to stand in this House to remind the government that Canadians deserve the truth and they expect honest answers from those who are chosen to represent them in this place.

The amount of misinformation that has surrounded Canada's mission in Afghanistan is flabbergasting, to say the least. It begs the question as to whether the misinformation is an intended effort to mislead Canadians on this very important mission, or does the government simply not know what is going on in Afghanistan?

Last spring, we were told there was no evidence of torture with regard to Afghan detainees. Even while officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs, national and international media sources, and even the president of Afghanistan himself, all acknowledged the use of torture by Afghan security forces, the Conservative government simply dismissed these allegations as Taliban propaganda.

For more than a year, the Conservative government has insisted Afghan detainees were being treated fairly and in accordance with the Geneva convention. As we know now, this is simply not the case.

In another confusing incident last summer, the defence minister at the time said that NATO had been notified about the end of our mission. This was not the case at all. For several weeks, we heard contrary remarks from various representatives of the Conservative government as to the future direction of our mission in Afghanistan.

Those were confusing times for members of this House. Those were confusing times for Canadians. And certainly those were confusing times for members of the Canadian Forces.

This Parliament, through the efforts of the official opposition, has been successful in bringing clarity to Canada's future in Afghanistan. However, with its extensive history of mishandling and with the extensive misinformation in this House, can we really count on this government being able to honour its commitments?

Liberals believe that clarity, honesty and transparency are absolutely essential in our mission in Afghanistan. We must work hard to restore Canadians' faith in the Afghan mission, which has been dramatically undermined by the constant contradictions that have flowed from this government.

Today in the question of the week, the Thursday question that the opposition House leader asks the government, the government was asked when it is going to strike the committee that it undertook to report to Parliament to make sure that Canadians and Parliament have transparent access to good information. What did we get? We got a non-answer and heckling by the chief government whip.

Canadians must have faith that core values, including respect for human rights and the belief in the dignity of all people, are at the heart of this mission and that Canadians have a transparent, clear view of what our role is as it evolves in Afghanistan.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008 April 3rd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell my hon. friend that I think life would be pretty simple if we only had black and white film in our cameras, as clearly he is viewing many policies that come before this House.

I would dare say that we on the Liberal side feel that we are the party of immigrants. We are the party of the charter.

This issue could well be taken to committee, and I would encourage a vigorous debate so that Canadians can make their voices heard.

I do not think that anybody in this House would purport that we have a perfect immigration system. I happen to have an urban riding in Kitchener in the heart of the Waterloo region. It is one of the fastest growing, distinctly diverse communities in Canada. I deal with immigration cases all the time and I can say that the system is not perfect. I can say that the two per cent increase the government is suggesting, as it imbedded this important piece of legislation by stealth, yet again, in its budget bill, is very unacceptable.

However, to deny Canadians the ability to talk about how we could improve the system, whether the appeal system is appropriate and how we can deal with the backlog, I would agree with my hon. friend, I do not believe that this is the way to go. I do believe that we have a moment when we could have Canadians come to have a vigorous debate and we could improve this system.

Because he has black and white film in his camera, and it is either thumbs up or thumbs down, he is ready at this point just to say thumbs down, that he does not want to hear from Canadians, he does not want to take this opportunity to improve the immigration system. I would ask him what his party would purport to do to improve the waiting lists and the processing of immigrants to Canada.

April 2nd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to hear that NATO has come through and made the commitment of 1,000 additional troops.

I had the privilege, as a member of Parliament, to go Wainwright, Alberta this past summer to train with 1,053 reservists, mostly from southern Ontario. I was very proud of their commitment and belief that this mission had great value. It was the Liberal government that said, at the invitation of President Karzai, under the auspices of NATO, we would go into this mission.

I visited good friends of mine, Moni and Carman Lagonia, and said goodbye to their 21-year-old son who was going on a mission to Afghanistan. I hope Canadians recognize that the debates we have in the House in no way undermine the absolute pride that we all take and the faith we have in our young men and women in uniform.

However, it is absolutely essential that we be able to question the mission and that the mission become redefined as we go forward. It is not just enough to have the 1,000 extra troops. We need to have—

April 2nd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, on February 15 I asked a question in the House regarding the government's commitment to “frank” and “frequent” reporting to Canadians about Canada's mission in Afghanistan.

We on this side of the House remain steadfast in our belief that Canadians deserve greater transparency and greater accountability when it comes to our mission in Afghanistan. Greater transparency and more accountability from the government are key parts of why Liberals supported the recent motion to extend and redefine Canada's mission in Afghanistan.

The House will recall that our amendment specifically called for quarterly reports on the progress of the mission to be tabled in Parliament, as well as calling on the ministers of foreign affairs, international cooperation and national defence to make regular appearances before a special parliamentary committee dealing with Afghanistan.

I was encouraged to see these items included in the motion brought forward by the government. It was a great step toward our position and it was a great step forward for the House to have members and parties working together on the mission in Afghanistan to bring forward a distinctly Canadian compromise on this important international mission.

As has become the norm, unfortunately, for the Conservative government, we are now seeing actions that counter the commitments made here in the House. Most recently, the Conservative government decided to revoke an invitation to opposition members of Parliament to accompany the Minister of National Defence as members of a Canadian delegation to the NATO meetings in Bucharest.

The official opposition is committed in its efforts to work constructively on our mission in Afghanistan.

One of the key recommendations made in the report of the independent panel studying the future of Canada's mission in Afghanistan was for the government to increase the transparency of its actions with respect to the mission, a recommendation the government is once again demonstrating that it is ignoring.

The panel called on the government to rebalance its communications with Canadians about our activities in Afghanistan, providing more information and analysis on the diplomatic and reconstruction development dimensions of this mission.

The official opposition joins the panel in calling on the government to engage Canadians in a continuous, frank and constructive dialogue about the conditions in Afghanistan and the extent to which Canadian objectives are being achieved.

Part of the Canadian mission is to reflect Canadian values in Afghanistan and promote the rule of law. There has been considerable secrecy concerning the issue of detainees. We have heard cases of torture. Unfortunately, we have learned about these through the media.

In the past, the government has not been straightforward with Canadians with regard to detainees. There is no doubt that we must commit to greater transparency and to respect for a policy on the taking and transferring of prisoners. It is imperative that we know, and it is imperative that Canadians know, that detainees are treated in accordance with the rule of law.

It is our hope that the government remains steadfast on this very important issue and continues to report to Canadians in a transparent and open way so there are no questions that need to be debated.

Ethics March 14th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister can try to stop us from asking questions by launching lawsuits but it will not work. He can stonewall the House and even shut down the justice committee to prevent an investigation from happening there, but he will not be able to dodge these questions when he is in court and under oath.

Why will the Prime Minister not simply tell Canadians why he did not stop Conservatives, who, by his own admission, were legitimately representing the party, from discussing financial issues with Mr. Cadman in order to try to get him to switch his vote?

Ethics March 14th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, libel cases begin with a process called examination for discovery where the Prime Minister will be compelled under oath to answer all the questions he is not answering here.

Why is the Prime Minister waiting for a judge to force him to give Canadians answers? Why will he not simply explain here and now why his own voice on a tape confirms that he knew representatives were going to have discussions with Mr. Cadman about financial considerations?