House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was border.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Newmarket—Aurora (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2006, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Taxation September 28th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, that party voted against Bill C-48. It is so obvious that it is all over the map. It promised different things to different premiers and now it cannot deliver them.

The fiscal imbalance has 10 different definitions, one for each province. The Prime Minister has called on the provinces to raise taxes to fix the fiscal imbalance even though the premiers unanimously rejected that a long time ago.

Is this really the Prime Minister's strategy to fix the fiscal imbalance, to force the provinces to raise their taxes?

Taxation September 28th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the minority Conservative government has not delivered a penny on the fiscal imbalance despite its election promises. Even worse, by cancelling the Liberal child care agreement and the labour market partnership agreement, it has actually taken more than $6 billion from provincial coffers.

Last, the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board said that the federal government already shares more than enough with the provinces.

Let us just cut to the chase here. Does the Prime Minister really have a plan to deal with the fiscal imbalance, and if so, what is it and when?

Business of Supply September 28th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member across the floor for giving me the opportunity to say how proud I am to be sitting on this side of the House. It is based on the principles that I crossed the floor. It is the principles in which I believe we give people the opportunity to achieve equality and economic freedom, based on a strong social infrastructure.

The member asked another question about the paydown of the debt versus the cuts. I am the first one to say that any time we can pay down debt, it is a good thing. We then have less interest payments and more money to spend. However, we also have to thoroughly examine the cuts and the impact of them.

The budget of the Status of Women of Canada is $10 million. That budget was cut by almost 40%. This is the one sole organization in the government that is there to advocate and uphold equal rights for Canadians.

I know some of the members opposite must be feeling pretty uncomfortable. I know they support equality rights for women. I do not know how they can go back to their constituencies and substantiate the cuts to this kind of program, knowing the effects they will have on their communities, women, girls and future generations.

Business of Supply September 28th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring a little clarity to some of the comments the member opposite has made.

It was the intention of the former ministers of labour and justice to put forward a new bill on pay equity. It is unfortunate that the NDP defeated the government during the last go-round and perhaps many of the members regret it now. We agree with many of these important initiatives such as pay equity, improving the economic status and the rights of women, as well as child care.

It is unfortunate that we are losing ground. We have lost ground. We did all that good work and then it was defeated on the grounds of politics not on principle.

Business of Supply September 28th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about Real Women for a moment, as they are called: realistic, equal, active, for life. This group of real women does not believe equality for women. They are anti-choice. They are anti-gay. I do not have to go any further, just look at their website. It is despicable, actually.

This group has obviously contacted members across. Ian Brodie says that this group “raises interesting points that warrant close inspection”. I say to the members across and to the vice-chair of the committee and to the minister, who do they take direction from?

I would also like to point out that it has been about eight months since the minister has been before the committee to address some of these extremely important issues.

The member opposite raised some good questions about the economic status of women. Women only make 72¢ on the dollar of what a man makes. Women are the head of households. Two-thirds of women head up single parent households and 68% of the part time workers in this country are women. Women still have a long way to go and until we face the challenges and enable them to achieve economic security and parity, we will not have equality.

Business of Supply September 28th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for St. Paul's.

Monday was an enlightening day for Canadians. We learned an awful lot about this Conservative government on that day. Let us take a closer look at what happened and what it says about the Prime Minister and some of his colleagues.

On Monday the government announced a budget surplus of some $13 billion. I am sure that like me many Canadians found it rather amusing to hear the Minister of Finance make it sound as though he actually had something to do with achieving that surplus. He seemed to be fishing for a pat on the back. Perhaps the ones he was giving himself were not satisfying enough.

The surplus was welcome news in this House and across Canada. It reflected a legacy of responsible management that put an end to deficits in this country of almost a decade ago. It represented another impressive example of what we can achieve together as Canadians.

However, that was not the only announcement the government made on Monday. The Minister of Finance also revealed a series of cutbacks. This was truly an instructive moment for anyone keen to understand the motivations and beliefs of those who so steadfastly refer to themselves as Canada's new government.

The true colours of a government can be seen in each of its decisions, both large ones and small ones, not only in how it spends its billions but how it spends its thousands. The true priorities of a cabinet can be seen in each of its choices, not merely those of grave significance that alter a nation's course.

The true measure of a Prime Minister can be taken not only from how he treats premiers and dignitaries but in the manner in which he treats the less fortunate, the disadvantaged, those whose voices are not always heard, and those whose place in our society is not always one of comfort, but often one of need.

What have Canadians learned about this government? On the very same day that it announced one of the largest financial surpluses in Canadian history, a windfall of billions upon billions, this government celebrated by turning its back on women, turning its back on those who cannot read, and turning its back on those of modest means who would seek to defend their rights as guaranteed under our charter.

On the same day that the government announced one of the largest financial surpluses in our nation's history, Parliament and Canadians were witness in this House to the exercise of cold ideology and the unmasking of this government's true colours, this cabinet's true priorities and this Prime Minister's true measure.

One of the biggest targets was the Status of Women Canada, which has long been on the hit list of hard core social conservatives. Its budget has been cut deeply. Its ability to do its important work has been compromised.

There will be a price to pay and that price will be paid by individual Canadian women in communities across our country: women who strive to escape violence; women who seek nothing more than the opportunity to participate fully in the economic and cultural bounty of Canada; and women who work so hard to advance the rights of other women and girls around the world.

As is true of many of the departments and programs that were cut, those who benefit from the work of the Status of Women are in many cases Canadians who lack the voice or the resources or the political influence to stand up for themselves, to stand up for their needs and fight back. It falls to progressive minded members in this House to speak on their behalf.

If it was not clear before, the Conservative perspective on women is clear now. This government has slashed funding to the department charged with helping women who need it the most. This government has turned its back on a plan that would have created hundreds of thousands of new and affordable child care spaces, in favour of a token payout that totals a few dollars a day, helping few and creating new spaces for none.

Also on Monday, this government again, showing its social conservative inclinations, announced its intention to eliminate the court challenges program. This is not a program that most Canadians will have ever heard of. Canadians will know its legacy and the social programs that it has helped bring to our country.

The court challenges program has helped minority groups, including women's groups, launch and fight, and win a series of historic court victories during the past three decades. It is a program that has helped to define Canada as one of the most progressive nations in the world; a country determined to protect the rights of all, not just some; a country that respects its history, its standing as a nation of minorities; and a people who see that history and that modern reality as a strength.

In terms of the budget, the court challenges program is a small expenditure, a few millions dollars a year, but it has delivered tremendous value in helping Canadians to expand and to protect their rights and their freedoms. More than that, it is a symbol of the kind of country that we are.

More than 30 years ago we in Canada had the courage not only to enshrine a great Charter of Rights and Freedoms but to also dedicate a modest amount of resources to allow individuals and groups to launch court challenges to ensure those rights are being respected and correctly interpreted in today's context.

What good are rights if there is no way for someone to challenge those who would violate them? What good is the promise of equality if only those people who have the means and the abilities to ensure that promise is kept? These are important questions, but they are questions on which the government chooses not to dwell because they are inconvenient. They reveal more about the character of the government than the government would like Canadians to know.

Overall, the Conservative cuts announced on Monday were small in terms of the overall government expenditures and yet devastating to those who were affected. They were a surgical strike to the heart of our progressive society, a lashing out that spoke plainly and harshly to the government's uncompromising politics and its ideological agenda.

I have sat for long enough across from Conservative members and for more than long enough in their company to understand what motivates them, what their goals are, and what they seek to achieve in this round of budget reductions. The cuts brought down on Monday are not about budgetary matters or meeting financial demands. They are a triumph not of fiscal reason but of social conservative thinking. They are a jarring symbol of the hard and narrow perspective of the Conservatives and their fundamental distrust of the very institution that they fought so hard to lead.

The members of the Liberal Party understand the power at the government's disposal to help ensure Canadians are afforded equality of opportunity. The members of the Liberal Party believe in the government's ability to do good, to help raise people up, to improve their lives, to find their way, and so do members of the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Québécois. Government cannot do it all, nor should it do it all, but there is a progressive role it must play if we are to ever achieve the ideal of our nation as a truly just society.

The true colours of a government can be seen in each of its decisions, large and small. If we look beyond the numbers on a budget sheet, there are people, lives, homes and dreams. The Government of Canada represents all Canadians, not just the privileged. It represents all Canadians, not just those who voted for its members. A government achieves no progress for the people, no progress for any citizen when it isolates the vulnerable and subjects them to an ideological toll.

Status of Women September 26th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, an expert panel recommended to a parliamentary committee that funding for Status of Women of Canada needed to be strengthened significantly in order to be a better watchdog for women's equality.

Is the Prime Minister cutting their funding because these groups are promoting equality for women, rather than promoting his anti-choice, anti-gay and anti-equality agenda?

Status of Women September 26th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, just as women's groups across the country have feared, the Prime Minister has broken yet another election promise. He said he would ensure that Canada fully upheld its commitment to women. Instead, the government cut 39% of their operating budget. This money means everything to organizations fighting for the equality of women.

Why did the Prime Minister break his election promise to the women of Canada?

Status of Women September 21st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's chief of staff, Ian Brodie, has said that the organization, REAL Women, raises interesting points that warrant close inspection. This is a group that is anti-choice, anti-gay, does not support equality for women and wants to obliterate the Department on the Status of Women. This group's website even has links to sites that suggest that day cares do not care and homosexuality is a psychological disorder.

With budget cuts on the horizon, who is the minister listening to, Ian Brodie, the right-wing organization, REAL Women, or will she stand up and defend the rights of Canadian women?

I want to add that promoting equal rights for Canadian women is never a waste.

Status of Women September 21st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's chief of staff, Ian Brodie, has said that the--