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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was dollars.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Independent MP for Churchill (Manitoba)

Lost her last election, in 2006, with 17% of the vote.

Statements in the House

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments June 16th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, we now have an admission that there were no more details in Bill C-43 than Bill C-48, yet the Conservatives supported Bill C-43 even though they do not trust what they say is a corrupt government. When one takes Gomery into question, there certainly is that attitude.

If the government is not spending those dollars for Canadians, the teeth that we now have is a minority position. Canadians know that the dollars are there. They are going to go at the government and so are we. If we want the teeth, then let us have all the teeth from across the way, from the Conservatives and the Bloc, on the government as well to ensure that those dollars do go to Canadians.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments June 16th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, in regard to the concern that there are no details in Bill C-48, I am curious as to whether or not there were any more details in Bill C-43. My understanding is that both budgets were written with the same sort of process. It is just that in this case, Bill C-48 is an NDP budget and Bill C-43 was the Liberal government's budget.

My colleague seems to have an objection to the fact that there are no details in Bill C-48. Could he tell me whether or not there were more details in Bill C-43 and, if so, what they were?

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments June 16th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, first, the Canadian Labour Congress is an independent body. We are in a democratic country. It can choose to have whomever it likes to come and speak at its conventions. It was in the province of Quebec. I would think if it chose to have the leader of the Bloc appear that is certainly its choice. As I said, we are in a democracy. Although there are some who kind of switch between accepting democracy and not, that is not the case with us. It is not our call. It is an independent body that does a fantastic job on behalf of workers in this country.

In regard to speaking today in support of Bill C-48, it is our bill. It would be a bit ridiculous for me to stand up here as a New Democrat and say that I will not support Bill C-48 when it is our deal. Of course I will support it, in the same way that I supported the government's bill on corporate manslaughter. It came out of my private member's bill. The government finally brought it through but I supported it because it was the right thing to do for Canadian workers. I support this budget because it is the right thing to do for Canadians.

Just being in opposition does not mean we have to oppose everything. It means we have to make sensible decisions based on benefits for Canadians, and that is what is happening here today. That did not come from the Conservatives.

With regard to the bill being on a page and a half or two pages, quality is much more important than quantity. We got all those improvements for Canadians on a page and a half, and maybe the member should take that to heart.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments June 16th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity for more time to make some comments on the budget bill, Bill C-48. Obviously the New Democrats are very happy with the budget.

I know that my colleagues on the Conservative benches keep insisting this was a budget that was done on a napkin or the back of an envelope. The reality is that this budget resulted from the NDP meeting with a number of groups that wanted to see changes and improvements within the budget.

We knew what Canadians wanted. We knew where there were faults within the first budget and where we wanted to see changes made. A number of days stretched into evenings and late hours of the night while we were negotiating changes and improvements to that budget. It was not done with a quick snappy “this is what we want” attitude. It was done seriously and with a focus on maintaining what our leader has said from day one: a belief in a balanced budget.

I have supported that. As someone who has been involved in municipal politics as part of a school board, I know it is important to stick within budget mandates. I totally support that. Our leader supports it and this is what we have followed through on.

Part of the criteria for this change was that we wanted these changes made but we still wanted to see a balanced budget. That is what we have. This attitude that somehow it is going to put us grossly in debt and is the downfall as a nation is just not accurate. I think the Conservatives do themselves an injustice by suggesting this, because it is not the case.

There is one fact that I cannot seem to understand. I do not know where the Conservatives are coming from on this. It is in regard to how it is somehow awful that NDP is getting $4.6 billion that is going back to Canadians in services.

There will be $4.6 billion going back to the Canadian taxpayers for affordable housing, which is absolutely crucial to the nation, not only in my riding and first nations communities, where it is desperately needed, but throughout the nation. Seniors need affordable housing as well. Even in smaller rural communities housing stock has reached a point where changes are needed.

We need a type of independent living arrangement whereby seniors can move out of their own homes but still have a focus on independent living. They may need additional types of housing to support that situation. Under affordable housing they may be able to get that type of housing. It is a crucial need. Somehow the Conservatives expect that as a New Democrat I should feel shame that we fought for this within the budget, but it is not going to happen. I take great pride in the changes that were made to the budget, affordable housing being number one.

The second area is the additional dollars for education. How many of us stand on numerous occasions saying that it is crucially important for us to have a trained and educated nation? The Conservatives do it as well. Then, when we work within the budget to provide additional dollars to support students and educational facilities, somehow we should feel shame that we obtained that for Canadians? It is not going to happen. I take great pride in the fact that we obtained additional dollars for education support.

There are additional dollars to assist developing nations. Again, this is greatly needed. All opposition parties sent letters to the Prime Minister indicating the need for additional dollars and now somehow that was wrong thing to do? I do not think so.

There are additional dollars for Kyoto and improving on the environment. I have received comments from around my own riding and from the municipalities stating appreciation for those dollars as well as the dollars they are going to receive from the gas taxes. Why would we feel bad about that?

Who should be feeling bad? It is the Conservatives who should be feeling bad. They are saying that it was somehow okay to give $4.6 billion in tax cuts to corporations.

I want to add something to that. Part of the deal was as well to ensure that small and medium sized businesses would maintain their tax breaks. Those are the businesses in each and every one of our small towns throughout the nation, in every rural and remote community. They are not the large corporations that can take a lot of their assets offshore and skirt around our tax rules, which a number of them do already. They are not the banks, which make billions of dollars. A lot of them are not even paying taxes.

We are not there to ensure that they get corporate tax cuts. Over the years they have had a number of tax cuts. There were already tax cuts in place for those corporations and they are still going to proceed. These were additional tax cuts for corporations. Somehow as New Democrats we should feel bad that we said no, we are not going to accept $4.6 billion in corporate tax cuts while the Liberals do not give back services to Canadians? That is not acceptable.

It is beyond me how the Conservatives think Canadians will be fooled by their attitude that somehow by giving back to Canadians in services we in the NDP have brought the country down and we are not going to have businesses investing in anything. We all know already that businesses, in spite of getting numerous tax cuts, were still moving offshore and were still finding loopholes to take their taxes out of this country. That is not acceptable.

Built into the plan was a balanced budget, a balanced approach. If the surplus is not there, then there is no flow. That is acknowledged. My colleague from the Conservatives said there is probably a $10 billion surplus. We are talking about $4.6 billion. We all know and expect that in reality the surplus is even greater because the Liberals have made so many cuts and have not followed through on many programs. We are going to try to make sure this happens. The way to do it is as a group of parliamentarians insisting that it happen, so that all Canadians benefit, not just corporations benefiting from tax cuts.

If the surplus is not there, we acknowledge that the dollars will not flow, but the reality, and we all know it, is that the surplus is there. I will be the first to admit that although this is a better balanced budget than what was there before, it certainly is not everything. The sure way to make it everything for Canadians is to put people in charge of the government and the country who are going to follow through on their word and make sure those things happen.

We know that is not going to happen with the Conservatives. They agreed with the Liberals that $4.6 billion in tax cuts to corporations was the first route to take. They supported it. They still insist they supported that first budget. We came along and said no, that is not acceptable, and the government is going to give back to Canadians. The sure way of ensuring that Canadians get the dollars flowing for them is to put more New Democrats in the House and put them in charge. Ideally that is when we will see the best results for Canadians.

When my colleagues say there was nothing extra for agriculture, they are absolutely right. Of course we would have loved to see additional supports for agriculture, but again, in negotiations there is give and take. We were following a plan of what we had to work with. We said we would maintain a balanced budget, but absolutely there should be more assistance for agricultural producers throughout the country.

Absolutely there should have been changes with EI and dollars flowing to workers who have lost numerous benefits over time, but again, I did not see the Conservatives getting in there and saying they wanted money for agriculture after the first budget. They did not say they wanted money for workers. They were accepting that budget with nothing in it. We went in with a minority negotiating position, we accept that, using what we had to get something better for Canadians.

There is an ideal way to get even more for Canadians and to ensure that what comes into the tax coffers in Ottawa means fairness in our tax system and fairness and balance in how those dollars go back to support our nation and Canadians overall. That is to put others in charge who are going to follow through, who are not just going to make up stories and promises for 12 years as the Liberals have done.

I admit it. I have to wonder if Liberals are going to follow through. We are putting our trust in them to do so, but that trust is based on the fact that they are in a minority position. They know Canadians are already questioning their integrity. They know that if they do not follow through on this, they are done for with Canadians, because on top of the scandal with Gomery, Canadians will know they were not going to follow through on a budget that Canadians have told us they want.

The municipalities have told us that and individual Canadians have told us that. People in my riding have told me that. Only one person in my riding wanted an election and wanted the government to fall. All the rest of them said they wanted us to make it work and that we were doing a fantastic job. They said they wanted us to make Parliament work and they wanted the budget we have worked out to pass because it is the budget that is going to help them out.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments June 16th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague. Did the Conservatives at any point attempt to get some changes to the budget? Did they go to the Liberals and say they would support it if the Liberals put in this or that or did they just sit back?

Wait a minute, I actually do not have to ask that question, because once again I recall the leader of the Conservatives, right after the budget was announced, with that great big smile on his face going out to the media and saying that he loved it, that it was the best budget the Conservatives could have, that it was a Conservative budget.

They did not bother going for anything else because they had their budget.

An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments June 16th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I want to reflect on one part of what my colleague mentioned. He seems to be very critical of Chinese immigrants coming to Canada and the whole issue around that, but we in the New Democratic Party have been absolutely amazed that when it came to selling Canada's natural resources to China, the Conservatives were supporting it. We are kind of at a loss as to where they are coming from.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments June 16th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, first I want to acknowledge my colleague from New Brunswick. Usually he and I are a little closer on agreement on some issues, but today I cannot help but question him as to how he can somehow answer to Canadians that he supported $4.6 billion in corporate tax cuts. Was that not spending or giving up taxpayer dollars? The NDP said that it wanted services back for all Canadians, not for the Conservatives' friends through corporate tax cuts.

My colleague talked about the heights of money. He had it as being 9,000 metres and he went on indepth as to how high the money would stack. Totally relevant to that comment, I have to ask him this. If the princess was on top of the money, would she have felt the pea?

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments June 16th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I think most Canadians know that the government was going to put in place $4.6 billion in tax breaks for corporations in the initial budget. In the NDP bill, we are giving $4.6 billion of services to Canadians rather than giving the tax breaks.

It is my understanding that the Conservatives voted unanimously for the $4.6 billion in tax breaks to corporation. Their leader was out within seconds after the first budget reading supporting those tax breaks. Now they somehow call it free and unruly spending to give those dollars back to Canadians.

I just want to verify if that is the actual situation that has taken place.

Housing June 15th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, this week's Time magazine named Raven Thundersky as one of Canada's heroes and most remarkable citizens.

Growing up on Poplar River First Nation, her family did not have much, but they did have an attic full of zonolite insulation. Raven's mother and two sisters died of cancer caused by the insulation. She has led a tireless effort over the past 10 years to bring the issue to the attention of Canadians.

During the 1970s and 1980s, thousands of homes in Canada were insulated with zonolite. The federal government encouraged its use under the CHIP program. The Liberals have said they will remove the dangerous asbestos from military homes, but not from reserve housing or from hundreds of thousands of other homes across Canada.

Raven Thundersky's effort to help people identify zonolite in their homes and to bring it to the public's attention has doubtlessly saved many lives. The same cannot be said of the Liberals who continue to deny there is a problem.

While Raven Thundersky is justly recognized as a hero, the Liberal government should be rightly recognized as the villain, willing to risk the lives of Canadians by ignoring the danger.

Fisheries Act June 13th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from the Conservative Party has mentioned the situation with possible invasive species coming into lakes within Ontario. I would hope that he is also aware of a situation being faced in Manitoba. States in the U.S. are diverting water, which will cause the risk of invasive species coming into Manitoba's largest lake, Lake Winnipeg, thus risking the fisheries as well as the lake in general within Manitoba.

I am curious to hear if he or his party has a position on what the U.S. is doing by diverting water into Lake Winnipeg and jeopardizing one of the greatest lakes in Canada.