House of Commons photo


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

Aboriginal Affairs June 2nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals once again announced a new day for the victims of abuse in residential schools. Sixty years of abuse, several royal commissions to study the problem, a dispute resolution system that paid billions to lawyers and almost nothing to victims, and what now? Another delay, another adviser who will report back by next March.

The Liberals refuse to acknowledge that the residential school system was a government attempt over three generations to extinguish native culture. It allowed the physical, sexual and mental abuse of aboriginal children.

The Liberals have made a tradition of delaying compensation for residential school survivors. Lawyers and public officials have made millions while the survivors grow old and die fighting to prove their case. Survivors in my riding do not accept another promise. They have heard Liberal promises for years and they have seen them broken.

The Prime Minister should show true leadership now. He should authorize immediate lump sum payments to sick and elderly survivors so they receive compensation now. There is no reason to delay unless the Prime Minister is playing more games. He needs to show some integrity and--

Supply June 2nd, 2005

Wrong, wrong.

Supply June 2nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I cannot help but respond to my Conservative Party colleague from Langley who is being critical of the NDP for not putting everything into the motion today. We all know that only so much can be put into an opposition day motion.

As was mentioned by my colleague from Winnipeg earlier, the Conservatives had numerous opportunities to bring up motions to benefit Canadians, but they never did.

In response to his comments about compassionate care, I personally have written the minister on compassionate care, recognizing that the program is not perfect. It needs improvements and needs to encourage payments to other family members as well. I would question whether he might have done any of that. I want to emphasize that my colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore also brought in the private member's bill on that before anyone else did.

That is an example of doing positive things for Canadians.

Supply June 2nd, 2005

Madam Speaker, my colleague from the Bloc seems to have picked up the Conservative rhetoric rather nicely in the sense of saying that somehow the New Democratic Party votes were bought because we negotiated a deal for a better budget for Canadians that saw more dollars for affordable housing and more dollars to go into a pension fund to assist workers. It is not the ultimate and best budget but it is better than what was there. More dollars will go into foreign aid, which the Bloc's critic greatly supported, but I guess it is a different tune now. More dollars will go into improving the environment and the sustainability of the environment. Somehow the Bloc has been caught up in the Conservative rhetoric that that is buying votes.

I say to the Bloc members that they should go to Quebecers and tell them that the NDP got more money for affordable housing, more money for a pension fund, more money for foreign aid and more money for Kyoto, instead of the garbage in here of trying to get rid of the government and to go back into an election for their own purely self-serving purpose.

Income Tax Act May 31st, 2005

We overwhelmingly voted in favour of it, including the finance minister. Has the government implemented it? Is that not what we do in Parliament? When Parliament says that we should do something, are we not supposed to do it? I thought that was why we were elected, why we got here and what democracy was all about, but the government has not done it.

We could have seen the benefits of this over the last seven years of less pollution and less vehicles on the road. Maybe we could have seen the need to go a step further and have it not just for employer paid public transit passes but for all public transit usage. Quite frankly, the same argument for any public transit usage being tax exempt is the one that was used for the employer paid public transit passes and certainly would be a benefit.

My colleague from Kamloops at the time, Nelson Riis, used very strong and positive words at the time. When one hears something good there is no point trying to rewrite it. I want to emphasize again that we have a situation where Canadian tax policy encourages people to use automobiles. Tax exempting parking spaces is a classic example.

We encourage that but a the same time we talk about wanting to be environmentally friendly and sustainable. It is time for Parliament, the government and the Prime Minister to actually say what they mean and follow through on what they say. It would be a real change and would probably shock the heck out of Canadians but it is time they did that.

Even if this motion should happen not to pass today, it is time to implement the one that was passed in 1998. I certainly hope this motion as well will get the support of this Parliament and just maybe the Liberal government will shock the heck out of Canadians and actually follow through and do what Parliament requested and voted on.

Income Tax Act May 31st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join in the debate today. I want to thank my colleague from the Bloc for bringing the motion forward.

My colleague from the Conservatives mentioned a previous motion that had come to the House. It passed by the House on November 4, 1998, exempting employer paid public transit passes.

In 1998 the Liberal government had an opportunity to encourage ridership on public transit and it failed to implement it. I want to add that the current finance minister voted in favour of it. I find it hard to believe that he will be doing the same this time around, but it would be nice if he was not changing his tune so quickly.

I will read a fair bit from my colleague, Nelson Riis, who when he was here brought that motion forward. It says a lot about the bill of my colleague from the Bloc as well.

I am acknowledging that I am reading almost verbatim my colleague, the speech of Nelson Riis, so I do not get accused of using his words. They were great words and I will repeat them because they are just as good today as they were in 1998. He said:

We all pay tax on our earnings. Some benefits we receive from our employer must also be declared as income and are therefore income taxable. Employer provided parking and employer provided transit passes are both examples of benefits that are considered taxable under the federal Income Tax Act.

However, Revenue Canada's interpretation of this act provides loopholes allowing most employees to receive their free parking income tax free. Workers with this benefit save approximately $1,722 annually. This is an incentive for commuters to drive and represents a significant loss of income tax revenue.

The government can address this bias by making employer provided transit passes an income tax exempt benefit.

This indicates that individuals would receive a direct benefit into their homes if this were made tax exempt. He further said:

This change would provide a rare opportunity for the federal government to seriously affect public policy at the local level.

I want to respond at this point because it clarifies the position of the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, my Liberal colleague who spoke earlier. I wish I had the chance to question him because he said that studies showed there was no benefit to doing this. I would like to see those studies and at least get the name of them to review them.

My colleague also stated that in the United States when this exemption was brought in, and while both the amounts and the manner in which transit subsidies could be offered were limited, transit use increased an average of 25% among employees offered this benefit.

He said:

Obviously it was a significant change in emphasis. In San Francisco, for example, transit use among participating employees increased 31%, removing an estimated 17 million vehicle miles from the Bay area, avoiding 61 million tons of pollutants and generating $1.6 million of new transit revenue.

To my colleague from the Liberals, where is his study to prove differently? I just indicated the one from San Francisco and that area that shows that it does work.

He went on to say:

All taxpayers benefit from decreased congestion. They benefit from health care savings, reduced infrastructure costs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Very few tax policies impact so favourably on so many Canadians.

Supporting public transit is not solely a transit issue. It is a health issue, it is a social issue. It is pollution issue. It is an environmental issues. It surely is an economic issue as well. It is a solid foot forward in the battle to meet our Kyoto obligations and it makes sense. It is cost effective and it has proven effective in other jurisdictions.

To those doubters out there, this is not just about giving a tax exempt break and someone is going to get a bit of a cost benefit. We are going to have an overwhelmingly major cost benefit to our health care system and meet our Kyoto commitments, so there is benefit.

Again, it is not just the New Democratic Party that says this or in this case the Bloc that supports it as well. The representative of the Canadian Urban Transit Association stated:

Public transit can offer a major solution, but needs expanded capacity and ridership and incentive for Canadians to take transit, like tax exempt transit initiatives.

We all meet with the Canadian Urban Transit Association every year when it does its lobbying. I wonder how many of my Liberal colleagues told members of the Canadian Urban Transit Association that they were absolutely wrong and that they did not agree that tax incentives for public transit passes would not work.

If they are going to recognize these associations as being credible, then they should at least have the gumption to stand up and support some of the policies it says will work to increase public transit and reduce emissions in this country, the ultimate benefit going to the Canadian population.

The vice-chair of the association said that a change in the federal tax code to make employer provided transit benefits tax exempt would go a long way to allowing employers to offer a real incentive for people to switch from driving alone to public transit for their journey to work, something we have already done in the House. We voted on that in the House with the results being that 141 Liberals said that it would work. Only 23 Reformers, 39 Bloc members, 21 New Democrats, the whole kit and caboodle at the time, 15 Progressive Conservatives and 1 independent voted in favour of this. We had 4 Liberals and 21 Reformers who voted no while the rest must have been off vacationing somewhere. The reality is that Parliament voted saying yes that tax exempt public transit passes will work.

Question No. 134 May 30th, 2005

With regard to the budget proposals for First Nations people in Canada: ( a ) does the five billion dollars to be allocated over five years on a national childcare strategy include spending for First Nations communities, or is there a separate allocation for First Nations communities; ( b ) how many new homes will be built in aboriginal communities in the next five years, and what is the estimated percentage of people living on reserve who will be in inadequate housing or in housing requiring major repairs; ( c ) how does the rate of aboriginal youth enrolled in post-secondary education compare to non-aboriginals; ( d ) how does the government expect the rate of aboriginal post-secondary education to change over the next five years; ( e ) what is the total amount spent by the government on aboriginal issues; ( f ) what percentage of this amount is spent on administration; and ( g ) how much money directly flows to aboriginal communities?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 132 May 30th, 2005

With regard to Zonolite insulation contamination in Canadian homes: ( a ) have funds or logistical support been allocated to removing Zonolite contaminates from homes on First Nations reserves, and, if so, how much; ( b ) has the government notified all provincial governments of the health risks of Zonolite contamination; ( c ) what has been done to notify all Canadians about the health risks of Zonolite contamination; ( d ) are there plans for the government to establish a removal program similar to urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) removal in the 1980s; and ( e ) is the government making a claim against the company which sold Zonolite insulation?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 129 May 20th, 2005

With regard to the governance of Crown corporations: ( a ) what action has the government taken as a result of the March 15, 2004, directive from the Prime Minister’s office that there should be a four-stage process for appointing the heads of Crown corporations; and ( b ) has this process been followed in the appointment of the heads of Crown corporations since March 15, 2004?

(Return tabled)

Toronto Port Authority May 19th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the transport minister has announced that the Toronto Island airport bridge issue has finally been resolved, but there is still one last action that needs to be taken. It is time to dissolve the Toronto Port Authority and turn over its assets and liabilities to the City of Toronto.

The Liberal government's sell-off of other ports and wharves has seen communities lose out and certain individuals profit.

The Toronto Port Authority does not even meet any of the criteria for a port of national significance, which are specified in the Marine Act. It should never have come under the jurisdiction of a port authority.

There is no point in continuing to support this money losing operation. There is no point in continuing to withhold control of the port from the citizens of Toronto. This matter must be resolved once and for all. Dissolve the port authority and return control of the waterfront to the city.