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

Committees of the House May 3rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I apologize.

Once again we are dealing hypocrisy within a party as to how it is dealing with things.

The New Democrats will support the new budget because the government made changes. That is what Parliament is about. We get together, debate and discuss. We all acknowledge that at times discussions go on behind the scenes. We see changes and then support them. We saw changes directly reflected in the budget that are beneficial for Canadians, so we are going to support it. It is as clear and simple as that. I am not going to hide from that.

We made an agreement. If the budget follows through on what was in the agreement, we will support it. That is what integrity is about. We are trying to show Canadians that there can be integrity and honesty in Parliament. We are not going to try to Mickey Mouse words between two members in one party. Members will hear the same message coming from every New Democrat. That is not what we are hearing from the Conservatives.

Committees of the House May 3rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I cannot help but note that this same member just stated that the Conservatives went along with the budget because they did not want the government to fall at that time. It was but a few minutes ago that the member for Niagara Falls said that the NDP waited until the corruption got worse and then supported the government. Those are two different stories from the same party.

Either you should have gotten rid of the government before because the corruption was so bad, when you supported the budget. At least be--

Committees of the House May 3rd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, this is obviously a very interesting topic of discussion and it seems to take in a broad spectrum of interest for Canadians.

I will start by talking about the motion before us, which is specific to C division and the detachments in Quebec. There is no question that there is an absolute concern when RCMP detachments are closed. I am sure that in Quebec, as well as throughout Canada and in my riding, people speak very highly of the RCMP. I have met with people in a number of smaller communities who say that the number one thing to help deter crime is an RCMP detachment in the community.

Just having a detachment there is a deterrent to crime. I have had people tell me that when I go door to door. They say that everything else we can do sounds wonderful, but putting in a detachment with some officers is in itself a deterrent. I have communities in my riding where the nearest RCMP detachment can be two hours or three hours away, where one has to get in by air, and that does create problems.

The parliamentary secretary for the minister has indicated that it is up to the RCMP to decide where the detachments go, that it is up to the commissioner. That is fair enough, but there is no question that the funding for the RCMP has a direct impact on whether or not those detachments can be put in place.

I have met with the RCMP in my area about these issues, and I am sure this is what happened in Quebec with the detachments being closed. They are told that the force has only so many officers to move around and they have to try to cover a larger territory. That is because there is not enough funding. There is no question about it: there needs to be an increase in funding. If we were to put those dollars into the RCMP there probably would be less crime, but certainly if it were to happen the officers would be there to deal with it.

I do not believe for one second that there is any member in the House who does not recognize the importance of the RCMP and who does not recognize the experience, the respectability and credibility of RCMP members. We have a lot of different police forces in the country. They all work very hard to do what they are intended to do, but there is no question that as a national police force the RCMP is a good representative of Canada.

Quite frankly, and I do not mean to ruffle the feathers of my colleagues from the Bloc with this statement, the government would have been far better off to put dollars into the RCMP in Quebec than into the ad scam for unity that it tried. The government would have been far better off to support Canadian entities instead of putting money into ad scams to get money into the pockets of Liberals with the argument that somehow it would be protecting Canada's unity. That was a totally wrong way to look at it.

I will mention another area in which the government could have done the same thing: Canada Post. Small rural post offices are being closed all over Canada and the government is saying that Canada Post is a separate body, it does what it wants and it is out to make a profit. The reality is that the post office is often a central point in the community and it is a representation of Canada, of something that is there for all Canadians. All those rural areas are losing out because this government is not focused on what it should be doing in providing benefits and services to all regions of the country.

The government used the argument of unity in regard to having to put money into the scandals in Quebec, but the reality was that the government wanted the money to get into the pockets of Liberals. That is the reality. I am just saying it could have done things a lot differently. If we were to believe even for one second in the government's argument for unity, the government would have been far better off putting that money into services for all Canadians, into Canada Post, the RCMP and other bodies that are there to provide services for Canadians.

I indicated earlier that the discussion seemed to be going off into a lot of other topics and I cannot help but comment on some that were brought up, specifically, the changes in the budget. In all fairness, I think, it should be reflected that initially the New Democratic Party was not supporting the budget. We were not supporting it and all the Conservatives were. By their silence on the budget, they were supporting it. They were supporting it because it gave huge tax breaks.

However, it did not do anything for the rest of Canada. There were no additional dollars for affordable housing. There were no improvements for student tuition and education. There were no dollars going into foreign aid. Quite frankly, the Conservatives at one point supported increased dollars going into foreign aid. That was not in the budget, even though they talked a fine line. That it was not in the budget was no big deal. It was not an issue with them.

As well, I do not think they necessarily care that dollars will be going back to the municipalities because then they will not have the argument that tax dollars are not going to municipalities. There was also no reflection in the budget of what we needed on Kyoto and the environment. Also, the Conservatives did not really care about the child care issue, so they were going to support the government's initial budget. We were not.

The New Democratic Party did not sign a deal just for New Democrats. The New Democratic Party did not make an agreement for the New Democratic Party. The New Democratic Party made an agreement for Canadians, all Canadians, not just for corporate tax cuts.

We made an agreement that is going to benefit the lives of students throughout this country, not in one region of the country but in all regions of the country. There will be improvements in tuition rates and training opportunities. We wanted more money for affordable housing for all regions of this country, not one region but all regions of this country. We did not get into a deal that was going to benefit just one sector. We made a deal on the budget and only on the budget.

Of course the corruption within the Liberals and the Liberal government and the stuff in Quebec is obscene. Of course it is obscene. That will be dealt with in good time. In the interim, we have a budget to deal with, a budget that Canadians want passed because tax dollars will go back to the municipalities. Constituents in communities in my riding have written to me saying they want to see it passed because they need those dollars.

There are numerous communities in my riding that need affordable housing. They have some of the worst housing conditions there are. Am I going to let that go if I can ensure there will be dollars for housing? And dollars for student tuition? Not a chance.

If we have to get it by coming to a deal on the budget, by ensuring that these areas are addressed for all Canadians, then we are going to do it. We are not here to play politics on this budget when we know those dollars are needed in Canada. They are needed in all those communities. That is what this is about.

National Day of Mourning April 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, “mourn for the dead, fight for the living” is the battle cry of workers throughout Canada and indeed the world. Each year in Canada a thousand workers are killed and more than a million are injured or made sick by workplace accidents or disease.

With the passage of Rod Murphy's private member's bill in 1991, April 28 was recognized nationally as the day of mourning. Part of the continuing fight for the living is improving workplace safety and health through legislation, enforcement, education and technological change. The passage of Bill C-45, the Westray bill, is also a deterrent for employers who disregard the lives of workers.

As we continue to fight for improvements in Canada, we know that the fight must also extend throughout the world. More than 1,100 miners were killed by fires and cave-ins in China in the first three months of this year, an increase of 21%. If our country pushes trade with China, we must also press for extensive improvements in safety for Chinese workers.

As I join with workers, unions, employers, and the families of those who have lost a loved one in the workplace, I ask my colleagues here in the House to join me on April 28 mourning lives lost and committing to fight like hell for the living.

Petitions April 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I present petitions on behalf of hundreds of individuals in my riding from Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Chemawawin Cree Nation, Fox Lake First Nation, The Pas, Gillam and Easterville, calling on the government to ensure that Revenue Canada does not start taxing aboriginal support funding.

The Auditor General has indicated that the government does not do enough to support aboriginal post-secondary education. At a time when that is still happening, it is unconscionable that Revenue Canada should be taxing what little funds those aboriginal students have.

Committees of the House April 21st, 2005

Madam Speaker, our colleague representing the Liberal government previously asked questions regarding recommendation No. 1 and why there is a need for another inquiry.

I know the difficult work that committees do on a regular basis. Obviously, the committee felt that the previous investigations or inquiries that were done were lacking in some manner. I would appreciate the comments of my colleague from the Bloc on that.

I would also appreciate her comments on the government's criticism of an inquiry in this area. Over the years we have listened to the government on so many other issues, whether it is residential schools, the treatment of aboriginals or numerous other areas. There the government holds inquiry after inquiry, and study after study. There never seems to be any problem holding an inquiry on those issues.

On the issue that is directly related to the health of the industry, as well as the health of individuals, the government seems to have an objection to another inquiry to determine what happened.

Supply April 7th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the Air-India disaster was one of the greatest tragedies and that the follow up investigation has become an even greater tragedy on the side of justice, certainly for the families of the victims, but also for all Canadians.

These agencies that bungled the investigation are the same agencies that have the authority and unfettered rights under the new anti-terrorism legislation that jeopardizes civil liberties and puts Canadians at risk and yet we are supposed to trust them. I believe it is crucially important that Canadians be given the opportunity to regain trust in those agencies as well as in those people who were involved in the investigations. The only way to do that would be through an inquiry into what took place, find where the faults were and, if there was a miscarriage of justice and a deliberate tampering with or destruction of evidence then that would be found out.

Is my colleague hearing the concerns of other Canadians, not just the families involved, about these agencies that were involved in the travesty toward justice now being the ones dealing with the anti-terrorism bill, and what kind of faith Canadians have in these agencies?

First Nations, Métis and Inuit War Veterans April 5th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by reading the motion again. The Liberal member for Halifax West seems to have a real issue with the motion. He is indicating that the Liberal government has an issue with the motion. I want Canadians to hear the motion and let them judge why the government should have an issue with this motion. The motion says:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should acknowledge the historic inequality of treatment and compensation for First Nations, Métis and Inuit war veterans and take action immediately to give real compensation to these veterans in a way that truly respects their service and sacrifice.

How could the Liberal member for Halifax West, how could the Liberal government, how could the Liberal Prime Minister who says he is out there to make things better for first nations people, that he is going to treat them fairly, and how could the Indian affairs minister come out there and say he is going to treat first nations and aboriginal people fairly and then have a problem with this motion? How is that possible?

Obviously there is an issue with the unequal treatment of aboriginal war veterans. It is recognized. Numerous studies have been done and reports have come out that have recognized that there was not fair compensation given to all war veterans. Those who did not receive fair compensation were the aboriginal veterans. Yes, some may have received fair compensation. The reality is that a good number did not.

When there is an issue with the words “real compensation”, I guess “real compensation” would be the rightful compensation that other non-aboriginal veterans received. One would simply say they should have received the same type of compensation and the same respect that was due.

For a variety of different reasons, the first nations members went back to a reserve and to their Indian affairs agent. Quite frankly, anyone who would stand in this House and justify the actions of Indian agents and the treatment of first nations people is unconscionable.

If we look historically at the wrongs that were placed on first nations people by the Indian agents acting on behalf of the Canadian government, it was unacceptable. To somehow not accept responsibility for that as a government is wrong.

The Liberal member for Halifax West, who has issue with this motion, is saying that the government offered them a package of $20,000 and a good number took it. Quite frankly, if a person is lying on the ground and two hours away from death, and someone is going to put a little bit of water in that person's mouth, that person will take it because there is no fight left in that person. It should not have reached that point.

I say to the Liberal member for Halifax West, who has an issue with this motion, that he needs to consider why they took it and be honest about it. A person would have to be really misreading the situation to think it was all right, that 1,700 have taken it because they thought it was a good package.

That was not the reality. It was because these people had no choice and they were reaching the point in their lives when they were not going to have that much longer to live. They wanted to have some quality of life with their families.

How many of those aboriginal veterans, that have taken what little they had been given at this point in their lives, are living in luxury? How many have the health that a good number of us have who do not live in aboriginal communities? How many have had their families receive the same education that others have? That is the realistic view of why they would have taken that compensation. It was the last drops of water that they might get before their death in order to give something back to their families. It is unacceptable to somehow suggest that this compensation picture was acceptable.

My riding has a good number of first nation communities. I have met with a number of aboriginal veterans who very willingly gave of their lives at the time. For some, as with many people, it was an experience. It seemed like an exciting time to go and fight for one's country. Others felt they had no choice because it was a situation that was deplorable.

It is difficult to imagine, but some actually left their reserves because they found those conditions more deplorable than going to war and putting their lives on the line. There were a variety of reasons why people went. I would be willing to say that the majority went because they believed in Canada and they wanted to fight for their country.

I grew up in the community of Labrecque for most of my life. I picked up a Labrecque history book and there was a speech that had been given by the head priest at the Labrecque Residential School to the Regina Canadian Club one year. In it he mentioned that these Indian men were going off to war to fight for their country because they were committed to their country. When they came back, he said they would expect to be treated as equals.

The fact that they would want to be treated as equals was a problem for the priest and a problem for the government. Heaven forbid. Why should they not be treated as equals? Somehow in the mind of the government of the day and in the mind of those running the residential school, they were not equals, but to their colleagues on the battle lines they were equals.

I have spoken to a number of aboriginal veterans. My father-in-law fought in the war along with numerous relatives of his. There was no issue when individuals went to fight.

I recall a Métis fellow who worked on what was called the Labrecque Inuit and Métis farm which had been set up by priests in Labrecque to give work to Inuit and Métis. This fellow had fought in the war. He was injured and became disabled, but he was able to work. He had to fight to get compensation. After years of having worked, he finally realized that he should have been given some benefits, but he had to fight for them. My father was involved in this. This man had to fight for benefits that others had been given freely because they were white, not aboriginal. That is unacceptable.

How can anyone sit in the House today and not agree with the motion before us? How can we not go beyond the rhetoric of saying we will treat aboriginal people fairly and then do nothing? Why would we not provide compensation to these individuals and at least provide them with an opportunity to have some quality of life?

I am not surprised by this. I have also had numerous conversations with people who were in residential schools. I dealt with a first nation family that was trying to get compensation for their mother who has unfortunately passed on.

If the Liberal government keeps this up, enough of these people will be gone, so it will not have to pay out anything. More money will be available to spend on Liberal ad scams or whatever. The money will be gone and the government will not have to pay out. That is unfair, unjust and unconscionable.

There is support among all opposition parties for this, but the Liberal government is responsible for making this happen. There has to be more than just rhetoric for aboriginal veterans and residential school victims.

Imagine being part of a family whose parent went to war and the children were put into a residential school. Imagine suffering grave abuse.There have been those who told me they suffered no physical abuse, but those individuals were few and far between. More have had issues with residential schools. Imagine being the parent who went off to war and upon arrival back not being treated equally. Imagine being mistreated at a residential school. Imagine not receiving any compensation. That is unacceptable.

The Prime Minister, all members of his Liberal cabinet, and all Liberal members in general have a responsibility to ensure that compensation is paid fairly, timely and justly.

The Budget March 8th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary has made a point of indicating that there is a trend with this government. I want to mention another trend. As she is with citizenship and immigration and being that the original citizens of this country are aboriginal people, I want to indicate a trend in the area of aboriginal peoples as well.

“The government will forge a new partnership with aboriginal peoples”. That is from the 1994 throne speech.

“One of the tests of Canadian values is our ability to incorporate the aspirations of Canada's aboriginal people”. That is from the 1996 throne speech.

The government will “develop relationships with aboriginal people based on the principles of partnership, transparency, predictability and accountability”. That is from the 1997 throne speech.

“The government is committed to strengthening its relationship with aboriginal people.... And it will work to ensure that basic needs are met for jobs, health, education, housing and infrastructure”. That is from the 2001 throne speech.

“The continuing gap in life conditions between aboriginal and other Canadians is intolerable. It offends our values and we cannot remain on our current path”. That is from the February 2004 throne speech.

“We must do more to ensure that Canada's prosperity is shared by Canada's aboriginal people”. That is from the October 2004 throne speech.

In the government's last budget, only 1.3% of spending went to aboriginal communities. Those who are most hard done by in this country, those who have the greatest needs with respect to health, housing and infrastructure got nothing.

There is a trend from the government and it is not a good one for aboriginal people in Canada.

Petitions March 7th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I have petitions from people throughout the riding of Churchill calling on the Government of Canada to maintain the definition of marriage.