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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

Via Rail October 2nd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport.

On September 3 a VIA Rail train crashed near Biggar, Saskatchewan injuring 64 and killing one. Yesterday in releasing an interim report on the accident, the Transportation Safety Board noted that its recommendations are the same ones it made three years ago following a crash at Brighton, Ontario.

The recommendations do not address the cuts to VIA maintenance in the last three years which have led to the closure of maintenance centres in Halifax and Toronto, the originating point of the train at Biggar.

Will the minister request VIA Rail to cancel any further cuts and layoffs to VIA maintenance until the final report of the investigation is completed?

Pay Equity October 1st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the minister has not answered my question. Pay equity is an issue of human rights and basic fairness.

The federal government must decide if it wants to continue forcing those lowest paid to pay personally for sexist discrimination by their employers or if it wants to end the discrimination today and honour the law on human rights.

If government can evade the law and refuse to honour the finding of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, how can Canadians trust this government not to change the law, any law which it finds inconvenient?

Pay Equity October 1st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board. For the past 20 years it has been illegal in Canada to pay men and women different wages if they are performing work of equal value.

For 13 years this government has been evading the law, dragging its feet and wasting our tax dollars through tribunals, hearings and court challenges on pay equity.

Citizens must comply with the law. Unions must comply with the law. Will the President of the Treasury Board inform the House whether this government intends to comply with the law and honour its obligations to women without resorting to legislation that would water down and diminish the rights of Canadians?

Supply September 30th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I will certainly respond. I thank the member for his comments. I too want to acknowledge Rod Murphy and all of his help.

Since 1984 the pay equity issue has been on the table with the Government of Canada. Since that time the government has failed to respond even though a report from the human rights commission indicated that those workers were entitled to fair pay for equal work.

As I was speaking to a Reform motion I happened to become aware of a statement by a former Reform MP from Simcoe Centre. I want to read his statement: “As you are no doubt aware, the Reform Party and I do not support the notion of pay equity as outlined by the federal government and the human rights tribunal. We believe the hiring and remuneration decisions should be made solely on the basis of merit without regard for gender or other inalienable characteristics”.

It would sound to me, just as I see this Reformer was using whatever he could to talk about equality—

Supply September 30th, 1997

Madam Speaker, although there was not a question there, I thought I made it pretty clear without really spelling it out that the surplus was there as a result of the Government of Canada not paying its dues to its employees and not paying its dues to the people who were unemployed.

The surplus is there because those people are not paid unemployment insurance premiums the same way they would have been prior to this government. I did not get into the nits and grits of the $12.3 million paid to 3,000 government managers while these same workers were not being paid. I did not get into a reform of a tax system that would be fair for all Canadians. If we need to spell it out, one plus one is two and zero added to zero is nothing.

Supply September 30th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin my speech by thanking the voters of the Churchill riding for their support.

As many know, the riding comprises some four-fifths of Manitoba's land mass. It is home to the Sayisi and the Northlands Dene nation, a nation that is still disputing land claims north of the 60th parallel.

The people of Tadoule still seek compensation for forced relocation that almost saw the total destruction of an entire people.

Our riding is home to Churchill, the polar bear capital and a community of citizens such as Penny Rawlings and Robert Penwarden who believed in their town and the viability of the port of Churchill.

It was a shame that the government of Canada did not have the same commitment to the port. As many of us maintained, the port was not utilized to its fullest for years. The port is being used now after it was sold to an American company.

The Churchill riding is home to a number of communities where seasonal work is the only way of life. The government's changes to employment insurance saw many of the families in these communities forced to go on welfare as they did not meet the required hours to qualify for EI benefits. Some were only short by a few hours. The government should not be proud of this. Many people have simply given up looking for work and have been forced to go on welfare.

The government's cuts in social assistance dollars saw people in northern communities who have to pay $11 for four litres of milk paid social assistance benefits at the same rate as those down south paying $4.04 for milk. Cuts to health and education have seen hospitals short staffed with line-ups for emergency services, not enough dialysis machines or not enough trained nurses to operate them.

At a time when the royal commission on aboriginal people's report recommends 10,000 aboriginal health care workers are needed, we see fewer and fewer dollars going that way.

Increased tuition costs have made it even more difficult for students of the north who must already pay relocation costs to continue their education in university.

The government's failure to act on our charter of rights, its failure to pay the public service workers money due as equal pay for equal work, its failure to treat women fairly is despicable.

I have often felt that I am from a generation that has not done without. I have had medicare and maternity benefits, labour legislation, health and safety legislation, the security of CPP, employment insurance and employment equity.

People like Syd and Mory Allen of The Pas, and Nestor and Vicki Dolinski from Flin Flon, Manitoba in my riding supported the efforts of Tommy Douglas and Stanley Knowles from the early years.

These benefits I have had are not things that I want my generation to not give to the people following us. I want my children and their children to have those same benefits.

We talk about what to do with the “surplus”, the government's prize at the end of three and a half years of starving Canadians and at the end of 13 years of women fighting for equal pay. Let us put the dollars toward the people who have earned it and to those who really need it. The Government of Canada owes some 200,000 workers $2 billion. Let's pay the dues.