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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was know.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as NDP MP for Surrey North (B.C.)

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

Statements in the House

Mother's Day May 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge a group of people who do the most important job that people can do: our mothers. The requirements of being a mother may vary and every mom may approach the job differently, but each one deserves our thanks.

Mothers are our first and best teacher.

They work hard to put food on the table even if they have to work two jobs to do it.

They volunteer in our schools, at our places of worship and in our community.

They love and care for us. Even if we sometimes require more care than they have the energy to give, they still love us and think we are perfect.

They give up things they need so that we can have sneakers, books and field trips.

Sometimes they do this job with help. Sometimes they do it all alone.

With Mother's Day coming up this Sunday, I ask all members of this House to show appreciation to all the mothers they know. It is still the hardest and most important job in the world.

Criminal Code April 17th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, we will not know their position until the bill comes to a vote.

I was pleased that the Liberals supported it when it was in the House before so I would expect them to support it this time. My understanding, from speaking with people, is that they will not be supporting the bill. Perhaps I will be surprised. They stood before to support it and they may stand again to support it. It will be a busy world.

I will be surprised if the Liberals stand in support of this legislation. Since there has been no change and since they supported before, I expect they will support it again. However, my understanding is that they will not be supporting it, although that is not official as I have not heard it from their leader. We will wait and see. If they supported it before and there is no change, and they do not support it this time, it will be very clear to everybody, including their constituents, why they have not supported it.

Criminal Code April 17th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I can only speculate. I would hope that some of the Liberals who are in the House today will be standing to speak on behalf of the bill. From the calls I have had to my office, I know they must be getting the same calls from people concerned about the bill.

When bills have failed before around Conservative-Liberal alliances, it may have been because some of those times the Liberals have agreed with the Conservatives. They would applaud that I am sure.

It seems to me that much of this is about strategy. I understand that political strategy is a consideration as we think about voting, although I would hope in the end never the consideration. However, for it to cause an election and to take away basic rights and freedoms that Canadians have always had in order to forestall facing the voters would chop away at the whole underpinning of Canada and Canadians and what people in this Parliament have striven to put in place for a balance between freedom and security.

We have seen quite a bit of political strategy on the part of the Liberal opposition. They are not standing up to vote on matters that seem pretty clear and ones they would normally vote on. I think the public is beginning to understand that is not what their constituents are telling them. They only seem prepared to talk about their right to govern.

Criminal Code April 17th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I think many people will look at the conditions in the bond and sign it but not understand what the conditions will mean in what they are able to do in their lives.

Let us think for a minute. People frequently travel back and forth across the border between Canada and the United States. They will get to the border, the border officials will check their name and they will find they have a peace bond against them. They will likely be refused. They may have family in Europe, the continent, India or wherever. Many people go back and forth to visit family. I have, as others have. They will be refused.

They need to make a living. Will this be reported to their employer? When they go to change jobs and people do proper reference searches, which they should do, of course, what will show up is that the person has been detained and has had to sign a peace bond to be out in the community. For employers, who may have a variety of people to pick from, and certainly in many areas they do, then the person with the peace bond will, most likely, not be selected. It has now affected his or her employment.

What if this is a mom who is in the hospital delivering her baby. She may require some medical assistance, assistance from social services around parenting or a public health nurse. If people look at her file and find that she has a peace bond against her, will that influence the way that people hover and watch the way she raises her child, although potentially she may have done nothing wrong?

My colleague raised a very important question about travel and employment. If people do have a peace bond, I do not think that many of the people who will be doing a reference check or a check for medical or social services will wonder whether the person was really innocent even though she or he has a peace bond. Most people will assume that the person is guilty and that she or he has done something wrong. That negative stigma and that file will stay with the person.

What can people do about it? My understanding is nothing. Actually, they can go to jail for a year by refusing to say anything, but in that case they would not find themselves with the peace bond. However, their only other option is to say nothing and potentially go to jail for a year. They do not have an appeal process. They do not know why they have been picked up and detained. As in Bill C-3, they have very little recourse to protect themselves.

Criminal Code April 17th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, forgive my eagerness to speak to the many flaws in the bill.

As I say, this bill supposedly has a provision for the arrest of a person involved in an imminent terrorist threat, thereby disrupting the terrorist activity. We support the idea that we should disrupt an activity like that, but if someone is planning a terrorist act, the Criminal Code already allows for him or her to be arrested and held for up to 72 hours.

The bill also says that persons will have a peace bond for something that they may not even have done. We have never seen this before with peace bonds. Why do we need this? Under the Criminal Code mechanism, if no evidence is found leading to charges against the person, he or she must be released. That is what the Criminal Code says.

However, Bill S-3 goes one step further, and that is the problem. These individuals are released under conditions. There could be a variety of conditions. They may be perfectly reasonable for somebody who is convicted of being involved in terrorism, but not when there is no evidence of doing anything wrong.

It is extremely unjust. As Craig Forcese said, “One would imagine that a peace bond is likely to be ineffectual in relation to a suicide bomber”.

The last point I would make about this, and civil liberty groups have sharply criticized this as well, is that if a person is detained, a file is opened on that person. If a file is opened, it stays with that person and impairs his or her freedom to travel and apply for a job. It is a negative stigma that stays around the individual.

Let us keep in mind that we are talking about people who may have done absolutely nothing wrong. New Democrats will not and cannot support a bill that will punish people who are not guilty of any criminal activity.

As I mentioned earlier, many members of other parties in this House are also opposed to this legislation. I am speaking now specifically for my Liberal colleagues, as many of them took a very principled stand and voted against this legislation when it came to the House earlier in the session. They did the right thing. They stood up, but what will they do now?

I expect that they may do what they have done all along since the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville won the leadership of the party. They may sit on their hands. I find it particularly egregious that Liberals would support the bill when I know many members of their caucus share the same concerns I have voiced here today.

Voting for Bill S-3 is not like voting for the budget as a strategy to avoid an election. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the Conservatives and voting for Bill S-3 is giving approval to major changes and it strikes at the heart of Canadian values. I am calling on my Liberal colleagues today to do the right thing and vote with the NDP against the legislation.

I understand that members of the Bloc Québécois are on the same side of the issue as we are expressing, so a Conservative-Liberal alliance will be what it will take to pass Bill S-3. I hope Liberals have the courage to take a stand. As I have already said, ensuring public safety is about protecting quality of life. A good quality of life depends on a balance between freedom and security.

The investigative hearings are flawed. They do not accommodate the guidance of the Supreme Court of Canada. This is vulnerable to misuse. The recognizance with conditions provision is fundamentally opposed to a core value in our justice system: that a person must be guilty of doing or plotting something in order to be punished.

Therefore, both provisions of Bill S-3 are flawed beyond repair, but the NDP's main reason for opposing the legislation is that in point of fact it is unnecessary. The Criminal Code can be used to attain the goals that I have spoken of today.

Many groups have spoken to the standing committee. I think we will be hearing from other speakers later in the day who have talked to Muslim and Arab groups, who know there are particular people who may be more vulnerable to these kinds of conditions under Bill S-3, just as they were under Bill C-3.

It is simply unacceptable to take something that has been a core value of this country for so long, which is that one must be guilty of something for us to punish that individual, and throw that away and say no, we just have to think that someone might think about doing something. It is unacceptable to say that we do not actually know that someone will do something, but we are still going to find that someone guilty and punish him or her by placing conditions upon that person.

It is simply unacceptable. It hits at our core values. As Canadians and as parliamentarians, we should absolutely reject any kinds of changes that go down what is a very slippery slope toward taking away the freedoms of Canadians.

Criminal Code April 17th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, my apologies. I thought we were resuming debate on Bill S-3.

Criminal Code April 17th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I will resume with my discussion about recognizance with conditions. I ended my remarks by saying that it is a basic tenet of our system that a person has to be proved guilty of doing something or plotting something in order to be detained. Arresting and holding people with no evidence against them is totally unreasonable.

Furthermore, on release these individuals would be subject to a peace bond, but unlike those subject to a peace bond, these people may have done absolutely nothing wrong. The purpose—

Criminal Code April 16th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am rising today to speak against Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (investigative hearing and recognizance with conditions). I think I will be making some of the points that have been made by my colleague who spoke just before me.

I am proud that the NDP is once again taking a stand against the Conservative government for going too far. It is not being proud to take a stand against the government, but I will take a stand against a government that I think has gone too far in pursuing its national security agenda. We all believe it is important, but it is being done at the expense of civil liberties.

Ensuring public safety is essentially about protecting Canadians' quality of life. Quality of life can be defined in many ways. If we talk to our family members or next door neighbours, they would define quality of life in a variety of ways, perhaps by where they live, where they work, by their environment, whatever that might be.

In deeper conversation, though, I think two things would come out. There is the importance of finding a balance between security and freedom.

Security means feeling safe, feeling that our country and our communities are safe, feeling that we can safely go out on the street, and feeling that the federal government, our country, is protecting us. As well, Canadians want to see that security balanced with freedoms, because freedoms are something that Canadians hold dear as a principle of being Canadian.

There are the freedoms to which we are entitled, the freedoms which people have fought for and the freedoms which we enjoy on a daily basis and often do not even take the time to perhaps think about or make a list of or talk to people about. Although if we turn on the television most evenings, we would certainly be able to see countries in which many or most of those freedoms are not available to people.

For some reason, the Conservative government is either unwilling or unable to find that balance, as it has proven by introducing Bill S-3 and by the security certificate legislation that we debated in this House in January, which has some similarity to this legislation.

With both of these pieces of legislation, the Conservatives are taking the wrong approach, or an unbalanced approach, to fighting terrorism in Canada. Do we need to fight terrorism in Canada? Of course we do, but there are many tools at our disposal currently in the Criminal Code that could be used as opposed to introducing yet another set or piece of legislation.

Our country already has many appropriate mechanisms in place for charging people, for trying people and for punishing those suspected of participating in terrorist activities. These mechanisms are contained in the Criminal Code of Canada, a very significant piece of legislation which ensures that our country is protected, as I said earlier, from those who seek to do harm to others while ensuring fundamental rights are protected.

The NDP always has opposed and always will oppose any attempt to undermine those fundamental rights and freedoms upon which our judicial system was founded. Our system was founded on responsibility and freedom, which go hand in hand.

That is why we oppose the security certificate legislation. That is why we are opposed to Bill S-3. I do not think we are alone in this at all.

Many Liberals, and even some Conservatives, may privately admit that Bill S-3 is a seriously flawed piece of legislation. Certainly we saw many Liberals saying that over Bill C-3. However, knowing that this bill is fundamentally flawed and fundamentally wrong-headed did not stop the Conservatives from introducing Bill S-3 through the other door in the Senate, so to speak, the back door in the Senate, and it will not stop the Liberals, I expect, from allowing the legislation to pass.

Once again, the NDP--and I believe the Bloc, as I have just heard some of the comments--is left as the voice of reason, fighting to protect Canadian values that some other parties only pay lip service to.

Let us look at one key component of Bill S-3: the establishment of investigative hearings. These hearings would force an individual we suspect--we do not know anything, we just suspect--might have information about terrorist activity that has happened, or may happen, to testify before a judge. It forces individuals against whom we have no charge to testify before a judge.

This marks a major shift in Canadian law, which is based on a right to remain silent.

If the individual refuses to speak, he or she will be arrested and sent to prison for as long as a year, on no charge except that he or she might, we think, based on something somebody else said, know something. I am not sure whether most Canadians would consider that to be a balance between freedom and security.

As I say, the individual might go to prison for as long as a year. To some people this may not seem unreasonable at first glance. Certainly the NDP believes that anyone with knowledge of terrorist activity should be investigated and questioned. We would not deny that at all. However, we already have provisions in place under the Criminal Code of Canada for questioning those involved in criminal activity. Otherwise, we would have nobody brought before a judge and nobody arrested.

We do have the means within the Criminal Code to question people involved in criminal activity. If people think someone is involved in a terrorist activity or that something might happen or they might know that something is criminal activity, I would suggest that we have within our system a way to deal with that.

We do not need a special provision for interrogating witnesses that has a one year prison sentence as a consequence for appearing uncooperative. An individual goes before a judge. He or she may not have any information whatsoever or may wish to remain silent. Let us say that somebody says the individual appears to be or is uncooperative. We then have the right to send him or her to jail for up to a year.

That is outrageous. That is not acceptable. It is indeed acceptable to question under the Criminal Code people suspected of terrorist activity. It is not acceptable for people to be placed in jail for a year with no charge whatsoever because they appear to be uncooperative.

This undermines our current judicial system, which ensures that those who have knowledge of crimes but refuse to divulge that information face criminal charges themselves. That is what our criminal system says. Those who have knowledge of crimes and refuse to divulge it will face criminal charges.

Investigative hearings would grant new powers outside of what is normally allowed under the Criminal Code. It is an extraordinary tool that is subject to dangerous misuse. We can all stand in this House and say that it would never be misused. I do not know how often we have stood in this House or in other places of government or in our communities and said, “That is not how we meant it to be used”. It is there and there is the possibility for misuse.

Denis Barrette of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group appeared before the Senate committee examining Bill S-3 and spoke of the possible dangers involved in investigative hearings. He pointed out that investigative hearings allow for the compelled testimony of individuals involved in protest or dissidence entirely unrelated to our everyday understanding of terrorism. It may not be the intention, but it allows for that.

Mr. Barrette is right. Bill S-3 exposes many law-abiding Canadians to frivolous harassment and possibly even incarceration. It is a very slippery slope and one which the NDP will not condone.

This is not the only problem with investigative hearings. When the Supreme Court of Canada studied investigative hearings in 2004, it was clear that testimony gathered during the proceedings must not be used against the witness. I need to repeat this. Testimony gathered during the proceedings must not be used against the witness.

Bill S-3 does not follow the Supreme Court's direction. The legislation currently before us states that information gathered in an investigative hearing cannot be used in a criminal hearing, but the Supreme Court was clear that information gathered through an investigative hearing cannot be used against the individual in any kind of proceeding, criminal, extradition, or otherwise.

It is unclear, given this obvious disregard for what the Supreme Court of Canada has said on this matter, whether Bill S-3 would survive a challenge, as we have said about Bill C-3, but whether or not Bill S-3 is constitutional is not the issue being debated today. I call on my colleagues in this House to join with the NDP and defeat this legislation so that a Supreme Court challenge is never required. That is part one of Bill S-3.

The second part is recognizance with conditions. This is a very controversial part of Bill S-3, recognizance with conditions, or what is called preventive detention.

I am extremely disappointed to see preventive detention included in this legislation because it violates a basic tenet of our justice system, as I said earlier, that a person must be proven to be guilty of doing something or plotting something in order to be detained. That is not the case in Bill S-3.

Recognizance with conditions would allow law enforcement officials to arrest and hold people with no evidence against them. Furthermore, upon release, these individuals would be subject to conditions similar to a peace bond, but unlike a peace bond, the individuals released with conditions may have done nothing wrong. The purpose of this provision, we are told, is to allow law enforcement--

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act April 15th, 2008

Prevention in 30 seconds. Okay, Mr. Speaker.

We can identify, during pregnancy and early infancy, those families or infants that may be at risk of running into difficulty later. If we ask kindergarten teachers, they can identify children who are going to need some extra support.

As the member said, when youth move into that 10 to 15 year old range, which perhaps he was talking about, if we hold out a hand and get them hopefully before their first contact with drugs or with the law, but immediately after, we know that there is a very high incidence of being able to prevent that second contact with the law.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act April 15th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, that would be a longer answer than you would allow me.

We all look at our balanced approach and the kinds of programs that are offered in a very different way. I see the ones in the budget, particularly around $100 a month for families to “provide child care”, as being not very effective.

I want to go back to a comment the member made earlier. I live in Whalley, which was probably once known as the worst part of my riding. All of us are very proud of living in Whalley, our city centre, but many businesses are in the position that the member described earlier, and I am glad he raised it.

Some businesses are having trouble staying viable and some may be shutting down. People go to their businesses in the morning and find people sleeping on their doorsteps. They have to step over them to get into their premises. There is garbage, sleeping bags and body waste, et cetera. This bill will not affect those people. That was my point earlier. Who does it hurt and who does it help?