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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

Health November 1st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, last night a disturbing report by CTV News uncovered voluntary plastic surgeries were taking up valuable time in hospital operating rooms from coast to coast to coast. The Minister of Health complimented the journalist on her excellent piece and told her that he would be hearing from provincial ministers on the issue.

Could he now report to the House how many provincial health ministers he has encouraged to end this practice? When does he plan to register formally his concern with the provinces about this tactic?

Criminal Code October 2nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I hope I will remember the second part of the question after I get through the first part. With regard to the educative parts of what is happening in the community, I see young people whose friends either have been significantly physically injured or have died in street racing. They are not racers themselves. They are young people who are concerned enough about it to be holding community forums on it.

Several high schools have held community forums on street racing and what should happen. These young people are teenagers, so their views are quite black and white. They are on this side or that side. They are not very blended, but they have very strong opinions about this.

The kind of debate that engenders is a really important factor in their high schools, because young people have a chance to stand up, give their opinions, think about it and hear from other youth who are not street racing but who are concerned about what it is doing to their friends or the families of their friends.

I watched the televised funeral of a young man who had been killed in a street race. There must have been at least 150 to 200 people there, for what is a very small high school. It mattered very much to those youths that something tragic had happened. That is in part what motivated them to have high school debates.

I have no idea what the police requirements are, I have to say. I would suggest there are times when they may need to go faster, and we know that, although we have also seen a lot of debate about when police chases should be cut off, based on the speed the police cars are going. There is a safety factor at which they will call off the chase because the speed is so dangerous to other people who may be near them. I do not know what the specific needs or technical requirements are. I am not for a minute suggesting that they should not have the resources to do their job.

However, I do think that the whole issue of speeding and the fact that we have paid a lot of attention recently to stopping police chases because there have been significant injuries is enough to say that there is a broad concern out there about speed in a variety of ways, not only the street racing part but speeding for various reasons. The police have been very good about recognizing when it is time to call off a police chase and when they can continue on with safety for the people around them and for the public.

In the community I come from, our crime prevention society has worked very closely around this issue with the RCMP. I do not know about other communities. The crime prevention society in the communities in which I live, Surrey North or Surrey, does a lot of work with youth. The connection with youth is probably as great if not greater than it has been with adults. They have been involved in painting murals on walls to show things to the public, funded through the crime prevention society. There is a superb relationship with youth. There is a superb youth outreach person. I think the crime prevention societies across the country probably have a number of educative strategies.

It would be wonderful if there were a database. I do not know if there is or not. I never like to reinvent a wheel that somebody has already worked on. There could be a database of excellence that we could look at to see that Cranbrook takes its students into the hospitals or that somebody else does something that would work in our community but we have not even thought about trying. All of those pieces are going to have to come together in order to really have an impact on street racing.

Also, now that the question has been asked, I will have to find out what a police car needs as its top speed, because I do not know. Someone on that side probably knows.

Let me say again that it would be superb to actually have a database so one could see what is happening across the country and what might work in one's community, because all communities are different. There is no cookie cutter that says this strategy will work--

Criminal Code October 2nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, it is very tempting to say, absolutely, to that question. However, I need to look at some of the implications. I have seen what has happened to the car industry. Trying to implement something like that would seem pretty challenging, given what has happened over the last few weeks.

However, I believe the government has a regulatory role to play. Car manufacturers have put alarm systems, immobilizers, et cetera in cars as a result of pressure and in some places as a result of regulation.

I would need to understand the implications better than I currently do, but in my heart, if we can make cars travel at safer speeds, yes.

Criminal Code October 2nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, street racing is an issue in my community of Surrey North and in hundreds of other communities across the country. It is a concern everywhere. It is of particular concern in those communities that have seen a number of deaths as a result of street racing in the last two or three years. Certainly it is a concern in the lower mainland of British Columbia. It is important that we are having this debate today, to raise questions about what is appropriate and how we can end the pain and suffering that we see throughout the country.

In the lower mainland, there are two families that I know well who have family members who have died because of street racing. The family member was not behind the wheel of a car that was street racing, but was killed while crossing the road on foot or was in another car which was hit by another car that was street racing.

It is interesting that I have heard people say about street racing, “Well, there are a lot of hormones in young men and young women and everybody likes speed and the impulse takes over”. If they were speeding maybe, but street racing is planned. In most of the situations in the lower mainland people had actually planned the street race. They called each other and set up a time and a place. It is not simply happenstance. I do worry about it.

I worry also about this as an individual bill. Many people have been saying for quite some time that the Criminal Code in general needs an overhaul. This one aspect on street racing has been singled out and put in a bill. I would suggest that probably many more people are killed as a result of dangerous driving, by one car speeding, not racing, but we have not lifted that item out and said that we would deal with it differently. I would feel more comfortable if this were coming forward in a different context, in a more omnibus approach to changing the Criminal Code and updating a number of aspects that need to be addressed.

I thought about the purpose. I understand the purpose as the bill is written. Some people would suggest it is a deterrent, maybe an educational one. Or is it a singular response to one issue that would be better dealt with in a larger way, say with all actions that have to do with the dangerous operation of a car? Street racing is only one of many.

This piece of legislation reminds me of when a particular province passed a piece of legislation on stalking either women or men; there were more women being stalked at that time, but it had to do with stalking, period. Stalking could have been dealt with legislation that was already in existence, but because the issue of stalking was very much on people's minds, it was dealt with as a single piece of legislation, knowing there was already in legislation ways to deal with that kind of a crime.

One of my colleagues asked the question, and it is one which I am asking myself, if there is already legislation in place, why are judges not using it? We asked that about stalking as well. I truly do not understand. Judges have a fairly wide range of choices when someone charged with street racing comes before them. Many of the choices can be very restrictive. If that is the case, then why are we hearing so much about street racers receiving ankle bracelets and house arrest? We hear that they can leave to go to school and then return home, et cetera. I am very puzzled as to why that legislation is not being used.

There are some things we need to consider in the debate around this legislation. One of them certainly is the issue of resources. In Richmond, B.C. there are tracts of highway, at least in the Lower Mainland, that are more likely to be used for street racing than others. In Richmond there is a very long straight stretch of highway. We have had a number of street racing tragedies in Richmond.

I have also heard the Richmond, B.C. chief of police say that he thinks they are getting at that, but while they are addressing that problem, the police are not answering other calls. They do not have enough resources to place officers along that stretch of road where street racing occurs and to answer the other calls that come in from people who need police attention. The issue of resources is a very critical one.

In my community of Surrey the police are already stretched beyond what they are able to do. It always becomes a choice of which crime is more important, which call is the more important one. I would not want to be the person who has to make that decision. I may make the wrong decision and someone's life may be lost. The resource issue is a very important one.

In some ways Bill C-19 is limited in terms of what it addresses. I am not arguing that street racing is not a very serious crime and has not been treated as a very serious crime. Absolutely, but I would refer to some of the things that people raised earlier. It is important for me to acknowledge that drinking and driving still happens. It happens less, but it still happens.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, except it is mothers, fathers and all kinds of people, but MADD has had an extremely successful impact in its approach to reduce drunk driving and make sure that people are dealt with differently and are more aware of what could happen.

Around the issue of driving too quickly and drunk driving, there is a hospital in Cranbrook where high school students visit the hospital morgue. It is scary, but the students are not necessarily there when something is going on. The students are not there to see an autopsy. They are fairly young high school students. Simply being in a morgue after what is seen on television is a pretty scary experience.

I do not know how many people have ever been to a morgue but, as someone who comes from a nursing background, just being in an empty morgue is pretty chilling. Because of this program in Cranbrook, the community has seen a decrease in the number of teenagers who are drinking and driving, as well as speeding they think. It is not the same as street racing, but it does talk about the importance of the educative factor with young teens.

The health community and the education community are working together to solve a problem that is killing or maiming the future of our communities. They did not wait for the police or someone else to solve the problem. They looked for partners and actually found corporate partners to provide written materials and other materials around this to start educating teenagers in the same way we have tried to do around smoking and other things that are negatively affecting young people.

Education, obviously, needs to include the police force. I think teenagers, in particular, hear things differently from the police than from a doctor or nurse or someone in the school system. By putting those partners together who are willing to do this education means we can pick the right people for the right audience.

I guess there is the strategy to having young women or young men who have been caught street racing going into high schools and talking to students. I do not know a lot of street racers. I have only met the ones involved in programs. However, the ones whose friends were killed while they were street racing had a very important message and they were sincere in their message. They were not doing it as part of community hours or whatever. They were doing it because they wanted the 13 to 17 year olds to personally know the effect this has had, not just on them but on their friend's mom, dad, aunt, uncle, nana, grandad and a circle of friends. When one person dies in this kind of incident sometimes 20, 30 or 40 people are pretty directly impacted by it.

I would like to see the time where we do not have to debate a bill like this and I think that will happen with the kind of education that happens in communities. I do not mean that we should not be debating it today but I would like to look at the root cause, not just the crime, so we can reduce and, hopefully, eliminate street racing. I do not want us to be dealing with this again in five years time because we were not able to reach our younger people and stop them from getting into this position in the first place.

I want to mention my grandson who I usually manage to mention in some speech. He is 11 years old now. Every time he came to stay with me when he was younger, his mom would send along a long list of things he could not watch. She listed 10, 20, whatever it was, things. I understand the effect television, movies and video games have on young people. They see car races as fun. Some video games have car races where the kids get 20 points if they knock the other car into the ditch because they went faster or they were able to cut them off. I cannot believe that does not have an impact on the actions of a six or seven year old when they are older.

I heard others ask about car manufacturers and advertising. If we look at car advertising, it says that if we buy this car it will go from 0 to 60 in 10 seconds or whatever and that is really cool. It is always a nice silver, sporty looking car and it is played as a positive to get there that quickly. If that is what we continue to see then we need to have an affect on advertisers as well because that is what our children see. Even if they are watching a perfectly acceptable television program, not everybody mutes the advertising or puts their hands over the eyes of their young children while the car manufacturers brag about how fast their cars go.

The other important question was whether we need cars to go that fast. Police cars, yes, but does every car we buy need to go 200 kilometres an hour? Given that the speed range in our province is 100 kilometres an hour, and it varies from province to province, I do not know if I need to buy a car that goes 200 kilometres an hour.

This is an important bill to be debating and it is an important time to be doing it. Many people who have had sons or daughters die, either as passengers in the car, as drivers or as someone who has been hit by a car, are watching very carefully. They are suffering pain and they have made their voices heard. If they had not been heard, we would not be here debating it.

What is the best solution? I am sure the solution is multiple but we need to know what the best actions are to take.

I am interested in the debate that is going on currently and will continue to go on. I am glad that my son could only afford a car that was 15 years old and did not go very fast. He did not get the graduation present that others did. A lot of young people who graduate receive fancy new cars that look like they were made to be driven quickly. Maybe parents need to think a little bit when they buy these types of cars.

This is a real issue in the Lower Mainland in British Columbia. Many people know someone who has been involved in just such an event.

I would encourage us to think about whether there are other bills that we should also be looking at to make a more omnibus change to the Criminal Code, which people have been calling for, and to think about the community partners that must be involved in supporting this in order to have a reduction in the community, not only to have legislation but to encourage our community partners to come forward, the health system, the education system, the police system, and work with us as a group, not on individual initiatives, although those are fine too, but in a group to see what we can do so that we are not standing here debating exactly this bill in five years' time, that we will have reached those young people, as we have with alcohol and smoking, and be able to reduce that.

Business of Supply September 28th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, while I agree with some of the things in the statement put forward by the Liberal government today, I am interested in the fact that earlier today someone from the Liberal side said that if it had not been for the NDP taking down the government we would have had pay equity. Why did we not have pay equity the year before that or the year before that or the year before that? Mr. Speaker, let me know when I get to the number 12. The Liberals had a significant number of years to bring in pay equity but chose instead to wave it in front of the public as we neared an election. Therefore, I think that is a facile argument to make.

The Liberal opposition says that it wants to help all women and particularly women who are vulnerable. The United Nations report criticized Canada in 2003, which, as I recall, was under a Liberal government, for failing in areas such as providing support to single mothers and first nations women. I cannot think of groups of people who would be more vulnerable than many single mothers and first nations women.

I was very interested in a comment made earlier by a Conservative member saying that the Conservatives wanted to do things that did not cost money. I would suggest to them that one of the things might be to recruit more candidates since they only ran 38 women candidates with 12% being elected, compared to the NDP running 108 women candidates with 35% being elected. That is something that would cost no money, would increase women's representation in the House and would be a significant--

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006 September 27th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I will answer with just one example to my colleague's question. Many of the people in the forest industry, and I say this without any judgment, do not have a very high degree of literacy. They have gone directly into the forest industry as young men and do not have a high degree of literacy. What do we see cut? Adult literacy. So where on earth are these workers going to be?

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006 September 27th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that British Columbia has a number of very large forest companies but there are small family owned companies, particularly in the interior of British Columbia, that already find themselves facing those kinds of challenges. They will continue to and in the end not be able to put forward a business case that will allow the bank to extend them any leeway or credit when push comes to shove.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006 September 27th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I should tell the hon. member one of the reasons that the NDP oppose the agreement. Yes, there have been court challenges but Canada has won each time. To give away wins in order to get this agreement when the courts have said Canada is not subsidizing is a very foolish thing to do.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006 September 27th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I stand today, as the member for Surrey North, to talk about what this agreement means to my riding.

Most people tend to think of the softwood lumber agreement as being more of interest to an interior area or a coastal area, but I live in an urban area and I know that within my constituency of Surrey North and within all of Surrey there are many IWA or steel IWA workers who are currently out of work and there are more who will be out of work. These are people who spent their lives working in the forest industry and are now losing their homes. They must move their children to different schools. Their self-respect as workers has been destroyed and their lives have been irrevocably changed. This agreement will not, in any way, help the people who are living in Surrey North or in Surrey in general.

We do not have one mill left on the Fraser River, all the way from New Westminster to Surrey and up the coast. The last mill closed a little over six months ago. This was the end of an era.

When these negotiations began, those workers, who were about to be displaced, had hope that perhaps this would make a difference for them, but this agreement has not. The $1 billion that has been left on the table like Monopoly money is of no benefit to these workers at all.

I know the forest industries have been pushed or strongly encouraged to support a deal that they do not really want to support but they have no choice. However, if we were to actually go out and do some consultations with the other people who are affected by the softwood industry, we would hear something very different.

What should be happening to the $1 billion that has been left on the table? Fifty-five per cent of all the wood in Canada is actually in British Columbia. In British Columbia, this is not just a small piece of an overall job base, revenue base or natural resource base. Now that the agreement has been signed, the money that will come back to British Columbia, as an example, will go into government revenue. How does that help displaced workers? It does not.

Many of these workers are no longer young and it would not be easy for them to change careers. Many of them are between 45 and 55 years of age. This money should be targeted to mitigation. It should be targeted toward job retraining. It should be targeted toward those communities that have been absolutely devastated economically by what we have already seen in the forest industry.

The fact that we cut down logs in British Columbia and then we export raw logs to other places to have a product made, surely the money coming back should be targeted toward value added industry and toward mitigating for workers and for communities.

We should remember that in every community where there are displaced forest workers, generally male but not always as a few women work in the forest industry, the other ancillary businesses in the community start to close. It is not just the worker who is affected. It is the worker's spouse or partner. It is the worker's children who may have to move away from the town and go to another school. It is the spouse who has lost the job when the ancillary business closed. The money that will be coming back to British Columbia should be going into the communities but it is not. It is going into government revenue. It could be used for anything and that is not right. It is not in any way a fair deal for British Columbia or for other forest dependent areas in this country.

I do not support this deal and I know many other people do not. I think many of the people who will be standing up to support it will be doing so either reluctantly or for other reasons on which I will not speculate, but may not be doing it because they are in full support of it.

As a whole, this House of Parliament and certainly some of the industries in British Columbia may have said yes, but the population is overwhelming in its rejection of this deal that has been negotiated. I think many people will be giving this deal simply tacit support and I am not sure that is the way we want to do this.

The other concern I have is that the agreement should give some long term hope to the softwood industry. However, if this agreement can be reopened in 18 months time, how much long term reassurance is there in that? Is someone going to buy a house and take out a mortgage knowing that this can be reopened in 18 months? I do not think so. Is someone going to make permanent future plans for themselves or their families based on the fact that this can be reopened that quickly? I think not.

In many ways we have the worst of all worlds in this. We have money coming back that will not be targeted to the workers, to the communities and to building healthy forests again. People have been very clear that healthy forests are part of what needs to happen in that mitigation.

I do not support the bill because workers across the country in the softwood lumber industry will be devastated by this. It is not fair, it is not right and it will not help British Columbians.

Health September 27th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, it is good to see the minister respond in the House today, but where was he when St. Paul's Hospital in British Columbia was renting public MRI machines to private companies and people were paying thousands of dollars to get to the head of the line? Where was he when in Cambridge, Ontario the hospital admitted it was using a private agency to deliver its emergency services?

At a time when the government has record surpluses, how can it explain there are billions of dollars to subsidize polluting industries, but no wait time guarantees for patients?