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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

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act April 15th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to share some comments about the bill before us today. It seems this is yet another example of what I consider to be a lack of balance in the actions of the Conservative government.

I come from the city of Surrey, which has some significant drug problems. Every day we see individual drug use and drugs trafficked by very sophisticated organized crime. Just a few months ago we had a tragic incident when two innocent bystanders were killed as a result of simply being in the vicinity of an apartment building where a gang was producing crystal meth. I do not think we would find anybody in any part of the city in which I live who would oppose actions that would impose very significant penalties on those who would produce, traffic drugs and lure children into the drug trade. Nobody would suggest that the penalty should not reflect the crime. It should, but it often it does not, and I do not believe anybody would oppose that.

The city of Surrey has been able to create some successes around grow ops. Some grow ops are quite small, although they would probably still fit the three or more definition. Some are much larger because they are part of chains. Surrey has won an award for the way in which we have taken down grow ops. We have worked not only with the RCMP, but with the fire department and the hydro company. We have made significant inroads into the numbers of grow ops that are shut down. Should those people who run a series of grow ops be in jail for what are very deterrent and I would hope long periods of time? Of course they should be.

We always have to ask the questions: What does this bill say it is? What is it? Who does it help? Who does it hurt?

The bill says that it is about minimum mandatory sentences, which it is. As one of my colleagues said earlier, we have supported minimum mandatory sentences in the House before, under different circumstances, so we are not opposed to a minimum mandatory sentence. However, I do not think it is true to suggest that the bill will make some huge difference in major drug activities, drive-by shootings and crystal meth labs. The bill would make a difference for individual, small time, non-violent offenders who may traffic on their own, not that this makes it okay.

When I look at the recommended sentences, I see one to two year mandatory prison sentences, prison sentences of perhaps a minimum of six months, one to three years, et cetera. These people are not creating the roots of drug crime in our communities. These people are not killing other people. Drugs are killing people and destroying lives. People are being shot as a result of drugs.

Who will this benefit? Neil Boyd from Simon Fraser University said that the people who would benefit from this would be the drug traffickers. The cost of drugs will go up and they will make a bigger profit. That is not the intention of the bill. However, I think it will hurt people who could benefit from a different kind of help, and I will speak in a moment about what we might be able to do about that.

I am worried quite a bit about drug courts, which are a fine thing. A lot of research has shown that as an intellectual concept they work in certain places. However, drug courts only work if people really want help and are able to access treatment after they have gone through the drug court. This is where the entire system fails.

We do not have enough treatment programs for people who are referred by drug courts. Perhaps it is only in British Columbia, which would seem unusual, but we are very short of drug facilities for youth, for adults who have been duly diagnosed, for single women or for women with children who want to take their children with them or want to know they are in a safe place while they receive treatment. The drug court concept is fine, but there are not nearly enough treatment facilities so the system will eventually block up as soon as there is no place to refer people.

These drug courts are going to be funded by provincial governments. The people going to prison, as a result of the sentences I read to the House a moment ago, are going to be sent to provincial facilities using provincial dollars. These dollars could go toward treatment.

We will be in significant difficulty until we find a way to provide resources to the provinces and not simply download on them. Bill C-26 will not make that any better. In point of fact, the bill would probably make it worse.

Others have said that we need a balance, that we need a multifaceted approach to this issue. This is about appropriate sentencing, but it is also about coordinated, well researched, well documented, well shared information about early intervention.

One member said earlier that all kinds of money had already gone into drug prevention programs and so on. However, the evaluation has been poor. We do not know what has worked. We have not evaluated them properly at all. The money is put into programs that may be are good or may not be good. However, there is no way of gathering that information, which I think is a critical federal role. It is one of the most important roles the federal government can play, which is to gather information from across the country, to ensure information is both qualitative and quantitative and then ensure the money put into drug prevention is done in a way that will be effective and efficacious, whether it is for 4 year olds, 14 year olds, 40 year olds or 80 year olds.

I will make a couple of closing comments. We talk about being able to help with organized drug gangs in the community. We cannot even prevent organized drug gangs in prison. There was a riot in Mountain Prison in British Columbia in which two people were killed. We are talking about putting more people in prison when we have a growing drug gang problem there. I am not quite sure how—

Canada Marine Act April 10th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to this bill and particularly to speak as someone who comes from the city of Surrey which is on the wonderful Fraser River with all of the complexities and challenges it brings, including having a port authority.

When I look at the amendments that we are debating, I am very concerned about what I have seen historically and what is coming through the bill, which would be corrected by the amendment and I hope that it will be.

The people who sit on a port authority need to be representative of the community in which they serve. That is often not the case. They are often, at least in my experience, appointments from wherever. They have been people who are known but they have not always been people who are representative of the needs, in our case Surrey. There is a much better way I think to comprise a board that will understand the unique and niche needs of a particular port and the responsibilities of a particular port authority.

They may be municipal councillors, other elected people, other people in the community who come from different kinds of backgrounds, but there needs to be some kind of balance so that the cities or towns know that there is a public oversight going on. There are very few ports up and down the Pacific coast that are not under considerable construction, have considerable work going on and in our case, and considerable expansion going on. People are very interested and concerned about the direction the expansion will take.

Those decisions should be made by people who are trusted and in a process that is accountable. I wish we could find another word for transparency, perhaps ways that can be seen and understood by the public. For instance, could we explain to the next door neighbourhood the rationale by which certain land is being acquired and certain construction is underway? The city of Surrey is probably one of the most exciting cities and one of the cities that is the most lacking in infrastructure dollars from both the federal and provincial governments.

The infrastructure dollars did go in part to transportation, but the infrastructure dollars that are necessary for the work that will go on to the ports will be a competition now among port authorities and whoever else is applying for those infrastructure dollars. It will make it more difficult, I think, for cities with growing infrastructure needs to access those dollars.

There is a great deal of discussion and consideration in Surrey, in Nanaimo, and in growing communities about municipal consultation for land use. We have seen land that is used very badly where there was no consultation, no thought about what it will look like in five years, what it will mean to industry, and what it will mean to residents.

There must be that opportunity for municipal consultation. It does not mean only consulting the people on the board or saying no witnesses came to committee to put forward a statement. Many people would not have known this was going on. They had no opportunity to have input into this or to make some comments about how the land is going to be used around our ports, and in our case I am talking about Deltaport.

I want to speak now to the compliance within port authorities and municipal planning processes.

We worked so hard, and every growing city would say that, to have a municipal planning process that worked in partnership with other planning processes that were going on that affected that city, whether it was transportation, regional planning, or whatever that might be.

There must be a way to have real consultation between port authorities, that is, the federal government, and the municipalities. That is critical because municipalities will find themselves on the same path with their port authorities as they have with other authorities which they work with, both federally and provincially.

I see your signal, Mr. Speaker. So, on behalf of the amendment, and also on behalf of Surrey and Deltaport, and our need for infrastructure and not to compete with everybody else for all the dollars that are there, I would very much encourage people to look at this amendment.

Petitions April 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to present a petition to the House from constituents who are concerned about the security and prosperity partnership of North America. The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to stop further implementation of the security and prosperity partnership of North America with the United States and Mexico until there is a democratic mandate from the people of Canada, parliamentary oversight, and consideration of its profound consequences on Canada's existence as a sovereign nation.

Committees of the House April 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I will not get into the specifics, then, but let me just offer some observations of language that I have heard used this afternoon, because when people talk about the natural right of respect for people, of human dignity, very much of it is reflected in the language. The kind of language I heard today from the Conservative minority government is language underlaid with what is not a respectful attitude toward first nations people.

As one of the members from Churchill mentioned, somebody talked not about people but about inhabitants.

After 20 years of working on a document, there was no consultation when that position changed. This is something that says the government does not respect indigenous peoples the same way that it respects other people.

I believe the Minister of Indian Affairs said that the document did not provide enough “guidance” for aboriginal people. I do not know if I have to provide guidance for aboriginal people. That is a fairly condescending way of saying it.

The last phrase that really stuck with me was a phrase used by a member on the Conservative side who talked about “our aboriginal people”. I do not know about everybody else, but I do not have any aboriginal people. It is a very condescending phrase to suggest that they are our aboriginal people in the same way we would express “our” about possessions we have.

In the two minutes I have had, I wanted to reflect the kind of language that I heard and which said to me that it is in part what is underlying this lack of respect for the document.

Committees of the House April 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I know the previous speaker has given this a great deal of thought and has an understanding and a passion about the needs of first nations women or indigenous women and their children. I read in one of my local papers the other day that in parts of northern British Columbia, the rates of babies born drug-addicted by first nations moms was increasing exponentially, and I do not say that in any stereotypical way. It was what the research showed.

Could she comment on how we are going to both keep the mom healthy and prevent that happening to the infants when we have a declaration that Canada cannot possibly support? What does that say to those moms who are trying to look after those babes?

Committees of the House April 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member about what happens now in terms of the first nations in Canada and the message that our refusal to sign this declaration sends out to people? What will first nations do now that the government has made this clear position that it does not support the declaration? How do first nations people then move forward in the areas that they are so concerned about?

Chuck Bailey April 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, the most important thing a person can do is make a difference in the life of a child.

Chuck Bailey died on March 20 of this year after a lifetime of making a difference, dedicating more than 50 years to little league baseball as a pioneer of the Whalley Little League.

Chuck built a league that today is famous across the country. Over the years, he coached two Whalley teams to the Little League World Series and helped win 160 championships.

Chuck built more than a league. He built a family. Many of the youth he coached are themselves coaches today. In 2006 Chuck said:

I love the game. It's nice to see the smiles on the kids' faces. And when you see their tears you feel like crying too because they try so hard.

At Chuck's service, people wore their ball caps and jackets and afterward went to the ballpark, sat in the bleachers and ate hamburgers and smokies. How fitting.

I know Chuck will be with us when we throw out the first pitch of the 2008 little league season on Saturday, and we will all tip our hats to him.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008 April 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I think one of the things we have long known across this country when communities are in difficult economic times, and I would certainly describe the city of Windsor and the member's riding in that way from the number of manufacturing jobs lost, is that we most frequently see an increase in partner abuse and an increase in child abuse.

Could the member tell me if that in fact is happening in his city and if indeed there are services being provided, or if services have been cut back and will not meet the needs of those people?

Budget Implementation Act, 2008 April 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, the programs I spoke of from the city of Surrey were all costed. The costs were submitted to the federal government when the information was submitted. They were not programs outside the realm of the federal government as much of that was infrastructure money. Those programs were all costed when the submissions were made.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008 April 7th, 2008

No, it was not. The member is shouting that it was already done.

I carried portfolios for child care through four portfolios in the B.C. cabinet and in point of fact, the Liberals had 13 years in government to put in child care with deep roots and sustainable funding that could not be pulled out by a government that suddenly was defeated 42 days early, so that is absolute nonsense. I have heard all of this before.

The NDP defeated the government and it would have been a miracle, in the time that was left, that all of these things that they talk about wanting to do and believing in would have been done in four, five or six weeks. That is foolish and I do not think people believe that.