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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

Budget Implementation Act, 2008 April 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member that when the government was defeated, the Liberals said that they were about to call an election 42 days after that. In 42 days, they were going to do child care? In 42 days?

Budget Implementation Act, 2008 April 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak to the budget bill as it relates to values behind decisions that are made and how they relate to the city of Surrey, which is now 400,000 people.

I talked with officials of the city of Surrey before the budget was brought down. I asked them what they saw as being legitimate needs in Surrey, things for which they had asked the federal government, things that would make a significant difference in the quality of life of the near 432,000 people of Surrey. Incidentally, we have more babies every day at Surrey Memorial Hospital than I think any other hospital in Canada. There were a number of things both for B.C. and Surrey that were particularly important, but we did not see them in the budget.

As always, we wonder whether people who prepare the budgets can see south of the Fraser River. In this case, let me use a couple of examples.

The city of Surrey is a growth city both residentially and business-wise. It was very important for it to have transportation so people could either live and work in the community of Surrey, or perhaps live somewhere else and work in Surrey, or live in Surrey and work somewhere else.

While there was a significant amount of money for the Skytrain on the north side of the Fraser River, Surrey needed about $5 billion to invest in a provincial transit plan that would bring transit equality just to Surrey in terms of the number of buses needed. For a young mom or dad to get their child from Cloverdale to the hospital and to a specialist is truly an all day outing in our community. That money was not there. There was no real indication other than a few new buses. that people recognized that a the city is big and growing quickly. It is an economic driver. People need to recognize the kind of transportation needed for a city of Surrey's size. It also has a new university.

Surrey is quite a wonderful and interesting city. It is very urban and residential. There is lot of industry, but we are also very blessed to have a large amount of agricultural land reserve. We desperately needed and asked for infrastructure dollars from the federal government for flood work. Money needs to be spent on dikes to protect the riverbanks so farmers' fields will not be flooded. That money is not there either.

It is as if a message has been given to Surrey that the government has recognized other people, but Surrey is still this little growing community and it does not think that it deserves that kind of money.

In terms of policing and what that means to the city of Surrey, the 2,500 new police officers who we keep waiting to see, the budget states they are to be front line officers. The city of Surrey, the city of Delta and others have spoken very strongly of their needs. We could all use more police officers everywhere, but in the Lower Mainland we have a number of integrated teams, drug teams, gang teams, homicide teams and child exploitation teams. We need the dollars to support those teams so they can do their work.

It is as if the federal government is saying that it knows better, that these officers should be used as front line officers and the integrated teams can find money wherever they can. However, much of the Lower Mainland has said that those integrated teams work well and it needs more support for them. We have not seen that.

It is a very small program, but the federal government has put money into it before but has decided not to it this year. It is called SHaRP, or the salmon habitat restoration program. It has employed 180 post-secondary students who have been able to save money to go to post-secondary education or to reduce their enormous debt load. They have done riparian work. They have repaired not only the riverbanks, but the bottoms of the river for the salmon. The program has done superb job. It has been written about across the country. As a result of the federal funding not being there, although it was requested before the budget, it will be unable to function this year in the way that we had hoped. Again, it is another example of being unable to see the local needs or having someone in Ottawa make a decision about what the local needs might be.

People across the country talk about homelessness. The issue really is not homelessness. The issue is where do people live long term. We can build more homeless shelters, and I have no doubt that we will and that they will be full. However, where do people go when they leave a homeless shelter? There is no such thing as affordable market housing in the city of Surrey, where an average apartment is $800 to $900 a month.

Many people living in our homeless shelters are working full time. They cannot afford to pay rent in the city of Surrey. They live in a homeless shelter. They get up in the morning, go to work, work all day, do something for a couple of hours until the shelter opens, then they sleep at the shelter, sometimes sitting up, and go back to work in the morning.

It is not that these people are not trying; they are. Until the federal government looks at a national housing strategy, not homeless strategy, we will simply build more homeless shelters, but people will not in any way be able to put down long term roots either for themselves or, heaven forbid, afford to support a family.

The gasoline tax is now being returned to the city, and I give people credit for that. The Conservative government has done that. It has been lobbied very hard by many cities and by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. It does make a difference.

Other people have spoken on the issue of child care. However, the $100 a month does not make a difference for child care. One cannot find any kind of child care, one cannot probably even find child care for a day a week or a day and a half a week for $100 a month. Children who are eight and nine years old come home after school by themselves. Children from zero to five, for whom that $100 applies, are in child care where parents have no idea what goes on because it is not licensed and they are not sure it is safe. It is the worst feeling people can imagine.

People can say, “Stay home with your children”. I am sorry, at $8.35 an hour to pay rent and buy groceries in an urban area that it is not possible without support for children. This has been completely ignored. Not only is it ignored, but the position the Conservative government has taken about child care has been very deliberate.

We were hoping very much to be able to have some money for the World Police and Fire Games in British Columbia this year. Some of the sites are in Surrey. There was a significant amount of money put into the World Police and Fire Games when they were in Quebec. Now that they are in British Columbia, there is no contribution from the Conservative government for the World Police and Fire Games, which bring almost as many people as the Olympics do.

We also look for support for softwood. People think about manufacturing jobs as being cars, and it is very critical in Ontario, but softwood as well is a manufacturing industry. We saw no money whatsoever for the tragedy of the pine beetle that is destroying the trees in British Columbia forests.

For the city of Surrey and the goals that we had for this budget, the hopes we had for this budget, the lobbying that had gone on from our council, we do not see very many initiatives that will make a difference in the everyday lives of people who live in our city.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns March 31st, 2008

With respect to the related integrated overview mechanisms of the December 2006 report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar, entitled “A New Review Mechanism for the RCMP’s National Security Activities”: (a) what actions have been taken to date on the thirteen recommendations made by Commissioner O’Connor in the report; (b) who has been assigned responsibility for carrying out these recommendations within the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Transport Canada and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada; (c) what timeline has been established for reaching full compliance with the report’s recommendations; and (d) how much funding is required to achieve these goals in 2008-2009?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police March 31st, 2008

What is emerging, Mr. Speaker, is a picture of an RCMP commissioner who cared more about his personal reputation than the reputation of a man that Canada helped send to torture in Syria or even of the very force he was supposed to lead. We also know that former Commissioner Zacardelli handed over $25,000 to an expert media manipulator to help massage his answers to the committee.

Is it not time for real RCMP change? We have had the report for four months. Nothing has happened. Will the minister call a public inquiry into this dark period for our national police force?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police March 31st, 2008

Mr. Speaker, the media analysts at the RCMP went into override in the run-up to a crucial committee hearing that led to the subsequent resignation of the former RCMP Commissioner. Then RCMP Commissioner Zacardelli ordered in depth and highly detailed accountings of public opinion on the sordid Arar affair.

Can the minister tell us if he got copies of this opinion analysis and did he make decisions during the Arar affair based on these reports?

Status of Women March 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, full time working women in Canada earn, on average, $39,200, compared to men who earn $55,700. This is a wage gap of $16,500. The Conservative agenda has made a $5 million cut to women's funding, eliminating funding for research and advocacy for women's equality rights. It fired 61 people working toward equal rights for women.

Why did the government ignore Canadian women in the budget and how can Canadian women trust the government?

Status of Women March 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we celebrate International Women's Day. We celebrate the courage and resilience of those women who have worked for over a century for equality of opportunity. We celebrate those women whose work is well known and those whose names we do not remember but we remember their spirit and the changes they have made.

Sadly, there are many women who have nothing to celebrate on International Women's Day: the woman who sleeps in a doorway because there is no national housing strategy; the woman at the food bank whose daughter tugs her sleeve and says, “Mommy, I will try not to eat so much”; the woman who makes 70% of what her male counterpart does because there is no pay equity plan; and the woman who cannot get safe child care because there is no national child care plan.

However, I remain hopeful and optimistic, because I know that Canadian women and women globally have incredible courage and resilience. They will continue to work, to speak out and to move forward the goals and dreams of women for equality, fairness and justice.

Business of Supply March 6th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question about aboriginal women.

The Liberal opposition had 4,478 days to ensure safe drinking water, safe housing, affordable food, and good living conditions for aboriginal people, particularly pregnant moms, nursing moms, and moms who were trying to provide some kind of healthy environment for their children. After those 4,478 days there was virtually no difference in any of that. These moms, of this matriarchal society, hold families together.

The Conservative government is now telling us about all these wonderful things that have happened. I would like to know from the hon. member, why many aboriginal people, particularly those vital women who hold families together in communities across the country, still do not have safe drinking water, still do not have safe housing, still do not have proper heating except some heater that will set their house on fire, and still do not have proper schooling?

The Conservative government has been in power for two and a half years. Why did these conditions not change during the 4,478 days that the Liberals were in government? If aboriginal women are of such concern to the Conservative government, why, over the last two years, have the conditions not changed either?

Business of Supply March 6th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I have heard the government member say that these were all incorporated and so on. In the budget, it is my understanding that at last count corporations were mentioned 109 times and women were mentioned 7 times. I am puzzled by how that would in any way suggest to women that there had been a gender analysis and that they had been considered equally as it relates to the budget. I wonder if the member would like to comment on that.

Business of Supply March 6th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments made by the member opposite.

The minority Conservative government prides itself on fiscal accountability, making sure that every dollar is used in an appropriate way. That is fair enough. But by cutting back on the Status of Women offices, how will the Conservatives evaluate these projects that are to help the economic, cultural and social lives of women?

One of the major challenges to projects is the empirical evidence and qualitative, not quantitative, evaluation to see if they are indeed making a difference in the lives of women, not just how much money is being spent.

The government is so concerned that the money is used appropriately and that we are prudent. I am wondering how the member would see that kind of empirical evaluation being done with all of the cuts to Status of Women which previously carried out that work.