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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

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act November 19th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, this is a very key question. In circumstances where ostensibly defence lawyers have had made available to them all of the evidence that is seemingly available to them to put forward a case on behalf of their client, we still see mistakes and the member has named a number of them.

How many more people would be convicted even in the cases that the member speaks of which are not about suspected terrorists other than perhaps one? If any lawyers had to go to court knowing that they were only given certain pieces of information judged by someone else to be relevant to their client, I expect many lawyers would fail to take the case because they could not mount a full defence.

Therefore, this simply increases the risk that more errors will be made because full information is not provided to lawyers and to have a bridge of a special advocate who then cannot talk to the individuals or their lawyer about what they have seen is very troublesome and will increase the risk of errors being made.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act November 19th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I was recently appointed the NDP critic for public safety and I am glad that Bill C-3 is the first legislation I will be speaking to in that capacity.

Ensuring public safety is essentially about protecting Canadians' quality of life, something that we all support regardless of political party. New Democrats believe that quality of life is about a balance between being free and being secure. With Bill C-3, the Conservatives have once again failed to find the balance in the process.

This legislation does not make Canadians any more secure, as I think the member across the way just stated, but it does undermine our fundamental freedoms. That is why the NDP opposes Bill C-3 and why we hope the other opposition parties in the House will do the same.

We have two major problems with security certificates. First, security certificates are simply the wrong way to fight suspected terrorists, because they do not actually punish people who are plotting terrorist acts. Under security certificates, suspected terrorists are detained and deported back to their country of origin. Do the Conservatives or does anyone really believe that makes Canadians safer?

We in the NDP believe terrorism is a serious crime. It is not a legal activity but a crime, and there should be serious consequences. If a person in Canada is plotting terrorist actions, he or she should be arrested, charged for the crimes, convicted, and put in jail. That will make Canada a safer place.

When the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety spoke to this legislation, he called security certificates an important public safety tool, but how are Canadians any safer when suspected terrorists are simply forced to leave the country but then continue their activities or their suspected activities?

The parliamentary secretary also said in his speech that the government wants what Canadians want: to protect the safety of the Canadian public. I think the parliamentary secretary and the Conservative government are just a bit out of touch. The NDP wants what Canadians want. We want to see terrorists arrested and put in jail. That is how the safety of the Canadian public would be protected.

The Conservatives' out of sight, out of mind approach to national security is just not good enough. The government uses tough language when it talks about protecting public safety, but if we listen closely to what the Conservatives are saying, we will realize that it is all about sounding good for the television cameras while trying to convince Canadians to give them the majority they are so desperately seeking.

Our national security is not a prop to be used in a show of political theatre. The NDP believes the Conservatives should walk their talk, do the right thing, abandon this flawed security certificate process and use the laws of our country to punish terrorists.

Terrorism is a crime. Terrorists are criminals and they should be vigorously pursued under the Criminal Code of Canada, not the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. I find it deeply disturbing that deporting terrorists is the best solution the government can imagine for keeping our country safe.

As I said earlier, the NDP has two major problems with Bill C-3. Our second issue with security certificates is that they seriously undermine core values of our justice system. Remember that public safety is about finding that balance between freedom and security, and this new legislation is just as imbalanced as the process that existed before the Supreme Court ruling.

With Bill C-3, the Conservatives are trying to implement a security certificate process that will not violate the charter, but there are many experts who believe this new proposal will be struck down by another Supreme Court challenge.

Security certificates undermine our justice system by circumventing due process that is a fundamental right in any democracy. The Conservatives have tinkered with a fundamentally flawed piece of Liberal legislation, but their tinkering is not enough to fix the problem. Because there are serious consequences facing those named and security certificates, strong procedural safeguards are required. This legislation does not go far enough in protecting civil liberties.

There are serious consequences to being named in a security certificate. These include loss of liberty, a deportation order and the possible removal to torture. One well recognized aspect of fundamental justice is the right of full answer and defence, the right to know the allegations against a person, and the opportunity to respond to those allegations. That right does not exist in the security certificate process.

Also, critical evidence may be presented to the presiding judge in the absence of detainees and their lawyer, and that is just not right. Even though this evidence is not disclosed to detainees or their counsel, the judge can consider the evidence in determining if the certificate is reasonable. Detainees may never know the reasons why they are being deported from Canada, let alone have a meaningful opportunity to challenge those reasons.

The Conservatives will try to say that they have improved on the mess the Liberals made of security certificates by introducing a special advocate into the process, but we already know that special advocates do not fix the fundamental problems with security certificates.

Special advocates are used in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and the process in both of those places is seriously flawed. The United Kingdom is often cited by those who support modifying rather than abolishing the security certificate system, but these proceedings, where security-sensitive evidence is not disclosed, and a special advocate who has the right to attend and participate in in camera sessions, have been subject to several court cases that have ruled against the arbitrarily imposed limits.

Given that the U.K. lords of appeal ruled against provisions of the process on October 31 of this year, it is obvious that the system is flawed. That is the very reason that Ian Macdonald, a special advocate with over seven years experience in the U.K. system, quit over the failure of the British government to address these exact problems within the British system. The Conservatives know this. In fact, Mr. Macdonald even testified before the public safety committee to share his criticism of the special advocate process.

An excellent critique of Bill C-3 has been prepared by Craig Forcese and Lorne Waldman. I would like to recognize them for their excellent work opposing this flawed system. In their analysis, which I would be happy to forward to the Minister of Public Safety although I expect he may have had it and simply not acted on it, Forcese and Waldman conclude that special advocates suffer from a number of shortcomings.

Interestingly enough, some of these shortcomings have been mentioned in the House by the Liberal opposition party which I understand is going to support the bill with all of these shortcomings that were listed earlier by the Liberal justice public safety critic.

They criticized Bill C-3 for not allowing full disclosure, and for not allowing persons detained and their lawyers to know all the relevant information being used against them. They say the Conservatives are wrong in not allowing special advocates to be in contact with the detainee throughout the process. They condemn the government for not taking a strong stand against using information for security certificates that was obtained by torture.

The NDP strongly believes that a system that denies the right of full answer and defence cannot be corrected through mere procedural adjustments.

As I said at the beginning of my statement the NDP strongly opposes security certificates. We had hoped the other opposition parties in the House would do the same, but I was very disappointed to hear the Liberals say that they “won't stand in the way” of this legislation. That is hardly a ringing support.

I was also shocked to hear this, given the Liberal caucus has been divided on these issues in the past. It demonstrates once again where we are at in this Parliament.

We have a Conservative minority staging political theatre as best it can in a frantic quest for a majority and we have a Liberal opposition that is so afraid of its own shadow it will do anything to avoid an election. The Liberals abstain from votes or simply do not even show up and now they will even vote to support legislation that many of them fundamentally disagree with and have presented a long list of flaws with this legislation.

It seems the Liberals were in government so long they have forgotten how to do the job of an opposition. Perhaps they should look to the NDP for leadership, a party that is not afraid to oppose the Conservatives when they are taking Canada down the wrong road.

Let me wrap up my comments now by summarizing why the NDP is taking a stand in the House against Bill C-3. We are voting against this legislation because the Criminal Code already has all the tools we need to protect our national security while honouring our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

If the Conservatives were serious about protecting public safety, they would punish people who are suspected and convicted of terrorist acts, not simply deport them.

The NDP is also opposing Bill C-3 because it undermines fundamental Canadian values. Inserting special advocates into the security certificate process does not adequately address concerns around the right to due process.

However, even if all civil liberties were somehow protected in this legislation, security certificates under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which was stated a few moments ago have been around for a very long time, would still not be the right way to deal with threats to national security.

Unfortunately, because the Liberals have chosen to support the Conservatives on Bill C-3, it will likely pass and come to the public safety committee for examination. If that happens, the NDP will do everything in its power to ensure this fundamentally wrong legislation does as little harm as possible. But let us be clear with one another in this House and with Canadians who are watching today, Bill C-3 is the wrong way to go.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police November 15th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, it makes no sense that the RCMP is investigating itself, which it really is in this incident.

Has the government not learned lessons from the RCMP pension scandal, the Arar affair or the Ian Bush case?

It is simple. The RCMP is also in a conflict of interest in this case and therefore it should immediately be removed from the investigation, hand over all relevant materials to the Vancouver police and let this investigation be run by another police force. Will the minister order that?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police November 15th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, a man about to begin a new life in Canada died after a taser gun was used on him by the RCMP in the Vancouver International Airport. Graphic video of the incident now haunts Canadians and the screams of a dying man echo throughout the country. It is time for answers.

What directives have been issued to the RCMP relating to the operational use of tasers in the aftermath of this horrible death and what is the status of the officers involved in this case?

Government Contracts October 30th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General also reported that the Conservatives are not following basic protocols for protecting our national security. They are giving sensitive government contracts to private companies that have not met the standards for keeping national defence, police and other government secrets. Half of the private companies did not have the necessary security clearance before they were awarded contracts.

Will the minister commit today that all DND and RCMP contractors will have the required security clearance? If not, will he immediately--

Old Age Security Act October 23rd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support Bill C-362.

I think the reasons for us to give this positive consideration are many but I will use the reasons that I see within my own community to talk about this.

When a person becomes a citizen in this country it means something. I go to citizenship swearing-ins on a regular basis and I see the great pride and excitement on the faces of people who are becoming citizens. Whether they are 12 or 60 years old, it means something in their hearts and souls when they become Canadian citizens. They are proud and they want to contribute to their communities for what they see as a privilege and an honour of becoming Canadian citizens.

The other thing that it means is that there is an equality of access to the services and supports that are available to all citizens in our country. That is what citizenship means or that is part of what comes with the privileges of being a citizen, but there are responsibilities as well. I want to talk about both of those things today.

One of the privileges that people hope for when they become citizens is that they can live very differently, or maybe in the same way as in their country of birth, but for many people they want to live a life filled with dignity, self-respect and pride. In order for that to happen, there needs to be a way for dignity and self-respect to take place.

The granting of OAS to citizens who have been here three years as opposed to the current ten years is a compromise from when this whole debate began but it is something that we should consider strongly.

The fact is that someone could come to this country and perhaps could become a citizen two years later. They could work in the workforce for a few years, usually not able to contribute to anything, and then become 65, a senior or an elder, and then could be told that they must wait another seven years. It may not matter that they are a citizen, that they were in the workforce or that they paid taxes while in the workforce. It would not matter that their sons and daughters were paying taxes. They would not be able to receive OAS for 10 years. I do not know how that reinforces dignity, respect or pride.

Someone earlier said that it was about dignity and self-respect when one is an elder. For the elders I talk to, pride is certainly equal if not more important because many of the seniors in their countries of origin had the place of respect and honour in their families. They then come to a country where they have no money, are usually totally dependent on someone else and there's no other way for them to have income so they can ride a bus, get to the park and do those things that seniors might want to do together. The resources may be available for some but for others they may not.

The denying of OAS to seniors based on a 10 year residency is unreasonable and goes against all those things that we believe should be accessible to a citizen, which is equality and access to supports.

The immigrants in the community in which I live take very seriously the responsibility part of citizenship. In no way do they take citizenship for granted. In point of fact, in my community of Surrey North and in the city of Surrey, immigrants do many things that other people would actually need to be paid to do.

I will give some examples to the House that may be illustrative. The seniors I know serve free food at lunchtime to anyone who wishes to come to their temple or their place of worship and receive it. The person does not have to be of that country of origin. They can be anyone who needs food at lunchtime and they serve that food. If they did not do that, people might go without.

Some of the elders in the community are very active in organizing blood donor clinics. We all know that with every holiday there is an urgent appeal on the radio or in the newspaper saying that blood is needed with the a holiday weekend coming up. I do not think many of us in this House would not know someone who has benefited from a blood transfusion. The elders are incredibly active in organizing those blood donor clinics, getting people to them, working in partnership with the Red Cross to ensure they happen, perhaps providing the venue, providing all the external support that might be needed and getting the word out throughout the entire community that this is happening. The turnout is tremendous.

The blood does not only go to immigrants. It goes to everyone. It saves everyone's life. It is not labelled, “Collected by immigrants, to be used by immigrants”. Everyone benefits from that.

Many elders in my community provide very needed translation services. These are translation services that otherwise would probably need to be paid for, for those people who are just learning their additional language. The phrase, “English as a second language” is a very North American phrase because for most people who come from other countries they already speak two or three languages and this might be their third, fourth or fifth language. The elders provide translation services for hospitals, social services agencies and sometimes for government agencies that otherwise would not be available. They are contributing. They feel that responsibility to contribute, not just the privilege of being a citizen but the responsibility of giving back.

Every time there is an event in my community, immigrants from all countries participate in very significant ways.

As well, the sons and daughters or other immigrants who have come to Surrey are perhaps the biggest economic driver in Surrey. There are probably more new businesses started by immigrants in Surrey. It is an enormous economic driver. It produces tax revenue that everyone benefits from. Why should the elders, who have taken out citizenship because they are proud of it and are contributing back, not be able to benefit from that?

I heard someone earlier say that people contribute to pensions. This is not a pension. If it were a case of people contributing to a pension we would not have so many women, Caucasian women included, living in poverty. They have no pension plan because they did not work outside the home for wages. I am sorry, that is a side issue that I could not resist.

In closing, these people take their privileges of citizenship seriously, but they also take the responsibility seriously. They are citizens and they should have access to the OAS in the three years, as recommended by this bill.

Security Certificates October 23rd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, security certificates are also a serious violation of our rights and freedoms. Yesterday the Conservatives tabled special advocate legislation, but the public safety committee heard extensive testimony earlier this year that the system has serious problems in places such as New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The minister knows this, so why is the minister proposing something that we already know does not work in other countries?

Security Certificates October 23rd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, eight months after security certificates were struck down by the Supreme Court, the Conservatives are taking another shot at it, but tinkering with a fundamentally flawed idea is not going to make it any better. If a person plots a terrorist attack in Canada, he or she should be tried, convicted, and jailed in Canada, not suddenly deported to another country.

Why is the government choosing to fight terrorism with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and not the Criminal Code of Canada?

Consumer Affairs June 20th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, that is not good enough. The health of our children is being put at risk.

Why is it only the responsibility of those who sell the tainted goods and not also the responsibility of those who import the tainted goods?

If the minister believes the current regulations are adequate, would he be confident eating an entire meal or using personal products that are not regulated?

How many more tainted products do Canadians need to be exposed to before the minister makes real change?

Consumer Affairs June 20th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, there has been tainted carrot juice, spinach laced with e-coli, dog food that leads to severe health issues and death. Now we find that ordinary Canadians have been exposed to counterfeit toothpaste and other personal hygiene items. Canadians are quickly losing confidence in imported foods and personal items.

With bad trade deals and understaffed inspectors, the government does not seem to grasp the severity of the issue. Releasing warnings to the media is not enough.

Why has the minister not taken the Consumer Products Association's advice and made importers responsible for the contents of their goods?