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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was cultural.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Parkdale—High Park (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2006, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Environment November 5th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, on October 30 I held the first of a series of pre-budget consultation meetings with the constituents of Parkdale—High Park. The message I received is that they are proud of the hard work done by the government that has resulted in today's healthy economic environment.

Canadians in my riding want the government to stay the course and continue the process of debt reduction and fiscal restraint. We are all looking forward to the elimination of the deficit during this Parliament.

My constituents have told me that we should reinvest any surplus dividend in health care, education, youth employment and the environment. As well, my constituents would like to see continuing support for small business.

It may interest my hon. colleagues across the floor to learn that we did not talk about sweeping tax cuts. Canadians, especially those in Ontario, know too well the real costs of these tax cuts borne by them in the areas of the health care system and the education of their children. They are not willing to pay this huge price for political pandering.

Child Labour October 30th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, this week in Oslo at the International Organization of Labour Conference, Canada joins with 39 countries, children's right activists, labour representatives and leaders of multilateral agencies who have come together to draft an agenda for action on what steps the international community can take to protect children world-wide from harmful and exploitive forms of child labour.

Canada's goals are clear. We are committed to full respect for children's rights, improving children's health through clean water and sound nutrition, improving the quality of, and access to, basic education, especially for young girls. And we are committed to providing protection for children against abuse, exploitation and violence.

Our CIDA funding approach to child labour targets preventive measures by focusing on schooling, child care and strengthening the role of women in society.

Canada Council October 24th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in keeping with our red book commitment, the Minister of Canadian Heritage announced an annual increase of $25 million to the Canada Council for the arts.

Much has been accomplished by the Canada Council in the past 40 years. From the grassroots up, the council has contributed to building a vast, lively and diverse arts sector of creators and organizations in communities across Canada.

The Canada Council for the arts has focused its efforts on the creation, production and dissemination of artistic work which has fostered the emergence of generations of great Canadian artists and a body of work in which we can all take pride.

Increasing resources by $25 million will enrich the entire cultural sector, which relies on the arts for content, inspiration and talent. Most important of all, it contributes to enhancing Canadians' understanding of each other and forging a strong national identity.

Small Business October 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, this week is Small Business Week.

Small business is the engine of our economy. Today in Canada there are more than 2.4 million small businesses generating over 40% of Canada's economic output. Small business employs over 44% of the labour force.

As a founding member of the Women Entrepreneurs of Canada and as a member of Les Femmes Chefs d'Entreprises Mondiales, I believe it is important that we acknowledge that a large majority of successful small businesses in Canada are women owned.

The success of Canada in the global marketplace requires that we support the growth of small business, and the government is doing just that.

The student connection program and Strategis are two initiatives that Industry Canada has undertaken to help small business make the most of the new technologies of the Internet.

Partnership between government and small business creates a fertile environment for innovation and entrepreneurship, the winning formula for Canada's continued economic success.

Youth Employment October 10th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government's job strategy is working for Canada's youth.

We have just had the longest run of monthly job growth since 1994 and Canada's young people are feeling the improvement; 63,000 new jobs for youth since May, the best four month performance of the 1990s. The youth unemployment rate is down from 17.2% in May to 16.4%.

There is still a lot of work to do. We are committed to work with other governments, the private sector, communities and young people to equip them for the future.

In anticipation of national co-op week and international credit union day—

Multiculturalism October 6th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism.

Media reports today indicate that while support for immigration has grown gradually in recent years, some Canadian communities are less tolerant than others. What is the government doing to combat racism and to reinforce respect for diversity in this country?

Poverty October 2nd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, Canadian children represent our country's future. Canadians are looking to their governments to help low income families and children and give children a good start so that they can realize their full potential as adults.

Can the Secretary of State for Children and Youth tell us what the federal government is doing to combat child poverty?

Dora Awards September 30th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, last night the 18th annual Dora Awards ceremony was held at the Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto. The Doras are named after the late Dora Mava Moore, a teacher and director who devoted her long life to creating theatre and theatre companies in Toronto. A recipient of many awards and honours, including the Order of Canada, she was truly one of the key founders of professional theatre in Canada.

I would like to congratulate all of last night's winners and nominees and make particular mention of two of my constituents. Fiona Reid was nominated for outstanding performance by a female for her performance in the Canadian Stage Company's production of “Arcadia”. Vinetta Stromgbergs was nominated for outstanding direction in Native Earth Performing Arts' production of “Sixty Below”.

Speech From The Throne September 23rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, it is a very great privilege and an honour that has been bestowed upon me today to make this motion which is to be seconded by the hon. member for Beauce for the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

I would like to thank the Prime Minister and the government for the honour they have bestowed on the people of Parkdale—High Park with their motion.

I am also honoured and privileged to be the first member of Parliament of Latvian and Baltic States heritage to take a seat in the House of Commons, which in Latvian is stated as follows:

Man ir liels prieks un Gods but pirma Latviesu un Baltiesu Deputate Kanadas Parlamenta.

I would like to thank the people of Parkdale—High Park who have placed their trust and confidence in me to represent their interests in the House of Commons. As their member I vow to work with my colleagues and in partnership with the private and non-profit sectors to address the challenges which we face today and in the future.

I would also like to especially acknowledge and thank my hon. predecessor Mr. Jesse Flis who represented the riding of Parkdale—High Park for over 14 years. I would like to thank him for the legacy he has left in the riding. Mr. Flis, we salute, thank and applaud you.

The riding of Parkdale—High Park, a microcosm of Canada, is one of the most culturally and economically diverse ridings in this country.

It is a very united riding, a riding that takes strength from its diversity and its sense of community, a riding which is exemplary of what can be accomplished through community based activities and initiatives, a riding that shows that diversity does not equate to disunity.

I believe that fostering partnerships is a key to addressing the issues and challenges which we will face today and in the future. In that context I would like to address three issues: job creation, the development of safe and prosperous communities, and the importance of the arts in articulating Canada's identity.

In its previous mandate this government committed to Canadians that it would ensure its strong economic fundamentals would be in place in order to promote economic recovery and job creation. The Prime Minister and his government have been successful at meeting and surpassing their targets of deficit reduction. The government predicts that we shall see the deficit eliminated well prior to the end of this mandate. I commend my colleagues on their achievements.

Our purpose must now be to take advantage of a vigorous economy and create jobs. In my opinion, the government has a duty to ease job creation by promoting the kind of economic environment we need and by nurturing partnerships with the private and non-profit sectors.

The Minister of Finance has completed the first task. The Minister of Industry and his colleagues are now responding to the second task with their jobs strategy.

One aspect of the jobs strategy is to target youth employment. As the mother of three children I commend the government for the initiative it has recently undertaken with the announcement of the youth internship program. This program is a partnership combining the efforts of the federal government, the YMCA, and Career Edge, the non-profit agency developed by 100 Canadian corporations to promote youth employment.

One of Canada's chartered banks has recently undertaken a comprehensive national study of the attitudes of Canada's nexus generation who are young people between the ages of 18 and 35. This study reveals that this group is much more entrepreneurial and positive than usually depicted. One-third of nexus respondents stated that their most desirable profession was entrepreneur, suggesting that young Canadians are determined to turn their innovative ideas into business realities.

Further to this, it is my belief that government does not create jobs, the private sector does. In Canada over the last three years 70 per cent to 80 per cent of new jobs were created by small and medium size businesses.

Small business needs access to capital, trade and technology. Government can help small business by encouraging banks, including the Business Development Bank of Canada, to lend money to these entrepreneurs.

As well, government can support small business by arranging trade missions such as the successful team Canada initiatives and the November trade mission to Washington for women business owners.

Women-owned businesses are a significant sector of our economy. As a founding member of the Women Entrepreneurs of Canada, I know first hand about the strength of women-owned businesses.

At the recent Women Leaders' Network for APEC Economies held in Ottawa, it was noted that 700,000 companies in Canada are owned by women and that they employ 1.7 million people, which is greater than the Canadian Business top 100 companies. They are also creating jobs at a rate four times the national average.

Private trade missions should be encouraged. Organizations such as Les Femmes Chefs d'Entreprises Mondiales are vehicles through which private citizens can act as goodwill ambassadors and introduce Canadian products and services to other countries.

In August I held job creation focus groups with business people, community leaders and residents in Parkdale—High Park. I also met with leaders from the arts community and Women Entrepreneurs of Canada. Several critical points emerged from these discussions.

It was emphasized that it was important to support small business and to reduce the amount of official paperwork and red tape that is required for the functioning of a small business. Further, I was told about the real importance of developing strong community structures such as co-operative business development and the need to continue spending dollars on infrastructure which brings new technologies such as fibre optic cable and ISDN connections to the community.

Although supporting technology is of primary importance, we must acknowledge there is a need for a healthy environment as well as excellent basic facilities such as skating rinks, parks and community centres. A strong and prosperous community is safe and a safe community will be strong and thriving.

In Parkdale—High Park just last month the Parkdale Community Watch won the distinguished 1997 International Society of Crime Prevention Practitioners community based program of the year award. This award acknowledges the success and initiative that Parkdale residents have taken toward combating crime in their community.

This government recognizes the importance of these initiatives as evidenced by the recent announcement by the Minister of Justice that $150 million will be allocated over the next five years to foster such community based programs.

Creating partnerships with communities is essential. The value of community impact statements must be acknowledged, particularly in the case of alleged victimless crimes such as drugs and prostitution where the impact on the community is significant.

Consideration must be given to the imposition of more minimum sentences, allowing communities access to the briefing of federal judges and passing legislation to require the proceeds of crime to be reinvested into those communities affected.

My constituents strongly believe that health and justice must work together in partnership with communities not only to fight crime but to fight the causes of crime.

Young offenders are one of the greatest tragedies of crime. Victims of crime are not alone in feeling their loss, society too experiences a loss—that of the potential of a young life.

We must redouble our efforts to rehabilitate young offenders and provide whatever support it takes to discourage repeat offenders. We must, however, ensure that, in the case of violent young offenders, the needs and demands of the public form part of vigorous measures taken to protect society.

As a lawyer I applaud the Minister of Justice on her commitment to work with her provincial colleagues to reform the justice system in such a way as to better acknowledge the voice of all victims of crime.

I would now like to address one area about which I am particularly passionate, the arts in Canada. As the former volunteer chair of one of Canada's foremost arts organizations I believe we must invest in programs, opportunities and partnerships which support our culture. This is one of our greatest responsibilities.

A country's real strength lies in its people. The arts and the culture of a people are the expressions of its heart and soul. It is the movies, television, music, painting, dance and theatre that enable Canadians to laugh, talk and cry together. Through them we can express our identity and our similarities and differences.

I believe in investment, in investing in the development of original Canadian artistic product. Without our own product, without our own voices, without a generation that shares our vision to keep our culture alive and meaningful, Canada will have no legacy. Without this we will never get that opportunity to see our hopes and dreams reflected. Instead we will have to watch and live vicariously through others.

Members will hear me speak in Parliament about the arts industry because I believe it is just that, an industry. When we start looking at it that way some surprising things turn up.

The cultural sector represents a significant part of the Canadian economy. The cultural sector contributes $25 billion to Canada's gross domestic product. This means 900,000 jobs or 6.9 per cent of total employment.

Last year Canadians spent over $2.9 billion on arts events and products. For every dollar that the federal government has invested in the arts industry ten dollars of economic activity has been generated, an excellent rate of return.

These numbers do not even acknowledge the spin off effect the culture also brings to our economy. “The House of Martin Guerre” a critically acclaimed production by Canadian composer Leslie Arden, brings people not only to the Canadian Stage Company but also to the restaurants, bars and hotels nearby.

In Canada, the arts play a leading role in enabling Canadians to define themselves in relation to one another and to the rest of the world. If we want a strong national identity, we must ensure that control over our cultural institutions, publishing houses, radio and television networks and film productions rests with us.

The Liberal government believes that we should balance spending in this sector with a plan to invest in the future of Canadian culture. Artists and arts organizations will play a major role in determining how Canadians see themselves in 20 years.

The arts are on the cutting edge of the development of new communications and new technologies which will play a major role in not only the economic prosperity of Canada but in the world.

We should remember that the arts industry's sustenance and growth and the commensurate benefit to government revenues and Canadian society can be assisted by the Government of Canada without increasing the federal debt.

I applaud the federal government's commitment to cultural organizations such as the Canadian Publishing Development Corporation and the Canada Council for the Arts, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The creation of the Canada television and cable production fund has supported the creation of excellent Canadian programming.

We should acknowledge the unique and important voice that the CBC provides to Canadian culture and Canadian life. We must continue to ensure the long term health of Canada and at the same time we should make sure we put in place partnerships to ensure that Canada's arts organizations and artists have a chance to continue to promote and develop the ideas, hopes and aspirations of all Canadians.

The time has come to show the world that Canada has writers, artists, directors and performers second to none, and that we can develop artistic endeavours here in Canada which will be produced all over the world. Canada as an exporter of Canadian cultural products and not an importer? I say welcome to the new millennium.

As members we have all been entrusted with an important responsibility, that of giving political leadership to Canada as we move into challenging times. While we may not all agree on the policy steps required, we do all commit to serving the best interests of our country. It is this difference of opinion that divides us into five parties and which will lead to spirited debate in this Parliament.

Debates are at the heart of parliamentary democracy, where it is appropriate to support opposing views. Our political history has shown that the true superiority of the parliamentary system can be fully appreciated through the diversity of views being represented.

I am proud to confirm my support for the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada. I vow to facilitate a true partnership among all Canadians toward making Canada an even greater country.

I hereby move, seconded by the hon. member for Beauce, that the following address be presented to His Excellency the Governor General of Canada:

To His Excellency the Right Honourable Roméo A. LeBlanc, a Member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada.

May it please your Excellency:

We, Her Majesty's most loyal and dutiful subjects, the House of Commons of Canada, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Excellency for the gracious Speech which Your Excellency has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.