House of Commons photo

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

Canadian Heritage December 9th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind members of the House that it was this government that reinvested over $560 million into the arts in May 2001, the largest reinvestment in the Canada Council. Since that time, the program has been renewed and will continue until at least March 31.

I am pleased to advise members of the House that members on this side of the House are working very hard with the Minister of Finance to ensure that this program is possibly renewed in the budget.

Ukrainian Canadian Restitution Act December 7th, 2004

Madam Speaker, the Government of Canada understands the strong feelings underlying requests for redress for incidents in our nation's past. As Canadians we all share in the responsibility to learn from the lessons of the past and to ensure that the history of our country in certain instances does not repeat itself ever.

I know firsthand the issues that are being addressed today by the hon. member opposite. My riding of Parkdale--High Park is home to a great number of Ukrainian Canadians, and this is a matter that I have spoken to members of the community about.

The Canadian Multiculturalism Act lays out principles for these adjustments. It gives specific direction to the federal government to work toward achieving equality in the economic, social, cultural and political life of the country. The multicultural program turns those principles into action. Its activities help to combat racism and discrimination, to break down barriers that prevent all Canadians from fully participating in society, to promote freedom and equal opportunity, to improve inter-group relations, and to foster social harmony and a shared sense of Canadian identity.

As Canada becomes more culturally diverse, the challenge we face is maximizing the benefits of a multicultural society, which means respecting differences and being willing to adapt to change.

Since the introduction of Canada's multiculturalism policy in 1971 and the adoption of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act in 1988, Canada's population has continued to become more diverse. This rich ethnocultural, racial and religious diversity has been fostered and supported by a strong multiculturalism policy that encourages people to maintain their culture and identity within a Canadian framework that values fundamental human rights and freedoms.

In order to keep pace with the needs of our evolving and increasingly diverse society, the multiculturalism program focuses on three overall policy goals of identity, social justice and civic participation. Within these policy goals, four priority objectives have been identified for the multicultural program: first, fostering cross-cultural understanding; second, promoting shared citizenship; third, making Canadian institutions more reflective of Canadian diversity; and fourth, combating racism and discrimination.

The government recognizes that creating and maintaining a strong and cohesive society free of racism and discrimination is critical to the continued growth and success of our country. As part of its commitment to fight racism and as part of its forward looking approach with regard to historical acts, the Government of Canada established the Canadian Race Relations Foundation in 1996. As members know, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation is an important asset in helping to build an inclusive society based on social harmony. In establishing the foundation, we have committed to building a better future for young Canadians and a better country for all of us.

The mission of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation is to build a framework for the fight against racism in Canadian society. The Foundation sheds light on the causes and manifestations of racism. It provides independent, candid national leadership and contributes to the pursuit of equity, fairness and social justice.

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation is the articulation of the Government of Canada's commitment to fostering racial harmony and cross-cultural understanding. The Canadian Race Relations Foundation is to a great extent at the core of what the Ukrainian community and this bill are asking for: an educational foundation.

Through the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, I am pleased to say that many groups have had grants for initiatives in specific projects against racism. Along with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, the Government of Canada has and will continue to promote initiatives to improve understanding among Canadians, such as the March 21 campaign of the Department of Canadian Heritage, which is designed to raise the awareness of Canadians against the dangers of racism and racial discrimination.

The March 21 campaign was initiated in response to the need to heighten awareness of the harmful effects of racism on a national scale and to demonstrate clearly the commitment and leadership of the federal government to foster respect, equality and diversity.

For more than 10 years, the March 21 campaign has mobilized youth across Canada to rise up and to take a stand against racism. Through their participation in the campaign, Canadian youth have spoken loudly and eloquently. There is no place for racism in their lives.

Each year on March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racism, many activities are held throughout Canada to raise public awareness about the problem of racism.

The national video competition “Racism: Stop it!” is one of several federal government initiatives to fight racism and encourage thousands of young people from across Canada to stand up and condemn this problem.

Why youth? Youth are the future of our nation. It is only by looking to the future that we will achieve our common goal of eradicating racism and discrimination.

We know that youth are the heart and soul of the annual March 21 campaign. They have the energy, commitment and creativity to advance the struggle against racism. They are the voice of the present and also of the future. They are among the most exposed to racism in their schools and on the streets in villages, towns and cities across Canada. The March 21 campaign engages youth to transcend the boundaries of race, ethnicity and religion, and to embrace diversity.

Historically speaking, this country represents a coming together of many peoples and traditions. It is because we were and are so different in our backgrounds and our beginnings that Canada has learned over time to place an extraordinary premium on respect, equality and mutual acceptance. This is what sets Canada apart from other countries.

The challenge is not to lose what we have gained through past experience, not to assimilate this diversity into a simple mould, but to harness it for the common good.

As we move forward in this new millennium, it is the youth of the world who stand poised to lead us out of the intolerance of the past which too often results in terrible human suffering.

The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of understanding and preserving our complete history, including those times when we have strayed from our shared commitment to human justice. Through various departments and programs, it has supported a wide range of commemorative projects that have helped the Ukrainian community tell their story in their own voice.

The bill before us today asks for commemoration of the historical events by means of the installation of memorial plaques at the site of the internment camps. I would like the hon. members of this House to know that Parks Canada has already worked cooperatively with Ukrainian Canadians to present the story of the first world war internment.

As part of an exhibit to interpret the events associated with the first world war internment in the context of human history of Banff National Park, several interpretative panels were installed as part of the permanent exhibit at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada, as well as at Mount Revelstoke and Yoho National Parks.

Parks Canada has also supported Ukrainian Canadians in their efforts to install a permanent plaque and statue at the site of the Castle Mountain camp in Banff and permanent plaques at the Jasper camp, Mount Revelstoke camp and Yoho camp. The Department of National Defence has also enabled the placement of a plaque on the Niagara Falls armoury.

The National Film Board of Canada has produced an internment and exile film package that includes a segment entitled, Freedom Had a Price , which describes the experience of Ukrainian immigrants during the first world war.

In addition, the Department of Canadian Heritage has provided funding for the production of a television series entitled, A Scattering of Seeds , which celebrated diversity in Canada and discusses various topics, including the internment of Ukrainian immigrants.

Yes, people of Ukrainian heritage have experienced challenges during their time in Canada. We acknowledge this chapter of our past and vow never to forget it.

The member opposite did say that nothing has been done but many things have been done. When I was parliamentary secretary to the former minister of Canadian heritage, Sheila Copps, she brought the Ukrainian community together to meet with her officials and dialogue was started. Is there much to do? Absolutely. The dialogue has been started. Let us now continue the dialogue.

Violence Against Women December 6th, 2004

Madam Speaker, violence against anyone is unacceptable, irrespective of one's gender, age, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or mental and physical capabilities, so why do we focus on violence against women today?

Canadian women are more fearful of being victims of crime than are men. Looking at the statistics for sexual assault, criminal harassment and severity of spousal violence, it is no wonder. A majority of the victims of these crimes are women and young girls. In spousal violence alone, female victims are more likely to suffer some kind of physical injury and to be victims of multiple incidents. In 1999, four out of five victims of spousal homicide were female.

The focus on violence against women is not meant to deny or diminish the rate of violence against men. Violence against women is a complex issue. It is closely linked to the attitudes, values and systems that contribute to maintaining and perpetuating inequality of women in Canadian society.

Every Canadian male or female is touched in some way by violence against women. It has an enormous social and economic cost for our communities and the country. Let us work together to put a stop to violence against women.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act November 29th, 2004

Madam Speaker, let me begin by saying that at no time did I state that the hospital was a threat to the greenbelt. With all due respect for the member opposite, what I talked about was why we could not dispose of those lands for $1. As they are part of National Capital Commission lands, they belong to all the people of Canada and to sell that land for just $1 would be to violate the fiduciary trust.

I have noticed with interest that the Riverside Hospital had an arrangement made with the City of Ottawa, but again these lands were not held by the National Capital Commission. What we are talking about is why the National Capital Commission was created, why it has acquired lands and why it holds those lands in trust for the people of Canada.

I just want to reiterate that the article that appeared in the paper which speculated the amount of the rent was absolutely false. As the hon. member said, the two parties are in negotiations and we should let them arrive at a suitable and mutually acceptable agreement.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act November 29th, 2004

Madam Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to address my colleague, the hon. member for Nepean--Carleton, on his concern regarding a rent increase for the Queensway Carleton Hospital, a hospital in Ottawa that sits on lands owned by the National Capital Commission.

The hon. member is concerned that there will be a massive rent increase and the hospital has stated that it could cost jobs for as many as 40 nurses.

He would also like to know why the government does not resolve this problem by selling the land to the hospital for $1.

I will answer both those questions at this time.

First, on the matter of the rent increase, I would like to assure my colleague that while the National Capital Commission is a crown corporation that is responsible for its own day to day management, it calculates its rents in accordance with Treasury Board guidelines.

The Queensway Carleton Hospital currently pays an annual rent of approximately $23,000 per annum based on the leasing policies in effect when the 40 year lease was negotiated in the early 1970s. The rent is set well below market rates and will continue for another nine years, until July 12, 2013.

The lease provides for a renewal term of 35 years and stipulates that the annual rent is to be determined by mutual agreement between the National Capital Commission and the hospital and will be based on the appraised value of the land at that time.

A recent newspaper article stating that the revised rent beginning in 2013 would be $3.4 million, was wrong. It was based on the incorrect assumption that the annual rent in 2013 would be a percentage of the assessed value of the 114 acre property, including all buildings, improvements and grounds. In fact the annual rent will be negotiated based on the value of only 50 acres of land actually occupied by the hospital and its facilities, not on the value of the entire property.

It would not prudent for me to suppose what the new amount of rent will be but I understand, as the hon. member has said, that the National Capital Commission and the Queensway Carleton Hospital have already begun discussions and will actually review a variety of options for the lease of the land. I have tremendous confidence that these two parties will reach a suitable agreement before 2013.

Now I would like to address the hon. member's second question as to why the National Capital Commission does not simply sell the land to the Queensway Carleton Hospital for $1.

The 50 acres of land upon which the Queensway Carleton Hospital is situated are owned by the National Capital Commission on behalf of the people of Canada. The land is part of the national capital greenbelt and the national interest land mass.

The national capital region greenbelt was designed in 1949 to prevent urban sprawl and to provide open space for the future development of farms, natural areas and government facilities.

Today the greenbelt's 200 square kilometre crescent of farms, forests, natural areas, recreational facilities and public and private research complexes provide the capital with a rural landscape unequalled in any other North American city.

The NCC and national capital region greenbelt includes national interest land mass properties which, as the name implies, are held in the national trust.

These lands that the Government of Canada, mainly through the National Capital Commission, has gathered together over the past century include monuments, public places, heritage buildings, shorelines and large areas of green space. They combine to create a capital that will inspire Canadians with pride and be passed on as a legacy for future generations. Therefore to sell the people's land for $1 would be inappropriate.

However, once again I thank the hon. member for presenting me with this opportunity to respond to his questions.

Interprovincial bridges November 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, several planning studies in the past have identified that there will soon be a lack of sufficient peak interprovincial crossing capacity in the national capital region. Consequently, a number of possible corridors for new interprovincial crossings have been identified and appropriate environmental assessments will take place. I can assure the House that the Government of Canada is committed to working with other levels of government to enhance interprovincial transportation capacity.

Ukraine November 24th, 2004

Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to participate in this emergency debate for two reasons. There is a significant number of Ukrainian Canadians who live in my riding. I believe there are more than one million Canadians of Ukrainian descent living throughout Canada. Over the last few days, I have had numerous e-mails from my constituents and other members of the Ukrainian community concerned about the illegalities that have occurred in Ukraine during the election. I have brought some of those e-mails with me to share with everyone.

Last night there was a protest in front of the Canadian consulate, which is situated in my riding of Parkdale—High Park on Bloor Street West. I received an e-mail from a doctor who advised me, “We will be demonstrating tonight in our riding in front of the Ukrainian consulate on Bloor Street West. I have even managed to get my emergency shift covered at the Hospital for Sick Children tonight by one of my colleagues so I can go out and protest for the democratic process”.

I cannot express how I felt when I read that. Many of us in Canada take democracy for granted. This brought home to me just how important and necessary proper are elections in Ukraine.

Second, I am not Ukrainian or of Ukrainian descent. I am of Latvian descent. I am the first member from a Baltic country to take a seat in the House of Commons. My parents came to Canada from Latvia in 1951, after World War II and the occupation of Latvia by the Soviet Union. I truly believe that what has happened and is currently happening in Ukraine may indeed have profound effects throughout all of central and eastern Europe and, dare I say, the world.

It was The Economist which noted that the election could change the world by helping to map out the future shape of Europe. However, what I fear the most is that if these election results go unchallenged, there will be a foreboding return to an eastern and central Europe pre-1991, an eastern and central Europe that once again is occupied by the old Soviet Union.

I would like to thank the Prime Minister, through the Deputy Prime Minister today, for unequivocally rejecting the announced final results and calling for a full, open and transparent review of the electoral process. Specifically, the Deputy Prime Minister today announced during question period that considering the allegations of serious and significant electoral fraud from international and Canadian election observers, the Government of Canada could not accept that the announced results by the Central Election Commission reflected the true democratic will of the Ukrainian people. She went on to say that Canada would have no choice but to examine its relations with Ukraine if the authority failed to provide election results that reflect the democratic will of the people.

While participating in this debate, in my capacity as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, I would like to advise the House of Commons that Canada's public broadcaster, the CBC, is committed to ensuring that during this difficult time, Canadians get the information they need about events in Ukraine.

This morning CBC Radio-Canada Vice-President Sylvain Lafrance informed the staff of Radio Canada International, better known as RCI, and key stakeholders that given the extraordinary circumstances in the Ukraine, RCI has put on hold planned programming changes and will instead continue broadcasting its 30-minute 7 days a week programming in Ukrainian. This will help ensure important support to the Ukrainian community during this crisis. I thank CBC for doing so.

I am also pleased to report to my constituents that Canada is contributing to the OSCE election observer missions to Ukraine by sending 15 long term and up to 34 short term observers. I know we have been monitoring the events in the Ukraine very closely. As we know, The Government of Canada has sent a number of Canadian parliamentarians to the Ukraine to observe elections, including the first round elections. Moreover, during the last month, a parliamentary delegation travelled to Ukraine to observe and support the electoral process. In fact, Canada has sent its largest ever contingent of election observers to Ukraine, more than 50 election observers to support the conduct of free and fair elections in the presidential vote.

Let me share with members some of the massive irregularities and fraud that we received from credible sources, people who participated in the observation, and they are quite frightening. At this time, I too would like to thank the member of Parliament for Etobicoke Centre for being part of our caucus and for providing firsthand knowledge of what he saw transpiring there, as one of our election observers. He just returned last night.

For example, observers noted that post-secondary students were offered a range of bribes to vote for the prime minister, including higher grades, money, and two months free rent. Some voters in eastern Ukraine, the stronghold of the incumbent prime minister, voted in the morning at the local polling station. Then they were bused to Kiev and other locations to vote again, sometimes more than once, using absentee ballots.

It is hard to believe we hear of these things going on in the year 2004. What I find amazing, and which was confirmed by the member for Etobicoke Centre, is that international observers and opposition scrutinizes were denied access to polling stations. Some Canadian observers were followed and threatened. We were told today that some people had their Canadian passports taken away.

The Prime Minister has been monitoring the situation very carefully. In fact, the Prime Minister stated in Brazil that the preliminary reports of electoral violations were disturbing, and if they were accurate, the international community would want to examine its options. This was way before the election results were announced.

The deputy minister of foreign affairs, in the absence of the foreign affairs minister, who is travelling with the Prime Minister right now, summoned the Ukrainian ambassador to express Canada's deep concerns over reports of serious election violations. The foreign affairs minister called for an immediate investigation of allegations of serious fraud, full transparency and an election result that truly reflects the democratic choice of Ukrainians.

I also want to commend our ambassador in Kiev who, in meeting with the media, has stressed Canada's long-standing support for democracy and a civic society in Ukraine, and for free, fair and transparent elections.

I have received e-mail after e-mail over the last two days that talk about the illegalities and the fraud. The most moving e-mail I received, which had been attached to one from my constituent, was from a Canadian who was in Ukraine just hours after the election results had been announced. I would like to share that with members of the House. She writes:

Dear friends in Canada,

As many of you already know, approximately 2 hours ago Ukraine's Central Election announced the official and final results of the second round of voting that took place November 21. Although the result was clearly grossly falsified, it is now official, and according to the Ukrainian Constitution, Viktor Yanukovych will be sworn in as president within 30 days.

The reaction on the streets of Kyiv has been one of shock. There are currently anywhere from 700 thousand to a million people on Maidan Nezalezhnosti, and near the Presidential Administration on Bankova St. Rumours abound: Russian troops have apparently been seen moving towards Kyiv (this information has not been independently confirmed); Russian troops were apparently seen by Yulia Tymoshenko last night inside the Presidential Administration itself. During the next couple of days things might get a little scary.

Madam Speaker, they are scary. For me this brought to mind being a teenager watching the Soviet tanks roll into Czechoslovakia and being a young adult watching the Soviets try to take over Solidarity in Poland.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the people in Ukraine, the people who want to have their will recognized, and to my constituents and their many relatives. Let us work together and ensure that democracy is indeed returned to Ukraine.

Points of Order November 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, during the statements by members you ruled my S. O. 31 out of order.

I want to unequivocally state that my statement was never intended to be a personal attack on a specific member but, rather, was calling into question the position taken by a member that was reported in the media.

Footnote 38 on page 363 of Marleau and Montpetit states:

In a 1990 ruling, Speaker Fraser clarified that a statement about another Member's political position would be acceptable, but a personal attack against a Member would not be allowed.

Again, I in no way intended for my statement to be interpreted as a personal attack, but if the hon. member felt personally attacked, I sincerely apologize.

Hiv-Aids November 23rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, this government believes that all Canadians deserve respect and dignity, including those suffering from AIDS. Clearly, this is not the case with the alliance Conservatives who have once again shown their true colours.

Today we learn that the member for Okanagan—Coquihalla sent a note to his caucus colleagues implying that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's family and supporters did not deserve the expression of their sympathy because of allegations that he may have died of AIDS.

This is the latest in a long history of discrimination that the member has shown toward people suffering from AIDS. Previously, he has gone so far as to claim that AIDS was God's warning or punishment to homosexuals and demanded that the Alberta government spend--

Canadian Heritage November 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is committed to the protection of Canada's cultural heritage. In fact, our government has already intervened to delay the export of Corporal Topham's medal, which is being sold by the estate. I am pleased to advise the House today that we will also be working to support the purchase of this very important part of our history through the movable cultural properties grants program.