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

Cultural Diversity November 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I think the issue the hon. member raises is very important but that is not the only issue. Many other issues need to be discussed.

As I am very interested in this file, may I suggest that at the next meeting of the standing committee we put this forward as the next future business and we look at the document before the House recesses for Christmas.

Cultural Diversity November 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted to answer the question.

As hon. members know, it is this government that has actually taken a lead at the UNESCO convention. In fact, at the UNESCO meeting in Paris in September, Canada was appointed as a rapporteur by 132 countries I believe.

November 15 is the first deadline for putting in proposals for the UNESCO convention and the drafting party will be meeting on December 15, of which Canada is also a member, and the intergovernmental meeting will happen in February.

If the hon. member would like to see the document, may I suggest that he bring that forward at the standing committee.

Governor General's Literary Awards November 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to inform the House that the Canada Council for the Arts announced this week the winners of the 2004 Governor General's Literary Awards for Children's Literature.

I am proud to say that in English language books the winner in the text section is a constituent of mine, Mr. Kenneth Oppel, for his book Airborne .

Mr. Oppel published his first book in 1985 when he was only 15. Since then he has had a successful career in promoting children's literacy. Although Mr. Oppel has received many awards for his work, this is his first Governor General's literary award.

Canada Council director John Hobday said it best:

In a world dominated by television, video games and the Internet, children's authors and illustrators have an extraordinary challenge: to create books that stimulate the senses, the emotions and the imaginations of our young people and instil in them a lifelong love of reading.

It is people like Kenneth Oppel and the other three children's laureates who have given the children of our country a very precious gift. We thank them.

Latvia November 18th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I rise today, November 18, to commemorate Latvian Independence Day. It is one of three Baltic countries with a sizeable community in my own riding of Parkdale—High Park and throughout other major urban centres in Canada. I am also proud to say that Latvia is the birthplace of my parents.

For Latvia, Independence Day has special meaning. Within living memory, citizens of Latvia fought two world wars and struggled for decades under the Soviet occupation, enduring persecution and the risk of being overwhelmed in their own country by Soviet resettlement.

Today Latvia is a member of the European Union and NATO. This country has rebuilt its democracy and economy and maintains strong ties with Canada where many of its expatriates live. In fact, Ms. Vaira Freibergs, a Toronto educated former Canadian citizen, is the current president of Latvia.

In commemorating the Latvian Independence Day, celebrated since 1918, I would like to celebrate with my fellow members of the Latvian community in Toronto and elsewhere. With a home country like Canada and a heritage country like Latvia, I am doubly blessed.

Supply November 16th, 2004

Mr. Chair, I rise on a point of order. I do not like to interrupt the hon. member across the way but we have been here for over four hours. We have tried to focus our discussions on the estimates and things within the purview of the department and the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Therefore, I respectfully submit that this question is totally out of order.

Supply November 16th, 2004

Mr. Chair, I rise on a point of order. My understanding, as we finish off this evening which has been so successful, is that we are here to question the minister and the government on the estimates. With all due respect, Mr. Chair, I believe this question is totally out of order.

Supply November 16th, 2004

Mr. Chair, it was interesting to hear the hon. member actually quoting Kevin Garland, the executive director of the National Ballet. In fact, one of the things I know is that the minister was meeting him, and I met with Kevin Garland as well, along with other major cultural institutions in the city of Toronto, such as the Toronto symphony, the Canadian opera and Canadian stage, to discuss the renewal of Tomorrow Starts Today.

What Mr. Ouzounian, I believe, may have written is one thing, but I know that all the meetings were held to support the minister as we move forward with Tomorrow Starts Today.

Supply November 16th, 2004

The hon. critic across the way is saying that is not what the artists are saying. It is a funny thing, when the Prime Minister appointed me the parliamentary secretary in conjunction with the department, I started consultations in my city of Toronto. I met with Heather Ostertag. Do members know who she is? She would be the head of Factor . It is a funny thing how I know that.

I have so many artists in my riding. Do members know who Jane Bunnett is? An award winning jazz artist in my riding. Those are the people who have benefited from this. They have talked to us and they want that program.

The members on this side of the House in this caucus have made presentations to the Prime Minister that we want Tomorrow Starts Today renewed. It is the members on this side who will make it happen. It is the opposition saying, “You're fearmongering”. No, we are not fearmongering, but we make sure that the taxpayer moneys we invest are transparent, accountable and yield results. When we need new programs, we will do so to show that not only the results are there from an economic, transparent and accountable point of view, but also to show that they yield the benefits of defining who we are.

We have heard the minister of sport speak tonight about the importance of sport and how proud we are of the Olympians.

Peter Herrndorf, who is the executive director of the National Arts Centre, wrote an article at that time to the paper when we were also talking about the Olympics. He said it was a funny thing that every once in a while or every few years we get a big lump in our throats by being so excited about our athletes. We cry when the flag is raised, but it is really our artists who define us every day.

Ask people who were in Greece to even name one of our politicians. They may know our Prime Minister, but they may not know very much more about us. They may recognize our flag, but if we ask them what they know about being Canadian, it is about our musicians. It is about the music that we hear every day on the radio, part of our everyday lives. It is about the authors, people such as Yann Martel, Margaret Atwood, and Alice Munro, who actually just won the Giller Prize last week. Those are the people who define those things.

Those people have been able to plant seeds here in Canada and define who we are, both at home and internationally. When we talk about Tomorrow Starts Today, we forget that it was this government that provided the largest reinvestment in the arts in 2001 after 40 years. We have to be proud of that.

Is there more to do? Absolutely. Tomorrow Starts Today is just the beginning. Tomorrow Starts Today provided additional moneys for the Canada Council, something my friend talked about. Tomorrow Starts Today provided specific funding for cultural spaces. What will cultural spaces mean? It means spaces in every community, not just theatres and libraries but all sorts of things that build healthy communities, that let people get out on the street. These communities are prosperous communities and prosperous communities are safe communities, and they are usually also full of culture and excitement. Is there much to do? Absolutely.

I will tell members one thing that this government and this side of the House knows, the arts are not corporate welfare. They are the most important thing that define Canadians as Canadian.

Supply November 16th, 2004

Mr. Chair, first, it is a hard act to follow my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. However, many may well know that I had the opportunity to work with her when she was the secretary of state for multiculturalism and the status of women. Therefore, I know that she knows this department intimately. When she said that she wanted to talk about how important the department was, I only have until 10:30 tonight, so we have to cut our comments short.

I concur with everything she has said. However, sometimes I think a lot of us forget. We talk about how important the arts are in terms of defining who we are. We talk about how important the arts are in terms of our communities. When my hon. colleague asks what our commitment is, just look at the Speech from the Throne. We talked about the arts being the essence of our communities. It is the cultural soul of our communities. It is what builds our communities.

There is also another thing that we sometimes forget when we dispose of or think that the arts are fluffy.

I had an opportunity to travel with the Governor General and artists to Chile many years ago. We met artists from Chile. We travelled with Émile Martel, who was the head of P.E.N. Many may recognize the Martel name as Yann Martel who won the prestigious Booker Prize; a Canadian artist winning the Booker Prize.

I talked with President Lagos and with people of Chile. I heard how important the arts were and how they had missed it at the time that Pinochet was there. What is the first thing countries do when totalitarian governments take over? They throw out their artists. Why? Because the arts are an essential element of democracy, and that is why it is important.

I want to pick up on some specific things about which my hon. colleague spoke. She talked about Factor. I know that the hon. opposition critic talked about Tomorrow Starts Today and Factor is a part of the Canadian music fund which is part of Tomorrow Starts Today. When she talked about the people who define who we are, let us not forget about Diana Krall. It is not just the pop stars. That fund has helped to create our artists today.

I am sure many of the members know that Factor saved Canadian music. I know that this minister and this government are committed to saving Canadian music.

When we talk about Tomorrow Starts Today--

Poland November 16th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate an important event for Polish Canadians in my riding of Parkdale--High Park and throughout Canada. On November 7, I participated in the flag raising ceremony at Toronto City Hall to mark the anniversary of Poland's Independence Day.

Poland's Independence Day is celebrated annually on November 11. It was first established in 1918 following the end of the great war, when Poland was reconstituted as an independent country. This was a proud achievement, especially for a country with the world's second oldest constitution. Together with the Canadian Polish Congress, World War II veterans, and scouting organizations, Polish Canadians in Toronto celebrated their long struggle for freedom that has resulted in Poland being firmly established in the family of democratic countries.

Today, Poland is truly independent again. Poland is an active member of NATO and the European Union, and an example to other countries embarking upon building parliamentary democracies in the former Soviet bloc. We salute the Polish people for their continued efforts to strengthen democracy in their home country and in Canada.