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

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 8th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate, being the reply to the Speech from the Throne.

As this is my first opportunity to rise in the House in the 38th Parliament, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people in my riding of Parkdale--High Park, which is located in the city of Toronto, for giving me the honour and the privilege of representing them in Parliament for a third term. As their member of Parliament, I vow to work with all of my colleagues in the House of Commons to address the challenges which we face today and which we will face in the future. As the Prime Minister said in his address to the reply to the Speech from the Throne: a minority Commons, we all have a responsibility to make Parliament work for the people. And we will fulfill that responsibility--if we embrace and build on the democratic reforms initiated during the last session, if we are prepared to allow the partisan to give way to progress.

If I may, Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your appointment as Deputy Speaker. We look forward to hearing your rulings in this session.

On Tuesday, October 5, 2004, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson, opened up the 38th session of Parliament with the Speech from the Throne. With the main themes of cooperation and fiscal discipline, the Speech from the Throne was also a commitment to follow through on the key promises made during the election campaign.

The speech focused on the Prime Minister's key priorities: building a prosperous and sustainable 21st century economy; strengthening social foundations; and securing for Canada a place of pride and influence in the world. The program laid out in the Speech from the Throne will see positive change in a number of areas critical to Canadians by, for example: strengthening health care; increasing support for children, caregivers and seniors; and continuing to build on the new deal for Canada's cities and communities.

It is important to acknowledge that the Speech from the Throne reiterates the government's commitment to create a new deal for Canada's cities and communities. As part of this new deal, the government has committed to fostering the cultural life that makes our communities vibrant and creative. In fact the Speech from the Throne was unequivocal in this regard. It clearly stated the following:

What makes our communities vibrant and creative is the quality of their cultural life. The Government will foster cultural institutions and policies that aspire to excellence, reflect a diverse and multicultural society, respond to the new challenges of globalization and the digital economy, and promote diversity of views in cultural expression at home and abroad.

In his reply to the Speech from the Throne, the Prime Minister also spoke about our cities and communities as a place “where our cultural industries thrive”. I was especially delighted to see this specific reference to culture in the Speech from the Throne as a reaffirmation that culture continues to be part of our government's vision.

This is especially important to me, as the Prime Minister has given me the honour and privilege of appointing me as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage. I would like to take this opportunity to also thank the Prime Minister for that appointment. I look forward to working with our new and very dynamic Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Prime Minister to ensure that the commitments made during the election are fulfilled, especially with respect to updating and amending our copyright laws, strengthening our major cultural institutions and increasing investment in the Canada Council.

Immediately after my appointment, I began holding consultations with members of Toronto's artistic and cultural organizations to determine what their organizations needed and what the federal government could do to help them achieve and maintain greatness in their respective fields. I want to find out how I can best champion their needs and how I can help to ensure that the federal government can best enhance the creative environment in which our artists and our creators flourish. I have always stated that I see these consultations as being complimentary to our government's cities and communities agendas, as a dynamic cultural sector is a key ingredient to making cities thrive.

Just recently the Federation of Canadian Municipalities made a significant declaration in support of meaningful, long term investments in the arts. At its September 10, 2004 board of directors meeting, a resolution, which was put forth jointly by representatives of the cities of Vancouver, North Vancouver and Canmore, Alberta, was passed strongly urging the federal government to renew the multi-year tomorrow starts today funding initiative. According to Erin Murphy, policy analyst for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, support for arts, culture and heritage is a major component of the FCM policy.

In addition, on September 23, 2004, in a speech kicking off Toronto's arts week, Toronto Mayor David Miller also spoke passionately of the cultural sector's importance. He noted that there were too many people who considered the arts to be a luxury or worse, an afterthought. He went on to say, “If we do not support the city's arts scene, we fundamentally damage the whole city”.

In the Speech from the Throne the government specifically has committed to ensuring that our cultural institutions and the cultural sector in general have the capability to compete and thrive in our constantly changing environment. What does that mean? I believe it means, first and foremost, updating key legislation such as the Copyright Act. Second, creating the conditions for our public institutions to foster diversity and make the transition to the digital world. Third, assisting cultural entrepreneurs and arts organizations to seize the opportunities offered by the Internet and globalization.

Canada will also continue to play a leadership role in the creation of a new international convention on cultural diversity which will establish clear rules that will enable countries to promote cultural diversity. This instrument arose out of a report of the cultural industry SAGIT back in 1999 when Sergio Marchi was the minister of international trade. It recommended that we move forward on such an instrument. I was chair of the Subcommittee on International Trade, Trade Disputes and Investments at that time. The year before that, then former minister of Canadian heritage, Sheila Copps, inaugurated the international network of cultural policy. It is great to finally see the work of the committee, SAGIT and previous minister finally come to fruition.

As an elected member of the UNESCO executive council, Canada will continue its leadership role to ensure that the goals of the convention are realized and that the convention is consistent with other international obligations.

I would like to point out that there are other references in the Speech from the Throne that will undoubtedly affect our artists and cultural institutions. While time does not permit me to highlight all of them, there are one or two which I would like to note.

The first is the government's commitment to continue to review the EI program to ensure that it remains well suited to the needs of Canada's workforce. I am currently working with the Minister of National Revenue and a member of the Canadian arts summit advocacy group to address the issue of the employment status of Canada's performing artists.

For the better part of a century, Canada's performing artists have provided services as independent contracts. This contractual relationship between producers, artists and governments stimulates a healthier cultural economy through a number of incentives. Unfortunately, this relationship has been eroded recently. In recent years Canada Revenue Agency auditors have increasingly challenged the independent contractor status of performing artists. This must be corrected as soon as possible because the implications for our artists and our arts organizations are huge.

I too would like to conclude with the words of our Prime Minister in his reply to the Speech from the Throne. He said:

On June 28, each of us earned the privilege of a seat in this chamber and the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of Canadians and the life of Canada. The message of the election is clear: Canadians want us to do better as a government. We have heard that message and we carry it with us. The demand going forward is equally clear: Our government and all parties must make this minority Parliament work for Canadians...The work of building an even better country begins today. Let’s get to it

Tibetan Youth Day October 8th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform the House of the Tibetan Youth Congress's 35th anniversary of the Tibetan Youth Day. The celebration is being held at the historic Palais Royale in my riding on Sunday, October 10.

The Tibetan Youth Congress was founded in India on October 7, 1970, and the Dalai Lama delivered its inaugural address. It is a non-profit organization with over 76 branches around the world whose main purpose is to promote Tibet's culture, traditions and religion under the guidance of the Dalai Lama.

The Toronto chapter of the Tibetan Youth Congress was established in 2002 and has grown quickly as increasing numbers of Tibetan Canadians have made the historic neighbourhood of Parkdale their home.

I salute the organizers and participants of this year's Tibetan Youth Congress event and I am delighted to be joining them this Sunday.

Committees of the House May 12th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, entitled “Interim Report on Copyright Reform”.

Polish Second Corps May 12th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, May 9 I had the honour of attending the commemoration of the formation of the Polish Second Corps and the 60th anniversary of their successes on the battlefield in May 1944 at Monte Cassino, the turning point of the allied campaign in Italy.

This event was organized by the Polish Combatants' Association of Canada, the Canadian Polish Congress and the Kresy-Siberia Group, an organization whose members are children of the families deported to Siberia by the Soviets.

The history of the Polish Second Corps was documented by a display on loan from the Józef Pilsudski Institute. The display contains a wealth of unique photos documenting the experiences of prisoners of war in the Soviet Union as well as rare photos of the allied effort to form the Second Corps from those who survived the gulags.

I wish to thank and congratulate the organizing committee for this important commemoration.

Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 May 7th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I too am pleased to rise today and participate in this debate on the second reading and reference to the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development of Bill C-34, an act to amend the Migratory Birds Convention Act of 1994 and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1999.

Our biologists have told us about the hopeless struggle by over 300,000 seabirds every winter who die because oil waste is illegally discharged from some ships off the coast of Newfoundland. They have seen this struggle first-hand as the natural defences of the birds are worn away by spots of oil and by the winter cold of the Atlantic as it seeps through their feathers.

What we also have to assume is that these murres, dovekies, gulls and puffins are not the only forms of marine life that are affected by the practices of these few individuals on board ships. The oily waste that goes into the ocean also washes up on our beaches. It pollutes the habitat of fish and marine mammals such as seals and also whales. The deaths of seabirds are dramatic, but there are other costs to biodiversity.

We also must assume that the same kinds of problems occur on the west coast, where shipping and marine life often collide.

Through international conventions and agreements and through domestic laws, we have stated repeatedly that Canada is committed as a nation to the conservation of nature.

We must address the yearly deaths of hundreds of thousands of seabirds within that context and we must meet our commitments.

We should be proud of the fine tradition we have forged, through long hours of hard work and much study, in the area of environmental legislation. We have good laws. I support the bill before us, which amends these already effective pieces of legislation so that we can take dramatic and swift action to help these birds and other forms of marine wildlife. In fact, I see little need for prolonged debate here.

These are important amendments. They will bring quick results, and we are not only addressing the deaths of seabirds but our obligations in conserving biodiversity. By taking action, we will know that we acted and a polluter did not go free. By taking action through these strong pieces of environmental legislation, we can say we are living up to our commitments.

We have said we would protect the environment. We have said we would protect species. But if so many seabirds die every year, their viability as a species could be threatened.

With this simple approach we will know we did something to prevent some of our most unique marine life from becoming at risk. Put this way, we already have no choice. We are obliged and we should be willing to meet that obligation.

I have concentrated my remarks on the situation on our east coast, but we also know that there must be similar problems off our Pacific and Arctic coasts.

Not only does oil in the water kill seabirds, it affects plant life, marine mammals and fish. In essence, it affects us all.

Yet here is our opportunity to make a difference. I ask all members to seize this opportunity and help us see results as soon as this coming winter with fewer deaths of birds oiled at sea.

Copyright May 7th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Three days ago on May 4 the office of the U.S. trade representative released its special 301 annual report on the adequacy and effectiveness of intellectual property rights protection in trading partners around the wold and in fact placed Canada on its special watch list.

The fact is that Canada has made little headway in addressing long standing intellectual property issues related to copyright, such as ratification of the WIPO Internet treaties.

In fact, a recent Canadian court decision has found that peer-to-peer file sharing to be legal under our current copyright law, a position that underscores the need for Canada--

Walk for Hope May 7th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, May 2, I attended the eighth annual Walk for Hope in aid of Rwandan children, held in my riding of Parkdale--High Park.

This event was an opportunity to raise funds in support of the Hope for Rwanda Children's Fund Scholarship Program which is helping many Rwandan children to reach their full potential in life.

This year also represented the 10th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. The recent declaration by the United Nations to recognize the 10th anniversary of the genocide brought heightened awareness to the importance of this year's event.

Significant work to commemorate the anniversary was organized in the GTA through the Remembering Rwanda Project, spearheaded by Dr. Gerald Caplan and Dr. Carole Ann Reed.

I wish to thank and congratulate all those individuals, community organizations, schools and association that have provided humanitarian assistance through the years to the young people who are supported through this very important scholarship program.

Permanent Joint Board on Defence May 5th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate our colleague from Whitby—Ajax on her appointment as the new chair of the Canadian section on the Canada-United States Permanent Joint Board of Defence.

Created by Canada and the United States in 1940, the Permanent Joint Board on Defence is a senior advisory body on continental defence. It is composed of military and diplomatic representatives from both nations. For 64 years, the Permanent Joint Board on Defence has served as a strategic level institution charged with considering issues affecting the defence of the northern half of the western hemisphere.

Our colleague from Whitby—Ajax was first elected to Parliament in 1997. She has served on the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs and is currently the chair of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

I invite all my colleagues in the House of Commons to join me in congratulating our colleague from Whitby—Ajax on her new and additional responsibilities.

Genie Awards May 4th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, May 1, I had the honour of attending the 24th Annual Genie Awards celebrating outstanding achievement in Canadian cinema. The show was produced by CHUM Television. For the first time in Canadian awards television history, the awards were broadcast interactively on Bell Expressvu online.

Canadian director Denys Arcand's film Les Invasions barbares was this year's major winner, receiving a Genie in five different categories.

The Genie awards are brought to us by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, a national non-profit professional association designed to promote, recognize and celebrate exceptional achievements in the Canadian film and television industries. Created in 1979 and today unifying over 4,000 industry professionals across Canada, the academy has proven to be a vital and integral force representing all areas of film and television.

I would ask all my colleagues in the House of Commons to join me in congratulating all the nominees and recipients of this year's Genie Awards.

European Union May 3rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, today is the 213th anniversary of the Polish constitution which is the oldest constitution in Europe and second in the world only to the American constitution.

To celebrate this event, yesterday I attended mass at St. Casimir's Church in my riding which was followed by ceremonies at the parish hall hosted by the Toronto branch of the Canadian Polish Congress.

This year, the Canadian Polish community also celebrated the ascension of Poland, along with nine other countries, to the European Union on May 1, 2004.

Generations of talented and hardworking immigrants from Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus arrived in Canada escaping the ravages of the Cold War.

Today, the European Union, like Canada, is continuing with the bold experiment of building a multicultural society based on the principles of democracy, freedom and peace.

I would like to invite all members of the House to join me in saluting the European Union on this historic decision and this historic day.