House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was health.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Thornhill (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2000, with 65% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Telecommunications Act November 21st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the member. I believe that Canada and Canadians will benefit. We will benefit in two very specific ways. The agreement opens up a world market of $880 billion to Canadian telecom companies which are among the best in the world and which can compete. That will mean more jobs and better jobs for people right across this country. I believe that is what competition will do. I believe we will see that right across this country and hopefully every region will see those benefits.

Canadian telecom services providers will also benefit from new markets on an equal footing with local and foreign competitors and Canadian telecom manufacturers will find a new demand for their state of the art products as new and exciting telecom operators around the world prepare for global markets which are open and competitive.

This will foster innovation and I believe that will be good for Canadians because not only will the competition foster innovation, bring forth the new ideas that our very well educated Canadian population will benefit from in the way of new jobs and better jobs, but also I think we will see better prices for Canadian consumers.

On the answer to the question on students, I made the point that this government is doing what it can in a very positive way to ensure the students have access to computer technology, supporting provinces in their local initiatives, and working directly with school boards to ensure the students have access to computers and the skills they need so that they will be able to take advantage of those new jobs in the future.

Telecommunications Act November 21st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that this bill actually in the specific agreement excludes is broadcasting. One of the reasons for that was the concern of this government to ensure the protection of Canadian culture. In all agreements that have dealt with trade, we have made sure that culture was off the table and excluded, and the CRTC has been an important instrument in ensuring that Canadian culture has been protected and that industries know the rules.

While the CRTC, like any other institution, is imperfect, certainly we always must remain vigilant to ensure that Canadian culture is protected at the same time as our industries are encouraged to participate in a competitive environment and play on the world stage in a way that will create jobs and prosperity for Canadians.

Telecommunications Act November 21st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of this bill. I believe it is good for Canadian businesses and consumers, including those in Thornhill. This bill opens the world telecommunications market to Canadian companies with two important impacts. It will provide a source of jobs in the knowledge based telecommunications industries and the competition will lead to better rates for consumers. Those worthy objectives warrant support of this bill.

The overwhelming goal of this government is to connect Canadians, to make Canadians and Canada the most connected country in the world and to ensure that Canadians have access to the information highway and the new economy it supports. Many steps have been taken. This legislation brings forward the General Agreement on Trade and Services, GATS, which is the Agreement on Basic Telecommunications, ABT. The legislation before us implements the terms and the provisions of those agreements.

I met recently with the the economic development officer for the town of Markham. He told me that Markham considers itself a high tech capital of Canada. The critical mass of companies in knowledge based industries is unsurpassed in this country. The critical mass is some 700 companies.

I believe, on further exploration, people would find that many of those companies are involved in or are supporting the telecommunications industry which is finding its hub, its strong base, not only in Thornhill but throughout Ontario.

I can also say that I have met with the director of education for the York region board of education. As well, I have met with the chair and the director of education of the York region separate school board. I am pleased to report on the interest that students and their boards of education have shown in the government's SchoolNet program. In fact, not only is there interest in ensuring that all the schools in Thornhill are connected, the program of having computers in schools is already firmly connected in the York separate school boards.

They have established a centre where old computers are refurbished. To date over 400 computers have been distributed through the York region separate school board system as a result of the program of the Ministry of Industry which assists schools to participate in the program and the students to have access to the computers.

I know that the York region board of education is also very interested in participating in this program.

There is a heightened awareness of the need to be connected. There is a heightened awareness of the need to have access and skills to use these technologies. There is a need for our students to be educated and have those skills which will lead them to the jobs of the future.

This legislation will give Canadian business access to an $880 billion industry worldwide. Canada is at the forefront. We are leaders in this technology. I believe that opening competition in telecommunications services is not only an important part of the strategy which this bill provides, but we know that it is the best and the fastest way to build the infrastructure for a knowledge based economy. The way to do that is through open competition. We know that Canadians can compete and can also lead the world.

Canada will be hosting the high level OECD conference on electronic commerce in the fall of 1998. Electronic commerce is not only central to the knowledge based economy, it is also the foundation for future growth and job creation. By creating the best environment for electronic commerce Canada can and will continue to be a world leader in this emerging field, generating increased investment in electronic networks and growth in such areas as electronic transmission, multimedia products and on-line services.

The OECD conference will be an excellent opportunity for Canadians to learn more about what Canada is doing, what opportunities there are for them and also about the impact on consumers.

The legislation before us today is a necessary step toward giving our telecommunications service companies the keys they need to the world market. It is my hope that this bill will be received and unanimously supported by everyone in this House. I believe it is in the interests of Canadian businesses, it is in the interests of Canadian consumers, it is in the interests of all in Canada who have an interest in economic prosperity and job creation. I know that the people of Thornhill would want to see this bill passed expeditiously and implemented.

Aboriginal Affairs November 4th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development regarding the First Nations Land Management Act tabled in the last Parliament which did not address the concerns of aboriginal women. Married women living on reserve cannot get an order for a share in the matrimonial home and the land it is on and they cannot get an order for exclusive occupancy of that home when their marriage ends.

What is the minister doing to address the concerns and the rights of aboriginal women who want to protect their homes when their marriages end?

Supply October 30th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, in response to the hon. member opposite, I am willing to take the Minister of Justice at her word on the commitment which she has just made to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, that she will raise this issue when she meets with her counterparts across Canada. I am not only prepared to take her at her word, but I am willing to give her the opportunity to bring forward a report to the House. At that time there would be an appropriate opportunity for us to consider this matter in an appropriate forum such as the justice committee. That is what I said during my remarks.

I would also point out that we may not all agree on the solutions, because they are complex. However, I believe we all agree on the goal. I will make my commitment in this House to do what I can to achieve the goal of reducing drunk driving and to make changes as necessary to public policy to achieve that goal. I consider that to be a priority on behalf of my constituents in the riding of Thornhill.

Supply October 30th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the issues which the member opposite raised about the variations within the Criminal Code are exactly the types of issues that should be addressed not only during debate and discussions perhaps before a legislative committee, but also by the justice minister and her colleagues across this country because it is the provinces which enforce the Criminal Code.

I support a non-partisan debate in this legislature. I said that during my remarks. However when provoked, if you tease the bear, I growl. I hope hon. members opposite do not take offence when I respond in kind.

This is an issue of importance to members of all parties. I too wish we could debate this issue in a non-partisan manner. Unfortunately my colleague opposite made that impossible.

Supply October 30th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I suggest to the member that in fact the track record is not zero. If we are going to have a helpful thoughtful debate on important issues like this one, it is important to state the facts clearly.

We know there were amendments to the Criminal Code placed by this government and passed by this government last spring in the previous Parliament. We also know that over the course of the last Parliament there were numerous justice issues brought forward by this government that were simply not supported by the Reform Party across the way. I would like to point out the ones they did not support.

Talk is cheap. When we are talking about a non-partisan issue such as this one, and we want to have support from all sides of the House, I say to my colleague from the Reform Party, who would stand and talk about zero, that he should get his facts straight. I would ask him, if I can during my response, why it is when it came to important initiatives to strengthen the Young Offenders Act the Reform Party voted no. Why is it when it came to gun control which was supported across the country, the Reform Party said no? Why is it when it came to strengthening the judicial review of parole ineligibility, again the Reform Party said no?

I am proud to stand in my place today in support of an initiative which the justice minister and the solicitor general of this Liberal government have said is a priority for this government. I believe with goodwill from all sides of the House we can make progress, but with an attitude like that and when you stand in the House and do not give accurate information to the people watching—

Supply October 30th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I believe the debate we are having today is an important one because I do not think there is anyone in the country, certainly no one in the riding of Thornhill that I know, who would condone anyone driving when drunk. I do not think they would condone them driving an automobile. I do not think they would condone them driving any motorized vehicle.

When we drive we have an obligation to ensure that we have knowledge of the vehicle, are trained and our judgment is unimpaired. We know that these vehicles can kill.

I want to begin my remarks by congratulating the Mothers Against Drunk Driving, MADD, as its members are referred to, for the wonderful work they have done in raising public consciousness over the years on this important issue. I also want to congratulate all the members of the House in all parties who have stated very clearly that this is a non-partisan issue.

As we address this issue of driving while drunk, it is important to note that across the country it is not just the Criminal Code which is responsible for the deterrence and the punishment for those who drive while drunk. Every province has a responsibility. The provinces have the responsibility for enforcement of the Criminal Code. The provinces also have responsibility for the highways within their jurisdictions.

As a member of the Ontario legislature for 12 years I am aware of the progress that the province of Ontario has made. I am also very aware on a personal level of the tragedies that have occurred.

I sat in the legislature on the day that it was announced that the tragic loss of the son of the now Treasurer of Ontario was as a result of an alcohol related accident. While I may have had my differences with the hon. member, I want the House to know, that I and every member of that legislature felt and empathized not only with the tragic loss but with the senselessnes and its preventability.

More recently we were aware of the news that the son of a cabinet minister in Ontario had been charged with driving while impaired. The thought that went through my mind was when will we ever learn.

I come to this House not only as a parliamentarian with significant experience in the legislature in the province of Ontario after serving on municipal council for six and a half years, and I am a mother of four children. The youngest is now 25. I remember how I felt when each of them got a driver's licence. I remember discussing with each and every one of them the responsibility they had when they got behind the wheel of a car. I remember discussing with them the responsibility they had when they saw a friend of theirs who should not be getting behind the wheel of a car.

I remember discussing with them the support they would receive from their family and from their friends, but particularly from my husband and I, if they took a taxi home and left the car if they had had a drink.

For those who say that these tragedies can be prevented and we should be doing something about it, I agree. I think that the deterrents in the Criminal Code and the penalties and the enforcement of the Criminal Code are only one part of the solution.

Certainly education and treatment for those with alcohol problems are all part. The raising of consciousness of this issue over the last many years has resulted in significant progress being made. Certainly progress is being made in public consciousness and awareness.

I was very disappointed when the courts struck down the Ontario law brought in by a Conservative government that said that if you failed or you refused to take a breathalyser test that you would have your licence revoked for 90 days. I thought it was a good law and a good deterrent. I am pleased that the government is appealing that decision. It is my hope that law will be found to be constitutional.

We have to find ways to keep the public informed of the importance that legislators, parliamentarians and the public who are interested in public safety, hold this important issue.

I also want to say how very proud I am of the responsiveness of the Liberal government. There has been a firm and clear commitment from the Minister of Justice to raise this issue with her counterparts, the attorneys general. We know that the solicitors general are also very interested in the whole issue of drunk driving. I am proud to be part of a government with ministers who have made that commitment.

The importance of that commitment speaks to the nature of this country. It is not just an issue for the federal Criminal Code. It is an issue that requires a national strategy, a national interest and certainly discussions and action by all of the provinces across Canada.

In the short time that I have been here, I have learned the importance of working with the provinces and getting the support of the provinces for federal initiatives. I also believe this is in the national interest since this is a federation, but I also believe it is in the interest of the issue.

I want to go on record today as saying that I do not believe that a consensus is unanimity. We do not require unanimity in order to take action. I believe we can move the yardstick further if we can achieve a consensus among the provincial partners that have responsibility enforcement of the Criminal Code. We know that enforcement takes resources. If they do not dedicate the resources we do not get the kind of enforcement that we need. Therefore, it is a partnership.

We also know the public policy which is in the provincial jurisdiction. I only mentioned Ontario but I know other provinces have also taken initiatives. We know how important it is for the provinces to be able to share that information and for us to be able to target our resources at what is going to be the most effective way of achieving our goal which is the reduction of impaired driving incidents, accidents and loss of life.

If that is the goal we all share then it is important to make sure that we have the research, the data, the information which will allow us to frame our policies in the most effective way.

It is important to note that the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, TIRF as it is called, is a facility database for Transport Canada. That data is very important if we are going to not only evaluate our programs but also to see the progress that we are making in achieving our goal. The Traffic Injury Research Foundation collects data from across this country and that data is very important.

Similarly, and I speak again from my perspective of Ontario, we know the work of the Addiction Research Foundation. It is a world leader in policy development, research, prevention strategies and, yes, treatment. That is an important part of this issue as well.

It is important that a matter such as this brings all of those together. The most appropriate lead is with the Minister of Justice. She has expressed interest and made a commitment in the House and to MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

I also believe there is a role for the parliamentary committee on justice to play. Standing committees can help frame policies which will impact and help to achieve our goal of a safer society. I hope we will have an opportunity over the coming years to discuss these kinds of issues in a non-partisan way.

One thing I have learned is that while we may all agree on the objectives and the goal, because of our philosophical or ideological differences, our approach to resolving these issues and achieving the goals often differ. During the debates it is important for everyone to remember that we share the same goal, that of a safer society, of preventing accidents caused by impaired drivers. We must be responsive to those who say this is a complex issue.

I recently said to someone that we do not have to say that an issue is controversial. If it is not controversial, it is not an issue. If the solutions were simple, we would not be debating them here, they would have been resolved. The reason we are having this debate is because the issue is controversial and the solutions are not simple and the public policy implications are complex.

I specifically mentioned the legislation in Ontario that was struck down by the courts. It was well-intentioned legislation. The provincial government was warned that when it was brought in that there would be court challenges. The court challenge was successful and the legislation was struck down.

I believe that as legislators we must not grandstand on these issues. We must not say that the solutions are simple. These issues are so important to the kind of society we build that they must be addressed often in this kind of forum. We must look for a solution, listen to the experts, collect the data from across the country, look internationally to see what others are doing, look at what works and what does not.

No one wants to see tax increases and everyone wants value for their tax dollars. We must target our resources to those things that will work cost effectively.

In the debate today I want my message to be very clear. On behalf of the people of Thornhill who I have the privilege of representing in the House, I believe they would like to see a comprehensive strategy, one that includes enhanced education, prevention, treatment options and strengthening of the Criminal Code in a way that will achieve the goal of reducing drunk driving in all motorized vehicles.

I appreciate the opportunity of speaking in a non-partisan way for my constituents in the riding of Thornhill on an issue of importance to all of us. I believe this is an issue that every member in the House and every person in the country cares deeply about. There have been too many needless tragedies. I wish the solutions were simple. But I know that every member of the House, each in our own way, will further the cause by participating in today's debate.

Newfoundland School System October 27th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the debate and the question I have for my colleague is whether he visited Newfoundland and spoke to people there. It is my understanding that 53% of the population participated in the vote, a majority of the population. Of those who voted, 73% voted in support of the change.

We also know that within the legislative assembly it was a unanimous vote. Even those who have constituencies where they represent the minorities who have expressed concerns about the change supported it.

I would ask the members who are speaking in opposition to this if they went to Newfoundland, as I did, and asked the people in Newfoundland how they felt about this. If the member did not, how could he possibly object to a legislative committee hearing that will allow people to come forward and express their views? I believe that is the appropriate course of action.

Project 2000 October 21st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the President of the Treasury Board concerning the progress of the year 2000 project. The auditor general says that if progress continues at the current rate, a failure of critical systems could affect public health, safety and essential services.

What is the minister doing to ensure that the year 2000 project is completed on time so that essential services for the public are protected?