Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was yukon.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as NDP MP for Yukon (Yukon)

Lost her last election, in 2000, with 32% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Divorce Act December 8th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill C-218 and I commend my colleague opposite for bringing forth the idea that we need policies to promote healthy families and, hopefully, happy families.

Bill C-218 is not the way to go about saving a marriage. Marriage counselling imposed by law rather than by the conscious decision of a mature couple will not work. It will increase the cost of divorce because it is fair to assume that the government will not allocate counselling resources.

It is also important to think about the cultural implications of counselling which may not fit with the way first nations people deal with their family problems. Also, in remote areas counselling is not available. It is not easy to get any kind of formal counselling in the city of Dawson. It is certainly not available in Old Crow. There are informal support networks, but there would not be counselling available to those people should they be in the process of divorcing.

The other aspect is that nobody takes divorce lightly. They do not approach it on a whim. There have usually been years of struggle before a couple will separate and go through the process of divorcing. Many couples separate and never go through a formal divorce process.

There are many causes behind marriage breakdown. The economic and social policies of governments are major factors. I would certainly agree with my other hon. colleague that financial stresses are incredibly damaging to families. If we want to address that issue we would need to approach it from the aspect of our high unemployment rate and try to make a difference there.

Cuts to the Canadian social safety net and the massive restructuring of our economy have created unemployment and lower living standards. Uncertainty, fear, declining incomes and increasing disparities have been created which affect negatively the well-being and psychological stability of our family unit.

The good thing about this debate is that it recognizes the family unit and the place it has within our economy and our society. It is essential that we recognize the unpaid work of mothers and the unpaid work of fathers. All the men I know who get up at 5 and 6 o'clock in the morning to run hockey and soccer programs are the people who work very hard to keep families strong.

We need a multifaceted approach if we want to protect our children. We have to make sure that maintenance money goes where the child is. Whether that child is with a grandmother, an aunt, a great aunt or someone else in the family, maintenance payments should follow the child. They are for the benefit of the child. Positive parenting programs should be put in place in time to keep families together and to help people deal with the stress of raising children.

I was home for 15 years but it was at a time when our culture changed. Grandmothers, aunts and uncles were not around to help me with raising four children. It was very stressful to do on my own. In my mother's generation a whole neighbourhood of women helped each other to look after their children. That does not exist, which makes parenting very stressful. Full time parents need breaks. We need to recognize that and address it in policies dealing with families.

There would be less marriage breakdowns if the government developed a more balanced policy to economic growth, employment and development. It should not base everything on the concept that the open market will look after families, because it will not. That is not the market's concern. It is the concern of governments and of cultures. We need a fair distribution of wealth, better access to education and training, and better perspectives for the family as a whole.

Access To Information Act December 5th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this legislation. It indicates one of the reasons why we need parliamentary reform, to bring more power to the elected representatives of the people of Canada and to develop a system far more responsive to the needs of the citizens rather than protecting a non-accountable system.

There is a need for toughening up Canada's Access to Information Act to stop officials from tampering with right of Canadians to know the real facts and figures on policy, analyses and decisions. There is a need to put strong sanctions to penalize those destroying public information and sabotaging the public's right to know.

There is nothing in place to penalize offenders. The government has ignored calls from Information Commissioner John Grace. It his last two reports the commissioner has been calling for sanctions. There has been as of yet no action.

Canadians are increasingly cynical of government structures. When we see what some non-accountable bureaucrats or officials are doing and the cloud of secrecy behind government action, we can see that there is need to reform the overall governance system and to make clear and accountable to citizens of this country all information on how decisions were made.

Penalties should be addressed not only to those destroying information but to those who delay access to information and to other abuses connected to the access to information.

The power of the information commissioner needs to be expanded to include stopping the growing circumvention of access to information documents. There is a growing tendency, as I have experienced, for information to define some documents as working papers or consultant papers.

I had applied for some documents and was told they were confidential. These very same documents had already been presented in two different public forums. It took a letter to the minister outlining this decision to get these papers. As everyone here knows, to do our job we need information and we need access to it on an honest and fairly quick basis.

There is a need to expand the concept of public records if we want to have an informed citizenship on policy development and implementation.

The number records under the Access to Information Act must be expanded to include certain crown corporations and restricted consultants and other reports. There is need to implement policies to protect professional civil servants willing to provide information on issues of significance for citizens of this country.

The repressive policy of enforcing secrecy at all levels must be eliminated.

This act will strengthen democracy in Canada because democracy is about discussion, not about force. We need the information to make good decisions. It is also about public trust, accountability and credibility, and about our credibility, yours and mine, for the people who sit here because we depend on the availability of information from the bureaucrats who form the foundation of our government.

In conclusion, I urge all members to support this bill as it will show the public that we are sincere in our work and sincere in allowing it access to information as much as ourselves.

National Day Of Remembrance And Action On Violence Against Women December 5th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak about this measure today. I remember where I was when the Montreal massacre occurred and I remember the devastation I felt. It was the same devastation I felt at the murders of Susan Klassen, Miranda Peters and, indeed, week after week, not only women but children who were murdered at the hands of those they trusted and loved.

This speaks to the depth of the problem.

The violence we are facing is structural. It is so deeply rooted that, in fact, in our justice system the defence of provocation is often used to excuse spousal violence, saying that an alleged insult is enough to provoke and excuse an angry murder of a wife by her husband.

When our government spends $50 million on APEC, inviting representatives from countries with gross human rights abuses, and only $200,000 to support women's groups or indigenous people's groups which fight for human rights and the safety of women in their communities, we have a contradiction in what we say and what we do.

The problem is so deeply rooted that in the last week there have been three incidents of violence and threats within this very House. A member of the Liberal Party challenged a female member of the New Democrats to step outside the Chamber.

If we really want to change the situation, we have to set an example here. We have to set it in our policies.

In our society women face poverty, less pay, physical abuse, sexual abuse and even murder, and they face it on a daily basis. To change this we must recognize women's massive role in unpaid labour and provide solid public pensions for those who stay at home to raise their children. We must recognize that that prevents violence.

We need pay equity. We need to make sure that wealth is fairly distributed.

We need to base our decisions on the well-being of families, on women, on our sisters and on our children rather than on the immoral whims of an open market.

National Revenue December 5th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Revenue.

Over the last three years Yukon people have been audited by Revenue Canada in record numbers. The target of this massive audit is the northern residence deduction and the northern travel deduction. These deductions symbolize the federal government's responsibility in recognizing and helping to buffer the higher cost of living in the north.

Could the minister explain why the government is spending millions of dollars auditing low income northern Canadians without making any attempt to control tax abuses and loopholes enjoyed by high income Canadians and profitable corporations?

Division No. 33 December 1st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the amendments put forward by the NDP.

The object of the changes to the pension plan was to address the most needy of our country, our seniors and our elders, but these changes do not address that need. I will give examples of some members of my community, seniors and elders who live solely by means of their pensions. There are two of them who support a family and their eldest son is on a disability pension. He is disabled from the neck down. They must use their old age security and their GIS to support a disabled son.

The fact that the pensions are inadequate for those most needy is very clear and the changes were meant to address this need. Unfortunately $10 a month or $120 a year will not address the question of need. We must ask why these changes are being made. I agree with my colleagues that there are definitely winners and losers in this scene.

There will be $2 billion taken out of our pension plan. I feel we are trying to convince Canadians that by taking out $2 billion we will somehow be able to help them more. This just is not the case especially in our present society and circumstances where social housing is no longer available and those who need it most, seniors, will not be able to get it.

We have faced cuts to transfer payments, cuts to medicare with the federal government being the last payer at this time. We have faced a huge increase in the cost of prescriptions. These are all services our seniors desperately need. They are not working and they do not have the income to make up the difference.

We are facing the basic problem that we do not have the level of employment to support our pensions. This is a problem the present government refuses to address. If we had strong employment we would not have to be worried at the other end about the ability of our elders and seniors to get their pensions.

I attended a finance committee meeting in which the witnesses talked about how they would see our new pension fund being used. Their major point was that it should not have such a low foreign investment ceiling, that 20% just was not enough and that if you were sophisticated enough you could get around it. They believed people would be cheating. I was quite shocked at that attitude. They claimed that investing 80% of that pension fund in Canada somehow was not a good deal for Canadians when in fact it is a good deal.

Provinces should be able to access Canadians' money for infrastructure programs, for roads, for hospitals, for schools, for jobs, because that is good for all Canadians. The more jobs we create the more we will be able to support our seniors and our elders.

The changes being proposed are unfairly targeted at women and those who are expecting a disability pension. I do take exception to my colleague from the Bloc who alluded that people with a disability pension received it fraudulently. I do not know of anyone who has done that and I do not believe they would like to be considered as Canadians who are criminals by behaving that way. They should never be labelled as criminals because they have applied for a disability pension. It does no service to our citizens and to those who are more desperate because they cannot work and their only sustenance is from their pension, and one that is drastically inadequate at that.

It would be a good idea if the money from the pension fund that we are proposing would actually go to pensioners, but it is not. Half a billion dollars a year will go from public money into private hands. None of that money will be going to those who are poorest. None will be going to those who are getting an extra $10 a month. They will not be benefiting from those investments although I believe that is where the money should go.

The investment board should not be able to set its own standards. It should not be able to hire and fire its own auditor, set its own guidelines for ethical or unethical conduct. That should be done independent of that body. If we are going to have a board, it should be for the benefit of those in our society who are most needy.

Petitions November 19th, 1997

The other petition has over 1,300 names on it and it is from the people from Alberta as well as the Yukon. We are asking for the abolition of the use of provocation as a defence.

The history comes from the middle ages, where men of equal class were allowed to challenge each other to a duel and use provocation as an excuse. It in no way fits in our society today and it is unfairly and disproportionately used to defend in spousal homicide.

I present this petition on behalf of the residents of the Yukon and Alberta.

Petitions November 19th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present to the House.

The first petition is from residents of the Yukon territory.

Our weather station, the only weather station in all of northern Canada, has been operating for 50 years and is being closed. The weather station is essential for extreme weather warnings, which we need from November through March, for flood warnings and for fire warnings.

Unfortunately, because the minister deemed it not necessary, it is being closed.

The citizens of the Yukon are protesting that decision.

Cultural Grants Acknowledgement Act November 18th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, earlier I asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs if, in the spirit of the Beijing conference on women, he would assure that funding for the women's group going to APEC this week in Vancouver would be there, as I had had calls from my constituents who are members of women's groups and who were not getting any funding to go.

The minister said that funding had been there and it was up to the groups to decide what to do with it.

As it turns out, APEC has been funded by the government for $46 million, a total of $57 million, $46 million by Canadian citizens to APEC, $9 million as business write-offs, and the association of citizens groups that had put together the people's summit has received $200,000. Barely three weeks before the summit was to begin it had only received $100,000 and that has forced the indigenous peoples to pull out of the people's summit which is running parallel to the APEC conference.

These citizens groups represent human rights groups, women's organizations, environment workers, migrant workers and anti-poverty groups.

APEC represents 18 countries. It is an association of economies and its goal is to pursue unfettered trade, unfettered meaning it does not have to deal with human rights or workers rights or the fact there may be child labour or forced labour. The people's summit was an attempt to bring a balance to this process. These countries are home to 2.2 billion people, which is 40% of our globe's humanity.

In 1993 the world conference on human rights in Vienna restated that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and inter-related. APEC's agenda is to separate trade as having nothing to do with human rights or workers rights, the very people who produce the money for transnational corporations and large economies. They do have rights.

That is not the way APEC sees it. APEC curtails democracy through informal understandings. Democratic countries align themselves with the most repressive and corrupt regimes in the world while at the same time shutting out the voices of the civil society.

There is also the argument that better trade will increase human rights. However, when trade agreements changed in China in 1988 and 1989 we saw the Tiananmen massacre. In Indonesia there continue to be vile human rights abuses, yet in the name of trade we will meet with these people and everything will be fine as long as it is in the name of the dollar.

The countries of APEC and the corporations of APEC, some elected, some unelected, refuse to discuss their impact on human rights, on working conditions, the freedom to associate, the freedom to negotiate, child labour, forced labour, environmental standards, immigration, migrant labour and their affect on indigenous peoples. Again I will state that the indigenous group had to pull out because there was no funding for it.

It is easy to shut out the voices of civil society because they are not funded equally by any standards; $57 million to APEC, $200,000 to the people's summit. They were not allowed to participate. There was no money for transportation. Even transferring the cost of one business reception would likely have covered every expense needed for the people's summit. It would have allowed them to fully participate.

Foreign Affairs October 31st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

At the Beijing Women's Conference, the Government of Canada promised to provide funding for the APEC Women's Conference. With less than three weeks remaining before the conference, no funds have been provided by the government.

Will the minister agree to honour the commitment made and to ensure the money will be there so that they do not have to cancel as the aboriginal group had to withdraw from the conference for lack of funding?

Supply October 30th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I rise in support of this motion. In many ways I am very moved to be speaking on it today.

Intoxication should not be an excuse for anything. It should not be an excuse for sexual assault, for death or for murder. We should not be accepting any level of blood alcohol content as an excuse.

I do not think anyone should be allowed to drink and drive. Therefore, my hard line is that we do not have any level that anyone can say there is room for error. You cannot drink and then drive.

As long as we say drinking is all right, we will be facing the tragedy that has happened over the last 30 to 40 years. When people drink their decision making is impaired. It is impaired as to whether they decide to drive. It is impaired as to whether they decide to have another drink or another 10 drinks and then drive. They should not have any discretion in that area.

In deterrence, if we are going to look at preventive measures, then we have to have it at all levels.

The Yukon had a Youth Empowerment and Success Program that was cut, I learned today, by the federal government. This dealt with the very area in Yukon where there is a large percentage of drinking and driving: the youth. Pulling out this strategy to prevent drinking and driving or other drinking related abuses is now not available.

National statistics show males between the ages of 25 and 35 are the drivers behind the wheels of those vehicles. Therefore, we should not allow advertising that glamorizes the drinking lifestyle, that everybody is happy as long as they have a bottle of beer beside them.

When it comes to our judicial system I think our judges should have discretion. I would like to say “Yes, let us just take away their vehicles and that will solve the problem”, except that the rest of the family may depend on that vehicle and someone's employment may depend on that vehicle. Therefore, we are causing others to suffer who should not suffer because of an individual's decision to drink and drive.

Our judicial system should have a process for appointing judges. If we want discretion we need to know whose discretion and how they got into those positions of trust.

When it comes to enforcement, we have to know that the RCMP are not letting their friends go when they stop them for drinking and driving. We have to know that the RCMP are well enough staffed so that at the peak hours when people drink and drive, between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m., they are there to stop them.

My city of Whitehorse has two RCMP on duty through the night. That is not adequate to deal with drinking and driving, among the other responsibilities that they have to take on. If we are serious about deterrence, we need to be prepared to give the resources to the RCMP so that they can deal with drinking and driving.

When I grew up in the Yukon, as a teenager it was still legal to drink in public. It was legal to drink and drive. That was just over 20 years ago. Public attitude has changed dramatically since that time. You can no longer drink in public and you can no longer drink and drive. But the attitude still is prevalent, as it is elsewhere in Canada, that it is all right to drive and to drink.

I commend my colleague across the floor for describing what it took for her to make a stand and not let her friend drink and drive. By doing that in our daily lives we will make changes.

I also believe once someone has transgressed, once they have driven drunk more than once, we do not need to give leniency any further. At that point we should take away the vehicle or there should be a substantial fine and there should not be available legal loopholes to avoid the guilt of what someone has done.

I will finish with my own story on this issue. In Yukon in the early seventies it was a different atmosphere. I was in a boat with my father who had been drinking. The boat tipped. After I watched my father drown, I swam to shore. That left my mother, who had a part-time job, to raise eight children. Drinking and driving is not a statistic for me. I thought after many years you come to grips with trauma of that nature. It is not easy and it does stay with us.

I am honoured to have the opportunity to speak on this debate. It is our chance to make a statement to our fellow Canadians that this matter will be taken seriously and we will not allow drinking and driving. If you are going to drink and operate any motorized vehicle, you are responsible for your actions. We will hold you responsible but we will also show compassion. I believe that is why we are here.

For those reasons, I support this motion.