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

Thomas Lobsinger And Hoby Spruyt May 12th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to Bishop Thomas Lobsinger and Brother Hoby Spruyt who died in a plane crash while on route to Dawson City, Yukon.

My first recollections of the bishop and the brother were as a young mother with four children in Catholic school. They were at all the assemblies and all the council meetings. The bishop of the Yukon was always smiling, but I think it was his kindness that was so moving and always, always felt.

We shared a neighbourhood and, as good fortune would have it, we often crossed paths. Either of us would stop mowing our grass at a moment's notice in order to talk, always about justice as he was a powerful advocate for the poor no matter where they lived.

His humour and gentle nature inspired all who came within his sphere. For both men, their compassion extended far beyond themselves, their diocese, and their country. Bishop Tom and Brother Hoby dedicated their lives to the service of humanity. They are buried now but their spirits will never be buried.

Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization And Dissolution Act May 8th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, this debate sadly is faced with closure and that really has been eating at me because democracy is about talking. It is about working through issues. It is about taking the time. Every time the government invokes closures, it is like being told “Sit down and be quiet”. It is really tiring. There have been so many debates in which I have not been able to participate because the government has invoked closure. That is not what democracy is.

There are times when one can understand that possibly a debate should be closed, but not after two hours, not after two days, not after two weeks. We are here, elected to represent the people who put their faith in us and every time we want to say something we are cut off. I had the good fortune to be able to make it in on this debate, but on so many others I have not been able to.

This afternoon in Oral Question Period I listened to the Minister of Industry talk about all the benefits of globalization and how Canadians should be so thankful for globalization and the fact that foreign investment is at an all time high in this country. What the people in Cape Breton are facing is globalization. Their mine is going to be sold and the people who live in that community, who wanted to put together a co-operative approach to buying out the coal mine and using it for their own benefit to benefit their community, are not even being considered. We do not know who is being considered, but it is certainly not the people of Cape Breton Island.

The Atlantic provinces and Cape Breton have a long history of driving their people out, of having no place for their children to stay to work and live.

My father was born in Cape Breton and had to leave. He came from a big family of 21 children. There was nothing for him to stay for in his home province. He had to leave and go to the Yukon where he lived out the rest of his life, but his heart was always in his home. It was always in Cape Breton and it was a place he saw only once again after the end of the second world war in which he served.

I do not believe our country should be doing that to its citizens, making efforts to drive them out rather than keeping opportunities within the places where they were born. This is a huge country and it is very culturally diverse. People from Cape Breton are very different from people in the Yukon. The people of the eastern Arctic are completely different culturally from those people in the prairie provinces.

We have mobility in this country but it still does not make it easy to be able to afford to move. It does not make it easy to be humiliated and driven out of one's own province to seek work elsewhere, probably with barely a penny in one's pocket.

What we are facing is a possibility of Colombian buyers purchasing this mine. What would that mean for the people of Cape Breton? Certainly not putting their own people to work in these mines, if the mine even stays open.

So far the Canadian government has spent about $1.6 billion or $1.7 billion on the mine. That is not a small amount. It is a very significant amount and it has meant that people from that area had a chance to work and live. But the mine gave back as well. Up to $6 billion over those years went back into the community, back into people's lives, funding schools, health care and post-secondary education.

Should we have before us a bill that will shut down the mine and deal with the assets? How is it dealing with the employees, the people who have put their lives, blood and health into the coal mining industry which has a very proud and long tradition, not only in Cape Breton but through the Yukon and the north of Canada?

Miners have a tradition. They know that when they go down into the ground, their lives are at stake and they do that often not for extraordinary wages but to put food on the table for their families. These people who have worked and lived and put their souls into this industry are not going to get the same benefits as other Canadian agencies that have been sold off.

VIA employees will get a five year deal of 100% of their pension and health benefits for their families, but why are the Devco employees not getting those same benefits? Is this returning to the whole idea of globalization just to get away with whatever we can, to give our citizens, our employees the least that we possibly can so that those who would benefit from globalization, the very rich, get everything and the very poor get a few scraps that come from the table?

The people of Cape Breton, the men in those mines, have had to stand up over and over again to demand even basic courtesy for the work they have done. They have had to go underground in protest and say that they will not come out until they get fairness. They have had to go on illegal strikes to even have ministers listen to them. It took ages and ages for even the basic courtesy of a meeting to go ahead.

These decisions were made in 1995. It was only made public 1999 that these families, the people of Cape Breton, would be facing the loss of their jobs and again an out-migration from their communities. They would have to watch their children and grandchildren leave and not stay to build their communities.

In summary, I want to stress that I am really upset that the government has again invoked closure. It is becoming a routine practice. At one time it was considered absolutely extraordinary for closure to be invoked on a debate. I am tired of being told to sit down and be quiet, that I have said enough and that they do not want to hear from me.

I was elected to come here and to be a part of a democracy. Whether the government wants listen to me or not, I have the right to have a say, which is what democracy is about. However, it is being taken away from us over and over again because the government does not want to listen. It does not want to hear. It does have the power to say sit down and be quiet but that goes against our tradition of democracy and a fair hearing.

Crimes Against Humanity Act April 6th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I was wondering if my colleague could elaborate on sanctions as a war crime. The UN sanctions against Iraq have indeed turned into a siege whereby citizens are starved. Where do we cross the line in turning these supposedly helpful implements into in truth weapons of war, of starvation?

Northern Development March 21st, 2000

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. The minister is responsible for economic development in the north. Northern foreign policy has clear directions for economic development in the north, yet the department has not done a thing in over a decade.

However there is some hope because the Yukon government and the chamber of commerce, all parties, are building to create a labour sponsored venture fund, the Fireweed Fund. I ask the minister for a commitment today to support this fund that would be an economic initiative in the north.

Supply March 20th, 2000

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Is there not something in the rules which says that we should not be hollering derogatory names back and forth across the floor? I do not think it helps us in the House.

Supply March 20th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I was very interested in listening to the comments of the Reform Party member. What is so inexplicable and hard to understand in HRDC are the inconsistencies such as in the young entrepreneurs program in Yukon and B.C. where $300,000 were supposed to be available.

A group of volunteer businessmen got together to help young kids to do it on their own. Within a year a lot of them had jobs. They created newspapers and were involved in outfitting and guiding. They showed really advanced thinking and worked in remote communities.

This group got together and got everything up and running. They signed contracts based on the $300,000, but a month later they were told there was no money for them, that all they would actually get was $94,000. These people then had to make up the difference themselves because they were honourable and they had based their decision on what HRDC had said to them. All the information that could be brought to the officials at HRDC did not change them or move them.

This program was successful but was left in the lurch out of the blue without an explanation. I would like the member's comments on it.

The Budget February 29th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I know that Quebec has a very large northern region and I was wondering if the member would elaborate on how devastating this budget is when it comes to health care in northern areas that depends on Medivac.

Auditor General Act February 16th, 2000

Madam Speaker, I reiterate my support for the creation of a poverty commissioner. As well, I urge the government to take a serious look at the causes of poverty.

We know that more women live in poverty than men. The rate of children living in poverty has increased. Single parent families headed by women often live in poverty. Women's wages are lower than men's. If women want to escape poverty through education, tuition costs have risen astronomically, which makes it even more difficult for women to achieve higher education unless they have the goodwill and financial help of their families to carry them through.

The poverty commissioner would evaluate the effectiveness of measures taken by the federal government to reduce and eliminate poverty, and advise the federal government on measures it could take to reduce or eliminate poverty.

With the change from unemployment insurance to employment insurance we have a very successful method of redistributing wealth to those who are in need and have paid insurance to cover the losses when they are unemployed.

However, outside of that strip along the southern U.S. border, where most Canadians live, there are those of us who live in remote, rural areas who work in extreme climates where employment is seasonal. We were disproportionately affected by the changes to employment insurance. In Yukon alone it meant a reduction of $7 million. That money was not coming into our area because people were no longer eligible for employment insurance benefits. There are similar stories across the country in every single riding.

I would like to comment on something the Reform member said about creating a poverty commissioner, how it would somehow take away from an individual's ability to reach out in a personal way to help those around them. With the cuts we have seen, people have been trying to look after each other in very practical ways, especially in the areas of education and health care. However, even at the height of the cutbacks there was no lack of people looking out for each other. It never took away an individual's initiative to help someone, to see someone in need and go the extra mile for them. Creating a poverty commissioner would not disempower a single Canadian from taking the initiative to help someone else, to mentor them so they can then become responsible members of our community.

I would like to end by quoting a very respected former member of this House, J. S. Woodsworth, who said “What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all”. To this end, may we take our share of the world's work and the world's struggles.

Auditor General Act February 16th, 2000

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on private members' Bill C-203 to amend the Auditor General Act to create a poverty commissioner.

I agree with other members who have said that it is very sad we even have to contemplate the creation of a poverty commissioner in a country as wealthy as ours.

I want to reflect on the first international trip I made as a member of parliament with the minister for CIDA. We went to Jordan and Israel and into refugee camps on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. I had never seen or experienced poverty like that. It was so crushing. The smell and the sight were really appalling and shocking. All I wanted to do was turn around and go back to my beloved country but I still had five more days to go through those refugee camps to experience and see what those people had to live through. There is no escape at that level of poverty. They are walled in with security and armed guards all around them. There is very little hope for those people.

Last spring I made a trip up the James Bay coast to various first nations communities. I saw the poverty they were forced to live in. It was incredibly degrading for them. They had to send their children to a residential school. That was an incredible symbolism of oppression and degradation for them. The school had no fire exit and only one door. None of the fire escapes on the four storey building functioned.

It is unbelievable that in this country people are forced to send their children to those schools. People live three and four generations in one home because our country will not accommodate them in any way and help them live in dignity. The fact is that in the first place they had been forced to move to an area that could not sustain their traditional way of life. This meant they could not feed their children in the way their parents had managed to feed them. We forced them into poverty and then abandoned them to that poverty.

Think about what is happening around us right now with the rising cost of heating oil. For many people it could be completely unaffordable. I do not know if any other members of parliament have ever had to wake up in a house with no heat in the middle of winter and know that there would not be any heat for a long time. That is an experience of poverty which families suffer in this country. There will be even more because social assistance rates are very minimal. They are not adjusted when the cost of heating oil goes up. People who need to heat their house have to take that money out of the food money for their children.

Our first nations people suffer poverty in disproportion to everyone else in this country. The kinds of institutions that would help them or those living in our inner cities move out of poverty are not there. Shamefully, our inner cities are degenerating and there is no hope for the people to move out.

Modernization Of Benefits And Obligations Act February 15th, 2000

Madam Speaker, the member for Burnaby—Douglas spoke quite personally about a lot of issues. What needs to be brought out a little further is the actual physical danger that gays and homosexuals may face in our country.

In fact, the defence of provocation allows a man to murder another man on the basis of a sexual advance just because it is a man. I would like him to elaborate on that.