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

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency October 15th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, the new Canada Customs and Revenue Agency is having a big party November 1. It is going to have to work really hard to collect the cash for this party because this tax party will cost $1.4 million.

Where will the money come from: our pensioners or all the northerners who have been so heavily audited recently? What can possibly justify this $1.4 million tax party?

First Nations October 15th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, the supreme court decision in the Marshall case demonstrates the negligence of the department of Indian affairs. The minister initiated “Gathering Strength—Canada's Aboriginal Action Plan” which was supposed to be a new relationship with first nations. The government would negotiate, not litigate.

Now we face old tensions and anger just because this government forces first nations into the courts and refuses to negotiate.

There should never be a question of honouring a treaty. The government makes sure we all abide by the NAFTA and the WTO, but it has ignored agreements signed with the first nations. If the government continues to force the first nations all the way to the supreme court we will face more upheaval rather than the peace and friendship the treaties were meant to bring.

Speech From The Throne October 15th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, the last speaker mentioned that parents look after their children best. Over all I would agree with him except that there are situations where parents do not always look after the needs of their children best. It is not because they do not want to but in some circumstances they cannot.

Does the hon. member think that every parent should be the teacher of their child or the doctor of their child? As citizens, as a group, can we not help each other look after our children? Everything a government does is not necessarily some sort of nefarious interference with those of us who are raising our children. In fact we can help each other build a stronger society by helping relieve the stress of a single person or a single couple looking after their children exclusively.

Violence Against Women June 11th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, women in the country are facing increasing violence. There is the case of a woman whose children were kidnapped, smuggled into the country and stay here on a minister's permit.

Women are killed. They are abducted from their workplace. Now they are even killed in women's shelters. Women are most likely to be murdered when they try to leave a marriage.

Will the minister responsible make sure women's shelters are secure? Will the minister responsible make sure that the kidnapped children go back to their mother? Will the minister also make sure that a murderer cannot use the defence of provocation to excuse murder?

Aboriginal Affairs June 10th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development often mentions her “Gathering Strength” document and recently allocated $1.6 billion for employment training, with $100 million going to the three northern territories.

The Yukon has one of the largest aboriginal population bases and a 15% unemployment rate. Our population is equivalent to that of the other two territories. The department does not fund trades training at all, but the Yukon will receive only $3.9 million of the $100 million. This is blatantly unfair. It is an unjustifiable division of resources, less than 4%.

It appears the minister will allow only two territories to gather strength, while starving the Yukon of desperately needed training dollars.

Health June 2nd, 1999

Mr. Speaker, it is critical to support this motion. I will put it in the context of the people in north, but I do not want necessarily to exclude anyone else who suffers from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue or environmental sensitivities.

The Arctic Council recently did a report on the particular vulnerability of people who live in the north. The rates of pollution are unacceptably high and environmental sensitivities are part of the problem. The levels of heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury congregate in the north and remain there. They are in country foods; in indigenous foods; in caribou; in surface, mountain and rain waters; and in mother's breast milk.

I personally know dozens of women who have suffered from chronic fatigue for five, six or seven years. It goes undiagnosed. I know of women with fibromyalgia who can no longer work and have been reduced to going to social assistance because they are not eligible for disability pensions. Of course social assistance is regionalized and these women cannot go from one part of the country to another and expect to obtain social assistance at an equivalent level. Being able to obtain a disability pension which recognizes their medical suffering would allow them the mobility to move a part of the country where their suffering could be lessened.

One point about Private Members' Business that is uplifting is that we can actually hear a minister talk to an issue rather than being constrained by a party position. Debate very often is oriented to an issue and we do not have to hear battles back and forth about one party saying this and another saying that. As individual members of parliament, elected from wherever in the country, we can defend a position that we think is critical.

To include these three diseases and make the people eligible for pensions validates the suffering of people. They are not depressed for nothing. They can go to the doctor who can tell them what is going on, who can help them out or recommend other areas of medicine. This could encourage more research into an area where there is not enough.

More and more the newer research indicates that low levels of toxins affect individuals more than we thought. Low levels of combinations of toxins have more effect than we expected them to have. We do not have a lot of information on it, but we do know that it affects people. It limits their lives and their ability to work.

I rise as the member for Yukon in support of the motion. It is important and I hope it leads to further research and more support for the people who are suffering.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 June 1st, 1999

Mr. Speaker, the effects of those pollutants are really insidious. They are hard to diagnose. When a person goes to the doctor, the doctor will not be able to say that the person is suffering from heavy metal poisoning because of persistent organic pollutants. It just does not happen. However, I happen to know there are very high rates of cancer, strange tumours, odd infections, people with chronic fatigue and environmental sensitivities.

What I think this legislation does is it sets a standard. How can we expect to go to an international arena and say that we have to phase out these pollutants when we have set a national standard that calls for virtual elimination, or that we will tolerate this much or three-quarters of this level in our environment rather than looking at them as something deadly which we cannot accept at all, period? We have to get them out of production and not allow them to affect our children.

By passing the legislation we set that standard. If we set it for ourselves, how can we hold an international arena to a higher standard?

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 June 1st, 1999

Mr. Speaker, at the end of February, I travelled with the caribou commons project, which is an environmental lobby to protect the calving grounds of the porcupine caribou herd. The people in the north depend on this caribou herd which has calved on a very small coastal plain just across the border in the United States.

What they have, in effect, is this sense of powerless to protect their way of life and the sustainability of their economy which is one that depends on the fish, the berries and the caribou both spiritually and physically.

If we look at what they could be facing in terms of cost effectiveness, someone might think that it would be a a heck of a lot more profitable to have oil fields than to depend on caribou for a living. Under that logic, it would be perfectly acceptable to have roads through the habitat of the caribou, through their calving grounds and through their wintering grounds where North America has just one range left for the migrating herds. The north is then completely overlooked.

I would stress again that the effects of toxins are disproportionately dangerous for the people who live in the north as compared to the places where they are actually produced.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 June 1st, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore.

This legislation is a continuation of the Liberal agenda to deregulate. It is a total corporate agenda, a cave-in to a lobby group. In effect, what we have is a virtual environmental protection act. The term virtual has come to mean that it is not real.

We have heard all day that this bill is supposed to be balanced. We are trying to accommodate the economy as well as the environment. We have heard members of the Reform Party say that they are in favour of sustainable development, as well as Liberal members. In fact, they are having a love-in with the Reform Party in support of this environmental protection bill, which in fact is not going to protect our environment.

We are supposed to accept the virtual elimination of the most deadly poisons and toxins known to man, when what we need is the phase-out of persistent organic pollutants. These are heavy metals. They are DDTs. They are truly unmanageable poisons and that is why we do not want them in the environment. We cannot accept any level of these toxins because we cannot manage the effects of them. We cannot manage the effects of endocrine disrupters. How low will we allow sperm counts to go before we say no, we cannot accept this any more? How many mutated embryos will we accept before we say no, we have to stop the actual generation and sale of these poisons because we cannot manage them within our environment?

Newer research is clearly showing that we are affected by very low levels of toxins; not just megadoses of poisons that cause cancer, but very low doses of common poisons in our environment, such as nitrates that we use as fertilizer and soaps that we use in cleaning.

The worst thing is that we do not know what the combination of these toxins will do to our children and to our health. We do know that it is not a benefit for us to have them within our environment. If we ignore the effects we will be propagating them by not going forward with environmental protection that is preventive and not crisis oriented, trying to clean up the mess at the other end.

When it comes to the north, the Arctic contaminants report has clearly stated that the north and the people of the north are disproportionately affected by these poisons because they stay there. They do not go anywhere else. We have lead, mercury and DDT levels that are unacceptable in mothers' breast milk.

The people who live in the north do not have the opportunity to go to a health food store to get organic produce. People who live in Old Crow, who want to buy some milk for their child, are looking at triple the cost which is paid by those living in a southern community. It is just not reasonable to expect these people, if they are concerned about their health and the levels of contaminants in their environment, not to live off the caribou and the fish which are coming more and more sparsely up the river to Old Crow. They have to depend on the country's food, the indigenous food, to bring up their children in good health.

It does not show concern for the northern people and the effects that these poisons have on them. They have no control over how or when those toxins arrive in the north because they come through the winds and evaporation.

We have a bill where the minister is going to limit her own powers to protect the environment. The minister's power will in fact be dissipated to the Minister of Industry. Maybe the Minister of Finance is not going to like how the minister wants to protect our environment. That minister will no longer have the ability to make a decision and say “No we cannot do this. This is unacceptable. The cost to human health is far to high”. That is exactly what the bill does. It dissipates the power, the focus and the concentration on protecting our environment in the best interests of our public. The best interests of the health of these citizens have become subordinate to corporate interests.

I have heard this over and over again today from some of the members who have spoken and, I think, at great personal cost. It certainly must be heartbreaking to stand up and not vote with their party on a bill that they have worked on for years in the belief that as citizens they could protect our environment.

I will jump back to the north. The bill is not about good corporate citizens. It is about those individuals and those corporations who will not and do not clean up after themselves. They do not look ahead to the cost to the environment and to health through the process they use in their industry or the product that they produce in the end.

We have the DEW line, the distant early warning sites across the north that the U.S. was heavily involved in. It abandoned those sites leaving behind barrels of DDTs and other toxins. It sometimes buried them and sometimes left them exposed. What has happened to the sites? They have not been cleaned up. The Liberal government made an infamous deal to trade used military equipment for cleaning up the north, which means of course that those sites do not and will not get cleaned up.

Corporations have gone through the Faro mine one after the other. It will cost over $100 million to clean up the toxins that were left behind. Who is responsible for that and who is going to end up cleaning it up? The people who live there or the government of the country will have to clean it up? As it stands, the mess is there.

We just had a $300,000 fine for a company that left behind a mess. Guess what? That company is out of business. Who is going to clean that up? Who is going to live with the contamination? The indigenous people in that remote area who are going to have to live with the poison.

The Royal Oak mine in the Northwest Territories has gone out of business. It will cost over $100 million to clean up the leaking arsenic in that area. Who is left with that? It is the Canadian citizens. Obviously with the company out of business it is not going to be cost effective to clean that up.

There is this whole idea that we will not clean up our environment or expect business to be responsible for what they have produced because it might not be cost effective. What is the definition of cost effective? How many lives will we abandon to sickness or death on the terms that it would be too costly to put in any kind of preventative measures on their behalf?

Last year I had the good fortune of listening to David Suzuki when he was on Parliament Hill. It was very impromptu. Members of parliament had the chance to listen to him. What he emphasized, and I suppose has emphasized throughout his career, is: that we somehow think our economy is independent from the earth that we live on; that we depend on the ozone layer for protection; that we depend on our sea for fish; that we depend on our lakes for fresh water; that we depend on the earth to grow our wheat; and that somehow we think that as a species we can live independently of our environment. This is something we cannot do. In order to have an economy we have to have an environment and we have to protect it.

This legislation does not protect the environment. It does not prevent the poisons that are being generated in great numbers by our society. I would suggest that this is pushed by greed and not by the concern for a quality of life on this planet that we truly can sustain for further generations.

I join my colleagues in sadly not supporting the environmental protection act because it does not do what it said it would do. It has become a virtual protection act.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 May 31st, 1999

Mr. Speaker, this protection legislation is absolutely critical. Oftentimes in committee we deal with immediate matters, but the environment committee took on the responsibility for producing or refining legislation that would truly protect our environment not just for now but for the future.

The future is embodied in our children and their children, our progeny for generations to come. We cannot fool ourselves into thinking that as things stand they are just fine, and if we carry on as we are there will be no repercussions. Every decision we make should be in regard to how we want to protect our children and their ability to live their lives to the fullest.

In 1997 there was an Arctic contaminants report which dealt with persistent organic pollutants and the disproportionate effects of these pollutants in the north. As they evaporate out of the south in warmer climates where they are produced in more industrial areas and move farther and farther north, they do not evaporate. They sink into the environment in very high numbers, causing extremely insidious and serious problems for the animals and the people who live there.

After a six year study it was found that the level of contaminants, and these include DDT, were extremely high in the breast milk of indigenous peoples and other women who have lived their lives in the north. There will be unusual infections; exhaustion; tumours; a very high level of thyroid malfunction, which does not sound like much until one has been someone who has suffered from that; depression; and miscarriages.

What has come to light is not necessarily that there has to be a particularly high level of the toxin, but it can be a level at the time of exposure during a window of opportunity or a window of exposure for contamination at a low level that can disrupt the whole endocrine system and interfere with the development of the thyroid.

As it happens, the level of children with attention deficit disorders who also have thyroid problems is around 80%. They can be hyperthyroid, which is overactive, and have all the problems that come with it, or they can be hypothyroid, which can make them very lethargic, apathetic and suffer from depression and the ability to concentrate. Those are just different sides of the same coin. Their bodies will actually resist the absorption of any kind of thyroid hormone which regulates their whole metabolic system, from their temperature to their thinking to their ability to put a sentence together.

We are talking about the mental development of children who are affected by low levels of toxins and low levels of toxins in combination. These are not unusual toxins that are only found in laboratories or in very rare places. These are such things as nitrates, things that are used to wash our clothes. A small and low level dose at a certain time can be devastating on the life of a child who is developing or a fetus that is developing.

There is much we do not know and are responsible for. It is our responsibility as legislators, as members of parliament, to make sure we gather the information we need to make decisions which will protect our environment. Over the last years the Liberal government has withdrawn funding from study in the Arctic.

At present no universities have cold rooms. The University of Alberta is actually reactivating its cold room. The rest of universities have turned their cold rooms, which were places to study the effects of colder areas, into storage areas.

Other circumpolar countries have scooped up our scientists just because we would not fund the kind of research we need into the effects of toxins and pollutants in the Arctic. Finland has taken some of our premier scientists in the area of studying our cold climate. The north forms a huge part of Canada and the rest of Canada is a cold place as well. We need that research. We need that knowledge which we have abandoned.

Our children are exposed to toxins through the wind and the air, toxins that we have not produced in our country. The north is disproportionately affected by them. Children are affected by toxins in toys, gasoline fumes, food and the air we breathe. They do not have the capacity to deal with them. Their bodies have not developed enough strength to withstand the assault of toxins from many different sources.

All of us can probably withstand some toxic exposure in small amounts at certain times, but no one can withstand a constant exposure from various areas when their immune systems have not developed enough to deal with them.

The north is particularly vulnerable to toxins, but politically it is particularly vulnerable because it is not well represented. For the huge area of the north there are three members of parliament and two senators. As it stands, neither of those senators has lived in the north for over 20 years. It is kind of tenuous to think of their connection with life in the north.

The biggest issue we need to deal with is hormone disrupting toxins which are now rampant in our environment. On a personal level, I do not let my sons drink milk out of plastic cartons any more. I do not want to take the chance of what that could do to their future or their ability to father children as they get older.

As legislators we cannot let this pass by and think that someone will take care of it. I find shocking that we would lessen the health of our children and would not do everything we could as legislators to make sure our environment is safe for our children.

In closing, it is an incredible shame that closure was invoked on this legislation because it is critical for our future and for our children. The legislation was gutted shamelessly and we are expected to applaud ineffectual legislation that is nothing more than a whitewash when what Canadian citizens want is true, enforceable environmental protection for our future and for our children.