Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was east.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Edmonton East (Alberta)

Lost her last election, in 1997, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Members Of Parliament October 17th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in response to allegations made at the Reform Party convention that Liberal women MPs were not selected fairly and are somehow illegitimate, I would like to set the record straight for Edmonton East.

In Edmonton East there were five candidates who sought the Liberal nomination, four of whom were women. The nomination process was fairly established and strongly contested with active participation by more than 1,000 Liberal members, women and men, in Edmonton East.

Residents of Edmonton East, no one else, chose the Liberal candidate and the residents of Edmonton East chose the Liberal plan as the best one for them.

If the Reform Party is honest it will acknowledge the real reason why there are more women Liberal MPs. It is because Liberal policies are attractive to women because they respond to the reality of Canadian women. They will create more opportunities for women to participate fully in the life of our country. That is why the residents of Edmonton East chose-

National Family Week October 5th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, this week is National Family Week. In fact, it is the 10th anniversary of this very special week. Thousands of Canadian families and over 25,000 organizations and agencies are celebrating it across the country. Special events are being organized under the theme of the International Year of the Family.

As part of National Family Week, the federal secretariat of the International Year of the Family will spearhead a national awareness campaign to encourage federal government employees to spend time with their families and if possible to donate time to community organizations of their choice.

I am sure all my colleagues join me in celebrating the importance of family life for people across Canada and around the world.

Criminal Code September 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-41 is a major step toward safer homes and safer streets. I am pleased to speak in support of it.

This bill responds to many of the concerns about our justice system that I heard during the last election and that I continue to hear on the streets of Edmonton. It presents positive measures and practical common sense solutions, not rhetoric and sensationalism. Bill C-41 is effective action, not simplistic slogans, and that is what the people of Edmonton East voted for.

Edmonton has established a strong record in crime prevention, reducing the crime rate by 25 per cent in the last five years while rates in other cities have increased. It has achieved that goal through community co-operation and community policing. Based on its experience Edmonton has been calling for changes in legislation to support local action.

Today I would like to highlight a few of the specific measures of Bill C-41 that will be welcomed by the people in my city and other communities across the country.

First there is a clear statement of principles as the basis for sentencing. People in Edmonton East get angry about what seem to be arbitrary sentences handed down by judges without explanation.

How can one explain it when someone abuses a child, takes away the very foundation of her life and is back on the streets in a year or two with no change in behaviour? Edmonton East welcomes the provision requiring judges to take into consideration the misuse of a position of trust and authority as an aggravating circumstance.

How can one explain it when a repeated offence by a john destroying the safety of a neighbourhood gets a mere $100 slap on the wrist, less than a traffic ticket these days? Communities in my riding will welcome the explicit requirement that judges take into account other aggravating circumstances.

When a break-in leaves an elderly couple bleeding and dying and their house in shambles, the community understands the seriousness of the offence but the courts do not. We have been trying to make judges aware of the true costs of damage done by johns soliciting next to a neighbourhood school, an aggravating circumstance.

When charges are laid against drug traffickers who use drug houses and destroy neighbourhoods, judges should be able to consider the considerable damage to the community. Hopefully the police will not need to go back time and time again and that will also save money spent on expensive policing efforts.

The second is a greater voice for victims in the justice system. This bill responds to the public demand that victims have a greater role in several ways.

First, victims and their families will be able to make representations to the court in early parole hearings. This is a welcome change. People who receive threatening letters from convicts and fear their release on parole will now have a voice in that decision-making process and decision makers will have more complete information on which to base their decisions.

Second, restitution will now be a real option. Justice is not done when an elderly couple in our community loses most of their possessions in a vicious attack and at the end of the whole process they get nothing back. People are the victims of crime, not the state.

Greater use of restitution was one of the recommendations of the Edmonton safer cities report. I am happy to see that its recommendation has been followed here.

Experience with pilot projects has shown that offenders who understand the true impact of what they have done on another person are less likely to reoffend. For the first time Bill C-41 puts some teeth into that basic truth by making restitution an integral part of sentencing.

Third, Edmonton will welcome stronger rules for probation. Offences by people out on probation have eroded the public confidence in the justice system in my riding. Yet probation is an important vehicle for the rehabilitation of young offenders. The provisions in this bill will go a long way to restore credibility of the probation system and by extension, the public confidence in the justice system.

Community groups that have tried to provide opportunities for people on probation report that they need more support to make these programs successful. Better supervision will encourage communities to participate in programs designed to help offenders change their ways and find their place in the community again.

Fourth, greater use of conditional sentences with clear penalties will be more effective than overcrowded jails. Canada has the second highest incarceration rate in the world next to the United States. One look south of the border is proof enough that high incarceration rates do not equal safe streets.

My riding contains a number of correctional facilities, enough for people to know that jails do not change many people. In fact we see the evidence that jails are often schools for crime. Doing time can turn a minor offender into a professional criminal.

For minor offences a conditional sentence with a severe penalty for breaking the conditions is a much better alternative. It will also allow us to spend our limited protection dollars on people who really need to be put away from society. The correctional service says it costs about $47,000 a year to keep someone in prison with little to show for it at the end.

Finally, expansion of the alternative measures program will be welcome. Edmonton has a successful program for young people who are going to court for the first time, often for shoplifting. One of the recommendations of the safer cities report endorsed by city council is the expanded use of this program. Young people who have already had a brush with the law, perhaps in another place or on a reserve, would also benefit from a program that forces them to deal directly with the victim and understand the consequences of what they did. Bill C-41 will allow that.

I am happy that the federal government is responding to suggestions made by people who are close to the problem and who have put a lot of effort into identifying practical ways to deal with crime in our communities.

In conclusion, Bill C-41 will have three positive results: better outcomes from our justice system; safer homes and streets; and better value for money spent on courts and corrections. That is what the people of Canada want for every community.

Committees Of The House June 17th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on Bill C-35, an act to establish the department of citizenship and immigration and to make consequential amendments to other acts, with an amendment.

Interprovincial Trade May 26th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Industry.

Interprovincial trade barriers are costing Canadians as much as $7 billion and many are losing economic opportunities while the discussions drag on. Some provinces are co-operating and some are making it difficult to remove costly barriers for other Canadians.

Could the minister tell the House what he is doing to get the co-operation of all provinces and to meet the June deadline for an agreement?

Supply May 12th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

First, I should clear up that I was talking about statistically significant; that there has been no statistically significant increase in violent crime for youth. I would not like to leave the member's impression as what he sees as fact to be true.

I am quite encouraged to hear of the background of the hon. member. I too have spent time with young offenders as a member of our Edmonton police services and as a member of our city council which developed over a two-year period of time the safer cities initiatives which dealt extensively with crime prevention.

We have always believed in Edmonton that there needs to be that balance. Yes, there need to be consequences for the acts of violence and offences against people and property. That is what we have made very clear here that we are willing to do by increasing the length of sentencing in the bill that members will see coming forward.

When we talk about what we can do for youth, we can be sure that they have the kinds of rehabilitative programs that will erase the fear that the member has talked about. That is quite a heart-rending story about a young person who is in essence afraid to leave a jail because he is in fear of reoffending.

I would think that with someone who felt that way with a good rehabilitative program there would be little risk of reoffending because he sounded like he cared and wanted to take advantage of a program like that.

We need a balanced approach. I am heartened to hear the interest of the hon. member in rehabilitative programs and in dealing with preventing crime.

Supply May 12th, 1994

Madam Speaker, there can be no doubt that many Canadians are concerned about youth crime and more specifically about how the Young Offenders Act deals with youth who commit these crimes. Recent horrifying events in Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton and elsewhere have understandably increased the national attention focused on this issue.

I wish to state clearly that individual events even if there are a number of them do not necessarily amount to an epidemic. The vast majority of Canada's young people are ambitious and hard working young citizens who respect their fellow Canadians. The vast majority are maturing into productive and law-abiding members of our society. We do a disservice to all young people if we cast them in the same light as the minority who turn to crime.

Over the last few years youth crime in Canada in fact has not increased in a significant way statistically. Adults, not youth, still commit most of the crimes in Canada. In addition, it should be remembered that most of the crimes committed by youth are non-violent. They are crimes against property, not against people. Nevertheless it is true that some youths do indeed commit crimes. It undoubtedly is an issue that is important to the fabric of our society and it must be addressed squarely by this government.

Last fall a major national public consultation paper was released by the Department of Justice on the Young Offenders Act. This paper was distributed to about 40,000 groups and individuals in Canada. It asked for their opinions on several issues relating to the act.

These issues included: whether the minimum age under the act ought to be lowered; whether the maximum age under the act ought to be lowered; and whether there ought to be more transfers of youth to adult court. The issues also included: whether the identities of young offenders ought to be published and if so, at what stage of the proceedings; whether judges ought to be encouraged to sentence only violent young offenders to

custody; and whether the Young Offenders Act ought to allow greater flexibility for youths to get access to treatment.

Finally, the consultation paper included a series of questions on what changes ought to be made at the community level and elsewhere in our society to prevent youth crime. It also asked what additional steps ought to be taken to ensure that young offenders are rehabilitated and therefore do not become reoffenders and go on to a life of adult crime.

I have taken some care to explain the content of the consultation paper in order to make the following points. This paper directly sought the opinions of Canadians on most if not all of the key and pressing issues that currently relate to the Young Offenders Act, including the subject of today's motion which is whether to change the upper and lower age brackets in the act.

It is encouraging to note that over 1,000 people took the time and trouble to send in written responses to the consultation paper, all of which were read and are being considered. It is also encouraging that the majority of respondents were thoughtful and many offered interesting and helpful suggestions for change.

At the same time there is no doubt that the responses indicate that Canadians who responded are concerned about the Young Offenders Act in general, about how well and evenly it is enforced and about whether it is effective against youth crime.

More specifically, they are concerned about the age brackets in the act, publication of names of young offenders, transfers to adult court, length and types of sentences, treatment and rehabilitation and about how to prevent youth crime.

This government has already made it clear that it intends to address the issues relating to the Young Offenders Act. In fact, it was just over a year ago in April 1993 that the crime and justice package was released. Therein it stated that this government's proposed changes in the act include increased sentence lengths for young offenders convicted of murder to ensure full treatment, improved access to rehabilitation programs for young offenders, and increased release of information on the identity of young offenders.

Not all the changes that may be needed can be made quickly and easily. The issues surrounding the Young Offenders Act and the youth justice system are difficult and important. Furthermore the responses to the public consultation process on the act indicated clearly that regrettably on several issues there is no consensus among Canadians on what changes should be made to the Young Offenders Act.

Nevertheless I know my colleague, the hon. Minister of Justice, agrees that the amendments to the Young Offenders Act that are most pressing and can successfully be made at this time must be made as soon as possible, indeed before the House rises for the summer.

Accordingly, I gather that the Minister of Justice intends to present this House with a bill in the near future. It will be obvious to members that this will leave some issues relating to the Young Offenders Act unresolved. To deal with these issues the Minister of Justice has already stated publicly that he intends to initiate a broad and all encompassing review of the Young Offenders Act and the youth justice system.

It is expected that this review will be undertaken by a parliamentary committee and that the review process will include consultations with interested groups and individuals from across Canada. In this way Canadians will be able to tell Parliament what form they ultimately wish the Young Offenders Act and the youth justice system to take.

I believe that this is of crucial importance because in the final analysis it is those who feel well served and protected by the act, those who will be dealt with by the Young Offenders Act and those who will help them who must be satisfied with it and with the youth justice system.

In closing, I cannot stress enough that we must create a Young Offenders Act and youth justice system supported by Canadians. Otherwise we will fail in our attempt to address the social problem of youth crime which is a blot on our society. We cannot afford to abandon this small minority of our young people who for whatever reasons commit crime. If we do abandon them we can be sure that the cost to society will in the end be far greater than the cost of helping them while they are still young.

Auditor General Act May 3rd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Bill C-207. I contribute to this debate from my own experience with an effective relationship between elected persons and an auditor general.

The city of Edmonton was one of the first municipalities to appoint an independent auditor general. The experience has been beneficial to both the council and local taxpayers. The focus of the auditor general's work has gradually shifted from financial accounting to evaluating value received for tax dollars spent.

Independent audits play an important role in finding the most cost effective way to deliver public services. That is what we need in Canada today to help restore public confidence in public services. In keeping with the shift to value for money auditing, the auditor general provides information to elected representatives in a timely fashion so elected people can prevent waste, not just point fingers after the damage is done.

Each year city council and the auditor general develop a work plan including a timeframe for the completion and discussion of specific audits. Special audits are considered when they are completed. The auditor also tables an annual report with general recommendations and progress reports on individual departments. In this way the audit function and the corresponding focus on value for money in public service is a continuing focus and not a once a year bad news report.

A problem solving approach by the auditor has helped build good working relationships with both department officials and elected representatives.

Based on this experience I support the direction of Bill C-207 to provide more timely information to Parliament and prevent waste through the consideration of individual audits once they are completed. I believe it will assist in meeting public expectation and ensure that taxpayers receive good value for every tax dollar in Canada.

Controlled Drugs And Substances Act April 19th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the discussion of Bill C-7 today, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. In the long term it will be one of the most important pieces of legislation considered by this assembly. Canada needs a comprehensive drug strategy and Bill C-7 provides it.

If we talk with community leaders in any of our cities we will soon hear that our current laws are not effective in dealing with the drug problems they face. Police forces across the country have pointed out that new laws are needed to deal with the techniques now used by drug offenders.

Neighbourhood groups are really frustrated because the law seems powerless to do anything even when they and the police know about drug dealings on their streets. Community workers who are trying to help young people choose a healthy lifestyle are discouraged because the law is not a partner in their cause. Often it is a detriment. Ineffective laws also bring disrespect for the law in general, and this is certainly true of current drug laws.

For all these reasons I welcome and support Bill C-7. It provides important new tools for the police and communities to use in fighting the drug problem in the country. This law will make it easier for police to prosecute drug dealers and it provides stronger penalties. It will allow the courts to consider aggravating factors in sentencing such as the involvement of children and the sale of drugs in school yards.

Bill C-7 is a comprehensive drug strategy and a major improvement from existing laws. There is, however, one aspect of the modern drug trade that is not covered. I would like to see the bill amended to close this loophole. I am talking about the use of fortified drug houses to avoid police prosecution. This is already a significant problem in Edmonton and many other cities. It will become an even greater problem as police forces begin to use other features of the new law.

I will briefly describe the problems and propose possible amendments for consideration by the committee in its review of the legislation.

The first fortified drug house in Edmonton was appropriately called the Fortress, and that is exactly what it was. The plan is simple. Drug dealers rent an old house and fortify it through the addition of cement walls, steel doors, false entrances, trap doors and other obstacles. This delays police entry long enough to destroy any evidence of drug trade. The element of surprise, an important element in effective enforcement, is gone. These houses also allow for the exchange of money and drugs through trap doors. There is no human contact between the dealer and the purchaser, eliminating other ways of catching dealers.

Over the years the Edmonton police service employed a number of tactics against the Fortress with little success. An appeal was made to the absentee landlord but he did not care as long he got his rent. In fact he legally challenged any moves by the city to close the place down.

The neighbourhood became very upset because the Fortress became a centre of undesirable activity. It ruined all their hard work to clean up their neighbourhood. Used syringes were discarded in nearby playgrounds where children could pick them up. Traffic noise and frequent street fights made the area unsafe. Older residents and families were forced to move away, adding to the cycle and the significant costs of inner city decay.

In response to the community the Edmonton city council tried applying every possible law relating to property and land use but ran into legal barriers at every turn. The fact is that there is no legislation to deal with this situation effectively. Drug dealers know it and openly flaunt the law.

I am told by the Edmonton police service there are now 12 fortified drug houses in operation in our city; some are sporadic operations and some are permanent. All of them present a major cost to communities and lead to more disrespect for the law.

In the United States the problem with fortified drug houses had to be dealt with through specific legislation. Some states like California have been successful. However we need to address this problem in Canada.

In order to make Bill C-7 a truly comprehensive drug strategy, I am proposing that it be amended to deal with the problem of fortified drug houses. There are three possibilities for amending the legislation to cover fortified drug houses. One is to include real estate in the definition of offence related property. Bill C-7 allows for the confiscation of property used in drug trafficking, but the definition specifically excludes real estate. Removing this exemption would be one way of addressing the problem.

A second approach is an amendment to create a new offence. The amendment would prohibit an owner, landlord or tenant from knowingly permitting a place to be used for the primary purpose of trafficking in illegal drugs. The Edmonton police service has drafted a proposed amendment which I will be pleased to provide the committee.

A third option is to establish a mechanism by which drug houses could be confiscated by the crown under specific conditions. Again the Edmonton police service has provided some suggestions which I will provide in writing to the committee.

Any of these amendments are consistent with the intent and the spirit of the legislation. They will address the significant problem of fortified drug houses which is not adequately

covered at this time. If we do not address the problem now fortified houses will spread as the way to avoid prosecution under provisions of the act.

This is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss. Bill C-7 is a comprehensive drug strategy. Let us cover all the loopholes and give communities the tools they need to deal with the problem that creates untold damage in human lives and safety in our communities.

I urge my colleagues to support Bill C-7 and to support an amendment that will address the problem of fortified drug houses at the same time.

Petitions March 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I would like to present a petition from Canadians across the country who are concerned about what is happening in Latvia.

Along with the member of Parliament for Parkdale-High Park, over 600 Canadians are asking Parliament to urge Russia to withdraw its troops from Latvia. The people of Latvia have repeatedly demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops from a radar station on their border. They are concerned about the health impacts of radiation from this station.

The Canadians who signed this petition would like the federal government to make future aid to Russia dependent on respect for human rights of the people of Latvia.