House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was process.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Reform MP for Surrey North (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 1993, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Process April 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in my address I shall focus on the aspect of the motion of whether the number of MPs should continually increase. In the course of this I shall include some thoughts on the geographical and electoral boundary concerns.

In keeping with the concept of representation by population or each MP representing approximately an equal number of Canadians citizens, two factors influence this. One is the constant increase in the number of Canadians and the other would be the movement of the population within our borders.

Two options present themselves as methods of achieving this representation by population, the first one being that we could establish the number of MPs we would have in the House and divide that number into the total number of Canadians to obtain the number of citizens that each MP would represent. This representation number becomes the variable that would change each time we address this process.

The second option would be the reverse of the first. That would be to establish the number of Canadians that an MP would represent and divide that number into the total number of Canadians. This would make the number of MPs the variable that would change each time we reviewed and updated this process.

Two points to note are that regardless of which option is employed the electoral boundaries of constituencies will change. In both options the existing boundaries within our country do not influence the designating of federal electoral boundaries. It is strictly on head count.

Before moving on to the geographic concerns I wish to comment further on these two options. I favour the establishing of a given number of MPs, say 295, and increasing the number each represents as required.

If we were to do the opposite and increase the number of MPs each time we would be creating problems that would repeat themselves each time we updated our electoral representation or legislation and we would look for solutions each time.

The first problem that comes to mind is accommodation of the added MPs. A possible solution to this requires an expansion of this building or the room and that in turn would generate or create the problem of finding the dollars to pay for it. The expansion of this building or the room would not apply if we had a cap on the numbers of MPs and increased the numbers they represented each time.

A second possible solution to increasing the number of MPs is to utilize the communication highway where we could all stay at home and chat with each other from there. The ramifications of this present a debate in itself and is best left for some other day. I cannot help but wonder that if this ever came to pass considering the size of our country the first obstacle that we would probably debate would be the start and finish times of MP duty times.

A third possible solution to increasing the number of MPs, and this would be taken over using this approach over a long period of time, is that we could possibly end up with so many MPs that the solutions to address that issue at that time may be such things as shift work or breaking up into small groups of MPs and rotating one or two of us through the House Monday through Friday.

To get back to the reality of now, we have 295 members and the House is full. There is probably not even enough room here now to suggest a renovation activity to provide the same amount of leg room for the MPs in the top three rows as in the bottom two rows. We are that full.

If each member spoke for 20 minutes and then responded to 10 minutes questions or comments we would need 147.5 hours of agenda time. Along with this we are in Ottawa approximately 26 weeks of 52, or half a year, and if each of these weeks were allowed 25 hours of agenda time, we would have a total 650 hours. If we divided that by the number of MPs and each participated, each one of us would be able to speak 2.2 times a year.

By increasing the number of MPs we would decrease the number of opportunities that each of us would have to participate in the debates in this House and other business. There is not time.

Keeping the number of MPs in the House constant and varying the number that each represents can create some problems or concerns. The most notable would be the inequity in the number of square miles of each constituency. To achieve the numbers involved in the two options the densely populated areas would be geographically small and the less dense would be large to horrendously large.

A possible solution to this and in keeping with representation by population is to address the process aspect of this procedure and adjust the MPs' constituency budgets to accommodate this. For example, in small geographic areas one constituency office is close enough to each constituent to allow them to visit their MP when he or she is in the area. In large geographic areas two or more offices may be necessary to achieve this same effect. Along with the budget adjustments to accommodate the extra offices we would probably have to look at travel expenses. This implies a cost consideration. A cost consideration would also be applicable if we increased the number of MPs. There may be other possible solutions within the process area to address this issue.

Another possible concern in relation to keeping the number of MPs constant would be the ability of the MP to adequately represent the ever increasing numbers of citizens. I believe the solution to this concern lies within the realms of communicating and the availability of the communication vehicles to do so.

To comment on the electoral boundaries for a moment, we seem to have restricted our approach to establishing federal electoral boundaries by attempting to work within some of the existing internal boundaries. We have three levels of government and all are elected by the people and each have a specific number of elected representatives. City and municipal governments do not divide their areas into boundaries. Their geographic areas are small enough not to.

Provincial governments have larger areas and do divide them, not necessarily according to the city or municipal boundaries but according to population numbers.

A possible approach to this on the federal scene is to consider the boundaries on the federal scene as those of the country and again the whole area would be divided according to population.

In closing, capping the number of MPs in the House of Commons and achieving the concept of representation by population through the adjustment of the number of citizens each MP would represent and establishing electoral boundaries accordingly is the solution I favour.

Ethics Counsellor March 8th, 1994

Madam Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.

It is reported in the Globe and Mail today that Mitchell Sharp is expected to be appointed as the government's first ethics counsellor.

During last fall's campaign the party opposite promised to consult with the opposition parties prior to appointing an ethics counsellor. Can the Deputy Prime Minister inform the House if there will be consultation with both opposition parties prior to this appointment?

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95 February 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I commend the hon. member on her maiden speech. I thought it was very well delivered and from experience, once done, it gets a little easier every time.

I would like to focus on trade and the hon. member's comments in relation to world markets, globalization, and bringing that down to an interprovincial trade concept. There is a tendency to think that our east-west linkage across Canada is deteriorating economically, that it is becoming more a north-south kind of thing, and that social issues are the binding factor from an east-west point of view.

Would the hon. member address a few comments from a trade point of view in relation to the interprovincial trade barriers.

Supply February 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am not exactly sure what the question was. The member is addressing recall and the concerns that we as parliamentarians may have, seeing that as being a threat over our heads.

My response to that is I do not think we should feel limited or restricted in our actions. Possibly what we should do is take a more positive approach versus the negative and put more faith in our constituents and Canadians in assessing our position here in the House and realizing that there are times when we cannot please all the people all the time on everything. We have to have faith in the people to judge and evaluate our performance honestly.

Supply February 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.

I think what the member is saying is possibly what I was suggesting in my remarks. The actual topic of a petition could be seen as an outcome of a process or some such law of policy. To debate that specific topic would be a narrow point of view because it is a symptom or a sign of something major that is happening within the whole process.

I am saying that should come back to this House and we should look at this whole process and find the cause somewhere within this process that is generating that kind of result.

I would think that it would require some of our time for an extensive debate.

Supply February 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak in favour of the motion. The motion itself is basically an administrative one as it requires a change to the standing orders to allow petitions to be debated in the House.

One member suggested that petitions could be presented to the House for debate through a private member's bill. We are suggesting that is one mechanism but we would like to see petitions also have a mechanism or vehicle of their own and not be dependent on a member presenting them as a private bill.

As we know, petitions arrive and are either tabled or verbally presented to the House in a statement and then tabled for a recording procedure. From there they go to a ministry to be answered within a set period of time.

This brings a couple of general points to mind for reasons for putting petitions on the table for debate. Petitions can be seen as a symptom of a weakness or a problem in existing legislation or petition topics in many cases can involve the mandates of more than one ministry. These two points would provide good reason to debate the subject matter of petitions.

Petition topics in many cases address specific or single issues. These issues tend to be an end result or an outcome of a policy or law. It is a cause and effect kind of thing. The end result can be seen as a problem to the Canadians bringing it to our attention but it is not necessarily the main problem or the underlying cause. It is an outcome suggesting there is a weakness in the process or in the law itself. It can be seen as a symptom or a warning of a problem somewhere within the policy or the law. This concept, cause and effect, raises a few options to examine also. One could be that there is a deficiency in some aspect of the content of the legislation; another could be there is an actual omission to the content; still another could be that possibly a different set of circumstances in some areas of our country are causing different outcomes from the policy or law that are not necessarily occurring in other areas. Of course there could be a combination of the various options already mentioned.

Considering all the possible options available to us if we do address petitions as a symptom of an underlying problem, it seems a logical step that we would present this subject matter to the House for debate in order to identify the cause and the possible solutions to resolving these associated problems.

We could treat the symptom and not worry about the cause of it, but it would eventually return either as a larger or a more serious problem or both. At some point we would have to do a full investigation and identify the cause and correct it.

The second point offering rationale for debating of petition subject matter is that of the possible involvement of more than one ministry's mandate. This is important possibly for several reasons, but the one that comes to mind first is the advancements in our knowledge base which may shed new or a different light on a policy or law than when it was originally debated.

This new information may involve mandates of ministries not previously involved in the original decision making process or possibly not involved to the degree necessary at the time. The classic example of this today would the Department of the Environment. Its present day role in the outcome or effect of


many decisions made in the past by other ministries is quite obvious.

I submit that health care is in a similar position today. The end result or effect of many policies or laws in the past today are producing health hazards or concerns to some degree that are basically unacceptable to today's standards. The concerns about health may not be the main thrust or objective of the petition but the health care issues are usually involved to some degree, be it direct or indirect.

For example, any petition regarding the use of pesticides on crops or antibiotic drugs or other drugs used in livestock, could be sent perhaps to the ministry of agriculture but it definitely has a health care concern and that should be addressed as well.

Another example would be a factory dumping contaminated waste into a nearby lake or stream. This could be sent to either the Ministry of Industry or the Ministry of the Environment for a response. Yet again, there are great health concerns and issues apparent in this that may not have been addressed at the time of the original debate.

Also sentencing for assault has an indirect impact on health. If the sentence is reduced and that happens to be the complaint of the petition, then possibly it is because the assault rate has increased, more people are getting injured and consequently requiring treatment.

Most petitions today have some bearing on health issues. These issues need to be addressed and resolved in such a manner so that we can continue to promote a healthy environment for us to live and grow in.

Identifying and resolving health care problems found in the subject matter brought to our attention by petitions is essential if we want to help reduce our health care costs and promote good health through a wellness approach versus an illness approach. We must proact and not react to health care issue concerns regardless of how they are being brought to our attention. Petitions can be an excellent resource, especially if one views them from a feedback point of view.

Specific issues raised in petitions may be described as isolated situations, exceptions to the rule or extremely small percentages of the whole and may not be seen as being very significant in relation to the overall effects of the law or policy. However, there are still signs and symptoms of a bigger problem if we do not do something about it. It is like a cancer. It starts out small and insignificant but slowly grows to consume the whole. At some point along the way it must be treated and the sooner it is treated the better chance we have to save the whole.

In closing, I remind us all that petitions are calling cards. They are calling us to re-examine the various past decisions and all the ramifications of them both direct and indirect in a more in-depth approach than maybe previously or in light of new information that has come up over the years.

To provide for the review or revision and updating of the various laws and policies the opportunity to debate the subject matter of petitions in the House should be available.

Blood Collection Standards February 18th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, statements have been recently made to the Krever commission indicating that the Canadian Red Cross centres are supposed to be inspected every two years, but in fact have not been inspected for at least five.

Why does the minister's department not enforce its own inspection regulations?

Blood Collection Standards February 18th, 1994

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

At present the United States standards for blood collection exceed those of Canada. The Canadian Red Cross recently decided to meet the U.S. standards so that Canadian blood can continue to be sent to American blood plasma extraction facilities.

Will the minister commit to raising Canadian blood collection standards to meet those of the United States?

The Late Sue Rodriguez February 14th, 1994

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

The death of Sue Rodriguez has once again raised the ethical issue of euthanasia. I believe the time has come for a full public discussion of this issue. As members of Parliament, we should facilitate this discussion. Once all sides are heard, the final say on this deeply personal issue should go to the people of Canada.

Will the Minister of Justice agree that on the date of the next federal election a binding national referendum on euthanasia be put to the Canadian people?

Tobacco Products February 4th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, if members of the government vote according to their conscience or according with their constituents' wishes on the issue of cigarette taxes, can the Deputy Prime Minister assure the House they will not be disciplined?