House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was cbc.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Mississauga East—Cooksville (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2008, with 50% of the vote.

Statements in the House

May 7th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I commend the parliamentary secretary for a valiant attempt to put a happy face on the saddest of government records.

Economists estimate that Canada lost yet another 50,000 jobs in April. Fifty thousand people in one month have moved from employment to employment insurance.

What positives could the parliamentary secretary find in a government whose inaction has worsened the unemployment rate and yet refuses to make employment insurance fair for all Canadians?

May 7th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, last month the city of Winnipeg was hit with one of the worst floods in its history. Signs of trouble were there to be seen well ahead of time. All the experts predicted high river levels, ice jams and potentially catastrophic outcomes. All eyes were fixed on weather reports and residents made their own plans to protect their property and investments.

Some eyes were also fixed on the reaction of the provincial and local governments. They did not ever suggest that the flood would somehow miss Manitoba. They did not point to a single day of sunshine as something to celebrate while rain and floods were in the forecast. They did not deny that there was a flood until they saw boats floating down main street. No, they took action to protect their citizens from the inevitable. They built flood walls, patrolled dikes and pumps in low-lying areas and later took action to support victims whose homes were badly damaged.

Compare that response to the government response. With an impending economic storm, the government denied that Canada would be hit. It refused to see a rising flood of red ink that would sink the nation into deficit. It said there was no need for sandbags, Canada would be fine and dry.

As for the victims, sadly, Conservatives said to them, “We cannot guarantee your jobs and we will not improve employment insurance much because we do not want to make unemployment too lucrative”.

We watched as the minister highlighted one company contract as a cause to celebrate and then said nothing as the same company laid off thousands of workers just two weeks later.

We see mass layoffs in the auto parts sector with no government strategy for that industry to emerge stronger on the other side of the recession. We have seen no action to keep jobs in Canada as multinationals close Canadian plants and move production elsewhere. Already, over 400,000 jobs have been lost in the recession. Most of these jobs have been lost in industries that need to be a part of a national strategy to emerge from this recession with the strength to capitalize on renewed growth around the world. In fact, it appears that the government strategy is to deny, delay and do little.

The minister has had two months to think about his answer, so I will ask him the same question again. When will the government stop guaranteeing more job losses by refusing to act in the interest of Canada's workers?

Sri Lanka April 21st, 2009

Mr. Speaker, at least 100,000 displaced Tamil civilians are trapped in the path of the Sri Lankan army and could not be in more desperate need of food, clean water, shelter and security. Safe zones are not safe from dehydration, malnutrition, snake bites, shelling or today's aerial bombardment of the latest makeshift hospital.

When will CIDA finally respond to the scale of this human tragedy and deliver aid where it is most urgently needed?

Employment Insurance March 31st, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the government has said that unemployment must never be lucrative. Here is another sample of its success. In Toronto, a car accident forced a veteran to leave his job after 30 years. When he turned to EI, he was denied the maximum benefit and was cut off after only 15 weeks, not enough time to find a job in today's Ontario. He ended up losing his car and his apartment.

When will the government finally make EI fair for this veteran and Ontario workers?

Josip Gamulin March 26th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, this month Canada bade farewell to a man who had a sense of justice and a scale of generosity that reached across the world.

Dr. Josip Gamulin came to Canada from Croatia in the 1970s to set up practice as a family doctor. Long before the Internet, he built his own worldwide web, connected by fax, shortwave and even the loudspeakers on his station wagon.

Through his Croatian Human Rights Committee and Croatian Radio Libertas carried around the world on shortwave, he sought freedom for political prisoners and sought relief for oppressed people everywhere.

In Canada he would shy away from no worthy cause, shrink from no challenge and stirred thousands to action.

Dr. Gamulin leaves a legacy of activism and integrity that continues to inspire the lives he changed with his belief, his genius and his generosity. His friendship was the greatest privilege I have known.

The Economy March 13th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, for six months all the government's policies have delivered are pink slips to Canadians.

On October 2, workers facing plant closures might have taken the advice of the Prime Minister that stock prices were a buying opportunity and that their savings could see them through to retirement. Those who bought on that advice were burned by a further 24% decline in the market.

Why should Canadians buy their Prime Minister's rosy economic predictions today?

The Economy March 13th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the minister should be asking why the government prorogued.

Six months ago the Prime Minister responded to one of the first plant closures in Ontario with the dismissive but prophetic pronouncement that “We can't guarantee your job”. Never were truer words spoken. The government has failed to get any job guarantees out of any auto maker, Xtrata, U.S. Steel or any foreign company that is taking jobs out of Canada.

When will the Conservative government stop—

Situation in Sri Lanka February 4th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, any solution has to start with respect for civilian rights and an end to atrocities and violence. Then and only then the option that really offers peace is a form of self-government, which would allow Tamil people to be free from fear of their own government.

As I stated earlier, a serious UN-led effort is required to reach that goal. The member will find that our party will co-operate to the fullest to secure that peace.

Situation in Sri Lanka February 4th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, this conflict will require incredible determination on the part of all resources. I really believe the world decided in the 1940s that military objectives could no longer justify deliberate attacks on civilians. It will take an independent UN body to investigate alleged atrocities and bring some justice to the event.

I do not think, to be quite frank, that one individual will be able to bring a sustainable peace to the area. It will take the collective opinion and the collective will of all governments to ensure that a serious UN-led effort is required to reach that goal.

Situation in Sri Lanka February 4th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, today the world watches a human tragedy unfolding in Sri Lanka. The world should watch that conflict filled with guilt for failing to act, failing to care and failing to speak up against oppression and violence for half a century.

The history of this conflict begins and ends with a determinedly discriminatory government representing a majority ethnic group seeking to culturalize and marginalize a minority. As early as 1948, many Tamils were denied citizenship and rendered stateless. In 1956 the Sri Lankan government declared Sinhala the only state language, marginalizing the Tamil language which had been equal in the pre-colonial era. Buddhism became the exclusive state religion, again denying the Tamil identity.

In 1972, a blatantly racist quota system was imposed to limit the number of Tamils in university. The Sri Lankan government even abolished the section of its constitution that protected minority rights. Tamils were discriminated against in schools, the public service and the military.

In the 1960s, arson, vandalism and anti-Tamil riots killed 500 Tamils. In 1981, police burned down the library in Jaffna, destroying 95,000 ancient texts and manuscripts. Then, the darkest moment, in July 1983, over 3,000 Tamils were killed, many burned alive. Electoral lists were used to identify Tamil homes.

From the violence of 1983, the people of Sri Lanka were to suffer 25 years of civil war and 70,000 people lost their lives.

Both the government and the Tamil tigers, rebels, engaged in actions that violated every standard of armed conflict. Suicide bombings on one side, aerial bombardments of hospitals and schools on the other.

Since 2006, I have spoken of the campaign of atrocities that have included the execution of aid workers working for a French NGO, bombing of schools, a grenade attack on a church protecting refugees and countless individual cases of summary executions and torture.

Hundreds of Tamils have disappeared in Colombo after white vans left their homes. Sometimes their bodies are found and sometimes their bodies are dumped for effect near the Parliament. Mostly, they are never seen again.

The world community rose only once to stop the Sri Lankan government. On that rare occasion, the government was herding Tamils into crowded buses to be deported from Colombo. Such visible ethnic cleansing could not be allowed.

It is this history that should inform our view of the current military campaign. Today the Sri Lankan government remains indifferent to the Tamil civilians who lie in the wake of its military. The government makes it blatantly clear by its repeated use of cluster bombs against a civilian hospital that it is not worried about accusations of war crimes. In fact, it has refused to sign on to the Rome Statute that would make its leaders vulnerable to prosecution.

The U.S. secretary of state and the foreign secretary of the U.K. have called for a no-fire zone where civilians and refugees are now homeless, dying of snake bites and exposed to shelling and targeted bombardment by the government.

Canada can also speak up. Canada must call for international observers and peacekeepers to be deployed in towns in the north and east and that Tamil civilians be allowed to return home under international monitoring. This needs to happen now or this tragedy will continue to reach catastrophic proportions.

Canada can also demand that Sri Lanka submit fully to an international war crimes tribunal where the actions of leaders on all sides of this conflict can be investigated and judged. The suffering in Sri Lanka will continue as long as there is no legal consequence, no opportunity for justice and no international will to bring a just peace.

It was more than half a century ago that Winston Churchill hailed a Canadian airman as the saviour of Ceylon. Today, Canada should feel the same duty to help save a quarter of a million Tamil civilians whose only hope is the will of the world to protect them.