House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was heard.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Winnipeg South Centre (Manitoba)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Citizenship and Immigration October 28th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am interested in all of the Conservatives' failed promises. It is more failed promises when it comes to immigration.

Under an agreement achieved with the Liberal government in 1995, Manitoba welcomed more new Canadians than ever under its provincial nominee program. Since then it has been reported that the province has been asked to lower the limit on the number of people it welcomes under the program.

Why is Manitoba being asked to do with less? Is this yet another example of what the senior minister from Manitoba thinks is more than its fair share?

Justice October 28th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, here is the Conservative government's shameful record on crime: a more than 50% cut in funding to the National Crime Prevention Centre; a failed promise to fund 2,500 more police officers across the country; and an abysmal record in moving its own crime legislation through Parliament, including a two and one-half year wait to address auto theft legislation so important to Manitoba, and a Prime Minister who prorogued Parliament three times.

When will the Prime Minister take responsibility for the delays and failed promises?

National Holocaust Monument Act October 27th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I want to comment because I was in fact the sponsor of this exact same bill. I introduced Bill C-238 on December 1, 2008.

The bill has now been restored to its original form, a bill which the government will undertake to sponsor, to support, to build in co-operation with communities.

As my colleague said, I do not think any of us needed a litany or a listing of all that has been done for the Jewish community. As a member of that community I follow it closely and I watch carefully.

However, I, too, want to follow up with the member, and it is not a question of politics. I do not understand why he agreed to have his original bill amended in committee the way it was, stripped of its original intention. It really has done a disservice to those of us who are in the House and who want to honour the Jewish community and those who survived and perished in the holocaust.

Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act October 6th, 2010

Madam Speaker, the member raises an important issue.

If one is going to provide the powers to the Canada Border Services Agency, it is equally important that the government provide both the financial and human resources to do what is required.

In the case of auto theft, this bill will allow the Canada Border Services Agency officers to investigate, identify, detain imported vehicles or vehicles about to be exported, and to search databases to determine whether or not said vehicles are indeed stolen.

It is important that the databases be maintained and kept up to date, and that there be the important resources available to do what is required in this instance.

Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act October 6th, 2010

Madam Speaker, the importance of this bill is that it is specific to auto theft. There are provisions in the Criminal Code, but this bill is specific to auto theft and very much responds to the requests of the leadership in the province of Manitoba and in the city of Winnipeg.

The police very clearly identified a bill of this sort as what the police determined to be one of the biggest deterrents for young people.

I talked to young people who were in a rehabilitation program about auto theft, and it was one of the more interesting things I have done as a member of Parliament. Their response was that they were in the rehabilitation program and were taking the training program in order not to go to jail. Obviously the prospect of incarceration was certainly a deterrent for them, and it resulted in their making a real effort to turn their lives around.

The bill also gives powers to the Canada Border Services Agency, which I think is important in this case so that it can identify and track down stolen vehicles.

Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act October 6th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I am sharing my time with my colleague from Charlottetown, and I am pleased to do so.

I am pleased, once again, to speak in support of Bill S-9, but I have to admit it is somewhat in frustration that Parliament is yet again debating this important legislation.

We have heard from others here today that Bill S-9 is identical to Bill C-26 from the last session of Parliament, which was killed when Parliament was prorogued last year. I am struck by the fact that it was May 5, 2009, when I spoke in favour of Bill C-26, which was, as of yesterday, 17 months to the day since that bill had been introduced.

We on this side have consistently supported legislation to effectively reduce crime and to enhance community safety, including motor vehicle theft. We have heard from the previous speaker that this is an issue of particular concern to those who live in Winnipeg and Manitoba. It is a very serious issue.

Some may recall that in September 2007 a delegation from Manitoba came to Ottawa, met with members of the government and the opposition party. It was a very significant delegation, made up of the mayor of the city of Winnipeg, the mayor of Brandon, members of the aboriginal community, members of the police force, leaders of the opposition parties in Manitoba and several victims of crime. They asked for motor theft to be made an indictable offence.

As a result of that, I introduced my private member's bill on motor vehicle theft in March 2008, which was originally known as Bill C-526, and in the last Parliament I reintroduced it as Bill C-237. While I support the bill, I am somewhat saddened that it has taken so long for the government to act and to move forward on what is a very pressing issue for Manitobans.

After the delegation was in Ottawa, I made a point of doing a broad-based consultation within my riding and within my community on the issue of property crime and, most specifically, auto theft. I had several meetings with the police in district 6 in Winnipeg. I met with young people, some of whom were in the process of rehabilitation. I also met with victims of crimes, with business owners and with a broad-based representation in the community to understand what had been done. I heard of some of the initiatives that the provincial government had undertaken to reduce the number of auto thefts. We heard earlier about the immobilizer prevention programming, the intervention programming, suppression programming and the consequences for young people, which often includes a lifetime suspension of a driver's licence for repeat offenders.

I also heard very clearly that there was a role for the federal government to act, and that is why I introduced Bill C-526. Unfortunately my name was further down on the list and we did not have the opportunity to debate it in the House. The bill proposed that a person who committed a motor vehicle theft for a second or subsequent offence would be guilty of an indictable offence and liable to a prison term not exceeding 10 years and would require a mandatory minimum sentence of a year.

I am not, for the most part, someone who endorses mandatory minimums. I think prevention in all its various manifestations is equally important. However, there has to be consequences for the offence. There also has to be prevention programming. The provincial government does it, but it is also incumbent upon this federal government to undertake more support and resources both for the provinces and what they do and for the community groups directly in the work that they do.

I am struck by the irony of the government putting forward tough on crime legislation while at the same time not providing the supports to communities that deal with young people in distress, or reducing the supports, or narrowing the criteria of the support so that the violence is not curtailed.

This bill is not perfect, but it is indeed an important start in taking this issue seriously by updating the Criminal Code. Significant reductions in crime will indeed occur if we also invest significant resources in evidence-based prevention programs, and I underline evidence-based prevention programs. We need to see what works and build upon it, not decide on an ideological basis that we want to do x or y and then make the program fit the criteria.

If the government were truly serious about tackling auto theft and property crime, the Prime Minister would not have killed Bill C-53 when he broke his own fixed election date in 2008, and he would not have prorogued Parliament last winter, killing Bill C-26. Seventeen months later, I am speaking to the same issue.

This is the third time the government has introduced the bill. It took the government five months to reintroduce it in the exact form after the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament. We tried to expedite it in the past and we on this side will continue to do so again.

We are glad that this bill is more robust than Bill C-53 and that the government chose to make auto theft a unique offence in the Criminal Code. The separate offence did not exist in Bill C-53.

We know that according to Statistics Canada the rate of motor vehicle theft has declined almost every year since 1996. Data for 2006 confirms that motor vehicle theft has fallen by 20% since 1996, but motor vehicle theft has a major effect on vehicle owners, third party victims, indeed law enforcement agencies and certainly the insurance industry. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, it costs insurers and the public close to $1 billion a year.

Statistics Canada numbers show that Manitoba has the highest rate of auto theft, which is nearly three times the Canadian average. We also know that Montreal has the most stolen vehicles and the fewest recovered in any city.

When I speak to this issue, while I support and want to see this bill implemented, this time in a timely fashion, I also want to underline once again the importance of prevention programs.

When I met with a group of eight young people in Winnipeg who had been in trouble with the law, they expressed to me the absolute importance of having prevention programs available. That week, while we were meeting, community clubs in the city of Winnipeg were being closed down for lack of resources, lack of infrastructure.

We cannot give with one hand and take away with the other hand. It is important that there be a coordinated policy of prevention that will reduce overall the auto theft in the city of Winnipeg, provide opportunity for young people and provide opportunity for the residents of the city.

Having said that, it is important that this bill be implemented and moved through this House and through the Senate in a timely fashion. I would ask all colleagues to co-operate in doing so.

Edmund C. Bovey Award October 6th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow in Toronto Gail Asper will be honoured as the 2010 winner of the Edmund C. Bovey Award, which recognizes an individual business professional who has demonstrated exemplary leadership in support of the arts.

Gail Asper joins Winnipegers Kathleen Richardson, John F. Fraser and her father, Izzy Asper, as recipients of the Bovey Award.

Gail Asper is both a supporter of and an advocate for many arts organizations, including the Manitoba Theatre Centre, the National Arts Centre, the Manitoba Opera, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre and the Manitoba Museum. She has also been the force behind and leader of the campaign for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

For this tremendous record of community service, Gail Asper was awarded the Order of Manitoba in 2007 and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2008.

I salute Gail Asper for her boundless enthusiasm and commitment to the arts and pay tribute to her significant contribution to Winnipeg, Manitoba and Canada.

Aboriginal Affairs September 28th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the current government has chosen to spend $130 million on self-promotional advertising and millions more on pointless signs.

It has been seven months since it promised to spend $10 million to address the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women. Now travel sites advise readers to avoid the Highway of Tears in British Columbia.

Why can the government find more than $130 million for vanity advertising, but not the $10 million required for missing and murdered women and girls, a critical issue of public policy?

Business of Supply September 28th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I spoke earlier about citizenship. I think that filling out the mandatory long form census is about citizenship.

However, my colleague raises an important point. This information talks about the kind of health care that is needed. We do not want to go to a hospital that is primarily a maternity hospital when the needs are for geriatric individuals. We do not want to see that there are not enough police on the streets or that the allocation of police is not what it should be because we do not have the information.

We want schools and communities to be able to plan so that infrastructure meets the changing needs of communities.

What I am hearing from hon. members opposite is that we benefit by ignorance. We on this side do not accept that.

Business of Supply September 28th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, members on this side very much respect a citizen's right to privacy but, more important, we respect the right of citizens to have services from their government. We expect the government to respond based on good information and quality information so that the needs of Canadians are identified and that it has landmarks to see whether progress is being made.

When we talk about privacy, it is incumbent upon the hon. member opposite and his government to look at the many breaches of private citizens' privacy that have taken place under their government.