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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was know.

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

Business of Supply September 28th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Malpeque.

I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak to this opposition day motion. I want to congratulate my colleague who put this motion forward.

The scrapping of the mandatory long form census has come out of nowhere. There was no stakeholder consultation. It did not appear to be part of a Conservative Party platform. There were no motions in committee. There was no public discussion on the issue. Instead, the Prime Minister's office chose a quiet time in June, during the summer parliamentary break, to introduce yet another example of what I would call divide and conquer politics and another concrete example of what we know as the I-make-the-rules regime in this country.

The country has never seen such a widespread and broad-based list of people and groups against this change. Over 370 groups are opposed to the changes brought forward by the government. There may be about a dozen who would be supportive of it. While I have a long list here of groups that I intended to read into the record, I think we have heard many from it, and if I have time at the end of my comments I will add to the list.

If the primary motivation of the Conservative government was to remove the threat of a jail sentence for refusing to respond to the mandatory long form census, one must ask simply why the government did not introduce legislation to remove this threat itself, as the Liberal motion does today.

Earlier this morning the Minister of Industry repeated that the opposition wants to criminalize those who do not complete the long form census. Yet once again I repeat that it is not the Conservative government but the Liberal caucus that has introduced legislation to amend the Statistics Act.

If we do not count people, they do not count, their problems do not count, and then a response by government is not necessary. I suspect this is the primary reason behind what the government is doing by removing the mandatory aspect of the long form census.

We all know the census is the fundamental source of information for the country, the fundamental source of information for society. The mandatory long form census has, since 1971, provided objective, reliable data that provides sometimes quite inconvenient information for governments. It provides information on unpaid work, women's wages, the status of disabled persons, and the state of Canada's housing stock. Is it inconvenient for the government to know that 16 people live in a 1,000 square foot house on a first nations reserve? Is it inconvenient to know that the housing stock in first nations communities continues to be a national disgrace? Is it inconvenient for a government to know that a newcomer requires resettlement support and help? Is it inconvenient to know that governments are delivering services less effectively and less efficiently than they might otherwise do?

On August 5 I met with members of my community in Winnipeg to discuss the removal of the mandatory aspect of the long form census. Participating in this discussion were representatives of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, not-for-profit agencies, university researchers, representatives of aboriginal communities, and disability communities. Some organizations said they would like to be there but because they receive government funding they were afraid to come. In a country such as Canada, they were afraid to speak about their concerns about not making the long form census mandatory.

It is important to note that at that meeting I heard things such as completing the mandatory long form census is part of civic duty, that it is not intrusiveness, it is citizenship.

I heard that the government's decision to scrap the long form is part of a trend by the government, as one of my colleagues quoted earlier, to seek out policy based evidence rather than making evidence based policy. I heard that administrative data is more intrusive than census data and far more expensive to access.

Regarding the validity of a voluntary national household survey, it is shocking to hear the Minister of Industry say earlier that the government was acting on the advice of Statistics Canada. We know that the chief statistician had to resign to make it clear that a voluntary household survey cannot become a substitute for a mandatory sentence. The government conducted no real consultation with Statistics Canada. Instead, it began with the premise that the mandatory long form would be replaced.

Other members have spoken today about the need for reliable data and that only a mandatory long form census can produce that data. I would point out that even the minister admitted that a voluntary census had selection biases and will have low levels of response from low and high income earners, as well as aboriginal Canadians. He also tacitly acknowledged the fact that we will pay more for less.

I will also point out that we take a census every five years, not only to see a snapshot of where we are in society at a point in time, but to make comparisons over time. A voluntary survey will be incompatible with previous long form census data and make this type of comparison impossible.

As well, even the Prime Minister knows or knew of the importance of consistent methodology. In his 1991 master's thesis, he used census data to make his case about political business cycles. He even noted how disruptive changes in methodology could be for long-term analysis in understanding how Canadian political behaviour changed over time.

The government says that it needs to try to balance the need for data with the need to remove the threat of jail time. I would ask the government to acknowledge the fundamental imbalance that it has created by choosing to scrap the mandatory long form census rather than remove the threat of jail time and keep the census.

As I stated earlier, never has this House seen such a broad-based range of stakeholders, such as a coalition, including other levels of government, against the decision to scrap the long form census.

I want to read into the record the words of the National Council of Women of Canada, when it, in a letter to the Prime Minister, said:

NCWC is a staunch supporter of recognizing unpaid work in contributing to Canada’s vibrant economy. We are now writing to oppose the proposed changes to Canada’s census. Through a voluntary census, information gathered becomes unreliable and unusable. Any other surveys on social services are also compromised without a reliable comparative demographic scale to be used alongside.

I will conclude my comments by referencing an editorial in today's Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail, in its conclusion to its lead editorial, said:

It is unfortunate that something as sensible and fundamental as the long-form census has to be hard-wired into law. But given that its abolition was born of political calculation, the political arena, where the consensus against abolition is so great, is where it should be settled.

I would ask members opposite, and particularly the Prime Minister's Office, to respect this institution, respect the vote that comes out of this debate here today and maintain the mandatory long form census. We have heard from Canadians from coast to coast to coast, from church groups, to business groups, to school groups, to women's groups and to disabled groups. Canadians right across this country know, use and need the mandatory long form census. I would ask members opposite to respect the decisions in this House.

Firearms Registry September 22nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, that is a shameful response.

The member for Portage—Lisgar said yesterday that the “only defence of [the gun registry] is domestic violence and suicide cases. Nobody is even saying that it stops crime anymore”.

Shockingly, the Prime Minister appears to agree with her, based on his comments earlier today.

Can the Minister of Public Safety confirm that the current government still considers domestic violence a heinous crime and commit to fighting it by maintaining the gun registry?

Firearms Registry September 22nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, they speak of victims' rights. Yet yesterday, Sue O'Sullivan, the Prime Minister's appointed victims ombudsman, said that “the majority of victims' groups [they] have spoken to have made it clear: Canada should maintain its long gun registry”.

It is the same message we have heard from victims, police, nurses, and women's groups.

Why can the Conservatives not work with them to improve the registry, to make it less burdensome for honest farmers and hunters, yet still a useful tool for fighting crime?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 20th, 2010

With regard to gender-based analysis (GBA), for each department and agency: (a) was a statement of intent or policy concerning GBA put in place and, if so, what is its content; (b) was a responsibility centre established to monitor the implementation of a GBA framework and the practice of GBA; (c) were Status of Women Canada GBA guides and manuals distributed to departmental officials and analysts and other appropriate staff and, if so, which documents were distributed; (d) was mandatory GBA training given to all senior departmental officials and analysts and other appropriate staff and, if so, when; (e) have GBA frameworks been identified in and included in the departmental reports on plans and priorities and reporting on their implementation in their departmental performance reports or similar documents; (f) has yearly self-evaluation and reporting to Status of Women Canada occurred on departmental GBA practices; and (g) if any of the above (a) through (f) have not occurred, for what reason, and what steps, if any, have been taken to establish a plan for GBA implementation containing these elements?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 20th, 2010

With regard to all Governor in Council appointments: (a) what criteria are used to determine the suitability of appointees; (b) have any organizations with appointed directors adopted a gender-parity policy for their boards of directors; (c) is there a government policy on gender representation on boards appointed through Order in Council; (d) has the Privy Council Office designated responsibility for monitoring gender representation on boards appointed through Order in Council; and (e) what percentage of all appointments made since February 6, 2006, were of female appointees, broken down by organization?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 20th, 2010

With regard to Status of Women Canada’s Women’s Community Fund and the Women’s Partnership Fund, for the fiscal years 2007-2008 to 2009-2010: (a) which organizations or groups applied for funding under each program; (b) which organizations or groups were successful in receiving funding from each program, and what were the purposes of these successful applications; (c) which organizations or groups were not successful in receiving funding from each program, and what were the purposes of these unsuccessful applications; (d) what criteria were used to approve funding for organizations or groups and their projects; (e) how much money was granted to each organization or group and project, and how much money has each received to date; (f) which organizations or groups were recommended for funding to the Minister for Status of Women by ministry staff; (g) which organizations or groups that were recommended for funding to the Minister for Status of Women did not receive funding; (h) what criteria did the Minister for Status of Women use to decide which of the organizations or groups recommended for funding were funded and which were not; (i) was any planned funding for either program allowed to lapse and, if so, in which year, and by what amount; (j) was the regional distribution of funding considered as part of the process to determine which organizations or groups received funding and which did not; (k) was the internal capacity of organizations or groups applying for funding considered as part of the process to determine which organizations or groups received funding and which did not; (l) were first-time applicants prioritized ahead of previous funding recipients as part of the process to determine which organizations or groups received funding and which did not; (m) what percentage of successful applicants were first-time recipients of Status of Women funding, in each fiscal year; (n) did Status of Women Canada provide unsuccessful recipients with detailed information regarding deficiencies in their applications; and (o) what percentage of unsuccessful applicants fully met the funding criteria as listed on the Status of Women Canada website and other documentation?

Questions on the Order Paper September 20th, 2010

With regard to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA): (a) did the agency conduct a gender-based analysis (GBA) of its new Aid Effectiveness Agenda before its announcement in September 2008; (b) has the agency conducted ongoing GBA of the Aid Effectiveness Agenda; (c) is the 1999 Policy on Gender Equality incorporated in the Aid Effectiveness Agenda and, if so, in what way; (d) is there a statement of intent or policy concerning GBA at CIDA; and (e) what steps, if any, were taken between 2006 and 2010 to ensure the full implementation of GBA and the 1999 Policy on Gender Equality?

Lake Winnipeg September 20th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, while the Minister of Public Safety proclaims that Manitoba has had “more than its fair share” of government funding, the real needs of Lake Winnipeg continue to be grossly ignored. The rehabilitation of Lake Winnipeg, the 10th largest freshwater lake in the world, requires real federal leadership.

In 2005, the federal-provincial Lake Winnipeg implementation committee called for a $40 million five-year investment to bolster scientific understanding and to begin rehabilitation. In the 2006 election, the Liberals understood the critical state of Lake Winnipeg and went further, committing $120 million over 10 years and developing a comprehensive plan for cleanup, which included reducing the levels of harmful pollutants to the pre-1970s levels.

However, despite these calls to action, the Conservative government waited until 2007 to announce $3.5 million per year for Lake Winnipeg, while at the same time committing $6 million annually to Lake Simcoe in Ontario, which has a watershed a fraction of the size. Surely—

International Co-operation June 17th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government's refusal to fund access to safe abortion where legal is not just unethical and paternalistic, it also flies in the face of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, including government members, who yesterday recommended that access to safe abortion be funded by Canada at the G8.

Will the Conservative government adopt the committee's recommendations and end its shameful denial of legal rights of mothers abroad?

Aboriginal Affairs June 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the government's treatment of aboriginal peoples has consistently fallen short. But its broken promise to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is perhaps its most shameful act yet.

The hopes of Canada's first nations, Métis and Inuit have been dashed in mere months. Canada was once a leader in human rights, recognizing the worth and value of every Canadian. Today we fall short of the standard we once set.

Why did the Conservatives break this promise?