House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was billion.

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

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

Statements in the House

Citizenship and Immigration March 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is the minister that is failing.

We already know that the minister had the audacity to bring Parminder Gill, an unelected Conservative candidate in Brampton—Springdale, to India in 2009 as part of an official Government of Canada delegation, but now we have learned that while he was in India, Mr. Gill made immigration policy announcements on behalf of the federal government. Back in Canada, Mr. Gill was set up to be the go-to guy for permits and visas.

We are all wondering, what are the terms and conditions to qualify for a visa which Mr. Gill would issue?

Citizenship and Immigration March 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism's attempt to turn his ministry into a political arm of the Conservative Party is out of control. Yesterday his fired staffer admitted that bureaucrats were forced to prepare fundraising letters for the Conservative Party and this is in addition to using government letterhead, as well as a government-issued cell phone as the RSVP line.

The Prime Minister called in the RCMP to investigate Bruce Carson. When will the Prime Minister put a stop to the abuse in the immigration minister's office?

Egypt March 10th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, as Egypt attempts to restore stability and affirm its commitments to democratic reform and religious freedoms, there are forces at work within the nation that view this time of transition as an opportunity to fan the flames of intolerance, persecution and sectarian violence.

What began on Saturday, March 5, when a mob of nearly 4,000 attacked the homes of Coptic Christians and razed the Church of St. Mina and St. George just 30 kilometres south of Cairo, has now claimed 13 lives as violence continues in the city. Most troubling is that the police and the armed forces, who have done so much to keep the peace and protect the innocent throughout Egypt, were reported as standing by, letting the violence against Christians occur unchecked.

I call on our Prime Minister and the government to speak out and to work through all our diplomatic channels to demand that safety and security be restored for all Egyptians immediately.

For the lives of loved ones, friends and family of Coptic Christians here in Canada and, indeed, for all Canadians, we must act now.

Political Financing March 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, during the 2006 election, Nigel Wright was working elbow to elbow with the scammers charged and the schemers accused of overspending their electoral limits.

It is impossible to believe that as the secretary and a director of the Conservative Fund Canada that Nigel Wright would not have been aware of this plot.

Was the Prime Minister's chief of staff involved in the scheme? Does his ethical wall include electoral fraud?

Political Financing March 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, there is only one party that has been charged.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from the neighbouring riding of Mississauga South for the question. In fact, that is exactly where I wanted to go. I want to highlight a list of abuses the government has undertaken, abuses of power, abuses of democracy.

First is the Minister of International Cooperation and the forging of a document. Second is the former public sector integrity commissioner, who had over 200 cases to analyze and review, who received a half a million dollar severance package after receiving only--

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, there are many things that could be commented on, and quite rightly so.

Four members of the Prime Minister's inner circle, two of them senators and one of them his chief bagman, have been charged in this scheme. We absolutely need to get to the bottom of this.

I would like to add something about exceeding the legal spending limits. Spending limits are put in place to ensure there is a level playing field, that massive amounts of money, that massive and uncontrolled election spending as we see in the United States cannot occur here, so that it is equal and level for everyone.

In short, they cheated. They cheated in the 2006 election. Those Conservative riding associations were claiming hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars that they were not entitled to claim because they were based on funds that were essentially illegally laundered. This is laundered money, money that was laundered through their accounts.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am not even sure where to begin with the fantasy that member has woven.

The truth is this. When the Conservatives reached the $18 million spending limit, they then found a way to transfer another $1.3 million to 67 ridings that had not spent their $80,000 limit. Then those riding associations were to receive a rebate.

Let me make this very simple for people to understand. At this time of year, people are filling out their tax returns to the Canada Revenue Agency. Would any Canadian earning a salary of say $40,000, $50,000, or $60,000 believe that it would be right and ethical to receive a tax rebate, a tax credit, for more than they earned that year? No they would not. They would know it would be unethical, and that is exactly what this is equivalent to.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on government advertising used for partisan promotion. Appointments of Conservative cronies have been made to boards, agencies, commissions and especially the Senate.

We have had the smearing and the sacking of agency heads, ombudsmen, whistleblowers, or anyone who would shed some light on Conservative wrongdoing. The Conservatives silence dissent.

It has been one scandal after another and it has to be as exhausting for the Conservatives as it is for us. It is no wonder the government's legislative agenda is so light. It is constantly fighting new scandals and cannot concentrate on the demands of governing.

We are over here begging for accountability, begging for the truth and all we get are silenced ministers, staffers being thrown under the bus, or excuses being made for their behaviour.

We have heard Conservatives say today, and they would want us to believe this, that, “everybody does this”. That is false. Conservatives are the only party facing charges. It is the only party that had its headquarters raided by the RCMP. It is the only party with a paper trail of fake invoices to be explained. The Conservatives could not even spell the word “invoice” correctly for goodness sake.

We did not cheat and overspend in an election campaign. We did not forge documents to claim unqualified expenses. The Conservatives did. They are the ones who need to answer for these actions.

Conservatives are desperately trying to downplay this as an administrative issue, which would be laughable if it were not so absurd, or that Elections Canada is targeting them for some sort of vendetta. We all know that no one holds a grudge like Elections Canada for goodness sakes. Earlier today, the Conservatives tried an arcane procedural argument to argue that Parliament did not have the right to debate this issue at all.

As today is International Women's Day, I am reminded of a famous message that mothers around the world use day in and day out to their children, “It's easier to tell the truth and take responsibility than continue to hide. The truth will always come out in the end”.

The motion we are debating today provides the opportunity for the House to declare, after five years since this scheme was committed, with all the evidence and testimony that has been delivered, that the scheme was electoral fraud. It calls for the Conservatives to order all tax money obtained illegally to be returned immediately to the people of Canada. It calls on the individuals charged in this crime to be fired.

These demands are simple and reasonable and they are what Canadians expect. They should not be forced by the House to be executed.

Business of Supply March 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for LaSalle—Émard.

We all remember those ubiquitous Conservative commercials when the then leader of the opposition, now the Prime Minister, was shown in a mock interview. It is remarkable because it is one of the last times he would ever speak openly to the media, but also because of what was said. In the commercial, a scripted actress questioned the Prime Minister. She said, “It's like you get to Ottawa and no one can touch you. How will you change that?” The reply, “You change the people in charge, but you also change the system. The first thing I will do is pass the Federal Accountability Act. It is a real plan to clean up government”. We know how that turned out.

Those commercials seemed to run day in and day out. There they were, they played over and over again, blasting away at the government of the day, much like we see the commercials blasting today, a misuse of public money, may I add. The Conservatives told Canadians, “We're the good guys. We're whistle clean. We ooze honesty. Vote us in and not a single penny of public money will go offside”. We know how that turned out too.

There is a reason why those commercials ran day in and day out. It is because the Conservatives cheated. They spent $1 million more than they were legally permitted to do. There is no other way of looking at it than calling it what it is; it is cheating.

The Conservatives do not see it that way. They call it an administrative disagreement. That may have held water if the Federal Court of Appeal had not unanimously ruled against their argument. Their excuses may be believable if the Office of the Federal Director of Public Prosecution had not charged the architects of the plot and called their actions illegal activity.

While the Conservatives were cheating the system, they ran on a message and on a platform of accountability, transparency, all those great words they use. From the Conservative election platform book called “Stand up for Canada”, the Prime Minister stated, “Only one party can deliver the change of government that is needed to bring political accountability to Ottawa”.

At the very same time that document was being printed, Conservative officials in Ottawa were shaking down candidates and their official agents all across the country.

Liberato Martelli, a 2006 Conservative candidate for Bourassa, stated, “I was told it would be deposited and quickly withdrawn”. It sounds like in and out to me. He said:

I was told there would be invoices but I never saw them...When I joined that party, I believed its vision at the time...I came to the realization they don’t have as much integrity as they claim”.

Joe Goudie, a 2006 Conservative candidate for Labrador was one of those called. He stated:

It most certainly did smell to me… for a national party, or any kind of a political party to benefit in what I perceived to be an underhanded manner, using not just my campaign but many others across the country, left me with a feeling of being used.

Now let us not lose sight of the timeline. This scheme to overspend and effectively cheat is going on at the precise time that the Conservatives are running a campaign on the theme of accountability, transparency and integrity. How incredulous is that?

This is important, not just for its perfect irony, but for the fact that their entire argument for power was a sham. It was a scam and a scandal, and it is a scandal today.

Remember the Prime Minister's own words, “The first thing I will do is pass the Federal Accountability Act. It is a real plan to clean up government”. Here we are, five years later, scandal after scandal with the Conservatives.

Ministers have refused to provide Parliament and its officers with documents and information needed to perform our jobs properly, to function within our jobs. An international cooperation minister admitted to altering documents, but refused to stand and be accountable to Parliament and to answer questions in Parliament.

An integrity commissioner sat on her hands. She colluded with the Prime Minister's Office and then was given a half-million dollar golden parachute, a golden handshake. She was then called out after reviewing only seven cases. Now there is a gag order on her as well.

Also, the Prime Minister's Office has exercised unprecedented control over the non-partisan and professional bureaucracy.

The Prime Minister believes he is the modern-day Sun King, declaring that the Government of Canada must be referenced in his name, “the Harper government”.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on government advertising—