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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

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act February 3rd, 2011

I am aware of that, Mr. Speaker.

However, the fact is that the government spent the first three years with the Prime Minister being churlish with China and ignorant of India. The government has had four trade ministers in five years, denying any of them any real opportunity to build important and sustainable relations with other ministers in other countries, trade relations, foreign relations or simply relations between people. Changing trade ministers almost every year is not good for policy or for defending Canadian interests abroad.

The fact is that a Liberal government would take a different approach. We would focus on the global network strategy that I talked about in my speech. We would work in partnership with business, universities, civil society and private citizens in order to better leverage Canadian relations with the world. We would harness our multicultural communities as a natural bridge to the fastest growing economies in the world, the economies of India and of China, which the Conservatives have so neglected over the years, and other growing economies. We would return to the very successful team Canada mission approaches focusing on several sectors where we have had a comparative advantage, areas like education and clean energy technologies.

A Liberal government would clean up the fiscal mess that the borrow and spend Conservatives have got us into.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act February 3rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of Bill C-46, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Panama, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Panama and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Panama. The Liberal Party will be supporting the bill.

I would like to raise a couple of concerns about the government's lack of action on increasing U.S. protectionism and its failure to seize trade opportunities with Indian recently, China, South Korea and other countries. I will also raise concerns about the lack of a tax treaty.

Canada is now experiencing the first trade deficits it has seen in 30 years. Indeed, the country set a trade deficit record in July of $2.7 billion. The government's priorities are concerning. Rather than pursue east-west bilateral or multilateral trade opportunities with growing economies such as India and China, the government is focused on trade agreements with smaller nations, representing a small fraction of our trade. It focuses on a misguided crime and justice agenda, which does little to stimulate the economy or to create jobs.

The Liberal Party supports the principle of free trade. Canada is a trade-dependent nation. Eighty per cent of its economy depends on access to foreign markets for Canadian exports. Liberals support initiatives that create jobs and improve market access for Canadian businesses.

In 2008 Panama had one of the highest real GDP growth rates in the Americas at almost 11%. Despite the global economic downturn, Panama posted a positive growth in 2009 at 2.4%, a trend that is expected to continue throughout 2010 and 2011.

The expansion of the Panama Canal is currently under way and is slated to be completed by 2014 at a projected cost of $5.3 billion. The expansion is expected to generate opportunities for Canadian companies in such areas as infrastructure and construction, as well as the environment and heavy engineering, consulting services, capital projects, human capital development and construction materials.

Like the Canada-Chile and Canada-Costa Rica free trade agreements, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the free trade agreement with Jordan, the Canada-Panama free trade agreement would include side agreements on labour co-operation and the environment.

The Canada-Panama labour co-operation agreement recognizes the obligations of both countries under the International Labour Organization's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, which requires both countries to ensure that laws, regulations and national practices protect the following rights: the right to freedom of association; the right to collective bargaining; the abolition of child labour; the elimination of forced labour; and the elimination of discrimination.

The Canada-Panama labour co-operation agreement and the agreement on the environment would include complaints and dispute resolution processes that would enable members of the public to request an investigation into the perceived failures of Canada or Panama to comply with these agreements.

Yes, Panama is a relatively small economy, as I mentioned. In 2009 Canada exported only $90 million of goods to that country. Yet it is a relatively stable country that has made significant progress in recent years in terms of development and democracy, which Canada is well-placed to continue to encourage.

In spite of the global economic downturn, Panama's GDP grew at almost 11% in 2008, one of the highest in the Americas, and is forecast at almost 6% in 2010. In 2009 bilateral trade between the two countries totalled $132 million, Canadian exports making up $91 million of that and imports $40.7 million.

Primary Canadian exports to Panama include machinery, vehicles, electronic equipment, pharmaceutical equipment and frozen potato products. Canadian service exports include financial services, engineering, information and communication technology services. Merchandise imports from Panama include precious stones and metals, mainly gold, fruits, such as bananas, nuts, fish and other seafood products.

The existing Panama Canal, vital for the international trading system, is undergoing a massive expansion, with completion slated for 2014. The $5.3 billion expansion is already generating business opportunities for Canadian companies. Canada will immediately eliminate over 99% of its tariffs on current imports from Panama should this proceed.

The free trade agreement also addresses non-tariff barriers by adopting measures to ensure non-discriminatory treatment of imported goods and promoting good regulatory practices, transparency and the use of international standards.

On the matter of a tax agreement, my party has some concerns that nothing has been undertaken. The concerns reflect the lack of a tax treaty. Neither a DTA, which is a double taxation agreement, or a TIEA, a tax information exchange agreement, has been signed with Panama. However, the Liberal Party will support this bill on the basis that a tax agreement will ultimately be achieved between our two countries. We will not put the benefits of free trade on hold while we wait for either a DTA or a TIEA. We believe a delay would take away the clear competitive advantage that a free trade deal would give Canadian businesses and farmers given the lack of free trade that currently exists between Panama and the United States.

At this point I wish to highlight some real concerns about the Conservative government's approach to international trade. We are losing the concept of free trade with our biggest trading partner to the south, the United States. When the recession hit, the U.S. government responded with protectionism in putting forth its buy American policies and tighter rules and regulations. The Conservative government initially stood by watching as if it did not know what had hit it. It engaged in photo ops in Washington, not realizing that the battle needed to be fought across all states at the state level.

By the time a so-called exemption was worked out, which itself required significant concessions by Canadian provinces, the protectionism in the United States had already hurt Canadian businesses, costing real Canadian jobs. The exemption only covered 37 states, a great example of how it is not just Washington that must be engaged.

Despite our vociferous efforts to get the Conservative government to engage much more forcefully at the state level, the government did not seem to understand either the whats of the negative effects on Canadian business or the hows of fixing the problem, and here we are again. The United States is threatening more protectionist legislation with its foreign manufacturers legal accountability act, which, although not technically aimed at Canada, would significantly hurt many Canadian businesses and affect many Canadian jobs.

I also want to use this opportunity in the debate on the merits of free trade to encourage the government to do much more in its dealings with China, South Korea and others. I acknowledge the announcement and production of the report last week between Canada and India, and I am encouraged that this is moving in the right direction.

I urge the government to capitalize on the extraordinary growth and scale that presents such fantastic opportunities for so many Canadians here and around the world, an economy that is growing at an incredible rate.

There are incredible investment opportunities being made in infrastructure, water, sewage treatment and public transit. We have been told repeatedly by the Chinese people that they are looking for green technology, for forestry products and for investments in the financial services industries. There are tremendous opportunities for trade in educational services, in co-operation and engagement not just at the Canada-China level but provincially and municipally as well.

We in the Liberal Party have stressed and will continue to stress the importance of Canada in the world. In support of this, we have proposed the concept of global networks. We say that the older, simpler concept of trade and commerce on its own, of simple export and import of goods and services, should be expanded to include all kinds of engagement on all levels, such as education, culture and environmental co-operation, a much greater engagement, a much broader engagement and exchange of people and ideas.

I look forward to this bill moving along as quickly as possible while formalizing a solidified tax treaty. In doing so, I intend to give my full support to the bill and I urge all hon. members to do the same.

Situation in Egypt February 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, this has been on the minds of many residents, many of my constituents. They are very concerned for their loved ones back home, and it is very important that we stand shoulder to shoulder, particularly with the Coptic community, to ensure respect for human rights, freedom from religious persecution, and enable the Coptic community to engage in their full and legitimate right to participate in transforming the society.

What I want and hope is that Egypt returns to democratic values, that it will share in the same democratic principles we enjoy here in Canada, principles such as freedom of speech, religious tolerance, freedom of association, and the economic stability and opportunity that are so important to a thriving and developing economy, and equality and education for women, good and stable governance and effective government institutions and, of course, we have already mentioned freedom from persecution, from corruption and violence.

What we really want is a good quality of life and peace and stability in that region,.

Situation in Egypt February 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, that is a very important question. As he well knows, 50% of the population of Egypt lives on less than $2 a day. The economic conditions that exist in Egypt are one of the primary reasons protesters took to the streets, along with the human rights abuses, torture and corruption. People need economic opportunity and that is why Egypt needs a return to stability and good governance.

As an experienced contributor of aid and development, Canada can play a significant role in this economic reform. What Canada needs to do is to review its aid priorities to best suit the needs of these historic changes.

Situation in Egypt February 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to lend my voice to this emergency debate on the crisis that is occurring in Egypt.

I too condemn the violence that has occurred and extend my condolences to the families of the victims and pray for peace and stability. I will be sharing my time with the member for Ottawa—Vanier.

This is a time of opportunity, not just for one country but also for an entire region, a time of opportunity that is unprecedented. It is also a time of great risk and great uncertainty. All sides must share in the priorities of peace, and Egypt must continue its leadership role in the peace process in the Middle East.

Following President Mubarak's announcement that he will not seek re-election, Canada reiterated its support for the Egyptian people as they transition to a new leadership and a promising future.

As Egypt moves towards new leadership and a new regime, we encourage all parties to work together to ensure an orderly transition toward a free and vibrant society in which all Egyptians are able to enjoy the rights and freedoms we enjoy here in Canada, and not a transition that leads to violence, instability or extremism.

Canada must strongly support an open transition to democratic values and governance in Egypt. The Egyptian government must respond now to the people's demands. There needs to be freedom of expression and assembly, free and fair elections, and freedom from persecution for religious minorities. This is not just about economic and social change. There must be a fundamental change in the manner of governance, proper elections and other steps towards democratic values and respect for human rights.

Canada must also strongly support the rights of people to demonstrate peacefully, and we call on the Egyptian government to reverse the steps it has taken to crack down on such expression, including restoring social media and cellphone service.

We respect the Egyptian leadership's longstanding support of the Middle East peace process, its support in fighting terrorism and its opposition to the Iranian threat. But we will not support or abide the use of force against legitimate dissent and the use of extrajudicial means against the people.

We are encouraged by the army's pledge not to use force against the people.

At this time, not all details are clear, but there are concerns that the government is involved in fomenting the clashes. If this is true, it must stop, and they must start helping to control the violence.

Egyptians themselves will determine the outcome of these historic events. However, we are concerned, as all parties, governments and actors should be, about the possibility that a change in government could bring forth a government that is, in whole or part, averse to peace in the region or that would want to abrogate the longstanding and historic peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.

Egypt has been the linchpin of Middle East peace, and all governments and parties should make the maintenance of peace a top priority for the wellbeing of all of the region's citizens.

I would like to discuss the rights and freedoms of members of my community, rights that have been abrogated in Egypt, and how we as Canadians must be vigilant in standing up for the rights of minorities. I am blessed to have one of the largest, the third largest in fact, Egyptian communities in Canada residing in my riding of Mississauga—Streetsville. These Egyptians are primarily Coptic Christians, who are the largest religious minority in Egypt. The Copts are the native Egyptians Christians, a major ethno-religious group in Egypt.

Christianity was the majority religion in Roman Egypt during the 4th to 6th centuries and, until the Muslim conquest, has remained the faith of a significant minority of the population until the present day. Copts in Egypt constitute the largest Christian community in the Middle East, as well as the largest religious minority in the region, accounting for an estimated 10% of the Egyptian population. Some officials estimate that these Christians represent 5% to 10% of a population of over 83 million Egyptians.

Members of the Canadian diaspora conclude that there are 250,000 to 400,000 Coptic Christians here in Canada.

Most Copts adhere to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.

I have had the pleasure of attending mass at the Church of the Virgin Mary and St. Athanasius, and have been blessed by His Holiness Pope Shenouda, one of the most profound experiences of my life.

As a religious minority, the Copts are subject to significant discrimination in modern Egypt and are the target of attacks by militant Islamic extremist groups.

Many in the Coptic Christian community have expressed frustration, anger, shock and horror at the ongoing religious persecution that has targeted Coptic Christians and been escalating. The Coptic community has been targeted with hate crimes and physical assaults. Members of the U.S. Congress have expressed concern about the human trafficking of Coptic women and girls, who are the victims of abductions, forced conversions to Islam, sexual exploitation and forced marriages to Muslim men.

Last Christmas eve we witnessed a massacre at Nag Hammadi, where seven were killed and many more injured. Just a few weeks ago, on Christmas eve in Alexandria, 21 Copts were killed and 79 injured. With this growing religious intolerance and open sectarian violence against Coptic Christians in recent years, we are concerned for the Coptic Christians and about the failure of the Egyptian government to effectively investigate and properly prosecute those responsible.

The freedom to practice religion and the protection of minorities are significant rights in a democratic society. These are values that we hold near and dear in Canada. Yet these rights have not been extended to Coptic Christians.

The Coptic community recently issued a statement that it preferred the rule of President Mubarak to that of an unknown alternative. Their fear is that the Muslim Brotherhood, a group of Muslim fundamentalists, could or would fill the leadership void that would exist. That would represent a very concerning and much less stable option. It is important, as Hillary Clinton stated, that there be an orderly transition to a more politically open Egypt.

President Obama stated that Egypt's $1.5 billion aid package would be reviewed if peaceful protesters were dealt with harshly, and he urged President Mubarak to take the concrete steps to enact the political and economic reforms that are needed. To date, President Mubarak has promised not to run in the next election scheduled for this September.

As Canadians, our priorities must be clear. First, we must ensure the security of our citizens on the ground in Egypt, as they continue to face a dangerous and unstable situation. The government must offer increased consular services to come to their aid and evacuate those who wish to return home to Canada. The safety and security of all Egyptians must also be a foremost priority.

This is an important moment for the people of Egypt. It is a time of crisis and concern, but it is also a time of hope and opportunity. We pray for a return to peace, stability, and security and to an open transition to democracy and reform.

Situation in Egypt February 2nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I am blessed to have one of the largest Egyptian communities residing in my riding, primarily Coptic Christians who are the largest religious minority in Egypt. I have had the pleasure of attending their mass and been blessed by Pope Shenouda himself.

Many in the Coptic Christian community have expressed frustration and anger over the ongoing religious persecution that has targeted many Coptic Christians and has been escalating over the years, as we saw in Nag Hammadi last year and in Alexandria where 21 were killed and 79 injured. With this growing religious intolerance and sectarian violence against Coptic Christians in recent years and the failure of the Egyptian government to effectively investigate and properly prosecute those responsible, what consideration can--

Canada Post February 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, last spring the government was caught advertising on an erotic website. It said it would put an end to it. Today we learn that there is erotic advertising on a government website. Canada Post has an online store that features Canadian and American retailers selling racy lingerie, erotic products and even a link to The Adult Boutique.

Does the minister realize that children have access to this site? Does he really think it is appropriate for Canada Post to be selling sex toys, racy accessories and other erotica?

National Philanthropy Day Act February 1st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise today to contribute to the debate on Bill S-203, the National Philanthropy Day bill. I supported my hon. colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour in the previous incarnation of this bill as Bill S-217, introduced by retired Senator Grafstein, but sadly it died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued.

Bill S-203 is not a new bill. It has been on the order paper in the Senate since 2005 and I have followed its fate with great interest. I am pleased to see it finally make its way through the parliamentary process once again.

Under the bill, November 15 would be established as a special day for philanthropic associations across Canada. National philanthropy days are already held in every region of Canada, involving thousands of citizens every year. This day was initiated at the grassroots level, and continues to grow, led by individual charities and organizations such as the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Canada will lead the world if Parliament adopts the bill and recognizes National Philanthropy Day on November 15.

Barely a facet of Canadian society has not been touched by philanthropy in some way, from children's causes, health care, the arts, et cetera.

According to Imagine Canada, Canadians collectively donated $10 billion to charitable causes in 2007, and that number has grown today. In the spirit of philanthropy, over two billion volunteer hours were donated. Sixty-five per cent of teenagers volunteer as a result of the requirement of high school service hours, representing the highest level of involvement of any age group, and immigrant groups also give larger annual donations on average. Twenty-five per cent of Canadians provide 80% of the value of all donations.

Philanthropy, however, is more than donating money. It is also about the gift of time through volunteerism, passion, selflessness and spirit. It is about what is in our hearts, not necessarily what is in our bank accounts. Many philanthropists are not donors in the tradition sense, but are champions, advocates and volunteers. Philanthropy, as a whole, helps build strong communities and active civic participation by bringing people together to serve a common goal.

Imagine Canada's research, in its “Philanthropic Success Stories in Canada”, describes philanthropy as that which: one, is risky and does not back a sure winner; two, tackles an unpopular issue, such as HIV-AIDS, homelessness, or mental illness; three, is not done for personal glory or for recognition; four, does not have any strings attached; five, is pioneering, innovative and often ahead of the curve; six, addresses the root cause or causes of a problem; seven, draws on the expertise of those who are working in the field; eight, engages and inspires the wider community; nine, demonstrates a long-term commitment; and ten, acts as a spark or a catalyst for lasting social change.

In my career, prior to being elected as the member Mississauga—Streetsville, I was a passionate community activist and fundraiser. I believed in the merits of philanthropy and its ability to make a change and an impact in our society. I have raised money for many worthy charities, organizations and causes, all of which were unable to meet the growing demands of their budgets through government grants or subsidies and had to turn to individuals and corporate donors for support. These included my children's schools when school boards and provincial governments could not adequately meet the need for sports equipment, new technology, or textbooks and also Arts Umbrella, a visual and performing arts institute on Granville Island in Vancouver. I also worked for the Ontario Brain Injury Association, the Brain Injury Association of Canada and Mississauga's Credit Valley Hospital, where we helped build a regional cancer centre, an ambulatory care centre and a new maternal care centre.

I continue to assist causes I believe in, because it is the right thing to do, and I derive a great personal satisfaction from contributing to causes which help friends and help build a stronger and healthier community at large.

Nationally, the achievements of philanthropy are diverse, spanning all aspects of society such as health, housing, education, social services, the environment, and international issues, including aid and development, which demonstrates the widespread impact that philanthropy has both in Canada and abroad.

Let me illustrate some of the examples of how philanthropy has helped our community in some very profound ways.

Both individual philanthropists and foundations are active in fostering innovation. For example, philanthropist and businessman, Alan Broadbent, has been recognized for many of the organizations that he has helped found, including the Maytree Foundation and the Caledon Institute of Social Policy. Both of these organizations were mentioned for their influential work in finding innovative and efficient means of addressing emerging social problems.

One of the victories that Caledon had achieved in the implementation was the national child benefit, a significant step toward addressing child poverty in Canada. Some consider this initiative to be the most promising reform since medicare.

Through the work of community foundations, philanthropy has had a significant role in building strong and vibrant communities. Established in 2001, the Community Foundation of Mississauga is one of more than 155 community foundations in Canada. It serves Mississauga and offers people a variety of ways to make a difference in their community. A record year, 2010 had grants totalling over $700,000. A few areas that were supported include children and youth at risk, the environment, heritage preservation and community building. Because community foundations are attuned to the needs of the community, they are capable of addressing local issues in creative ways.

Further, philanthropy has had an important influence in the development of Canada's health care system, including its hospitals, community-based health services and even in medical breakthroughs. Philanthropy often creates organizations for populations that are not adequately serviced by traditional programs and services of the health care system, such as Mississauga's Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care, founded by Dr. Joseph Wong. The Yee Hong Centre provides care that is culturally and linguistically appropriate for Chinese seniors.

In addition to creating and sustaining hospitals and various specialized health care services, philanthropy raises awareness of a number of health care issues and generates funds for research. Perhaps the most recognizable achievement of this kind is Terry Fox's unforgettable Marathon of Hope, which taught Canadians about cancer and continues to raise significant funds for cancer research, some $23 million plus to date.

Many medical advances depended on philanthropic funding, such as the discovery of the gene that caused cystic fibrosis, found thanks to financial support of donors to help charities like the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Canada. One of the most famous Canadian contributions to medicine, Banting's discovery of insulin, had philanthropic roots.

In education and in the arts, philanthropy has aided public education, literacy efforts, funded university programs, supported university work in research and development, financed buildings, research chairs and scholarships, built unique cultural institutions and supported artists. We have philanthropy to thank for Canada's wealth of first-class universities and a vibrant arts community.

Before the depression, social assistance was provided predominantly by the church. One of the earliest social services umbrella organizations in Canada was the Community Chest. It was a product of various religious charities banding together. This organization later became known as the United Way of Canada. Today, and for many years, philanthropy is heavily involved in providing social assistance.

A shiny example of social assistance only a philanthropic organization can provide is Habitat for Humanity, which prides itself on not receiving any government funding. In fact, I had the pleasure of cutting the ribbon on the first Habitat for Humanity home built in Mississauga by the community for a worthy family that otherwise would never have had a home.

The most highly regarded philanthropists are not those who donate vast sums of money. Rather, it is those who take on risk and tackle unpopular issues, give selflessly of themselves, their time, money and spirit, make a long-term commitment to the cause and have no expectation of recognition or return on their investment. Sometimes philanthropists are wealthy benefactors, but there are also volunteers and advocates who champion it. It is difficult to imagine a part of society that has not been touched in some way by philanthropy.

The reason people volunteer is obvious: they want to help others by giving back to their community while making connections and gaining experience. I speak personally when I say that they gain a sense of personal satisfaction and fulfillment when they learn new skills, meet new people and feel appreciated or recognized in doing so. For others it is about leaving a lasting legacy. Active citizenship is the bedrock of our healthy democracy and creates resilient communities. Charitable giving and volunteering are crucial to our society and all aspects of Canadian living.

National Philanthropy Day has the support of many volunteer organizations, including Imagine Canada, the Philanthropic Foundations Canada, Community Foundations of Canada, the Voluntary Sector Forum, the Canadian Association of Gift Planners and the Canadian Bar Association. That is why I support this private member's bill and call on all parliamentarians to support it as well.

Questions Passed as Orders for Return January 31st, 2011

With regard to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, what grants and contributions under $25,000 did it award from January 1, 2009, to the present?

Questions on the Order Paper January 31st, 2011

With regard to the National Energy Board, what grants and contributions under $25,000 did it award from January 1, 2009, to the present?