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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word is terms.

Conservative MP for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canadian Human Rights Act October 18th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, as the bill goes to committee, there is going to be some great opportunity for a more intense look at both the pros and what some of the challenges might be with this particular piece of legislation.

There is no question that those issues will come up in committee as they look at it. Perhaps the committee will have some thoughtful suggestions that come back to the House as a result of the more intense look at all the ramifications.

Canadian Human Rights Act October 18th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am not completely knowledgeable about all the research in this area. I would expect there is trans and gender diverse people across this country. Perhaps many of them are more comfortable and find more support in some of our larger centres, because of course in a small rural community sometimes it is very difficult to have the support one might like.

I will talk to the article that was written by this journalist. She was moving to a smaller community and was really not quite sure what kind of support she was going to get when she actually arrived in a town that was not as large as where she was coming from.

Canadian Human Rights Act October 18th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I did reference a little of the research that has been done, and it is certainly very compelling. However, I also understand that there has not been a whole lot of research done in this particular area, or not as much as perhaps should be done.

Again, we can look at the examples, whether it was Terry or someone else. People have challenges in terms of violence, people have challenges in terms of bullying, and they certainly have challenges in terms of opportunities. There are people who know the research perhaps better than I, and there is still more research that needs to be done.

Canadian Human Rights Act October 18th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I will try to keep your last point in mind as I address my comments through you to the House.

I am also rising to speak to Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. It is a bit of an innocuous title to a bill that requires parliamentarians to reflect on some personal and fundamental values. It is also important to note that the bill will likely receive majority support, while we must acknowledge that some of my colleagues and many Canadians do have concerns about what the bill actually means.

I will be supporting the bill at second reading, and I hope my remarks will help shape a thoughtful dialogue, especially for those who are less comfortable, and also will address some of the specific concerns I have heard during the debate in the House today.

First, it is important to talk about the technical aspects of the bill. Bill C-16 would make three changes to the law. It would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and gender expression. This amendment would provide explicit protection to gender, transgender, and gender diverse persons. That is from discrimination in areas such as employment opportunities and access to goods and services.

The bill would also amend the Criminal Code in two ways. It would prohibit hate propaganda against groups that are identifiable based on gender identity or gender expression, and certainly an example is extremist literature that is especially targeting them.

Finally, it would amend the Criminal Code to clarify that sentencing for a criminal offence may be greater if the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate.

As stated by the minister, the objectives of the bill are to recognize and reduce vulnerability of trans and other gender diverse persons to the discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crimes and to affirm their equal status as Canadians.

I think the statistics are irrefutable that transgender people face high levels of discrimination and also a high risk of violent crime. Recent research by Egale Canada said 95% of transgendered students feel unsafe at school and nine out of 10 have been verbally harassed due to their gender expression.

I did some research as I was looking at my comments today, and I went to a document that the World Health Organization has put out. It is very interesting. It talks about gender identity versus sex, and it says we often tend to confuse and mix the two together. As a quick look at what it calls sex, typically females are XX and there are males who are XY, but babies are born with chromosome abnormalities—Turner syndrome, XXX females, hermaphroditism, and a whole host of issues—but clearly it says that is sex and it is determined by a range of chromosome complements, hormone balance, and phenotypic variants, which determine sex.

It puts out gender as being more of a social construct, and in western countries it has tended to be very binary in nature, whereas in other cultures it has been much more fluid. Certainly we look at sex and we predominantly have males and females, XX and XY, but we do look at there being a whole variant within sex. Having not a binary philosophy around how we look at gender, as many other cultures do, is something we should be looking at.

This is not an abstract discussion. I think everyone here knew people in high school who were much more comfortable with their circle of friends; and we just heard one of my colleagues talk about Terry, who had to run home from school to escape bullying and abuse. I think many of us had friends in high school whom we were aware of. Also, perhaps it was our mother's aunt, whom we loved as a child but perhaps wondered what made her seem a little different, and we could not quite put our finger on it.

We have talked a bit here about what the bill is. We have talked a bit about the WHO definition. I am going to focus some comments also on some arguments that have been put forward today against supporting the bill.

The first one is that transgendered people are already protected under the human rights code. The debate has been fairly comprehensive in that area and I have been convinced that there is not full protection. There are some loopholes in terms of our human rights code, and sex and sexual orientation do not completely cover off the protection that is necessary. It was certainly a valid argument. I have listened to both sides and I believe there are some gaps in terms of protection.

The other point is that this is a bit of a symbolic affirmation as well. Not only would it close a loophole, but it is important and symbolic. Here I would like to share a local example.

We had an editorial on our local radio that talked about whether we even needed pride parades anymore, that it is sort of over and done with, “Let's get on, everyone is accepted”. It was responded to by another local journalist who quite clearly articulated that if people thought homophobia and transphobia were over in Canada it was perhaps because they had never been queer. She then went on to talk about what it was like for her personally to move to a new community, to wonder if she was going to be accepted, and the challenges that she had in her everyday life.

The other thing we are hearing about is that perhaps there would be heterosexual predators who would take advantage of the bill and use it in terms of going after our young daughters and sons. I have been looking at recent examples of horrific crimes. Today we hear about someone in Nova Scotia, Klutzy the Clown. Last week, we heard about a teacher, a sports coach. We have heterosexual predators out there and our children must be protected from them, but I do not think that a trans person would use a single-occupancy restroom in order to perpetrate these crimes.

It is kind of interesting. I have thought about this at great length because I think that the people who have this concern are very concerned. We have a single washroom that we created in the park, and it was created for people with disabilities, for trans folks, and for others to access. It is a single washroom. The reaction that we got back because we had created a gender-neutral washroom was very stunning. On airplanes, there are gender-neutral washrooms.

This was a very interesting experience. My daughter went to university and she was staying in residence. I thought it was very strange that it was not only a co-ed floor but there were co-ed washrooms and showers at the university. I thought that was very strange and wondered how it was all going to work out. I asked her about it and she said that it was sort of strange at first but after the first week it was just normal in terms of that particular co-ed set-up. We perhaps worry about the bathroom issue in a way that we should not.

In conclusion, again I certainly know that we will be hearing more about this particular debate in committee and when we bring it back to the House. By supporting the bill in Parliament, we would send a collective, strong message and comfort to the many trans and gender diverse Canadians who have had a very difficult path in life. Again, I look forward to the continued debate.

Indigenous Affairs October 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the story continues.

Band members of the Alexander and the Onion Lake first nations are calling for financial transparency. In Alexander, an investigation identified $2.1 million in unexplained payments. In Onion Lake, they have not even provided basic information.

With the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, band members for the first time ever have access to basic information that all Canadians deserve. When will the Liberals enforce the First Nations Financial Transparency Act?

Indigenous Affairs October 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government should be ashamed of its approach to first nations transparency. Three hundred band members from the Samson Cree Nation are now calling for a forensic audit into how their chief and council spent federal funds. They know there was money that was supposed to be going into programs, such as suicide and gang violence prevention, but they see very little change on the ground.

When will the government respond to their plea for a forensic audit and also start to enforce the First Nations Financial Transparency Act?

Business of Supply October 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the government likes to spend taxpayers' money and over-spend with the now $30 billion deficit, but it is not creating an environment for our industries to succeed by having things such as the softwood lumber agreement and pipelines that generate revenue. The Liberals are missing one side of the equation. They are good at spending taxpayers' dollars but they are completely missing the side of the equation in which they could be creating an environment where industries could be successful, whether in forestry or such things as pipelines and our oil industry.

Business of Supply October 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I talked about British Columbia, but as my colleague clearly articulated, this is not just an issue for one province. It is an issue across the country.

This issue was absent in both the mandate letter and the Speech from the Throne.

Aerospace is a sexy industry. It is perhaps appealing to the Liberal government to look at giving it $1 billion of taxpayers' money to the aerospace industry.

We are asking the government to take the time, take the energy, and make it a priority and let us get the deal done.

Business of Supply October 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, obviously the first thing is not to have quotas that are significantly lower than the existing quotas.

This is a hard negotiation, but it can be done. Our government showed that it could be done. When we became government in 2006 we managed to get the deal done. It was a reasonable deal and it was accepted across the country. It was not perfect but it was certainly much better than the very challenging circumstances that we had in the many years prior.

Business of Supply October 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to today to speak to this important issue. My colleague from Battlefords—Lloydminster articulated a broad picture of the issue, its importance, and that we need to come to some resolution. It has been a challenge over the last 30 years, but the Conservative government got the job done.

I was first elected in 2008, but from 2006 to 2008, I remember the relief that the ridings and communities across our country felt because they knew the agreement was in place. No agreement is perfect, but it brought peace in the woods for over 10 years. It was something that the Conservative government was able to get done. After 30 years of very challenging circumstances, it got the job done.

Many people in the House represent urban areas and are perhaps not as familiar with the forestry industry as some of us who live in rural communities, so I want to talk a bit about the forestry industry and how important it is. Someone who lives in Toronto and represents a downtown riding may hear about the softwood lumber agreement and be a little puzzled as to why this agreement even matters.

The Forest Products Association of Canada has a map that shows communities across the country. I urge people to go to that website and look at the amazing map. There are little green dots that represent communities whose viability completely depend on the forestry industry. If they look at British Columbia, parts of Quebec, and Ontario, they will see provinces that are full of those green dots, rural communities that are completely dependent on the forestry industry.

In British Columbia right now, 34% of its exports are forest products. B.C. represents 72% of Canada's softwood lumber industry, so clearly the softwood lumber agreement is absolutely critical to the province. The Conservative government recognized that it should not be so dependent on the American market, and British Columbia has done a great job with the Asia-Pacific gateway and how it moves products. Asia has now replaced Europe as its second most important partner in terms of getting its products to market. Having said that, the U.S. market remains absolutely critical. British Columbia has 58,000 people in the industry and $6.5 billion in GDP.

Right now in Canada, the fiscal situation is very concerning. When we look at Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario, British Columbia has been a glimmer of positive movement forward. I am very concerned that if an agreement is not reached, the province will have very significant challenges.

I will narrow this down a little more. I talked a bit about the big picture in British Columbia. In the riding I represent, there is a beautiful little community, Clearwater, which is on the Yellowhead Highway. People may have driven through it when travelling from Kamloops through to Jasper. It is a very popular place for tourists, including those from Europe, who visit beautiful Wells Grey Provincial Park.

In that community of about 2,200 people, there is the Canfor Vavenby mill, which is predominantly spruce and pine. This particular mill has 150 direct workers. Tourism is important to this little community of 2,200 people, but the most important industry in that community is the mill, with 150 workers. It has a payroll of $20 million and is estimated to add $100 million to the local economy. We can imagine what would happen if it were no longer viable. This community is just one example of the many green dots on that map by The Forest Products Association of Canada.

Not only does the mill provide well-paying jobs in the community, but it does a great job in terms of the apprenticeship training program. It also sends chips to Kamloops. Another thing it does as a community benefit is for heating. It provides chips free of charge to the Dutch Lake Community Centre to keep that heat going.

It is estimated that 70% to 80% of its market is to the U.S. Therefore, 70% to 80% of what is produced right now in that Vavenby mill is loaded on rail and trucks destined for the U.S.

Companies like Canfor, West Fraser, Interfor are important to our communities. They have expanded into the U.S., and certainly they have other opportunities to continue to do the good work they do. However, it is the communities that are going to be most hurt. It is the coffee shops and small businesses that die in rural communities when they lose their forestry industry. These communities are absolutely critical for British Columbia.

We have talked about the massive billion dollars in terms of supporting Boeing, but there are communities across British Columbia that need the government to get the job done and get a new softwood lumber agreement.

British Columbia said that this is absolutely critical, and the Premier was quoted in The Globe and Mail. On March 10, there was an agreement between the Prime Minister and the President that they were going to get the job done in 100 days. At the time, the Premier was optimistic that a top-level agreement was going to head off another Canada-U.S. softwood lumber trade conflict. She talked about the $3.3 billion, and applauded the commitment at that time to get the job done.

That happened on March 10, but on May 16, again I will talk about the Premier of British Columbia as she was quoted in an article from the Vancouver Sun. The headline was “After an initial flurry of optimism, Premier Christy Clark is now anxious about Canada's prospects for a renewed agreement with the United States...” She said, “I am worried about softwood, period...I think we are going to have to work incredibly hard now to try and get a deal because we are not a lot closer.”

We can see that the premier of the province is very concerned. Those little communities across British Columbia and across the country are hugely concerned in terms of what is going to happen to them if the agreement is not met.

However, what has the Liberal government done?

First, I knew that this agreement was expiring. At my town hall meetings in those rural communities, when we were going to the election, constituents asked what we were going to do about the softwood lumber agreement.

However, this agreement was not mentioned by the Liberal government in the Speech from the Throne, and it was not mentioned in the minister's mandate letter, which is absolutely stunning. To not have that mentioned in her mandate letter shows what low priority the government has in terms of getting the job done. The Liberals have given lip service to getting the job done.

Certainly when the Prime Minister and President had that 100-day commitment, we hoped that they would get the agreement done, to be quite frank. We wanted it done, and at that time we were thinking that maybe there was a priority to get this done. Clearly, the Conservatives got it done. The Liberals keep saying that this is our fault. They have had a year, and I do not see us being any closer to getting this done.

The only other thing that is important to mention in closing is that it is absolutely critical that not only this is done, but that it is a good deal, that they do not give away the farm in terms of getting a deal done.

I hope that by talking today, it will have impressed upon people, not only in the House but across Canada, how important the agreement is for the basic fabric of our communities, especially our rural communities, in terms of continuing to be an important part of our country.