House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was ensure.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Independent MP for Whitby (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 45% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code October 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the speech by my hon. colleague was delivered with passion, particularly when we are talking about vulnerable populations in our community.

I wonder if the member could expand on the community safety element. This particular piece of proposed legislation broadens the range of activities around animal fighting, such as promoting, arranging, and profiting from animal fighting, breeding, training, transportation and keeping an area for the purposes of fighting. It seems there is a large ecosystem of activity around animal fighting, and one that I really did not know anything about. Could my hon. colleague expand on how this broader proposed legislation would keep our communities, like Danforth, much safer?

Criminal Code October 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am glad I got another opportunity to rise and ask a secondary question for my colleague, especially when she mentioned, at the end, animal fighting and its correlation—I do not know if I should be using a statistically significant word like correlation—or its integration with guns and gangs and that kind of behaviour. I wonder if she could further expand on how this particular piece of legislation would help to mitigate what we are seeing as some possibly correlated activities that involve violence to the most vulnerable in our communities.

Criminal Code October 29th, 2018

As usual, Mr. Speaker, the member is very passionate about the issue, particularly when it comes the vulnerable in our society, and having government step in to ensure that gaps are adequately filled to prevent further harm and protect victims. As this bill goes to committee, I am wondering if my hon. colleague has any further suggestions and sees other areas by which the bill could be reinforced and/or amended or if this particular legislation fits the criteria of what her stakeholders and communities have been asking for.

The Environment October 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his speech. His passion is clearly evident in the words that he spoke this morning. I applaud him for the work that he continues to do to raise a number of issues in this House.

I will preface my question with the fact that Canada was among the first countries to phase out microbeads in toiletries. We have been working with provinces, territories, industry and communities towards a zero plastic waste vision. On Earth Day, we launched a public consultation with all Canadians to share their views on how to get to a zero plastic environment. Through our G7 presidency, countries and organizations agreed to an ocean plastics charter. We have invested $100 million to support vulnerable regions. We have an oceans protection plan, and budget 2018 committed over $1 billion to biodiversity. Therefore, we are not looking at this within a silo. We are looking at it comprehensively.

The member mentioned our educational outreach. I wonder how this motion in particular would fill the gap in some of the work that we are doing thus far.

Elections Modernization Act October 26th, 2018

Madam Speaker, again, I want to thank the PROC committee and others for their strong study of this bill. I preface my comments by saying that I want to thank them, because they made a number of amendments to this piece of legislation and did a lot of work. One of the amendments made to this bill would make foreign funding for partisan activity illegal in Canada. With all the member has just said, with this amendment will they now be supporting this piece of legislation?

Elections Modernization Act October 26th, 2018

Madam Speaker, one of the foundations of our democracy is ensuring that our electoral process is inclusive and that Canadians are given the opportunity to vote. This legislation introduces more equitable opportunities and more accessible opportunities for people to vote. In fact, it would make it more inclusive for individuals to vote in our electoral system.

When we talk about individuals who possibly do not have the proper identification to vote, the voter information cards would provide proof of address and that combined with ID would allow individuals to vote. We reinstated vouching. We have made provisions to have increased participation of women in our electoral process by having their expenses for child care paid, for example. There are provisions for individuals with a disability to work at home, redefining what disability means and using the term “accessibility”. There are a number different initiatives within the legislation.

Again, I thank the PROC committee for its work to make this proposed legislation allow more Canadians to be included in our electoral process and have democracy stay in the hands of Canadians.

Elections Modernization Act October 26th, 2018

Madam Speaker, the amendments and the act itself have made it very clear that we strongly want Canadian elections to remain in the hands of Canadians. Therefore, no foreign investments are allowed at any particular time. However, as my colleague said, if investments are made in partisan activities, they need to be reported and registered with the Chief Electoral Officer and be transparent for Canadians to see. One of the things we want to ensure is that Canadians are aware of who is trying to influence their elections at any time. Therefore, steps have been included in this legislation to ensure that the parties report when they receive money and how that could unduly influence an election in the future.

Elections Modernization Act October 26th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I rise today in the House to participate in the report stage debate of Bill C-76, the elections modernization act. The bill represents a generational overhaul of the legal framework that governs our federal elections, one of the most important events in our Canadian democracy. I would like to pay particular attention in my intervention to one of the key challenges that Bill C-76 addresses, that is the use of foreign funding by third parties for activities that would aim to influence the outcome of Canadian elections. Madam Speaker, I am sure you have heard a number of questions related to this, so I am hoping I will be able to answer some of them in my comments.

The use of foreign interference in domestic democratic processes is a very complex one that requires government-wide response. The government is taking these threats very seriously, and the Minister of Democratic Institutions is working closely with her colleagues to protect our electoral processes from these nefarious acts.

Before I continue with my remarks on this important issue, I would first like to thank our colleagues who are members of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. I will refer to it as PROC or the committee from now on. They have conducted a thorough study of this important piece of legislation and have advanced the proposal that we are now considering. There was a total of 100 hours of study, and I really want to commend them for their work.

Even before the bill was introduced by the minister, the comprehensive study of the recommendations of the Chief Electoral Officer, which the committee conducted over the last year, greatly contributed to the development of this strong piece of legislation. I want to reiterate that over 85% of the Chief Electoral Officer's recommendations are included in the current piece of legislation. Further, the discussions held by the PROC committee on the bill, including hearing from expert witnesses last spring, have resulted in amendments that are making this important legislation even stronger, including with respect to combatting foreign interference in Canada's federal election.

I would like to take a few moments to remind members of the House of important measures that are included in the bill, as introduced by the Minister of Democratic Institutions. The government believes these measures would help ensure that only Canadians get to influence the outcome of our Canadian elections. First, Bill C-76 prohibits foreign entities from spending any money to influence elections. Previously, they were able to spend up to $500 without being regulated. Canadians who are watching might be thinking there is no problem with $500. While it is true that it might not seem like a lot of money, when compared to hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent by political parties and candidates during an election campaign, this gets to be problematic. That said, a zero tolerance approach tells foreign entities to stay away from of our election, in unequivocal terms. It is, therefore, an important loophole that C-76 is closing. The message is clear: Canadians elections belong to Canadians, and it is not the place of foreigners to have a say in who should have a place in this chamber.

Another important feature of Bill C-76 that also contributes to this objective is the creation of the pre-election period, with spending limits imposed on political parties and third parties. This measure is necessary to respond to the reality that fixed-date elections have changed how political actors behave in the lead-up to an election campaign.

During his testimony before PROC last spring, Mr. Michael Pal, a renowned professor of constitutional law, stated that the creation of the pre-election period “ an extremely important and overdue amendment to the Elections Act.” The government believes that failing to impose limits in the lead-up to the issue of the writ would create a real risk for a level playing field, a feature of our democratic life. That is why we are committed to adapting the legislation to modern realities.

These changes related to the pre-election period also provide for additional transparency measures for third parties. Among these measures, we count the obligation that the election-related transactions be processed through a Canadian bank account, opened specifically for that purpose. Third parties, whether organizations or individuals who receive contributions for more than $10,000 or have relevant expenses in that amount, would be obligated to submit reports to the Chief Electoral Officer detailing expenses incurred and contributions received.

These interim reports will be due upon registration and on September 15. A final financial report will continue to be required after polling day. Making these reports public as soon as possible in the pre-election period will provide Canadians with more tools to know who is trying to influence their votes. It is our responsibility to ensure that Canadians have access to all the information possible so they can make an informed decision.

The amendments approved by PROC will strengthen this third-party transparency regime even more. Members of the standing committee adopted an amendment that would require reporting of the expenses of third parties, organizations, or individuals during the election period. More specifically, they would have to submit reports to the Chief Electoral Officer 21 days before polling day and seven days before polling day. This is an important improvement for ensuring greater transparency, particularly when we think that third parties do not face the same limits as political parties and candidates in receiving contributions from individuals or other entities. I commend the members of PROC for this measure, which nicely complements the set of amendments to the Canada Elections Act that were already introduced in the bill by the minister.

There is another key amendment that was adopted by PROC that relates to foreign influence. Indeed, PROC adopted a new prohibition on third parties using foreign funding for their partisan activities at any time. Let me be clear that the Canada Elections Act already prohibits the use of foreign funding for election advertising by third parties during the election period, irrespective of when the money is received. Bill C-76 has already expanded the scope of third-party activities that are covered by this prohibition. Not only will it be prohibited to use foreign funding for advertising, but it will also be prohibited to do so for partisan activities or election surveys.

Further, the Elections Modernization Act also extends this prohibition to activities during the newly established pre-election period. The amendment to the bill that was passed by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs extends this idea further by prohibiting the use of foreign funding by third parties for partisan advertising and activities at any time. This addition to Bill C-76 will reinforce the rules that frame the participation of third parties in our federal elections. What will this prohibition mean concretely? It would mean that it would be prohibited for anyone, an individual, a corporation or a non-government organization, to use foreign funding to conduct activities or transmit advertising supporting or opposing a specific political party.

I will say it once more that Canadian elections belong to Canadians. Bill C-76, which was improved by the work of our colleagues on the PROC committee, makes giant steps toward ensuring that our elections will be protected from foreign intervention.

Once again I would like to thank the members for their insightful study of Bill C-76. The elections modernization act will make our election processes more secure, transparent and accessible and will modernize the administration of elections in this country. It is an important piece of legislation to reinforce the protections against foreign interference in our democracy and for the future of Canadian democracy.

Elections Modernization Act October 26th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague's speech. He spent some time talking about the fact we have introduced time allocation on this legislation. We know that time allocation is necessary to advance legislation and to do the work that Canadians have sent us here to do.

I want to remind the hon. colleague that, through the committee and other work that has been done, over 85% of the recommendations made by the Chief Electoral Officer were included in Bill C-76. We heard 56 hours of witness testimony. There were 24 hours of study at committee and 36 hours of study on the recommendations of the Chief Electoral Officer. In total, over 100 hours of study have gone into what we now see as a very comprehensive piece of legislation.

I wonder why the hon. member thinks we should take any lessons from his party. When the Conservatives introduced Bill C-23, they had less than 50 hours of study of that legislation.

Elections Modernization Act October 26th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I want to go back to the beginning of the member's speech and make some very clear distinctions around the voter information card.

To be clear to anybody who is listening or who inadvertently received a card frm Elections Canada, the voter information card is not a piece of ID and it is an offence under the Canada Elections Act for a non-citizen to vote or for a non-citizen to register to vote when they know they are not able to do so.

I know that we are talking about this in the context of the cards being sent out, but we should be telling individuals that it is an offence and something that cannot be done under Canadian law. I would hope that in this conversation it becomes clear to all permanent residents and non-Canadian citizens that it is not something they can do.