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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was accessibility.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Windsor—Tecumseh (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2019, with 32% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Sri Lanka June 19th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and I am hopeful that if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.

I move:

That the House, (a) extend its condolences to all the victims of violence and war in Sri Lanka; (b) call on the Government of Sri Lanka to promote justice for those affected by the Easter Sunday attacks, protect the rights of religious minorities and defend all places of worship; (c) reaffirm Canada's call for Sri Lanka to implement its obligations within a clearly specified time frame, as mandated under the UN Human Rights Council resolutions 30/1 and 40/1 as well as Canada's support in advancing accountability, peace and reconciliation among all people on the island; and (d) call upon the United Nations to establish an international independent investigation into allegations of genocide against Tamils committed in Sri Lanka, including during the last phase of the armed conflict in 2009.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act June 18th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question allows me to share some very crucial examples of what happens when we do not do our due diligence and when we rush through an agreement. We cannot adequately explain what labour value content rules are and how they are going to be enforced.

Right now there is a clause about labour value content that requires a $16 U.S. per hour average wage. How does that translate when averaging in the more expensive executive management positions? No one is explaining how that is going to be excluded yet, so that is inadequate.

How is this for a quote from validators of our position? “Canadians will not sit idly by and watch our Internet be conceded by politicians trading horses. These kinds of digital policies do not belong in trade agreements. Canada is in the midst of a national consultation on Canada's Copyright Act, which has just been dramatically knee-capped with this agreement...Copyright reforms in this deal may be beneficial to corporate American rights-holders, but the Canadian government does not work for them. This is a bad deal for Canada.”

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act June 18th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member has pointed out how weak our existing free trade agreements are, if what we are getting now is going to be groundbreaking.

As a matter of fact, the Democrats in the United States are pushing forward for the kinds of expectations we had for the free trade agreement and for the rhetoric the Liberals had about this free trade agreement. These are half measures, and there are voluntary and discretionary measures and excerpts within the agreement that are going to make it vulnerable to those who want to undermine it. Indeed, we know from experience that will happen, especially in my riding, where we have seen manufacturing jobs leave.

When I discussed earlier how people called NAFTA the race to the bottom, some of those same people in the labour community predicted exactly that. It is of no satisfaction to me that certain people are now endorsing it because of these half measures. They are just better than what exists now.

Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act June 18th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise during this last week of the 42nd Parliament to represent my riding of Windsor—Tecumseh and voice our concerns and issues with free trade agreements in general, and specifically with Bill C-100, an act to implement the free trade agreement between Canada, the United States of America and Mexico.

New Democrats understand the importance of our trading relationship with the U.S., our largest trading partner, and we believe that a better NAFTA can improve the welfare of all North Americans. New Democrats are in favour of international trade agreements that respect human rights, the rights of workers, the environment and all of our international obligations. In fact, we supported the bill at second reading and proposed some excellent amendments that would have made for a truly progressive free trade agreement, the very sort of agreement that the current government pretends to support but never actually seems to sign.

The other parties like to take simplistic jabs at the NDP, as happened earlier tonight with the parliamentary secretary saying that the NDP has never supported a free trade agreement, ever. Well, I would ask the other parties to name just one trade agreement that actually respects human rights, the rights of workers, the environment and all of our international obligations, including to indigenous people. The other parties cannot answer that, because it has not happened yet. However, we had the opportunity to improve this key trade deal and make it about improving the lives of Canadians, forging ties for sustainable jobs and really leveraging our relationship.

In my role as vice-chair of the subcommittee on international human rights, one important issue related to trade agreements is supply chain transparency, or supply chain due diligence. How exactly does a nation ensure that no product finds its way into its borders that was not made by utilizing child labour or forced labour? This issue surrounding modern slavery is complex and includes multi-faceted problems.

According to recent figures released by the International Labour Organization, a total of 152 million children, 64 million girls and 88 million boys, are all in child labour globally, accounting for almost one in 10 of all children worldwide. Nearly half of those in child labour, 73 million children in absolute terms, are in hazardous work that directly endangers their health, safety and development. Children in employment, a broader measure comprising both child labour and permitted forms of employment involving children of legal working age, number 218 million. Widely reported instances of child labour and forced labour in the global supply chains of everyday goods, such as coffee, seafood, apparel, palm oil and the metals used in our electronics, have linked multinational companies with some of these human rights abuses.

Canadian companies are not immune from these risks. According to World Vision's research, 1,200 companies operating in Canada imported goods at risk of being produced by child labour or forced labour in 2015, worth a total of approximately $34 billion. The majority of companies in Canada disclose very little meaningful information about the policies, practices and due diligence they have in place to prevent child labour and forced labour in their global supply chains. Obviously, this makes it hard for our friends in civil society, not to mention consumers, investors and trade unions, to constructively engage with these companies. It is even more difficult to hold them accountable to their human rights responsibilities.

This is not for want of proposals out there that might bring an end to forced labour in these supply chains. First and foremost, we must get children into schools. As enrolment rates increase, child labour declines. Since 2000, governments have increased the number of children in school by 110 million, making it much less likely that those children will end up in the labour market.

Next, a strong legal framework must be enacted. When governments enforce child labour laws through effective inspections and penalties for employers who exploit children, child labour is less likely to flourish.

Without targeted legislation requiring more information on corporate supply chains, we can only guess whether abuses perpetrated by Canadian corporations overseas, as alleged in several civil lawsuits in Canadian courts, are common occurrences or isolated incidents.

Human Rights Watch calls for the beginning of a process for the adoption of new, international, legally binding standards that oblige governments to require businesses to conduct human rights due diligence in global supply chains. UNICEF has made similar recommendations.

Free trade agreements are international treaties that should put human rights at the forefront, not as side agreements. These are the issues that should be focused on first and foremost and form the basis when we are renegotiating trade agreements. NAFTA 2.0 is a perfect example of that.

The original NAFTA was negotiated by Conservatives and signed by Liberals in 1994. People were promised jobs, rising productivity and access to the largest market in the world. Instead, Canada lost over 400,000 manufacturing jobs and its textile industry. In addition, Canada paid millions of dollars in court fees and penalties when sued by corporations under investor state dispute resolution mechanisms.

The Democrats in the U.S. are working hard to achieve a better NAFTA. They want improved labour provisions that will protect jobs; they want to fight big pharma on the extension of drug patents, which will result in higher costs; they want to ensure that the environment is protected, and they want to ensure clear, meaningful enforceability.

Canadians expect the Liberal government to push for these progressive changes. The new NAFTA, or CUSMA, resulted in illegal tariffs on aluminum and steel for over a year and the devastation of Canadian businesses and workers. The tariffs were lifted on May 20, 2019, and the cost has been incredibly high. Canada has lost over 1,000 well-paying, community-building jobs while watching these businesses close.

In my riding of Windsor—Tecumseh and the rest of Windsor-Essex County, we know the devastating effects of poorly negotiated trade agreements like the first version of NAFTA: the race to the bottom. The Liberals scoffed at our warnings then, and now they are presenting today's version, which is CUSMA.

At its core, the new NAFTA is about giving more power to corporations, as it gives enforceable rights to investors and limits the powers of current and future governments and the citizens who elect them. For New Democrats to support this agreement, CUSMA must not set the stage for exploitation, and it must protect the poorest and most marginalized people. For that reason, I move an amendment at this time.

I move, seconded by the member for Windsor West:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-100, An Act to implement the Agreement between Canada, the United States of America and the United Mexican States, because it:

a) fails to improve labour provisions that are necessary to protect good jobs;

b) allows for an extension of drug patents that will significantly increase the cost of medicine for Canadians;

c) leaves the environment vulnerable due to the absence of clear, enforceable protection provisions;

d) is being rushed through the legislative process, without adequate time and attention for such a crucial trade agreement;

e) will shift the levers of power within the economy away from governments and workers, in favour of corporations, by weakening public regulations on public health and the environment; and

f) puts the poorest and most marginalized Canadians at further risk by failing to ensure the protection of human rights, gender equality and inclusive economic growth.

Petitions June 12th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of petitioners who are concerned about the rights and welfare of children, specifically highly mobile children.

The degree of flexibility afforded to provinces and territorial governments has led to significant variances in services and programs across the country, and this is in direct violation of Canada's obligations as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Specifically, children are ineligible for benefits and certain payments because they are in informal caregiving arrangements.

Therefore, the petitioners are asking that the welfare of children be first and foremost, and that we remedy this barrier to those funds.

Employment Equity Act June 12th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, there have been talks among the parties, and I am very hopeful that if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion: That the House, (a) extend its condolences to all the victims of violence and war in Sri Lanka; (b) call on the Government of Sri Lanka to promote justice for those affected by the Easter Sunday attacks, protect the rights of religious minorities and defend all places of worship; (c) reaffirm Canada's call for Sri Lanka to implement its obligations within a clearly specified time frame, as mandated under the UN Human Rights Council resolutions 30/1 and 40/1 as well as Canada's support in advancing accountability, peace and reconciliation among all people on the island; and (d) call upon the United Nations to establish an international independent investigation into allegations of genocide against Tamils committed in Sri Lanka, including during the last phase of the armed conflict in 2009.

Business of Supply June 10th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, our NDP opposition day motion exemplifies the progress we expect governments to make on behalf of Canadians. In today's connected world, having access to a phone and high-speed Internet is no longer an option; it is a necessity. Despite being essential, broadband access and wireless service are far from being affordable or reliable in Canada. The Internet is increasingly the world. It permeates nearly every aspect of our personal and business lives.

For small businesses and entrepreneurs, reliable access to broadband Internet can be the difference between success and bankruptcy. For teachers, parents and students, these services impact the quality of our kids' education, and even access to post-secondary studies. For health care providers and social services, reliable connections can help save people's lives. For low-income people seeking jobs, access to the Internet is crucial and can make the difference between obtaining employment or not.

It is not only the economically disadvantaged who have little or no access to the Internet. It is also citizens and businesses in remote and rural areas. Without access to the Internet, a business might miss important opportunities to reach new customers and employees.

Here is an example of some of what rural communities are experiencing right now. Let us look at Dubreuilville, in northern Ontario, in the riding of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, which brought its concerns to the attention of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development on several occasions.

The situation in that township is quite dire. Even though people pay high Internet fees, not only is service slow and spotty but the connection is so congested that even those paying for high-speed service are at times receiving no service at all. Additionally, those who are already connected and living in the community who wish to transfer their current service when they move within the community are experiencing the same problems as new residents. Bell advises them that there is no capacity in the system to accommodate them.

Without appropriate connectivity, the promise of the Internet and the digital economy is muted in places where it could be of most use to level the geographic playing field.

Unfortunately, the problems faced by Dubreuilville are not uncommon. There are small communities across Canada hoping for reliable, quality, high-speed service that can support their growth and provide the same opportunities urban centres receive. Without this, the transformative powers of modern technology are largely unavailable, which hinders their ability to attract newcomers and businesses and also impacts their efforts to diversity their economies.

In my riding of Windsor—Tecumseh, people do not realize that there are a lot of people who have no Internet service or who lack high-speed service in the former Sandwich South area of the town of Tecumseh in the city of Windsor. It is shocking to many people that we still have pockets where there is no service for people to access a government website, download a document or an application or apply for a passport. There are a lot of things that create a barrier to democratic services, and it is concerning.

Among OECD countries and other developed economies, Canadians pay some of the highest prices for mobile wireless and broadband subscriptions in the world. Consumers are being forced to pay at least $20 above the average monthly prices in the OECD. Similar countries, such as Australia, are paying two times less than Canada for the same plans. This hurts our economy, and it hurts Canadians.

While Canadians are paying skyrocketing prices, the profits of the big five telecoms in 2017 totalled $7.49 billion, and their profit margins have reached an astonishing 38.3%. High prices and the outsourcing of jobs outside Canada are the main causes of these massive profits.

Canadian telecom companies make more revenue per gigabyte of data than almost any other company in the world. ln 2018, the total revenue per gigabyte in Canada was roughly 70 times higher than it was in India and 23 times higher than it was in Finland. Canadian companies made 35 times what Indian companies made for the same data usage in 2017. As a result, Canada has lower data usage than almost any other country in the world. Furthermore, even though Australia has larger geographical challenges than Canada, it invested more per capita on telecommunications services between the years 2005 and 2015 and offers faster network connection speeds, while all its plans are cheaper than those available in Canada.

While they continue to make billions in profits, quick research shows that Bell, Rogers and Telus also received close to $50 million in subsidies and more than $700 million in contracts from the current Liberals.

For decades, Liberal and Conservative governments have relied on market forces and supposed competition to determine what Canadians pay for their cellphones and Internet bills every month. That is wrong. They have made a few aesthetic changes here and there, but nothing that would significantly help Canadians afford these services. The Liberal government continues to put the profits of these rich telecommunications companies ahead of people's wallets and continues to put private interests ahead of the public interest.

Canadians deserve a government that has the courage to stand up to the telecommunications companies and that will use every tool available to make life more affordable for people. I know from conversations with my constituents that people are sick and tired of having to live in a country where large corporations and financial institutions get to call the shots.

We were brought up to believe that we live in a democracy, yet this belief is increasingly difficult to square with our lived reality. ln the real world, democracy and the will of the people take a back seat to the prerogatives of business and finance. ln the real world, trade agreements negotiated in secret lock in rights for large corporations and investors that make it difficult, if not impossible, for governments to pursue policies to improve the lives of their citizens. That is why, during times such as this, Canadians need to elect a government that prioritizes the needs of real people.

On the issue being discussed today, only the NDP has the courage to stand up to protect the wallets of Canadians and improve the services people rely on. Just to reiterate, through our opposition day motion today, the NDP would introduce a price cap, until the industry becomes competitive, to make sure that all Canadians save money on their bills. For each service and plan, a price cap based on average OECD rates would be put in place. This measure would slash telecommunications bills an average of $10 per month. I know that several members in the House today have been intrigued with how we would do that, so I am glad to get that explanation on the record.

We would also implement measures to ensure that the market becomes competitive. Every company would be required to have a basic plan for wireless and broadband that met the needs of Canadians and was comparable with the lower prices available in other countries in the OECD. Data caps for broadband Internet would be abolished, and companies would be mandated to create unlimited data plans at affordable rates for wireless service, as exists elsewhere in the world.

New Democrats would also put an end to the egregious and outrageous sales and services practices of the telecom companies by making a bill of rights for telecom consumers to protect Canadians. One would think, given all the horror stories regularly published in the media about the big telecoms using compliance methods and high-pressure sales tactics to fleece Canadians, especially our seniors, that the government would have acted by now and that some sort of legislation would have been passed or some penalty levied to discourage these practices. However, as the complaints mount, there has been no action.

On June 3, 2019, the CRTC announced a $750-million fund. It is the goal of that fund to achieve 90% coverage of the universal service objective. It is our goal to make sure that it undertakes that. The problem with this fund is that it is completely inadequate to achieve the goal of 100% of Canadians having access to high-speed broadband. The policy would actually leave 10% of the population with the delayed hope of a promise to receive broadband, with no plan, no deadline and no funding to achieve it.

Human Rights June 10th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, in April, Liberals announced Canada would finally join other countries to stop slave labour. The supply chain legislation was to be tabled in the Senate, yet the bill mysteriously disappeared. Now the Liberals are sending out to businesses surveys that ask, “If the Government of Canada considers supply chain legislation, what should be the focus and scope?”

If? We thought it was in the Senate. What is going on here? Does the government understand it has waited too long to pass legislation in this Parliament?

Petitions June 7th, 2019

Madam Speaker, the second petition is also from residents in Windsor—Tecumseh, who are highly conscious of the issue of the opioid crisis and understand that in order to access certain resources nationally and to have an approach with the aim to reduce and eliminate preventable deaths, we have to declare this a national public health emergency under the Emergencies Act, and they urge us to do so.

Petitions June 7th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I have a petition signed by concerned residents in my riding of Windsor—Tecumseh, who live in the heart of the Great Lakes freshwater system and so are extremely concerned that the government still has not produced a comprehensive plan or timetable to meet its own targets for greenhouse gas emissions. They call on the government to produce an action plan, including all of the ministries, for the next budget, to enable it to achieve its emission reduction targets by 2030, and also an action plan with the measures needed to meet the commitments made under the Paris Agreement to keep warming under 1.5°C.