House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was accessibility.

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

Lost her last election, in 2021, with 31% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Opioid Crisis in Canada December 10th, 2018

Madam Chair, I am thankful for the opportunity to stand to talk about a bogus and disrespectful display by the other side of the House with the previous speaker who was accusing this side of using some drama.

For all of the Canadians watching tonight, if they look back at the Hansard, they will see that the terms “bogus” and “disrespectful” were used to describe what this side of the House was doing when we have simply been passionate and asked to have resources leveraged and a public health emergency declared, which would not have to take very long. Now people are acting as if they are so distracted. We heard gruesome details, as if those are the only details. When we go home to our ridings, we see there is a true crisis happening right now. There is a way for all of us to maximize our resources and work together. We can cut this red tape and can have an immediate response.

There are 11 people a day dying from this. In Windsor and Essex Counties, we have government leaders at all levels watching and understanding how a pan-Canadian strategy could expedite the kind of response we need. That is why we are so incredulous to hear in the House someone swagger, raise their voice and say, “We're allowing a take-note debate tonight and are doing our very best. How dare you?”

How dare we say so? We have a real public health crisis that can be dealt with as an emergency if the government would truly take leadership and do that. To do otherwise is bogus and disrespectful to all of the families suffering today.

Alex Gyemi December 10th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, Alex Gyemi was a social justice pioneer and NDP founder in Windsor—Tecumseh. He died last month, on November 20, at age 96, leaving behind Margaret, his wife of 68 years, and their five children and their families. If Alex were here, he would want me to stand up and herald the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the convention on the prevention and punishment of genocide. That is why this tribute is for Alex.

There is an incredible pulse in Windsor that Alex was part of. It is the city where the first credit union was formed and with the first assisted living program, which is celebrating 80 years itself, by the way. It is no wonder Alex and Margaret's progressive politics flourished there.

I was fortunate to have Alex's wisdom imparted to me. “Look at the politics of a recommendation versus its practicality”, he would say. As an incredible champion of people living free and equal in dignity and rights, Alex would also say, “Take words to deeds”.

Criminal Code December 10th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, before I get into the debate on the bill, I would like to acknowledge that this is our last week in this place not only for the year, but it is the last time we will be sitting here in Centre Block for the next decade. I would like to thank everyone who works behind the scenes to make this place run smoothly for those of us who are honoured to be elected and serve Canadians here in this beautiful building, which is going to be restored over the next 10 years. Hopefully, it will take only 10 years. On our behalf, I thank all the staff, from Parliamentary Protective Service, to administration, to custodians and everyone in between.

I appreciate this opportunity to speak to Bill S-240. As vice-chair of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights, I can say that the subject of black market organ harvesting is not a new one. Indeed, Bill S-240 is the fourth iteration of a bill that has been through many parliaments. These bills were written largely in response to credible and appalling reports concerning organ harvesting in China.

Organ trafficking is considered an organized crime, with a host of offenders including the recruiters who identify the vulnerable persons, the transporters, the staff of the hospital or clinic and other medical centres, the medical professionals themselves who perform the surgery, the contractors, the buyers and those at the banks that store the organs. The Subcommittee on International Human Rights has studied the issue of organ harvesting in China numerous times and has issued at least two lengthy reports and a number of statements. The reports discuss in gruesome detail the establishment within China of an actual organ-harvesting industry.

The first source of organs for transplants apparently was prisoners who were sentenced to death and executed. A second source of organs was prisoners of conscience. The earliest of these were the Uighurs, Chinese Muslims from the eastern part of the country. The chamber will recall the more recent reports of up to one million Uighurs being rounded up by the government of the People's Republic of China and forceably placed into re-education camps.

In our subcommittee, we heard that while China's official central government's statistics indicate that approximately 10,000 organ transplantations take place per year, the numbers may actually be as high as between 60,000 and 100,000 organ transplants per year. The one population that ultimately became the principal victims of China's organ-harvesting industry was the country's Falun Gong followers. Falun Gong is the adherence to the Falun Dafa spiritual practice that originated in China. According to testimony that our subcommittee heard on November 3, 2016, China's organ-harvesting industry developed in tandem with its systematic repression of Falun Gong.

I will admit to being a bit skeptical initially about reports on organ harvesting in China. The idea of taking another person's organ to sell on the open market suggests a level of depravity that ordinary decent human beings find difficult to fathom. However, the more I learn about human rights abuses committed by the Chinese government against its own people and more and more credible accounts, my skepticism dissipates into reluctant belief. In fact, in recent hearings in the Subcommittee on International Human Rights looking into the human rights situation of the Uighurs in China, we heard that the Chinese government has been forceably taking DNA and blood samples from Uighurs. Chillingly, those of us who follow these issues immediately began fearing the Chinese government might be looking for yet more organs to harvest from this population.

It is time, therefore, that the international community come together on this issue and establish the conditions that will render the organ-trafficking industry unprofitable. While the majority of organ trafficking occurs abroad, measures must be taken to ensure Canadians waiting on long organ donation lists are not perpetuating this brutality by purchasing trafficked organs. Trafficking in human organs is an abhorrent activity that should be included in Canada's Criminal Code. Further, Bill S-240 proposes amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to ensure that receiving organs or benefiting economically from this illicit trade would also make a permanent resident or foreign national inadmissible to Canada.

The NDP supports Bill S-240 as we oppose all forms of trafficking in organs. We believe it is important to ensure that Canadians who have their names on the long organ donation lists are not inadvertently contributing to the demand for this horrendous crime.

As this is the fourth bill on organ trafficking in 10 years, the NDP calls for cross-party co-operation to ensure the swift passage of Bill S-240 and for this issue to be finally taken seriously. In addition to supporting this initiative, more should be done to encourage ethical, safe organ donation domestically. Canadians contribute to organ trafficking primarily through a phenomenon called transplant tourism. It is the most common way to trade organs across national borders. Recipients travel abroad to undergo organ transplants and there is currently no law in Canada against this practice.

Unlike the United States, Canada does not have a centralized list of people waiting for an organ. The Liberal government actually voted against a bill in 2016 that would have supported the creation of a national registry to help identify those wishing to donate organs and those who need them. Canada is the only developed country without national organ donation legislation, such as the 1984 United States National Organ Transplant Act. The Government of Canada should seriously consider the feasibility of a presumed consent system for organ donation where individuals opt out instead of opting in to organ donation.

In addition to the development and coordination of an advanced interprovincial organ-sharing system, the federal government must also facilitate the implementation of best practices and promote professional education and training opportunities. Canada is way behind on the issue of organ trafficking. In fact, the Council of Europe has had a convention against trafficking in human organs since 2008, and as of 2017, it has been ratified by 47 member states. Several countries, including Taiwan, Spain, and Norway, have already passed similar legislation. It is time for our country to catch up with the rest of the world and we can begin doing so today by supporting this bill.

It is not lost on many human rights defenders listening to this debate today that it is a profound anniversary marking the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights 70 years ago. Those sentiments are inextricably linked after the horrors witnessed in World War II and the conviction of never again. I submit that those sentiments are profoundly linked here as well to Bill S-240. After World War II, the world sought to ensure such madness ensued against humanity never happened again. Organ harvesting and trafficking are a nauseating reality and we must put a stop to them. Canada must act and must start by passing Bill S-240.

Human Rights December 4th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, a U.S. congressional commission on China calls the mass internment of hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims in so-called re-education camps a sweeping program of ethnic cleansing. There is credible evidence of mass arbitrary detention, torture and mistreatment.

Will the government call on China to immediately release all those held and conduct an impartial investigation into these abuses, and will Canada apply targeted sanctions against those responsible?

International Trade December 3rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, when the Liberals began renegotiating NAFTA in 2017, they promised to defend dairy, poultry and egg farmers, to bring in progressive measures like gender rights, labour rights, an indigenous chapter and stronger environmental protections. We know now that in the final deal Canada lost out on all these fronts.

NAFTA 2.0 also makes medications even more expensive. The extension of patents on specific drugs means costs for people living with rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's and other chronic conditions will increase. Hello, anybody in there? Canadians are calling for a national pharmacare plan. This deal makes it more expensive to implement.

We in Windsor and Essex County know the hard reality of trade agreements negotiated in haste to advance a corporate agenda. It appears the current government has learned nothing.

It is time we change how these deals are done. It is time we put people first. It is time multinationals, banks and—

Persons with Disabilities November 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, what is the point of rushing through accessibility legislation if the government is not going to put its money where its mouth is? The Liberals keep failing Canadians who live with disabilities. In the fall economic update, there is no mention of new obligations, let alone funding for the CRTC to maintain its existing responsibilities. This is unfair, and it is insulting to Canadians who are waiting for implementation of Bill C-81.

Why will the Liberals not take their responsibilities seriously and ensure that institutions like the CRTC are accessible to everyone?

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 November 27th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I heard my hon. colleague's speech. I am very intrigued by some of the aspects that he believes are a disgrace.

Just on that, I want to talk a bit about some of the amendments in this budget implementation bill that are about bankruptcies and about commercial licence holders in corporations being protected from bankruptcy. However, we do not have any amendments that allude to workers' pension protection in bankruptcy. This is a moral failure of this budget implementation act. I wonder what the hon. member thinks about protecting pensions when we are talking about bankruptcy legislation.

Automotive Industry November 27th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, Liberal, Tory, same old story. The GM plant closure in Oshawa is just like the one in Windsor, shattering families. The Liberals learned nothing. The government never even bothered to put in a national auto strategy. The Liberals knew this was coming and they did nothing.

These families deserve a government that puts families first, not a Liberal government that gives billions of dollars to rich corporations like GM, without a guarantee that jobs are going to remain in our communities. What more than expressing disappointment are the Liberals actually doing for these families?

An Act to Provide for the Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services November 23rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I want everybody to know I lost my speaking spot for that cheap shot. I want to make sure I am praising our labour community in Windsor—Tecumseh. Our union workers, Local 630, and their president Phil Lyons, have been watching this all unfold. Because they feel so strongly about Canada Post infrastructure and the service they provide, they put together an amazing report called “Delivering Community Power” with other postal workers.

They are the kind of people being undermined today. I have no idea what they are trying to tell themselves on the other side to get through the night, but this is not bargaining in good faith. It is a shame we have to be here tonight to explain all of this to them. The real champions in all this are the working people in Canada who have built this country. Our postal workers are an immense part of that. There is absolutely no reason for us to keep hearing more and more of this rhetoric and explaining away how they are not really taking away any bargaining rights. It is just so insulting to everyone here tonight. What a ridiculous, argumentative logic to say that they have guiding principles when they are taking away bargaining in good faith.

Do you really know what bargaining in good faith means?

Accessible Canada Act November 22nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more. The bill is missing certain language. That was our fair warning when it was left out in the first place, then we had to go back to revisit it and put all these amendments in. It was problematic to bring together from stakeholders so many of what we thought were comprehensive amendments. We were confounded that they had to be there in the first place. For a government that is trying to establish a new and healthy relationship with indigenous communities, and that makes that declaration on a regular basis, I was really let down to see that omission.

Members may never have thought they would hear someone from the NDP caucus say this, but we should write letters to the Senate. This is our only chance to use the Senate. Let us think about what that is worth. Send cards and letters, people, because the Senate is our last chance now.