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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was victoria.

Last in Parliament August 2012, as NDP MP for Victoria (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 51% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Questions on the Order Paper June 21st, 2006

With regard to the 2006 Census of Canada: (a) what are the precise terms and conditions of any contracts between the government and Lockheed Martin Corporation or any of its subsidiaries; (b) will Lockheed Martin Corporation or any of its subsidiaries have access to confidential information collected in the Census from Canadian citizens or Canadian residents; (c) what guarantees, if any, does the government have that absolutely none of the information collected in the 2006 Census will be subject to access by the United States government or any of its agencies through the United States Patriot Act of 2001; and (d) is the government aware of any other private information that the Canadian government and its agencies collect that would be subject to access by the United States government or any of its agencies through the United States Patriot Act of 2001; and, if yes, what specific information?

Petitions June 21st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the last petition that I present on behalf of my constituents is with respect to the human rights of Falun Gong practitioners. The 349 petitioners are particularly troubled by brutal violations of human rights of Falun Gong practitioners. They ask the government--

Petitions June 21st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I have two more petitions that I am pleased to present on behalf of my constituents.The first is from constituents who strongly voice their opposition to Exercise Trident Fury, held this past May, and who continue to oppose any future exercise. The petitioners therefore ask the government to cancel any future exercise similar to this one.

The second petition also is in opposition to Exercise Trident Fury. These constituents understand the need to properly train and prepare our military personnel. However, they object to the total flaunting of militarism that constitutes propaganda for war.

Petitions June 21st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to present a petition on behalf of the constituents of Victoria, who are insisting that the government honour Canada's commitment to the Kyoto protocol and exceed our Kyoto targets by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050. This petition is spearheaded by the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association, a non-profit coalition of citizens. I add my voice to those of the 122 petitioners.

Petitions June 21st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of my constituents with respect to beautiful Hatley Park, one of Canada's historic treasures. This petition is signed by 466 people who are opposed to the restriction of free public access to this national historic site by fencing off the grounds and charging admission.

I am pleased to report, though, that I met with the Minister of National Defence just this week on this matter, and I have his assurance that he will explore funding options with his colleague, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, to prevent the nickel and diming of our residents at a place that is a tremendous source of pride for Victorians.

Questions on the Order Paper June 16th, 2006

With regard to Exercise Trident Fury: (a) how many United States troops and military hardware are part of the exercise; (b) how many troops and military hardware from countries other than Canada and the United States are part of the exercise, broken down by country; (c) is the government aware of the presence of any nuclear-arms capable aircraft participating in the exercise; (d) did the government seek assurances that there would be no nuclear weapons present; (e) does the government consider that there may be any heightened risk of a terrorist attack as a result of the exercise; (f) did the government communicate the nature of the mission to city councils and citizens in the greater Victoria area; (g) will the government guarantee the citizens of the area that there will be no health or environment risks; (h) has there been an environmental assessment of the potential impacts on the environment; and (i) has the government considered cancelling the exercise if there are environmental and security risks?

Business of Supply June 8th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, what we heard in committee this morning was in fact that low literacy levels have risen from eight million to nine million Canadians. In fact, in percentage in the past 10 years, it means that the rate of illiteracy in Canada has remained static. By illiteracy I do not mean that people cannot write their names or count to 10. I am talking about the ability to function in this economy of knowledge. This percentage has remained absolutely static, we are told by staff, in the past 10 years. It really begs for policies that will foster and nurture literacy, that will allow older workers to re-skill themselves to allow them to function at the level that they are capable of doing.

Business of Supply June 8th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, indeed, there were some first steps in the Conservative budget, particularly as it relates to skills training, but it fell far short of a comprehensive strategy for skills training to prepare young people for the new economy, and to help older workers to become reskilled in new technology. It also fell far short of overhauling the loan and grant system of which I believe students are badly in need.

The Conservative government simply raised the ceiling on debt possibilities, so basically it simply allows students to get into deeper debt than they are in already. I do not see that as a great innovation. I think a broader and more comprehensive overhaul of the loan and grant system is what is needed at the moment.

There was also $1.5 billion that was negotiated under Bill C-48 with the previous government. The intent of that was clearly to set money aside to reduce tuition fees and increase accessibility. This government has chosen not to apply the money to reduce student debt. It has simply put it to infrastructure. It is an important component, but it does not address the accessibility issue.

Business of Supply June 8th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on this motion put forward by the Liberals. I thank my hon. colleague from Nanaimo—Cowichan for sharing her allotted time with me.

This motion touches on many of the goals we, in the NDP, have been proposing for a long time. In fact, that is the problem: it only touches on the issues. There is something disturbing in that because, with its eight-year run of record surpluses, the Liberal government could have afforded to put money where its mouth was, especially in the area of post-secondary education.

The tone of the motion, as it stands, seems to be one of resignation in the face of the astronomical tuition fees charged in some provinces. The reason for this might be that the cuts to post-secondary education imposed by the Liberals themselves are responsible for tuition fees skyrocketing. The average increase across Canada is 35%, and 141% in British Columbia, where I live.

Under the Liberals, the portion of the universities' operating budget represented by tuition fees increased from 20% to 30%. In the mid-1980s, the government covered 80% of the costs of post-secondary education, as compared to a mere 57% today. It is no coincidence that the chance of children from low income families getting into a post-secondary establishment is less than half that of children from high income families.

It comes as no surprise then that the number of students forced to work full time while studying full time increased by 130% since 1994. Tuition fees are simply too high. It is no coincidence either there is such a shortage of physicians. Under the Liberals, the average tuition fees for medical school have more than tripled, reaching $13,000 per year.

This motion seems more than a little disingenuous. Having the Liberals call for investments to reduce tuition fees is a bit like the Grinch calling for investments in Christmas gifts in Whoville.

Nevertheless, this motion does speak to actions that the NDP values. I deeply believe in the importance of Canada's human capital. The G-8 ministers meeting on post-secondary education and skills training in Moscow highlighted its importance in building an innovative, prosperous society.

All G-8 education ministers agreed to four key objectives: advancing the education for all agendas, supporting the role education plays in empowering migrants and immigrants, developing skills for life and work through quality education, and building innovative societies.

One important aspect I took away from these meetings relates to the role of learning in promoting social cohesion and justice. I thought of the report by the Canada Council on Learning which gave Canada a grade of B- on its first ever composite learning index. This index goes beyond learning in terms of basic knowledge skills like reading and writing, and beyond tangible skills like trades. It speaks of learning to live together and learning to be, and I think the events in Toronto, the arrests of the 17 young people, really highlight the importance of these skills and of social cohesion.

This report also spoke of volunteering and community involvement, culture and physical well-being. All of these learning sets contribute to a socially cohesive and just society. What this means in a practical context to the individual Canadian and to Canadian communities is that for us to prosper in economic as well as social terms, we need to expand our concept of prosperity more broadly.

We need to include the families struggling to find decent housing and the aboriginal student who cannot afford tuition. When this motion mentions broad-base prosperity, it means including and empowering everyone, especially new Canadians.

It also means funding research in the social sciences and humanities at the same level that we fund health sciences and the sciences and technology in general.

Currently, social sciences receive 11% of overall research funding for well over 50% of total students. Whether it is understanding the intellectual development of children to improve our child care system, determining the sources of the terrorist mentality or improving our political system, our society clearly benefits from studying the humanities. I would have liked this motion to ask for equitable funding for all councils to account for the gap of funding to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

I would also like to speak to another deficiency. It is the need for an overhaul of our convoluted, inflexible student aid system. It desperately needs it. The Association of Canadian Community Colleges recommends, for example, transforming the Canada student loans program into a new learner support system guided by the principles of universality, simplicity and flexibility, and including a comprehensive low income grant program.

In addition to accessibility, quality of education is important. The student to faculty ratio rose by 26% under the Liberals and faculty salaries, as a percentage of university operating expenditures, fell by 29%. Class sizes are exploding and the quality of instruction is compromised. We are graduating more people with degrees, but we are not necessarily helping our broad-base prosperity.

Finally, I would like to touch on literacy which is inexplicably absent from the motion. Like the composite learning index, the modern concept of literacy extends beyond reading and writing which is required in order for individuals to be productive and well-adjusted members of our society. We all know the statistic that 42% of working aged Canadians do not have the literacy skills to function effectively in a modern society and economy. The number of Canadians with low literacy levels has risen from eight million to nine million in the past 10 years. That was confirmed this morning by the staff from Human Resources and Social Development Canada at the committee meeting.

I would have expected the motion, on the part of the Liberals, to finally recognize the role of literacy in a comprehensive learning strategy by including, for example, a pan-Canadian strategy on literacy, including multi-year stable funding.

To conclude, I will support the motion because it does recognize the role of social investment in our country's prosperity. However, the flaws in the motion are the very flaws of the Liberal record. I hope that the new Conservative government recognizes this in moving forward in setting policy in these areas.

Post-Secondary Education June 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, last week I had the privilege of taking part in the Canadian delegation at the G-8 meetings on post-secondary education where I learned, above all, that proactive leadership is required for federal governments to develop the minds and skills that drive our economies and civil society.

The ministers present agreed that it was vital to adopt national lifelong learning strategies, including early learning and on-the-job training, to develop Canada's human capital.

I am proud that my riding of Victoria is a champion of lifelong learning, with over 130 knowledge advancing facilities in the downtown core. Projects like Workforce 21 link education providers, business and local governments to coordinate the skills we teach with the skills we need.

However, such an issue does require more than drive-by funding tactics of previous governments. They require a comprehensive pan-Canadian--