House of Commons photo

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

Budget Implementation Act, 2006 June 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her comments and her openness to other solutions to various problems that Canadians face.

Last week I had the privilege to be part of the Canadian delegation to the G-8 meetings on post-secondary education. The ministers in attendance, including the minister from her government, recognized the importance of the preschool years in setting the stage for future learning, particularly literacy skills and that policies that promote optimal early learning and childhood development can make a substantial contribution to lifelong learning.

As we all know, there is a difference between day care and early childhood learning. I am wondering how the member squares what her government has done with child care with what her government has agreed to at the G-8 meeting?

Criminal Code June 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, whenever I have attended police board meetings in my city, I have heard the police repeatedly ask for more funding for more police to do preventative work on the street and more funding for youth initiatives to prevent youths from joining gangs in the first place. I do not see this bill achieving either of these goals.

Would the member explain why unrestricted firearms, most long guns and shotguns, were excluded from the legislation when we know that these firearms were largely involved in the murder of enforcement officers in the last few years?

Budget Implementation Act, 2006 May 18th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I will answer the member's first question referring to Bill C-48. The bill allocated $1.5 billion to post-secondary education. In their budget, the Conservatives chose to redirect only a part of that amount through the provinces to institutions for their infrastructure. I agree that this is problematic because it does not help students. It does not reduce tuition fees. It does not help students with their huge debt load.

On the member's second question, yes, I certainly agree that increasing the tax for the lowest economic group is highly unfair. The Conservatives seem to be practising old, discredited trickle-down economics, which does not work. It has been shown not to work and it still does not work.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006 May 18th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's comments, but they further illustrate the flaws in this budget. To continue to give tax credits to a sector that is overheating local economies is just plain poor thinking.

It also highlights the fact that this sector is performing a great service if we only consider money. We are not considering, for example, the billions of litres of water that the tar sands are using, the greenhouse gases that are being created and the pollution that results.

Yes, undoubtedly there is a benefit, I admit, and our Kyoto plan recognizes the need to transition from that polluting economy to a sustainable one, but to accept this as status quo is simply flawed thinking.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006 May 18th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I rise today not to oppose the budget but to propose alternatives.

The fundamental flaw in this budget is the absence of a long-term vision. Given the fiscal capacity of the government, it would have been possible to invest in crucial sectors to serve as Canada's engines in the new economy. Health, education, worker training and the move towards a green economy all require investments in order to achieve prosperity and sustainability. This takes courage and leadership, as well as fiscal capacity.

Instead, by deciding to manage the country through tax credits, the Conservatives are wasting their fiscal capacity, shirking their obligation to provide leadership and a long-term vision, and allocating surpluses to the wrong priorities.

Conservatives talk a great deal about competitiveness and productivity. They have a rather narrow view of competitiveness, even when I make allowance for the fact that my view is quite different than theirs. I believe that the key to our prosperity is an educated and motivated labour force, excellent educational institutions for our youth, learning and development opportunities for children, a healthy environment and a well-established social security system, which includes health care and child care. Thus, you can imagine my disappointment with this budget.

We have the extraordinary opportunity to invest an enormous surplus in sectors that will develop our human capital, protect our natural capital, and narrow the gap between rich and poor in Canada. The budget tries to do quite the opposite with $7 billion in tax cuts, $100 per month for day care expenses—where $800 is needed—and one free textbook for students. These are not investments. This is not a vision; it is a lost opportunity.

The doublespeak in the Speech from the Throne would make even George Orwell turn in his grave with expressions like investing, standing up for ordinary Canadians and getting results for working families. When we look at the outlook for budgetary revenues, we can see that the government is investing less in families and more in corporations. When we look at personal income tax going up by 12%, judging from the projections of 2007-08, and corporate income tax going up by something like 6.5%, we can see where the real investments are going.

My NDP colleagues and I believe that true competitiveness is built with a fair taxation system, of course, and by investing in those areas of natural and human capital that are truly sustainable for the long term. Investments are made in literacy, post-secondary education, lifelong skills training, health care and the environment.

On post-secondary education, we missed the opportunity to reinvest in stable, long term core funding of our colleges and universities to enhance accessibility and quality, to reduce tuition and class sizes, and to hire more professors and provide better resources. Instead, the Conservatives opted for minor tweaking that does not help the majority of students.

Paying one-third of the current deferred maintenance costs of institutions does not even begin to address the needs of institutions that are struggling to maintain and enhance the quality of education. One free textbook does not make university more accessible to low income, rural or aboriginal students. Exempting scholarships from income tax does not help the majority of students who do not even use all of their existing tax credits. Students do not want lower taxes. They want smaller class sizes and less debt when they graduate. This budget profoundly misunderstands the true needs of today's students.

Just as the deficit has been paid on the backs of working Canadians, cities and provinces, new growth continues at the cost of our environment. Canada committed to lower its greenhouse gas emissions by 6% over 1990 levels, as we all know.

The Liberals have done Canada and the world a tremendous disservice. First, they refused to require their corporate friends to reduce emissions, not even getting anything in exchange for the tax cuts, and they allowed our greenhouse gas emissions to rise to 35% above 1990 levels. Now, a Conservative government is in denial and is ready to cut and run, as the expression goes, on the problem that will have the largest impact on our children's future.

The Conservatives now believe that the Kyoto targets are impossible when in reality, although they are daunting, they are still eminently achievable. I hope that the minister would look at the NDP's Kyoto plan, which is realistic and fully costed. Its innovative ideas may not appeal directly to the interests of the oil patch, but according to a late April survey, 90% of Canadians want to see real investments in sustainable solutions like renewable energies and green industry, not more tax giveaways to the oil industry.

Finally, I would like to speak to child care, an area in which the NDP has proposed a concrete, realistic alternative to the $1,200 Conservative plan. In Victoria this week, a large rally was held by child care stakeholders, including parents, at the B.C. legislature. Their signs read: “Find me quality day care for 70¢ an hour” and “$100 a month pays for child care all right, in 1986”.

In British Columbia, 85% of children aged six months to five years living with a single parent are in some form of child care, and 73% of children with two working parents are in child care, a drastic rise since the mid-nineties.

In Victoria, child care can cost up to $800 a month, and there remains a desperate shortage of spaces, with long waiting lists. B.C. parents waited 13 years for the Liberals to act as the crisis developed. Finally, in a minority Parliament pressure forced them to act, albeit hastily. This allowed the Conservatives to come in and uproot the whole process, setting us back more than a decade.

There is no choice in British Columbia and it is no way for a government to help parents along the difficult path of raising children. Yesterday I introduced a genuine alternative to the Conservative plan, the NDP's early learning and child care act, which enshrines in law the principles of quality, accessibility and universality, among others. It recognizes that the government has a responsibility and an opportunity to make it easier for parents to raise their kids.

In summary, this budget is a wasted opportunity. It could have been a historic long term vision document that would launch Canada into the new knowledge and green economies, to overcome the initial fiscal hump of transition to environmentally, socially and economically sustainable economies, and to show bold leadership for Canada. Instead, it is business as usual, managing by tax credit. This is no way to run a country. That is why I cannot in good conscience, as a mother, a teacher and a citizen, support this fundamentally flawed budget.

Early Learning and Child Care Act May 17th, 2006

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-303, An Act to establish criteria and conditions in respect of funding for early learning and child care programs in order to ensure the quality, accessibility, universality and accountability of those programs, and to appoint a council to advise the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development on matters relating to early learning and child care.

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon I am proud to present to Parliament, on behalf of the NDP, our bill on early learning and child care.

We in the NDP believe this may be the most important piece of new legislation, not just in this Parliament but in every Parliament since the Canada Health Act was established. The legislation we are introducing today is based on the principles of quality, universality, accessibility, accountability and educational development.

With the challenges currently facing our society, child care should not be an afterthought or luxury. With this act we aim to enshrine national child care into legislation to protect and build child care for future generations.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Pest Control Products Act May 17th, 2006

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-302, An Act to amend the Pest Control Products Act (prohibition of use of chemical pesticides for non-essential purposes).

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the House debated a motion to place a moratorium on the non-essential, cosmetic use of pesticides until the safety of those chemicals is proven by scientific and medical experts. Members of the House cynically rejected the motion, refusing to protect the health of Canadians against the risks posed by entirely unnecessary chemical exposure and refusing to protect the environment.

I, and my NDP colleagues, believe that Canadians want pesticides to be proven safe before they are sprayed on their lawns and playgrounds. Today I am pleased to introduce an act to amend the Pest Control Products Act that would prohibit the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes until their safety is scientifically proven. I encourage all Canadians to remind their MPs and insist on greater medical precautions when it comes to the health of our children.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Child Care May 17th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I apologize.

“Mr. Prime Minister, I have $100. Will you care for my child?” “Find me safe child care for 70¢ an hour”. “Quality child care builds quality citizens”. “One hundred dollars buys a month of child care--in 1986”.

My constituents are--

Child Care May 17th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in Victoria hundreds of people gathered in front of the legislature. On a weekday afternoon, parents, child care workers and dedicated citizens took time from their work and busy lives to show their frustration and disappointment with the Conservative government.

Their message was plain: The Conservative plan for child care is empty and unrealistic. Their signs said it all: “Mr. Harper, I have $100. Will you care for my child?”

Business of Supply May 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, we all know the hon. member, who is also a doctor, has spent the last many years among politicians rather than specifically with patients and children.

I have a list of names of medical doctors, who see children and other patients on a regular basis, who have spoken out about their concern with the use of pesticides.

Dr. Joe Reisman, chief of pediatrics says:

It is not a case of innocent until proven guilty. We have ample reason to be concerned. It is a case of acting on what we know now, because health risks are cumulative and can last for years.

We have Dr. Alex MacKenzie, a pediatrician at the CHEO Research Institute, and hematologist, Dr. Richard van der Jagt from the Canadian Leukemia Studies Group. I have a full list of doctors. I wonder if the hon. member believes these doctors are mistaken in their concerns from their observations.