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

Darfur May 1st, 2006

Mr. Chair, last week as a new MP I was very moved to see the eight Holocaust survivors who sat up there in the gallery and to whom we gave a standing ovation. The Holocaust was the tragic event that incited the world to say “never again”. Sixty years have passed since that statement was made and if there ever were a time to say never again, it is in Darfur. There may be no easy solutions to this issue, as we have heard this evening, but there are certainly avenues that we can and must pursue.

Canada can be a strong voice toward a solution and, with its middle power allies, can push the permanent Security Council members to abandon the stalling, cynical stand that they have taken, enforce the arms embargo and demand the Sudanese government accept a UN force to join the desperately overwhelmed African Union troops.

Would the hon. member agree that Canada can and should take such a leadership role in the global community or will we continue to take the very timid stand that we have taken so far?

Darfur May 1st, 2006

Mr. Chair, as the hon. member has said, we learned last week that the World Food Programme has been cut in half because of a shortfall in donations from countries in the international community. Sadly, hungry people are being deprived of nearly half their food. Not only has this Conservative government cut rations by three-quarters, but it has inherited a policy from its Liberal predecessors, which I would describe as ridiculous, requiring that half of food donations come from Canada. That requirement bothers me tremendously. It seems to put the business needs of Canadians before the needs of the people to whom we are giving.

Does the hon. member agree with me that we need to eliminate this requirement concerning the food rations that Canada provides to countries that need them?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply April 24th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I very much share much the hon. member's concerns over the omission relating to post-secondary education and training. We all know that education fees have gone up. In my province, they have gone up by more than 30% in a few years.

I am wondering how the member can explain the 12 years of the Liberal Party's inaction in that respect, first by putting education under some obscure transfer where it was absolutely impossible to estimate or even guess how much money was actually going to education and also in having the then Liberal prime minister say that he recognized the need for a dedicated transfer but never, never acting on it.

I am wondering how she can express such dismay over the omission and yet justify her own party's inaction over 12 years. The Conservatives have had only two months to be inactive.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply April 24th, 2006

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, the question of climate change is a very serious one that affects the future of our children, the future of my children, my grandchildren and those of everyone else here. I believe the results of doing nothing will be very tragic for all of us. I can only hope that we will have the political courage to act now.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply April 24th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I find his words reassuring, particularly in regard to climate change and also to the importance of post-secondary education and technical training and to housing. These are all very important issues in my riding.

In regard to climate change, the NDP has proposed a very solid plan that would enable us to achieve the Kyoto objectives without difficulty within 25 years. It would give us a moderate transition plan that treats industry with care.

What had my constituents in Victoria concerned was the fact that the Conservative government seems ready to drop any reference to Kyoto without providing a plan for the direction that it wants to take. However, I find it reassuring to know that there is political will. We want to work together with the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party and our colleagues in the Bloc Québécois in order to meet the needs of Canadians.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply April 24th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to share my time today with my colleague from Hamilton Mountain.

This, my inaugural speech in the House of Commons, begins on a very sad note. Four Canadian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan this past weekend, one of whom, Bombardier Myles Mansell, was born, raised and stationed in my riding, in Victoria. I wish to extend my deepest sympathy to his family and to assure them that their fellow Victorians share in their mourning.

I am very proud to speak today as the new member representing the people of Victoria. I would like to thank them for placing their confidence in me to bring their voice to Parliament. Their needs will inform my work and their priorities will be at the forefront of my efforts in Ottawa.

I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge my predecessor, David Anderson, for his hard work on issues like Kyoto, west coast fisheries and offshore drilling, and the understanding he brought to those issues.

Victoria is an eclectic, diverse region. There are parks and natural forests that surround the city with a greenbelt, providing recreational opportunities and important habitats. There are heritage buildings that we have protected through tax incentive programs for which we have won international awards.

I am honoured to represent a population that is itself representative of Canada's cultural mosaic, with vibrant Chinese, Sikh, aboriginal and other cultural communities that enrich our common experience.

As a francophone living outside Quebec, I am proud that Victoria, the westernmost city in Canada, continues to honour my French and English heritage. My daily recognition of the presence of these two cultures in our country is one of the reasons I ran in the federal election. I wanted to remind everyone that francophones and anglophones can work together from coast to coast in a united Canada, within a renewed and more flexible federalism, and that both cultures will be the better for it.

As a former city councillor, I was proud to contribute to the progress and preservation of what makes Victoria unique. I worked to bring about a large mixed-use project called Dockside Green, which has the highest green standards in North America and net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

This project showcases all that can be accomplished when political will is used to expand rather than limit the range of possibilities, so I will not be deterred by the seemingly flippant use of the word “impossible” by the government when it comes to our environment, because I realize how crucially important it is to have the support and the leadership of the federal government for these progressive programs and projects.

During the recent federal campaign, the concerns of Victorians were brought home to me at every doorstep, as were the expectations they have for the government.

They expect their national government to once again work to ensure that all Canadians have a home. The recent throne speech fails to mention any support for affordable housing. In my community, many residents spend upwards of 40% of their income on housing and others are homeless. The housing crisis we face grew under the federal Liberals and it is incumbent on the new government to restore a viable national housing strategy.

My constituents expect a child care program that addresses two key concerns for parents: cost and availability. The Prime Minister's answer does little to address the former and nothing for the latter. Typically, day care in Victoria costs between $30 and $35 a day. The PM offers a maximum of $4 to $5 a day. Where does a single parent family working on minimum income find the rest?

My constituents also expect ongoing adequate investment in post-secondary education and skills training. It is well trained, well educated people who will create new opportunities and fuel our prosperity. The University of Victoria and Camosun College, like hundreds of others across Canada, were overlooked by the government in the throne speech.

As the post-secondary education critic and as a teacher and parent, I am very disappointed by this omission. This government would allow high tuition fees to hinder access to training.

Education is critical to a just and prosperous future. The C.D. Howe Institute admits that Canada continues to under-invest in education, when research shows that functional literacy has three times the impact on productivity and GDP than capital investment. Forty-two per cent of Canadian adults have a functional literacy level that is inadequate by international standards.

Finally, Victorians expect their national leaders to implement a real plan to tackle climate change. Eight out of ten Canadians want action now, but yet the Prime Minister concedes defeat on achieving the most basic Kyoto reductions before he even tries.

On Earth Day in Victoria last Saturday, hundreds of young people and their families gathered. They were angry at the Conservatives' lack of urgency in responding to climate change. They want a future with clean water, clean air and a healthy environment in a country that has moved from a polluting economy to a sustainable one. As their elected representatives, it is our opportunity and our obligation to make that future real.

Listening to my first throne speech from this Conservative government, I waited to hear something of substance for the citizens of Victoria: concrete proposals for affordable housing, effective programs to tackle climate change, and post-secondary education programs. I heard no such commitments. I hope the government will consider that these issues, if not addressed, will fundamentally impact the Canadian way of life much more than a 1% reduction of GST.

As MPs, we are leaders from whom Canadians expect political courage and decisive action on substantive and long term issues. The people of Victoria expect and deserve no less.

Canada's Commitment in Afghanistan April 10th, 2006

Mr. Chair, Canadians understand the necessity of helping Afghanistan rebuild its country. What is less clear, however, is the counter-insurgency mission that Canada seems to have drifted into.

I know the government likes to repeat that questions are synonymous to lack of support of the military. I want to assure members that I completely support our military, having worked with them for a number of years, including one member of the Conservative Party at this moment.

Given the drift in our mission, given the mutation, the change, does the member support a vote in Parliament before this mission is extended? This is consistent with the Prime Minister's comments. He made the commitment and said that if the government made major military commitments or changes like this, the government would bring this to Parliament and Parliament would get a vote.

Does the hon. member agree with the Prime Minister on this?

Education April 7th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, students and working families have waited long enough for relief from soaring tuition fees. We need an immediate comprehensive strategy, accompanied by a pan-Canadian lifelong learning and training plan, to address the skills shortage. What exactly is the government planning to do to address this issue now?

Education April 7th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, for 13 long years, ordinary Canadians and young people were left off the Liberal government's political agenda. The Speech from the Throne was once again silent on post-secondary education.

Will the current government also remain silent? We need stable, long-term funding for education to increase Canada's competitiveness in the global economy.

Will the government boost our investment in education?

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply April 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member referred to the lack of a commitment to young people. The post-secondary education transfer is still one of the most urgent aspects of the fiscal imbalance that we are discussing. Yesterday, the Minister of Finance dodged a question in this regard by saying that we would have to wait for the budget first, and then the consultations and deliberations, before we could address this important question. While the minister just sits on his hands, the students at universities and colleges are suffering under terrible debt loads, which just get worse.

Does the hon. member believe, as I do, that if we want to see this brilliant future that the throne speech talks about, we must first act much more quickly than this government seems ready to do and then—