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

Petitions December 10th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from residents who urge the federal government to exercise our collective prerogative to protect the health of our citizens by applying the precautionary principle to the use of cosmetic pesticides.

The petitioners are asking that the federal government enact a moratorium on these non-essential pesticides until such time as they are conclusively proven to be safe, not just in the short-term, but in the long-term, as well.

Petitions December 10th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present two petitions from Victoria residents and other Canadians who live on the west coast. The first petition stems from the concern of Canadians with the loss of six million sockeye. This is the lowest return in 50 years.

The petitioners were pleased to hear the government's announcement of an independent judicial inquiry. However, I think it is worth noting that they specify that this inquiry should explore all the facts, consult with scientists and stakeholders to determine what went wrong with this year's sockeye run, and present a public report, with biding solutions, within six months.

Petitions November 2nd, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition signed by hundreds of Canadians who wish to stop the Canada-Colombia trade deal.

The petitioners say they are concerned with the violence that is ongoing against workers and civil society by paramilitaries in Colombia who are associated with the Uribe government. Since 1991, 2,200 trade unionists have been murdered.

The petitioners believe that all trade agreements must be built on the principles of fair trade which respect human rights, labour rights and environmental stewardship.

Therefore, they ask Parliament to reject the Canada-Colombia trade deal until an independent human rights impact assessment is carried out, the resulting concerns are addressed, and the agreement is renegotiated along the principles of fair trade, which would take into consideration environmental and social impacts.

Governor General's Literary Awards November 2nd, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate Victoria's 2009 nominees for the Governor General's Literary Awards: short story writer, Deborah Willis; children's author, Robin Stevenson; illustrator, Rachel Berman; and playwright, Joan MacLeod.

Victoria also has its own awards for adult and children's literature, won deservedly this year by Patrick Lane and Penny Draper.

My riding is home to an extraordinary community of writers from every genre, including Michael Prince, whose Absent Citizens is a superb account of disability politics and policy in Canada; and Katherine Gibson, biographer of artist Ted Harrison.

I am deeply grateful for these artists' contribution to Victoria and Canada's cultural fabric but I am concerned that the cost of living threatens the livelihood of many. I ask the government to make the arts an integral part of Canada's social and economic policy.

Petitions October 28th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present a petition on behalf of nearly 400 Victorians.

The petitioners recognize that animals are sentient beings that deserve respect for their life and welfare and they want to end unnecessary suffering and cruelty to animals. They ask the government to support a universal declaration on animal welfare.

Petitions October 27th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of hundreds of constituents from Victoria who express their concern about the implementation of the harmonized sales tax at a time when they say Canadians are already struggling because the GST, the federal tax, is charged on more products than the existing provincial sales tax. The HST, they say, will increase the cost on many everyday goods and services like vitamins, haircuts, newspapers, movies and so on, and it will hurt many community businesses in Victoria.

The petitioners are asking the federal government to rescind this measure because no steps have been taken to mitigate the impact on our communities.

Income Tax Act October 27th, 2009

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-466, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (transportation benefits).

Mr. Speaker, I am please to introduce my commuter choices bill this morning. The twin threats of climate change and poor air quality demand that we creatively encourage alternative modes of transportation to the single occupancy vehicle.

Today, I am proposing to allow employees to receive tax-free employer-provided benefits to cover the costs of transit, carpooling and bicycle commuting. This bill compliments and is an improvement to the current government transit tax credit. The employer-related commuter benefits that are proposed for tax exemption would apply to an employee's highest personal income tax rate. It would also save payroll costs for employers and remove administrative barriers that exist presently.

As this bill illustrates, government can help make better commuter choices easier for Canadians. It would help us to meet our eventual commitments to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

I want to thank my constituents, Sarah Webb and Dan Pollock, who inspired this bill, and CUTA, the Canadian Urban Transit Association, for the policy work it did on this bill.

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

Income Tax Act October 23rd, 2009

Before resuming debate on this bill, I am prepared to rule on the point of order raised on June 18, 2009 by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons concerning the requirement for a royal recommendation for Bill C-290, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for loss of retirement income), standing in the name of the member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

I would like to thank the parliamentary secretary for having raised this matter, as well as the member for Richmond—Arthabaska for his contribution to the questions.

Members will recall that Bill C-290 was among those bills identified as causing some concern for the chair, as stated on June 2 at Debates, page 4074. In his remarks, the parliamentary secretary clearly identified Bill C-290 as proposing to reintroduce a refundable tax credit. He further commented that refundable credits are direct benefits paid to individuals regardless of whether the tax is owed or not, and are paid out of the consolidated revenue fund.

He went on to point out, citing a Speaker's ruling made on June 4, 2007, and a ruling made by the Speaker of the other place on May 11, 2006, that refundable tax credits have been ruled to require a royal recommendation.

In his comments on this issue, the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska, while acknowledging that the bill seeks to create a refundable tax credit, drew the attention of the House to an earlier Speaker’s ruling of October 16, 1995 in support of his contention that measures to alleviate taxation do not require a royal recommendation.

The chair notes that a question similar to that at issue here was raised with respect to Bill C-445, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for loss of retirement income), in the second session of the 39th Parliament.

That bill, which appears to be very similar to Bill C-290, was also introduced by the member for Richmond—Arthabaska, and was determined to require a royal recommendation in a ruling given on May 2, 2008.

The chair has reviewed carefully Bill C-290, particularly with respect to the manner in which it compares to the earlier Bill C-445, and as was noted in the May 2, 2008 ruling on Bill C-445,

Whether or not the tax credit is refundable or non-refundable is the key issue in determining the need for a royal recommendation.

Non refundable credits are deducted from a person’s tax payable rather than being calculated separately: they simply reduce the amount of tax payable by an individual.

Refundable credits, on the other hand, are not limited simply to the reduction of tax payable. They provide an entitlement to funds which is independent of the tax otherwise due. They are calculated separately and, where no further reduction of tax payable is possible, they give rise to a disbursement from the consolidated revenue fund. Any such disbursement, no matter how it may be characterized in the legislation which proposes it, represents spending for a new and distinct purpose and must therefore be accompanied by a royal recommendation.

In this regard, there does not appear to be any substantive difference between Bill C-290 and its predecessor, Bill C-445. Both involve refundable tax credits.

Accordingly, the Chair will decline to put the question on third reading of Bill C-290 in its present form unless a royal recommendation is received.

The debate, however, is on the motion for second reading, and this motion will be put to a vote at the conclusion of the second reading debate.

Petitions September 17th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by my concerned constituents from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers asking that the government improve employment insurance. It belongs to workers, they say. They ask that measures be introduced to reduce the number of hours for eligibility to 360 hours. They are asking that benefits be extended, especially in this difficult economic time, and they are asking that benefits be at least 60% of normal earnings.

Grandmothers for Africa September 15th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend I greeted Grandmothers for Africa as they pedalled into Victoria ending a 280-kilometre fundraising ride.

These remarkable women are recipients of the Rosemary Brown Award for Women for their tireless work in solidarity with grandmothers in Africa.

So today I rise to support the grandmothers' campaign to unblock Canada's access to medicines regime and get affordable generic drugs moving to the world's most vulnerable people.

This week, the second half of the first and only shipment under this legislation is leaving Canada for Rwanda, and the generic provider has said that it will be the last shipment unless the regime is amended.

My colleague, the member for Winnipeg North, has introduced Bill C-393 to remedy the regime's flaws. I urge all members to think like a grandmother and support this bill.