House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was agreement.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Independent MP for Simcoe—Grey (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 14% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Aboriginal Affairs October 6th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, this would be a good opportunity for the member to take a moment to read the most recent report from Sisters in Spirit and familiarize himself as to what the research project is all about.

At this moment, I would like to congratulate the victims' families for the incredible work that they have done. They are a significant part of this research project to identify policy initiatives and ways that we can increase the safety of aboriginal women and girls.

It has been a very difficult time for them, but we appreciate the incredible work that they have done.

Aboriginal Affairs October 6th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, Sisters in Spirit is also aimed at identifying the measures to increase the safety of aboriginal women and girls. In addition to identifying the number of missing and murdered aboriginal women, it is also working to raise public awareness. I am sure the member would agree that this project has been extremely successful in raising awareness to the issue of violence against aboriginal women and girls.

It is a research project that is guided by four very important questions, which were highlighted today by the president of NWAC. Questions that the member raises often in the House are already being addressed through the great research project.

Aboriginal Affairs October 6th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, Sisters in Spirit is a multi-research project. It is a five year project of which the member is very well aware. It is a project that is aimed at identifying and quantifying the actual number of murdered and missing aboriginal women. It is also a public awareness campaign. It is in its fifth year and is not completed as of yet, but it is because of the incredible work of NWAC and the families and the victims and their courage that we have been able to identify the root causes of racialized and sexualized violence.

We continue to work with NWAC to find better solutions to deal with this overwhelming problem.

Aboriginal Affairs October 5th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, as I have assured the member a number of times, our government support for Sisters in Spirit and for identifying the root causes of racialized and sexualized violence that our aboriginal women are experiencing in overwhelming rates is not questionable. We absolutely support the great work that Sisters in Spirit has done. I want to give my respect to the families and to the victims for the courage they have shown, that they continue to show, as we complete this research project.

Aboriginal Affairs October 5th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, our government takes the issue of murdered and missing aboriginal women very seriously.

We are supporting Sisters in Spirit. Sisters in Spirit is a five year multi-research project that is also a policy initiative and a public awareness project. It is aimed at quantifying and identifying the number of murdered and missing aboriginal women. It is scheduled to end sometime in 2010.

I and this government continue to work with NWAC, the Native Women's Association of Canada. I actually would like to recognize the new president, Ms. Jeannette Corbiere-Lavell, and tell her that I look forward to working with her on this very important issue.

Criminal Code September 29th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to debate Bill C-268, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum sentence for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of eighteen years).

My colleague the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul in Manitoba is a good friend of mine, someone I have worked very closely with since I became a member of Parliament and who is considered to be an expert in human trafficking. I would like to acknowledge the international award she has received for her work on this issue. I am pleased to support her, and I also want to congratulate her on her efforts.

Bill C-268 is an important bill. It seeks to impose a mandatory minimum penalty of five years imprisonment for trafficking a person under 18 years of age.

The bill addresses the horrific crime of trafficking in persons, a deplorable act. The crime of trafficking in persons involves the recruitment, movement or harbouring of a person by means of deception, coercion or force. It is known as modern-day slavery.

It is estimated that between 700,000 and four million people are trafficked annually worldwide, through sexual exploitation or forced labour. The estimates vary widely because these crimes go unreported and the victims are often unknown.

It is also estimated that the underground market in the trafficking and smuggling of persons represents close to $7 billion U.S. per year globally, quickly rivalling the extensive trade in illegal drugs and firearms as a source of profit for organized crime.

Those involved in the adult sex trade are often among the most vulnerable members of our society. Their involvement in sex work often puts them at an increased risk for harm and abuse.

This government remains deeply committed to combating the exploitation of women and girls.

Addressing such harm requires the enforcement of existing criminal laws as well as a range of non-legislative responses, including prevention and other support initiatives.

Our government has been working diligently through its overall anti-trafficking strategy, guided by the three P's that were mentioned by my colleague earlier: preventing trafficking, protecting victims, and prosecuting offenders.

Our government is committed to combating violence against women and girls. We are committed to helping the most vulnerable. As Minister of State for the Status of Women, I can confirm that our government, through Status of Women Canada, is funding grassroots organizations across the country that are working to address trafficking. We believe they are best equipped to help the most vulnerable.

One of those organizations, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, has a project called prevent human trafficking: stop the sexual exploitation of first nations women and children. This initiative will develop partnership networks as well as other measures to prevent and protect women and youth from sexual exploitation and trafficking. Aboriginal women and youth are among the most vulnerable members in our society today.

We are also proud of the work we are doing with Sisters in Spirit. This initiative is spearheaded by NWAC, the Native Women's Association of Canada. I want to take a moment to congratulate the new president Jeannette Corbiere-Lavell. I look forward to working with her. I also want to acknowledge the incredible work of Bev Jacobs, and the families and victims for the stories they have told. The program is a research project to ensure there is more public awareness of the aboriginal women we have lost. I want to commend them for their courage in their work to give the lost spirits a voice.

I mentioned briefly the grassroots organizations that we are supporting.

Our government has made some significant changes to Status of Women Canada. We have increased the funding available to grassroots organizations across the country by 41%. With that, we have seen an increase in the number of organizations that are receiving support and funds to deliver their projects to the most vulnerable women across the country. The benefits from these changes to date have impacted 100,000 women directly and one million women indirectly.

Over the past year I have been meeting with many Canadians, particularly women, from coast to coast to coast, to engage in discussions about violence against women. I have met with thousands of Canadians, and they have indicated the need to address this very serious issue of human trafficking as well as the need to ensure that women have a safe place of refuge, such as shelters.

That is why our government was proud to support the first ever World Conference of Women's Shelters. I was pleased to bring the organizations together toward establishing an international network of shelters, so that Canada can continue to lead, so that we can transfer knowledge and share best practices.

Human trafficking in women and girls occurs, we know, both domestically and internationally, and our government is tackling the issue on both fronts. I had the honour of leading the Canadian delegation to the annual meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women to reiterate our government's commitment to end this practice, along with other gender-based crimes.

In November 2005 this government introduced reforms to Canada's Criminal Code that created three indictable offences related to human trafficking. The Criminal Code reforms were the first deliverables through this government's anti-trafficking strategy. As a result, Canada's Criminal Code is strengthened and now includes three human trafficking-related offences: one, the actual act of trafficking; two, receiving material benefit from trafficking; and three, the withholding or destroying of identity or immigration documents. There is also a trafficking offence under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act which was introduced by our government.

In helping to increase the application of new legislative tools, training on the laws and issues surrounding human trafficking is currently being delivered to law enforcement, border and immigration officials across Canada. This program includes a strong focus on victims' issues. Federal efforts are coordinated by the Interdepartmental Working Group on Trafficking in Persons, which brings together 17 departments and agencies, including my agency, Status of Women Canada. The RCMP and federal partners, including my agency, have held training workshops across Canada for law enforcement officials on human trafficking.

In 2007 this government introduced legislation that allows Citizenship and Immigration Canada officers to issue temporary resident permits of up to 180 days to victims of human trafficking. Recipients are also eligible to apply for a fee-exempt work permit.

The parliamentary Standing Committee on the Status of Women, which I have had the pleasure of sitting on and participating in since I became an elected member, has tabled two motions calling on the government to prevent trafficking at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Federal, provincial and municipal officials are collaborating on a strategy. We have also engaged in initiatives to combat trafficking in persons, including national law enforcement training and providing funding to groups with survivors and victims as their focus.

Our government also focuses on raising awareness, which is a key element in curbing demand for trafficked persons. These awareness-raising measures include the creation of a website on trafficking in persons. It is accessed through the Department of Justice website. Posters and information pamphlets are available in 14 different languages, which have been developed and distributed widely within Canada and throughout Canadian embassies abroad to help prevent human trafficking.

Federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for the status of women have also agreed to identify best practices to respond to this crime.

Our government has a strong record on supporting women, particularly those who are victims of criminal activity, and Bill C-268 further demonstrates this commitment.

Clearly, if hon. members of the House embrace the values of justice, human rights and compassion, they should and will support this legislation, particularly if they care about the situation of women and children in Canada and around the world who are subjected to the crime of trafficking.

I look forward to this bill receiving support from the opposition in the House. I will close by congratulating my colleague, the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, on the incredible work she has done and for her leadership on this issue.

Points of Order June 18th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I never said anything of the sort when it comes to that member. I talked about crazy stories being told.

Status of Women June 18th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her question. In Canada, women are starting businesses at twice the rate of men. In fact, the OECD has cited our Canadian entrepreneurial women as the most creative and most entrepreneurial among the world.

That is why our government is supporting WEConnect Canada. It is why our government is supporting women entrepreneurs and helping them to access supplier diversity markets.

The Canadian Women's Business Network has endorsed our government's economic action plan, and was particularly pleased with our election promise for the self-employed, to extend EI, maternal and paternal benefits to them.

Status of Women June 18th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, it does not matter how many times the member makes up crazy stories, they are not believed by women across the country.

What we see under the leadership of this Prime Minister is the highest percentage of women appointed to cabinet in this country's history. We also see the largest number of women on the government side in Canada's history. We have the highest percentage of funds provided to Status of Women Canada, an increase of 42%. We have seen the number of grassroots organizations supporting women increase by 69% across this country. That is action.

Status of Women June 18th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, our government's record is very clear when it comes to women in leadership roles. We are talking about Equal Voice quite a bit today in the House. The commitment that our government has made to Equal Voice was $1.2 million in funding for a three-year program to reach out to women across the country, young women between the ages of 18 and 25, to increase their political literacy skills, provide mentorship opportunities in hopes of seeing more women elected to the federal House and in the hopes of seeing more women elected to all levels of government across the country. This is substantial and the hon. member should recognize that.