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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was regard.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for London—Fanshawe (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Transport February 4th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, in October, a report by the CBC's The Fifth Estate revealed an eight-year-old study by the Department of Transport that was not made public. That study contradicted previous Ministry of Transport statements that no evidence was available that pointed to seat belts improving the overall level of safety on school buses. How many injuries and child deaths could have been prevented across Canada in the past decade had school buses been equipped with seat belts as a result of that buried report?

Since 1999, 16 students have been killed in school bus accidents in Ontario alone, and more than 6,000 have been injured. We will probably never know whether mandatory seat belts on the bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos would have made a difference that tragic day in April last year, or whether the deaths of three and injury of 23 public transit users in Ottawa could have been prevented had seat belts been mandatory on January 11 when a double-decker bus carrying commuters crashed into the Westboro transit station.

On January 21, the minister announced a task force investigating seat belts on buses. CBC reported that Transport Canada stated, for the first time on its website in a posting December 21, that seat belts, when worn properly, do offer added protection for school-aged children.

Transport Canada has decreed that all large and medium highway buses must have seatbelts by September 1, 2020. In announcing the change, the transport minister said, “By having seat belts on highway buses, we can help reduce injuries in severe collisions, such as rollovers, and improve safety for everyone.”

The federal government has the authority to mandate seat belts on all new school buses without needing provincial approval. For existing school buses, the minister has stated that he will require more consultations with the provinces to determine the source of money to retrofit school buses to provide seat belts. It seems that the minister and his department have no questions about whether or not seat belts save lives; the only question is who should pay for the retrofits.

The facts speak for themselves. After all, if it is mandatory for a bus driver to wear a seat belt for safety reasons, why would it be any less dangerous to fail to require seat belts for the passengers that the driver carries? A delay on this makes no sense at all. Why would the minister require another review when the report that was buried eight years ago determined that school buses without seat belts failed safety tests?

The government has plenty of money when it comes to paying $1 billion more than the actual value of a leaky pipeline, or when it comes to ignoring billions in lost revenues in its refusal to close tax loopholes for the richest Canadians and corporations that hide their excessive income in offshore accounts. The government conducted bogus consultations on electoral reform when it had no intention of keeping that election promise, and it continues to demand pointless consultations on pay equity for women.

With every day that goes by without action by the Minister of Transport, more and more Canadian lives are at risk when the solution is simple and evident: Make seat belts mandatory on buses. It is time for action on the part of the minister, not more studies, task forces and obfuscation.

Petitions February 4th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from a number of constituents who are calling on the Parliament of Canada to support protections for the Thames River system.

The Conservative government stripped environmental regulations covered in the Navigable Waters Protection Act and thousands of rivers were left vulnerable, particularly heritage rivers like the Thames. Despite the Liberal government promising to reinstate the environmental protections that were gutted, it did not.

The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to support my Bill C-355, which commits government to prioritizing the protection of the Thames River by amending the Navigation Protection Act.

Automotive Industry February 4th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, last night Unifor ran an ad intended to continue the fight for thousands of Canadian GM workers who will lose their jobs in Oshawa. Unlike the Prime Minister, who is sitting this one out, workers are fighting for their jobs and community.

The Conservatives gave GM billions in incentives, without a guarantee to protect jobs in Canada. Now the Liberals leave workers left stranded without a paycheque. It is about choices. Why will the Liberals not show some courage and stand up for Canadian workers?

Health Care Providers January 30th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the federal government has a responsibility to provide Canadians with sustainable, affordable, universal and accessible health care. We have repeatedly heard the Prime Minister declare himself a feminist. Meanwhile, health care providers such as VON Canada worry about their ability to provide quality care to seniors in their homes.

Seniors' needs are increasingly complex and require the services of professionals, who are now being forced out of home care into other health sectors because of low pay.

The current government could demonstrate commitment to its promises by implementing and funding wage parity for health care providers. Canadian workers, Canadian seniors, Canadian families and indeed Canadian women are worth it.

Business of Supply January 29th, 2019

Madam Speaker, the Liberals take credit for a lot of things they never did and do not intend to do. Housing is most definitely one of them.

I remember in 1993 when Paul Martin cut funding for the national housing strategy and we have never recovered. We are years and years later and this bunch is talking about maybe having some housing after the next election, maybe having housing if we get buy-in from some of the provinces. We have a Doug Ford government in Ontario and I do not expect to see any housing anytime soon, unless there is a NDP government in the country in 2019.

Business of Supply January 29th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I am sure there are a lot of regrets over there, regrets about broken promises in regard to postal services, promises to seniors who still live in poverty, to all of those people waiting for that promised “after the next election” housing strategy. There is lots of regret.

In terms of corporations, I am talking about the tax havens. I am talking about the Bronfmans, who have a cozy relationship with the government and have not paid their fair share of taxes. What about those loopholes? What about those tax havens? What about bringing that money home so that there can be money for veterans, for children and for families that need it? Yes, I am sure they are filled with remorse over there.

Business of Supply January 29th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Sherbrooke.

I would like to begin by acknowledging that this new chamber stands on unceded Algonquin territory. It is an honour that carries the heavy responsibility of working toward reconciliation with the indigenous peoples to whom this land was originally entrusted and to whom it still belongs. I would also like to thank my colleague, the MP for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, for his heroic and tireless efforts in fighting for the right to speak and hear indigenous languages in this House. We are so grateful for him, his courageous spirit and all he has accomplished in the House.

Today we are debating the Conservative motion calling on the Prime Minister to table a budget focused on eliminating the deficit and to not ever raise taxes again. It probably comes as no surprise that New Democrats will not be voting in favour of this motion.

Before the members opposite begin screaming about the tax-and-spend policies of the NDP, I would like to remind the House that New Democrat governments across this country have consistently delivered balanced budgets more often than any other party. New Democrats understand the value of taxation as the means to provide equal access to services for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. New Democrats understand that taxes fuel social democracy, the values upon which this nation was founded.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said that taxes are the way we pay for civilization. As Canadians For Tax Fairness points out:

2. Taxes put out fires, keep our streets safe, provide our children with education, provide our families with health care, ensure our food and water are safe, create legal safeguards for businesses and employees, provide parks—in other words, provide us benefits every hour of the day, every day of the year.

3. The average Canadian household receives about $41,000 in public services each year.., a tremendous bargain for the vast majority of Canadians.

4. Past generations paid taxes for what we have today—schools, hospitals, courts of law, roads, public transit, parks. Our taxes today allow us to pass along those benefits to future generations—our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

5. If we ignore, shortchange or postpone funding for social, economic and environmental problems today, the solutions become more expensive in the future.

6. Public sector employees work hard, often in difficult circumstances, to keep government running and provide the public services we need. We need to attract and retain hard-working public employees and pay them fair compensation.

7. ...Taxes provide a counter-balance [to the power elite], by softening extreme disparities in wealth, power and benefits.

8. Taxes ensure that Canada can build and maintain the necessary infrastructure—[safe water supplies and sanitation,] education, health care and transportation systems—to attract investment and businesses, and thrive in a competitive global economy.

All businesses have benefited and prospered because of the infrastructure provided by civil society. Rather than trying to force a promise from the current or any other government to never raise taxes again, we would do better to discuss the ways in which the tax dollars entrusted to us can be spent wisely, with the needs of Canadians at the forefront. Neither Conservatives nor Liberals have been able to accomplish that. ln fact, I would say that neither party has had any real interest in accomplishing that.

New Democrats understand that this Conservative motion is nothing more than posturing in advance of the next federal election. Conservatives under Stephen Harper ran six deficits between 2008 and 2014. In fact, the Conservatives slashed the corporate income tax rate by one-third, from 22% to 15%, over a six-year period, but only corporate taxes. Individual citizens paid dearly for this corporate tax break, and they continue to pay so corporations like General Motors can reap huge profits without any responsibility to the community and people who made those profits possible. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has said that these corporate tax giveaways cost the government $12 billion annually, but these drastic cuts have not boosted investment or led to promised job creation. The NDP is convinced that if the government made the wealthy pay their fair share, it could tackle inequality and build an economy that would benefit all Canadians.

The Liberals refuse to reverse Harper's corporate tax cuts, and so do the Conservatives, whose so-called efficiencies created an austerity plan that included reductions in health transfers and cuts in food and transportation safety, imperative safety measures. Certainly they have done this kind of cutting when in government.

History shows us that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals have the best interests of Canadians at heart. If they did, women would not have to continue to fight for pay equity after decades of being paid less than men doing equivalent work.

If they cared to make it a priority, they would have a fully funded, comprehensive health care system that included pharmacare and fully funded home care, with wage parity for health care workers.

If they cared, we would have universal and accessible child care programs.

If they cared, we would have legislation that protected workers when factories moved offshore or that prevented companies that go bankrupt from stealing workers' wages, invested as pension dollars, to pay corporate bonuses to those who already have more than their fair share.

If they cared, we would have a national housing strategy that actually provided affordable housing for every Canadian who needed it.

If they truly cared, we would have a strategy for poverty elimination and would have met campaign 2000's goal to raise every child out of poverty by the year 2000. However, here we are. It is 2019, and food bank use is higher than it has ever been, because families must make choices between paying the rent and buying groceries. It is our shame in a country as rich as this.

The tragic irony is that we know from the experience of other governments that if we were to provide these public services for Canadians, the country would prosper. Just as a rising tide raises all ships, every Canadian, rich or poor, would benefit, because we would not have to pay poverty's tab in increased costs in health care, education and the justice system.

In 2011, the cost of poverty to our economy was $24 billion. Members can be assured that this cost has increased in the eight years since. By contrast, Quebec's universal daycare program has resulted in an increased GDP for the province, because more women have been able to enter the workforce and contribute their tax dollars to the public good.

February 2 is Groundhog Day, and in that same theme as the famous Bill Murray movie, we find ourselves recycling the same old bogus arguments over and over again in this House. Whether it is the white cats or the black cats in power, the story always ends the same, and Canadians end up losing.

Are our memories so short in this House that we forget Paul Martin's slashing of health care transfers to the provinces to pay his deficit? Our health care system has yet to recover. Canadians have suffered for it. Canadians are paying out-of-pocket expenses for life-saving drugs and medical procedures that used to be covered. Of course, we are plagued with creeping P3 agreements that erode the democracy of a fully funded public health care system.

The Prime Minister has stated that Paul Martin made the right decision, but he would have us believe that he would not do the same thing. However, he has done nothing to restore funding slashed by his Liberal predecessors to health care, employment insurance, and our public broadcaster.

The solution is obvious, if only there was political will. If the government ensured that super-wealthy corporations and individuals paid their fair share of taxes, we could tackle inequality and build an economy that would benefit all Canadians. Instead of recovering this lost tax revenue and applying it to better health care, community infrastructure, and other urgent priorities, such as veterans, seniors care and housing, the Liberals refuse to close tax loopholes.

This Conservative motion is about the deficit, and New Democrats are asking this: What does a $19-billion deficit buy? It buys billions in gifts to Bay Street, such as the tax incentive to purchase corporate jets and limousines. Let us not delude ourselves that the Conservatives are any different. Stephen Harper implemented the G7's lowest corporate tax rate, but the promised community investment spinoffs have never materialized. lnstead, Canadian corporations have stashed away $200 billion in offshore tax havens. They close factories and lay off workers, claiming lost profits at the same time as they pay bonuses to executives and shareholders.

It would be refreshing if we could focus on what is really important for Canadians, rather than this ridiculous race to the bottom that always ends up with cuts to services and Canadians who continue to lose and pay with their hard-earned dollars and their hard-earned—

Canada Post December 13th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, today, the Prime Minister is attending an event on gender equality and women's economic participation, yet his unconstitutional Bill C-89 forced rural and suburban mail carriers back to work for less pay than their male counterparts, this despite an arbitrator's award for pay equity that continues to be ignored by Canada Post.

The Prime Minister talks a good game, but actions speak louder than words. Back-to-work legislation forced postal workers back into inequality. What is so feminist about that?

Canada Post Corporation December 12th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I see no reason to change the question I asked in November, because I am still waiting for an acceptable answer. Why did the government rule against workers and not against the corporation?

While Canada Post refuses to acknowledge the needs of those who deliver the mail, CUPW is literally fighting for the lives of workers. Postal transformation is taking its toll on the workers' bodies, mental health and families.

Despite the Harper Conservatives' imposed legislation in 2011 being deemed unconstitutional, the current Prime Minister has done the same, all in the interest of greasing the wheels of commerce. That price is too high. Why are corporate profits so much more important than the lives of workers?

Canada Post Corporation December 12th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, despite the Prime Minister's claims of being a friend of labour, he and his government have proven, once again, that there is no difference between Liberals and Tories.

It is postal workers who are suffering the tragic fallout of the same old story. Despite the fact that the Conservatives' back-to-work legislation forcing CUPW back to the Canada Post workplace in 2011 was deemed unconstitutional by the Ontario Superior Court, the government one-upped Stephen Harper.

It put profits ahead of people, and rammed Bill C-89 through in record time, using time allocation and procedural tricks to ensure less time for debate and consideration than Stephen Harper ever did.

The Prime Minister has managed to out-Tory the Tories, all the while claiming to be on the side of labour. What a joke. Bill C-89 forced postal workers to return to work on November 27 under their previous collective agreements, after five weeks of rotating strikes, which means that between then and this Christmas, at least 315 disabling injuries will happen to postal workers. Rural and suburban mail carriers will work roughly 250,000 hours without pay. Urban postal workers will work thousands of hours of forced overtime.

In 2011, the Conservative government imposed back-to-work legislation after Canada Post locked out CUPW members for two weeks. Ontario Superior Court Justice Stephen Firestone later determined that the legislation violated the rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada declared the right to strike to be fundamental and protected by the Constitution.

CUPW was fighting for its members' lives and safety. The rate of workplace injuries has skyrocketed since postal transformation. Rural and suburban mail carriers continue to be paid less than urban workers, despite an arbitrator's decision that Canada Post should pay all workers equally. Forced overtime means workers are unable to spend time with their families and unable to see their children before bedtime. It means longer hours walking longer routes with heavier loads in dark and dangerous conditions.

All the while, Canada Post Corporation is profitable. If it were to consider any of the proposals in delivering community power offered by the union and its partners, its increased profitability and sustainability would be ensured for generations to come.

The government, in its arrogance, has ignored workers' charter rights to organize and to withdraw services when the employer refuses to bargain a collective agreement in good faith. Every person in this country who earns a living from employment should be aware of, and hopefully furious with, the government's abuse of their human and constitutional rights.

New Democrats stand with workers. New Democrats stand with CUPW. Make no mistake about it, CUPW is fighting for every worker in this country, for safe working conditions, for fair and equal treatment, and to be compensated fairly for ensuring profits for the corporation.

The Prime Minister's sunny words in support of labour have tarnished in the light of his actions. The joke is on Canadians, and it is a sadistic joke played on Canadians who thought they had gotten rid of Stephen Harper.

The anti-work agenda and the refusal to advocate for those who create the wealth and deliver the services is alive and thriving under the Liberal Prime Minister.