House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was work.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Independent MP for Markham—Stouffville (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2019, with 21% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Drug Prices June 19th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to see the final report of the advisory council on pharmacare. I strongly support universal single-payer public pharmacare so Canadians have access to medicines. I hope the recommendations will be implemented.

However, I am concerned about the prices Canadians pay. There has not been progress to reform the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board. In 2017, I proposed regulatory changes to help the PMPRB protect consumers from high prices. This included changing the countries with which we compared prices. We said that value for money should factor into drug prices. We proposed that refunds should be reported to increase transparency and set fair prices. Those changes were to be in place by the end of 2018, but this has not happened.

National pharmacare is essential, but it must be accompanied by good stewardship of public funds. Canadians should not pay the third highest drug prices in the world. I encourage the Minister of Health to proceed with the PMPRB reform without further delay.

Main Estimates, 2019-20 June 18th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I agree to apply and vote yes.

Main Estimates, 2019-20 June 18th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, this member agrees to apply and votes yes.

Main Estimates, 2019-20 June 18th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I vote yes.

Criminal Records Act June 3rd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I agree to apply and will be voting yes.

Criminal Records Act June 3rd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, this member agrees to apply, voting no.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls June 3rd, 2019

Madam Speaker, today the government received the final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

I attended the closing ceremony and was moved by the powerful testimony of families, grandmothers and elders.

The report has 231 calls for justice. Let us highlight calls to which all Canadians are asked to respond.

One, read the report; two, speak out against racism, sexism and misogyny; three, hold governments to account; and four, decolonize ourselves—learn the true history of Canada.

Our response must be more than words. Governments must recognize the rights of indigenous peoples and must make investments in education, housing and restorative justice to bring about true reconciliation and stop the violence against indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited and trans people.

We all have a responsibility to act. I will be an ally—will you?

Please read the report.

Mennonite Heritage Week May 28th, 2019

Madam Speaker, it is my honour to rise in the House to speak in support of Motion No. 111 put forth by the member for Abbotsford, which would declare the second week of September as Mennonite heritage week, as a time to recognize the contributions Canadian Mennonites have made to building Canadian society.

ln supporting this motion, I will share some details of Mennonite contributions to the history and heritage in my riding of Markham—Stouffville. Our region had been home to indigenous peoples for thousands of years. ln fact, one of the largest Huron-Wendat villages in North America stood on the boundary between Markham and Stouffville some 500 years ago.

Then in 1804, settlers, including Abraham Stouffer, his wife Elizabeth and her brother Peter Reesor, arrived from Pennsylvania. They transported their families and possessions in four large covered wagons, each drawn by four to six horses. They brought pigs, fowl, sheep, cows, oxen, housewares, farm implements and homemade food for the six-week journey.

They followed a path forged in 1615 by French free-spirit voyageur Étienne Brûlé. Within 10 years, another 55 families arrived from Pennsylvania and settled into the community. The vast majority of those families were Mennonite. The federal government soon abbreviated the name of the town to Stouffville to honour Abraham Stouffer and his family.

The early history of Markham—Stouffville is the story of Mennonites and pacifism. They were the first conscientious objectors in Canada's pre-history. ln the War of 1812, Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe exempted them from military service under the Militia Act of 1793. Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe was more interested in taking advantage of the significant Mennonite farming skills than in recruiting unenthusiastic soldiers. Mennonites helped our country's early leaders learn the gifts of tolerance and forbearance to develop a more broad-minded country.

ln modern times, as we confront existential threats like climate change, economic inequality, racism, violence and global instability, Mennonites offer us a blueprint to live productive lives full of hope, meaning and purpose. Specifically, they challenge us in five important ways.

Number one, Mennonites are known for addressing issues on both a local and a global scale. The Stouffville Care & Share Thrift Shop collects and sells local thrift goods, with all funds raised supporting local and international development and peace projects. Residents benefit from more choice and lower prices. At the same time, all funds raised support international development and relief. Everybody wins.

Number two, Mennonites move beyond their own personal stories of persecution and injustice to help the persecuted and afflicted. Abraham Stouffer's ancestors were expelled from Switzerland in a climate of religious intolerance in 1709. That was the backdrop for a life of courage and faithfulness. Today, Mennonites in Stouffville have an inspiring track record of supporting the persecuted through their work with international refugees. During the Syrian refugee crisis, 1,500 refugees were resettled by Canadian Mennonites over just 12 months, from 2015 to 2016. Mennonite commitment to religious freedom is borne out in words and actions.

Number three, Mennonites work together collaboratively on common goals with a shared sense of purpose. They work in partnership and community. This is a model for how we, in the House of Commons, could work better across party lines to deal with the entrenched challenges of our generation. We can learn and then practise an ethic of caring and sharing our hardships with friends and neighbours, to improve our quality of life and increase our sense of community. As parliamentarians, we can follow Mennonite examples of barn-raising collaboration to bring effective solutions to our most pressing challenges.

Number four, Mennonites have modelled the importance of working through shared values. The transformative power of shared values brings a sense of urgency, belonging, legitimacy and healing to our communities. Our shared values allow us to build communities grounded in compassion and service. For example, a local Mennonite woman in Stouffville recently received a provincial Trillium grant to build a three-season structure to host indigenous reconciliation programming, including the KAIROS blanket exercise workshop.

Number five, we can celebrate the Mennonite model of a strong work ethic and sense of industriousness. For over 200 years, Mennonite farmers have tilled the soil of Markham—Stouffville, managing farm resources, taking risks, growing food, feeding cities and raising families. Seventy-five farms, many of which are run by Mennonite farmers, are now part of the Rouge National Urban Park, our country's newest national park, which will hugely benefit from Mennonite industriousness and superior farming skills.

My riding of Markham—Stouffville has vastly benefited from 200 years of Mennonite industriousness and community. Mennonites built a community with deep interlocking roots. Their zeal for justice and peace translated into lives of service, compassion and mutual assistance. The crest of the top of the Whitchurch-Stouffville coat of arms is the dove of peace, another Mennonite contribution to our rich town history.

Finally, while my husband and I were both raised in the Presbyterian Church, we started attending our local Mennonite congregation a few years after we moved to Stouffville. We eventually became members of the Community Mennonite Church, because we were inspired by the focus on peace, social justice and care for the environment.

With that, members can understand even more of why I am happy to stand in support of Motion No. 111 to establish Mennonite heritage week so we can honour the important legacy that Mennonites have made to Canadian history and culture.

Indigenous Languages Act May 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, his question raises a fundamental and important issue that members of the House need to consider.

In the development of legislation, particularly legislation that is entirely devoted to an issue that affects indigenous peoples, we need to find a way as legislators to ensure it meets the expectations of indigenous peoples, that it recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples and that it is inspired and led as much as possible by indigenous peoples.

There has been progress over the last number of years. I have heard some people talk about the fact that there was not adequate co-development on this bill and that some bills had done better than others. We can do much better yet. It is not possible to consult all 1.7 million indigenous peoples in the country on all legislation that comes forward, but we can find better mechanisms to reach communities so we do not hear in committee in years to come that people felt they did not have an opportunity to provide input on it.

I challenge all members, especially as we look to the fact that there will be a new Parliament after October or November, and those who may have the privilege to sit in this place in years to come to work together in a co-operative, non-partisan way to really study what co-development legislation looks like. How can we address the importance of ensuring people have the opportunity to contribute so they will come to committee and tell us they have a way to contribute. That is our responsibility.

Indigenous Languages Act May 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I commend the hon. member for her passion on this incredibly important issue.

The simple answer to her question is absolutely. Absolutely, there is more that we can and must do to continue to walk the talk, as it were, in terms of the promotion of indigenous languages.

I would acknowledge that we have come some distance. I was thrilled to hear during debate this morning that not only was the indigenous language of Cree spoken, but in fact, for the very first time, a question by one of my colleagues and the answer to that question were given in the Cree language. That is something to be celebrated, and we need to see more of that.

My colleague, the member for Vancouver Granville, speaks the language of Kwak'wala. I am not sure if I am saying that exactly right either. However, she talked about the fact that she might be able, in this House, to speak in her language, but we would need to provide interpretation.

I really like the member's idea about putting this bill in an indigenous language. It is not too late to do that. I would join others in this place in calling upon the Department of Indigenous Services to take the time to make sure they get it right, to work with first nations, Inuit and Métis to make sure this is ultimately, sooner rather than later, translated into at least a few of the languages it is seeking to preserve.