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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was kind.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Newton—North Delta (B.C.)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 26% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Digital Privacy Act June 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I absolutely agree. Ditto.

Digital Privacy Act June 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hard-working colleague for the very thoughtful question. There is nothing more important than one's private information. There is some information people just do not want to share with other people. We have insisted on removing the provisions in Bill S-4 that would allow organizations to share personal information without Canadians' consent and without a warrant. We have also said that there are loopholes in this bill that need to be addressed. We tried to address them with amendments, but of course, we were ignored.

However, we are not the only ones who are saying that. Here is a quote from Michael Geist, who is a law professor at the University of Ottawa:

the broad provision that we have here opening the door to massive expansion of non-notified voluntary disclosure without any of the kinds of limitations that we typically find even the courts asking for should be removed.

He has also said:

While the government has claimed that this provision should not concern Canadians, the reality is that the broadly worded exception will allow companies to disclose personal information to other companies or organizations without court approval.

It is a lack of transparency, a lack of disclosure, and a lack of reporting requirements and believing that these companies can police themselves. Surely we have learned lessons from other situations. There are some glaring omissions in this bill, and they should be addressed.

As a matter of fact, Michael Geist even says, “[This bill] is both not well studied and ought to be fixed. Canadians deserve better”.

Digital Privacy Act June 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to rise and speak to Bill S-4.

As my colleague mentioned a couple of minutes ago, I too have very serious concerns that here we are in a parliamentary democracy with elected MPs sent here by their constituents to do the work of Parliament, and Conservatives have brought forward a bill introduced by the unelected Senate. It sort of begs this question. What was the real agenda behind doing this? Was it to fast-track it? Was it to try to give the Senate some sense of credibility as it goes through some very difficult and challenging times?

Nevertheless, it is about process, and now that I have made my point, I also want to make the point that in Parliament, as my colleague across the way pointed out, there is a natural rhythm as to how bills are introduced in the House and debated. The government, in its wisdom, first took a Senate bill instead of spending the time, of which it has a lot, to bring forward its own bill. It took a Senate bill and, even before second reading, basically declared that it was not willing to accept any amendments, which really makes one wonder what the purpose has been behind a lot of legislation.

Now I know that my colleagues across the way have an allergy to evidence, science, and data and do not really like listening to all the expert witnesses that are flown in to appear before committees. The interesting thing is that even before they heard from those witnesses, they started to make comments such that they did not want to accept any amendments because if they did, the bill would have to go back to the Senate. It does not seem to me to be a good reason to bring forward legislation that is poorly thought out.

I am not saying it is not needed. It is.

As a matter of fact, my esteemed colleague from Terrebonne—Blainville introduced Bill C-475, which would have actually addressed many of the concerns that Canadians want addressed. That is an example of a well-thought-out bill that would not overreach but would actually do the job that is needed, which is to modernize our code of conduct around personal information. With the advent of electronic and digital media, we absolutely need some changes.

Getting back to the bill, once again, it is a process that is flawed. Experts came forward and gave testimony. I sometimes wonder, if the government's mind is already made up that it is not going to accept any amendments, what the purpose is of flying in experts to present their testimony. To me, that is the highest sign of disrespect. It basically says the government has already made up its mind, but just to make witnesses feel better, it will hear from them. That is really bad form.

Here is something else. The NDP put forward 18 amendments, well thought out and researched, supported by the evidence that was presented and by experts; and other people presented 14 other amendments. True to their commitment or the bizarre statement before the bill got debated, there were zero amendments accepted by my colleagues across the way. So much for committees working with consensus.

I have often heard ministers from the other side of the House say they have to rush things through the House because at committee stage experts will be heard and that is when we get to have the really meaty debates. I have never bought that, and evidence bears out that it is not how committees work. Despite hearing expert witnesses and hearing from the opposition, the Conservative government accepted zero amendments, and that says a lot about the process.

Now the bill is back in the House, and we are debating it, but once again, there is time allocation. The government could have moved on the bill over the last number of years, but it chose not to. Here we are in the last three weeks, when suddenly the Conservatives have rediscovered that they had better do something. After all, it is election time. They are now moving time allocation to prevent the Canadian public from knowing what is really in the bill. One way to do that is to limit and shut down debate, which seems to be a very common move by the government.

Here are some facts and figures. The Conservatives made 1.2 million requests to telecommunication companies to obtain Canadians' personal information in just one year. Some 70% of Canadians feel less protected today than they did 10 years ago. With this bill, they have reason to feel even more concerned and worried, because now there are all kinds of loopholes in the bill whereby their information can be shared way beyond the person they give it to.

Some 97% of Canadians say they would like organizations to let them know when breaches of personal information occur. That is reasonable, but if companies are giving away data themselves, I personally see that as a breach, because they have breached my trust, because I gave the data to them. We have some concerns around that as well. Some 80% of Canadians say they would like the stiffest possible penalties to protect their personal information, and 91% of respondents—not 51%, not 41%, not 21%, but 91%—are very or extremely concerned about the protection of privacy. It seems to me that the government should be paying some attention to what Canadians are feeling and their fears.

There was also a Supreme Court ruling, on June 13, 2014, pertaining to the sharing of personal information. The Supreme Court stipulated that subscriber data, including name, address, email address, phone number, ID address, et cetera, cannot be disclosed to a third party without a warrant. In light of this decision, the constitutionality of certain provisions in Bill S-4 is questionable.

I am sitting here thinking that a government that really wanted to do due prudence would actually pay attention to the fact that the Supreme Court had made a ruling. Despite that ruling, we did not see any amendments from the Conservatives, nor were they willing to accept any of ours, which really lets me know that to pander to their friends, they are willing to sell out Canadians, they are willing to ignore the Supreme Court ruling, and they are burdening hard-working taxpayers with future challenges in the courts, because that is where this will certainly end up.

The NDP believes that Canada needs a mandatory data loss or data breach reporting mechanism based on objective criteria. We are not the only ones who are saying that. Witness after witness said that we need the Privacy Commissioner to have some powers over this.

Huge companies get our data through nefarious means, some of them very innocent, like when we pay bills with a credit card. They not only get what we paid and where we bought something but all that micro-targeting information can now be moved on to other companies when a company deems fit. To me, that is just not acceptable.

I would urge my colleagues across the way to not ignore Canadians or the Supreme Court ruling. Let us make sure that we address the deficiencies in this bill.

Public Safety June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this is a crisis. The community is devastated, and the minister's words offer no solace. The Conservatives have to be pushed every step of the way to take any action at all. We have asked repeatedly in this House for a clear timeline for the deployment of new RCMP officers in Surrey. People in our community deserve a response. They are scared.

Will the minister stop playing politics and playing with words and tell us when the new RCMP officers will arrive on the ground in Surrey?

Public Safety June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this weekend there was another shooting in Surrey, B.C. There have been over 30 shootings in our area since March. Over a dozen times since January, I have risen in this House and asked the government to make good on its 2006 promise to put more police on Surrey streets. While the current government finally paid lip service to our desperate need for more police, it will not commit to a timeline. In addition to holding the government to its word on more police, my colleague from Surrey North and I have asked the government for more resources for the youth gang prevention fund and for the Surrey school board for more comprehensive drug-prevention programs.

As the proud member for Newton—North Delta, I will continue to voice the will of the residents of Surrey and Delta in this House, which is: they want to feel safe in their homes; they want to feel safe going out at night; they want to know when the government plans to deliver the promised RCMP; and, they want the government to stop with the talk and proceed with action.

Business of Supply June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, since I have been in the House, I have read throne speeches, I have heard throne speeches, and I have heard commitments. I have also seen the public dime, hard-working taxpayers' money and taxes the government collects, being used and abused to promote a partisan agenda and its own ideology.

Specifically, as my colleague pointed out, Canadians have paid close to a third of a billion dollars while the government has failed to take action. Today I appeal to the Conservatives to take action this week so that we can address this unfair practice in the marketplace.

It is very weird to me that when I take money out of my own bank, I have to pay. When I get a statement, I have to pay. When I go to an ATM machine, there is a fee, and when I get cheques, there is a fee. Yet when my money sits there, I get hardly any interest.

Business of Supply June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his question and his concern specifically with respect to seniors.

I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that when you are in your riding, many seniors go to see you. All of us, from coast to coast, hear from seniors regularly through snail mail and email. One of the things I am struggling with is that often I have no answers for seniors when they tell me that their incomes have not kept up, while their hydro bills, food bills, and everything have gone up so much.

Many seniors in my riding say that they really struggle to find money to buy clothing, and others tell me that it is very hard for them, because they sometimes have to choose between their quality of food and their medications. We are living in a country where that should not happen.

These kinds of fees are innumerable. It is not just one fee the banks charge. They charge fees in many different ways, and all of those ways put an extra burden on those on fixed incomes and on low-income families.

Business of Supply June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to speak to the motion brought to us by the member for Davenport, a hard-working MP who has been very passionate about making life more affordable and addressing all the silly charges, which are not so silly because they impact the lives of people. I should call them hidden charges that customers are facing, and many times they do not even know it unless they examine their bills.

The government should ban all pay-to-pay practices by banks operating within Canada through the enactment of a mandatory financial code of conduct to protect consumers. I think all parties agree on this. Just as it acted quickly on the tampon tax, I hope that after the debate today, the Conservative government will move very quickly to implement this motion as well.

Just to make it clear, we are not talking about the gargantuan and outrageous fees charged by credit card companies when they lend money, through the credit cards as well the credit card fees. Nor are we talking about the huge burden on businesses, especially small and medium-sized business, of transactions fees.

We are here to talk about pay-to-pay billings that Canadians have started to receive. Some people may think this means paycheque to paycheque. It does not. This term was coined by a young volunteer in Toronto. He actually asked if we had to pay to pay. It is really about having to pay a fine or a fee in order to pay a bill or to do some banking. The motion is about that.

As members know, to receive a paper billing, banks are charging some pretty hefty fees. The Internet is not available to all Canadians. According to Statistics Canada, one in five homes in Canada has no Internet, and 46% of households with income below $30,000 have no Internet.

Forty percent of Canadian seniors do not use the Internet. I am hearing from a lot of constituents, both young at heart and others, about the impact of these fees on their day-to-day lives. We have seniors who live on a fixed income, a very limited income that is not keeping pace with the cost of living, and are finding these new fees cropping up all over the place.

We are talking about some of our largest banks. The five major banks, just in the first two quarters, made a profit of $16 billion. RBC alone raked in $5 billion. These are the banks that are saying that they are now going to charge a fee to pay, whether it is a fee to pay a bill, or a fee to pay off a mortgage or many other things.

Let me remind members that RBC was in the media quite a bit when it laid off hard-working, qualified Canadian workers and brought in temporary foreign workers to cut costs. It was only when it got caught and it was all over the media that it came out and became champions of jobs in Canada for Canadians. It is the bank that makes billions in profits, yet it is charging these fees to hard-working Canadians, putting pressure on our hard-working middle class and all those who aspire to be middle class. These are incredible new pressures.

It is very hard to imagine that banks are charging these fees. I always thought automation would lead a reduction or elimination of fees, but it seems that this is not the case. Through automation, not only have we seen many jobs disappear but now the banks want to rake in even more money, or to steal more money from consumers.

Canadians should not have to hand over their hard earned money just to receive a bank statement or pay a bill. Surely, a bank where people deposit their money gains from that money when they are paying almost nothing in interest on those deposits. Banks are still charging more than enough in the way of interest when people take money out, and that can vary quite a lot, as we know, with credit card interest fees going up to 18% or 21%. Even borrowing from the bank can be very expensive. However, when people put their money in the bank, they hardly get any return on that at all.

The Conservative government talks the talk, and it is very famous for that. It promises things over and over again, and each time it makes it seem as if it is making a new commitment. We see that right now with the budget that it is promoting to the public, yet the action plan has not gone through all of the rinse cycles in the House or the Senate.

The government announced in the 2013 speech from the throne that the Conservatives would finally take action to “End “pay to pay” policies, so customers won’t pay extra to receive paper bills”.

It re-pledged the same action in the 2014 budget to “eliminate the practice of pay-to-pay billing”. Guess what the Conservatives did with the resulting legislation that it brought forward to deal with telecommunications companies? They excluded banks, which make billions of dollars in profit. I am sure Canadians are thinking “what was the payola in return?”, or “what kind of lobbying took place?”

It is not that Canadians pay a small amount in these fees. They pay $180 million a year just to receive bank statements. Nobody should be punished for receiving bank statements or paying their bills, yet that is exactly what is happening to hard-working Canadians.

I have quotes from hard-working Canadians and from our seniors.

The Canadian Association of Retired Persons said, “It hardly seems fair that customers - through no fault of their own - are being charged two dollars extra for the privilege of paying their bill”. It is higher in some banks.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre recommends “the Government of Canada follows through on its commitment to eliminate the application of additional fees charged to Canadian consumers to receive a paper bill or statement”.

This issue is not funny. However, comedy is often used to show people who fail to understand just how ridiculous some policies are. Fees for paper bills and statements were named a top contender for Canada's dumbest charge in a special series by CBC's Marketplace in October, 2013, beating out Ticketmaster fees, airline seat selection fees, and even ATM fees.

People have been raising their voices. Canadians should no longer have to wait for another promise to be made and not kept. I would urge my colleagues across the way to do what they did with the tampon tax and get on with implementing this.

As we look at the struggles that Canadians face to make ends meet, this would go a long way. This fee targets, specifically and unfairly, our seniors, those without Internet access, and families that already struggle to pay their bills. The other thing that we have to take into consideration is that a growing number of us, and I am one of them, are concerned about online fraud and identity theft. Now we are being charged more and are essentially being penalized for banking offline.

Finally, I would urge my colleagues to, just as we did for the tampon tax, pass this today and implement it by the end of the week.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act May 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I come from the riding of Surrey—Newton and North Delta. As we know, Surrey—Newton is a part of Surrey, B.C. The residents of Surrey are very disturbed that restricted weapons could be moved around so easily with this legislation. Not only that, we are also very concerned that despite a commitment to provide an extra 100 RCMP we are not seeing any clear timelines or commitments.

From a government that talks about public safety and fighting crime, we feel the government is failing to deliver for the citizens of Surrey—Newton, as well as for other Canadians from coast to coast. My question for my colleague is, do you believe that this particular bill would ensure public safety or would it be much easier to move restricted weapons around and add to the gang violence we are seeing in Surrey, where we have had close to 30 incidents of shooting in the last two months?

Public Safety May 25th, 2015

Yes, Mr. Speaker, resources promised over the next five years, not now.

People are scared and the community is devastated. They need answers and a clear timeline. The community has been waiting for too long and is tired of empty promises. It is time for a real commitment. Surrey needs help now.

Will the minister give Surrey the answer it is waiting for? When will the RCMP arrive on the ground, on our streets in Surrey?