House of Commons photo


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

Citizenship and Immigration April 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, today thousands of people who came to this country looking for a better life are being kicked out, all because the government made a mess of the temporary foreign worker program. Many were on the verge of gaining permanent residency. Many were cheated out of their savings by unscrupulous consultants. Some will go underground, desperate to stay but denied any pathway to citizenship by the current government. Meanwhile, employers are losing employees.

What are the Conservatives going to do to fix the mess they have made?

Citizenship and Immigration March 31st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have made a complete mess of the temporary foreign worker program, leaving vulnerable workers paying the price. The Conservatives ignored all the warnings that their deadline was going to have unintended consequences, and now some consultants have taken advantage of desperate temporary foreign workers, bilking them of all their life savings while making false promises.

What are the Conservatives going to do to fix this? How are they going to protect these vulnerable workers and make things right?

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind all of us of what we are debating here right now. It is actually a time allocation on a very serious bill to extend the mission into Iraq, and also to expand it to include Syria as well. Syria, by the way, has not invited us into that country at all, so it is disturbing.

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting with many Syrians. I actually went to someone's house and they had gathered a great number of neighbourhood friends and relatives there. These people were concerned that here, de facto, we would be supporting the heinous regime of Assad. They were saying that the biggest fear that their relatives and friends have is from the Assad regime and they are very disturbed.

On top of our not being able to debate this issue in a reasoned manner and put forward arguments, once again I am very disturbed that the Conservatives are going to use their majority to silence any different point of view. After all, this is the place where we are supposed to debate. Once again we are shutting down debate on a very serious issue of sending Canadian men and women into war, into Iraq and Syria. That should give us all a great deal of concern. It makes me shudder.

Canada Shipping Act March 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to speak in support of a very important bill, important not only for British British Columbians but for all Canadians from coast to coast to coast. At this stage, I want to acknowledge the work done by my colleague, the member of Parliament for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, not only for the B.C. coastline but for the communities that reside in the north. He is an example to us of how to do effective advocacy outreach, and then to try to push for those improvements in the House.

This should not be a partisan issue because this is all about protecting our coastline. Today, I am making a heart-felt appeal to my B.C. colleagues across the way to search deep in their hearts, do the right thing and support the bill. British Columbians, whether they live in Kelowna, in the Kootenays, in Kitimat or Surrey, all care very deeply about our beautiful coastline. However, we also care about the future of our industries in British Columbia. We care about the kind of country and environment we want to leave for our children.

If my colleagues across the way feel they cannot support this, I hope they will rise to their feet and use all their persuasive powers to have some of us change our mind because they feel they are right. Let them defend the position they have taken in not supporting the bill. I will wait for that.

This is a common sense bill. It is a bill that came from the people and has been brought here by the member of Parliament. It shows respect for communities, first nations and environment. It talks about having a truly different type of conversation. Instead of us and them, instead of saying that they can get the heck out of our country, instead of saying “it's our way or the highway”, the bill proposes a pathway to meaningful dialogue that is respectful of all points of view, one that actually listens to the experts and the communities. It is a way to ensure that when we look at our energy development, we do it right, we do it in a way that will benefit our children for generations to come.

It is no surprise to many members who have been in the House for a long time that the issue of protection for the coastline has been around for over a decade. The bill would do bring closure to this. The law would provide permanent protection to B.C.'s north coast, permanent protection against oil tankers.

I do not know, Mr. Speaker, if you have ever had the privilege of visiting the beautiful coastline of British Columbia. In my previous job, I had the privilege to visit every community, even the ones where they had a one-room school. Travelling through British Columbia, visiting our coastline and our northern communities, we begin to see the close ties between are our land and the environment. However, we also see something else. I am not what I call a “gorilla kayaker”; I am a gentle kayaker but I am married to a gorilla kayaker. The Douglas Channel is narrow and inviting. Those waters are not suitable for supertankers.

When we look at our beautiful coastline in British Columbia, and I am sure people on the east coast feel exactly the same, we want to ensure our it is protected. We are carrying on the proud tradition the NDP has had for the past number of years, dating back to 1972 when a previous member of Parliament for Skeena, Frank Howard, brought forward such a motion to ban tanker traffic. It is time to turn it in to law. We have talked long enough.

Some people will say that we oppose the Northern gateway pipeline because we do not want to see damage done to our rivers, lakes and coastline. People say that the NDP does not believe in resource development or growing jobs, but we are 100% committed to growing decent-paying jobs in Canada.

This is a novelty for some, but we support responsible management of our non-renewable resources, a transition to renewable resources of energy and increasing energy efficiency, and a process that respects communities and the environment. That is the kind of resource development the New Democratic members can support, do support and will continue to fight for.

We are not the only ones who have said that. The bill has also been endorsed by the Council of the Haida Nation, the Wet'suwet'en First Nation, and the city of Terrace.

I want to take us back to Kitimat. We are going to see so many tankers filled with diluted bitumen going through the Douglas Channel along B.C.'s northern coastline to Asia or California, through some of our most biologically diverse environment, 120 species of sea birds and 27 species of marine mammals, such as orca, grey and humpback whales, as well as commercially important wild salmon, halibut and other fisheries.

The economic costs of a spill would be absolutely ginormous. The seafood sector in B.C. generates close to $1.7 billion each year, while the wilderness tourism in B.C. generates more than $1.55 billion in annual revenues. We are not talking over a lifetime; we are talking about one year.

We are talking over $3.2 billion of revenue from the fishing and tourism industries. These sectors do not work in isolation. They provide decent-paying jobs, permanent sources of income for around 45,000 Canadians. If there is a spill, we put guaranteed revenue into jeopardy. Not only that, but we know the cost of an oil spill and of a cleanup. We also see the long-term impact on other industries.

We often hear people saying that spills are not really going to happen. Enbridge is doing its own research, and this is from its own data. Dr. Gerald Graham determined that the likelihood of a major oil spill was 14%. That is not negligible; that is a huge probability. That is 1.5 out of 100 tankers. Do we want to take that kind of a chance? Think about the number of tankers that will go through the channel each and every year.

The Alberta Federation of Labour has estimated 26,000 decent-paying jobs would be created and would help to boost the middle class if the amount Enbridge intended to export raw was upgraded and refined in Canada.

Over the next 50-year span, we are looking at 11,000 tankers going down the Douglas Channel. I appeal to my B.C. colleagues to please persuade their other colleagues to vote for the bill.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we absolutely need to ensure that our service providers and front line intervention have the resources they need. If we do not give them the tools they need, then we are remiss in our duties and responsibilities when we pass legislation.

On this side of the House, we believe we need concrete and truly effective measures to protect our children from sexual abuse and to make our communities safer. We need more resources to prevent crime and combat sexual abuse against children. Tougher prison sentences alone are not enough. We want the the government to be open and willing to work with the opposition parties and experts to improve the bills it tables in Parliament, especially when they target vulnerable groups such as children, instead of the mantra of the Conservatives, which is “my way or the highway”.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, since I have been in the House, I often have heard a lot of rhetoric. We pass legislation, but we do not provide the necessary resources. When it comes to sexual predators and sexual violation of our children, we need to provide support for the victims, but there also needs to be punishment and consequences. Also, we know there has to be some level of rehabilitation because if we do not do that, the chances of repeat offences are more likely to happen.

The government had $10 million in funds earmarked for its national child exploitation coordination centre and related projects. Those funds went unspent. That really begs this question. How serious is the government about its anti-child pornography agenda?

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of Bill C-26, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, to enact the high risk child sex offender database act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

We are talking about a very serious issue. I can tell members that as a parent, mother, grandmother and as a teacher, I take this issue very seriously, as I am sure does every other member in this House. There is nothing that is more offensive or heinous than the impact of sexual exploitation of children. I am sure, whether one sits on this side or that side of the House, all of us are impacted by this greatly.

During my years as a teacher, I had to deal with some pretty sensitive and horrible situations. In that context, there is absolutely nothing that is more gut wrenching then when a child reports a sexual assault molestation. As a teacher and counsellor, I took that very seriously, and the pain stays for a long time. In a similar way, as a parent, one cannot imagine the pain or even the thought of the sexual molestation of one's child. It causes very deep, unimaginable pain.

On this side of the House, as I hope on all sides of the House on this issue, we take this issue very seriously. We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual offences against children.

I am so proud of my party that it has taken this position, as it has held this position for a long time. It is because of that, that we are supporting the bill before us, but at the same time acknowledging that it contains deficiencies. It is not perfect. We are disappointed that the bill does not go further by offering truly effective measures to protect children and keep our communities safe.

I am hoping that not all of my colleagues here have had to deal with instances of serious sex offences in their ridings. We had one in September 2014. It shook the city of Surrey when 17-year-old Serena Vermeersch went missing and then she was found. A high-risk sex offender was charged. Surrey RCMP Chief Fordy said:

Serena should be at Sullivan Heights [her school] having a laugh with classmates and thinking about graduation. Sadly that is not the case. These types of crimes galvanize our community and touch them in an incredible way.

Even today, every time I think of Serena, my heart goes out to her family, friends, neighbours, and the whole Surrey community because I know the pain and anguish everyone went through.

As I said, we will be voting in favour of the bill, but once again, it seems that the government is really into optics. Here we have another bill that purports to do something, but then it is missing or lacking the resources that are needed in order to actually implement it.

It is very difficult for service providers when we as parliamentarians pass legislation and want them to carry out and enforce the new laws we make, but we do not give them the tools they need.

I am sure many of them are absolutely sick to death of hearing us or others, like their employers, telling them to do more with less. In the conversations I have had with RCMP members and other front-line service providers, it is very difficult for them to do more with less. They are feeling really stretched.

When we look at legislation like this, which purports to seriously address sexual offences against minors and our children, we really need look at where we were and what we have done. Ever since the Conservatives, and even the Liberals, have been in power, many pieces of legislation have been passed. At justice committee, the Minister of Justice stated that sexual offences against children had increased 6% over the past two years. This is quite staggering. This is after the Conservative government has taken many steps.

We need to listen to experts and informed opinion. We need to ask if some of the repressive measures that have been taken so far are working. Obviously, they are not. Are the resources there? As well as punishment, what are we doing in the area of rehabilitation and healing? What are we doing to support those who are the victims?

This is such a sensitive area. I do not want to politicize it.

We also have to ensure that the RCMP, which we charge with responsibility for much of this area, has the resources for a registry and budgets to support victims. Just having nice words on a piece of paper to say that we are all for victims and that we will provide support for victims does not make it happen.

I can remember the NDP fighting very hard for the Circles of Support and Accountability program, which was real and tangible. It was being used very effectively. Here is a quote from Steve Sullivan:

—the federal government recently announced it was cutting the measly $650,000 in funding Corrections Canada provides. CoSA also receives funding from the National Crime Prevention Centre; that's also set to end this fall. In total, the program costs $2.2 million a year.

Like most community-based victim services, CoSA is a fairly cheap program. It has 700 volunteers across the country; they meet with offenders after their release, help them find jobs and places to live, meet with them regularly for coffee. They support offenders as they start to live normal lives, ones that don't involve new victims. They hold them accountable.

The Conservative government left money unspent when it came to child protection. I get so offended when it calls itself champions of protecting our children.

Petitions March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition on behalf of my constituents in Surrey and Newton. The petitioners are calling on the government to create a ministry for people with disabilities and mental health issues. This petition has gathered hundreds of signatures in my riding and this is about the fifth time I have presented this petition in the House.

The petitioners feel there are very limited after-hours and weekend programs offered to those with disabilities or mental health problems. Like the petitioners, I want to see real leadership on mental health. Of those with mental health issues, only one-third who need services in Canada actually receive them. New Democrats agree we need to ensure that Canadians who are living with mental illness have access to the supports they need.

Employment March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, in keeping with the Conservative government's constant mismanagement of the temporary foreign worker program, next Wednesday a large number of temporary foreign workers must leave Canada. The government will not actually tell us how many.

Among them are workers who have already filed applications for permanent residency and are at present waiting for an answer. These workers followed the rules. They came to Canada, worked hard and contributed to our economy. The current government changed the rules midstream. Based on an arbitrary deadline, the government is going to send these workers away. It is unfair and heartless.

We are calling on the Conservative government to allow temporary foreign workers who have submitted an application for permanent residency to be able to stay in Canada as their applications are reviewed and answered. We are also calling on the government to take immediate steps to restore pathways to citizenship for all temporary foreign workers as part of a full review of the badly mismanaged temporary foreign worker—

Citizenship and Immigration March 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, thousands of temporary foreign workers came to Canada, worked hard, and followed the rules, based on a commitment that they could apply for citizenship. However, now that they have submitted an application for permanent residency, the Conservative government is preparing to kick them out of the country on the basis of an arbitrary deadline.

Will the minister do the right thing and grant an extension to all foreign workers who have submitted an application for permanent residency?