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Liberal MP for Vancouver Quadra (B.C.)
Won her last election, in 2015, with 59% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Ethics October 7th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, our government takes guidance from the commissioners, the Ethics Commissioner, and not from the Conservative Party of Canada.
The President of the Treasury Board has proactively disclosed the situation to the commissioner, and he has followed her guidance. All of his holdings have been placed in a blind trust, and the commissioner has decided it is not necessary to have an ethics screen in this situation. I would point out that the person in question has publicly said that no lobbying was done during that meeting.
Ethics October 7th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, our government takes our guidance on these matters from the Ethics Commissioner and the Lobbying Commissioner. The President of the Treasury Board proactively approached the commissioner's offices to disclose his situation and his holdings, which have been placed in a blind trust.
The commissioner decides whether a conflict of interest screen is necessary, and based on the facts of the president's case and situation, she decided against the screen.
Standing Orders and Procedure October 6th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. I will answer with a question of my own: what example would we be setting if we did not change a 32-year-old workplace framework?
This framework was created in 1982, a time when there were no female MPs in the House of Commons. This framework is no longer acceptable. This is 2016.
We have to change working conditions in order to attract more women MPs. That is what I was talking about. Having more opportunities to be in the ridings is very important, especially for women, but also for those who commute for 20 hours, 35 hours, or 30 hours.
The hon. member has no idea what it is like for the members who live in regions that are far from Ottawa or whose commute is rather complicated. I invite him to talk to the hon. member for Yukon to get a better understanding of the challenge.
Standing Orders and Procedure October 6th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be speaking to Standing Order 51. Actually, I am honoured to serve in this House. Every time I am in Ottawa, walking toward the Peace Tower to come to this chamber, I am reminded of the privilege of being a member of Parliament and how rich and unique this opportunity is for each of us.
I have appreciated that there is this frank and open debate on the Standing Orders today. This is a rare occasion in which we are able to weigh in on how to have a better Parliament and be more effective on behalf of our constituents.
I am going to focus on just one element; that is, how to increase the effectiveness of Canada's members of Parliament in our primary responsibility of being the voice of our constituents here in Ottawa.
My proposal is about rebalancing the parliamentary calendar to spend more time in our constituencies, to serve the people who elected us.
There are many people here who are able to fly home for an evening in the middle of the week to attend something in their constituency and then be back in the House the next morning. Their reality is different, perhaps, from the one I will be describing.
People who are from far-flung areas of Canada simply cannot do that, and so the amount of time they can spend in their constituencies is considerably constrained.
Canada's extensive geography is one of our greatest assets, but I have to say it also presents a great challenge for Parliament and for parliamentarians for whom Ottawa is not easily accessible. Constituents do want to hear from us. They want to see us. They want to tell us about themselves. They want to tell us about their organizations, their initiatives. That takes time in the constituency. Work in the constituency is important and MPs need more time being there, doing the work.
Our job is to represent the voices and concerns of our constituents in Ottawa, more than it is to represent Ottawa back in our communities.
The members of Parliament may or may not know that for almost half the history of the Canadian Parliament, members of Parliament were in Ottawa between January or February and May or June during the year. That is when Parliament sat. That is when the business of the House was conducted in Parliament. The rest of the time, they were in their constituencies, serving those who voted for them.
That changed in 1940, during the Second World War, when the complex elements of Canada's response and Canada's involvement caused the need for much debate, for ministers' involvement, and for Parliament's decision-making. Therefore, in 1940, that shifted to more of a year-round presence here in Ottawa.
It was not until 1982 that there was a change in the Standing Orders that created seven adjournment periods, so members of Parliament had predictable, stable calendars to go back to their constituencies in the summer, over Christmas and Easter, and four other adjournment periods.
That is the last time that there was actually a substantive change to our Standing Orders with respect to the parliamentary calendar.
I want to point out that was during the 32nd Parliament, at a time when there were just 16 women members of Parliament in this House.
Constituency work matters. The myth that the work of an MP only takes place in Ottawa is just so wrong. When members in this House, in this debate, have talked about a four-day work week, or one day off a week, it is very inaccurate and very misleading, because the bulk of the work happens, actually, in our constituencies, where we have up to 100,000 people, each of whom we are serving.
Our offices do all the things that residents see when they email us, when they phone us, when they come in for meetings. They come in to talk to us about their concerns, their issues. They make requests. They want us to advocate for them. They ask for help. Constituents see that. However, there is much more that is done that is not visible. The kind of engagements we do in our constituencies is very time consuming.
I will just give some examples of my own. I organize monthly MP breakfast connection events with more than 100 people, to hear from key policy speakers on an issue of the day. I often do town hall meetings. I do consultations that I call “MP policy cafés”, where people sit around tables to weigh in on a policy issue, and the results of those consultations go back to ministers.
There are many ways we engage with our constituents, and I do not have to tell the members in this House what they are. We all know how time consuming but how important it is, because we are the link between our constituents and the federal policies that affect them. We are their link, their voice, and that takes time.
There are special projects that we tackle in our local community where we have to find out about an issue that is concerning people, and we need to have meetings to fully understand it. We may organize ad hoc advisory groups to give us advice. We then may meet with other stakeholders to try to advocate for the involvement of our constituents or the interests of our constituents. Those special projects in the riding take a lot of time as well.
I do want to point out that it is not just Parliament in Ottawa that takes us away from our constituencies. During these seven adjournment periods, we are often away. If as a British Columbian I am commuting back and forth each week, which I largely do, that will be between 16 and 20 hours a week that I am not in my constituency because I am commuting. I take to heart the situation of my colleague from the Yukon, who spends 28 hours a week commuting, so that is time not in the constituency.
We also do international travel on behalf of Canada, like the trip I took to Zambia to attend an African Union conference on ending child marriage. It was very important to be there and I was honoured to be able to go, but those were days not in my constituency.
We travel in Canada as part of our jobs, during the adjournment periods. There are caucus meetings. We may be having a caucus meeting outside of our constituency in order to hear from stakeholders in another part of the province, such as our caucus did in Kelowna this year; or there may be national caucus meetings that are outside of our constituencies during these adjournment periods; or there are other kinds of travel, like committee travel and parliamentary secretary travel. I have had several of those trips out of the constituency during constituency periods.
All of that pares down the time that we are available to our constituents. Therefore I am recommending not only that there be one constituency day a week during sessions, but also that the length of some of the adjournment periods outlined in Standing Order 28(2) be expanded to reduce the amount of commuting and to make up for some of the time away from our constituencies that we experience due to our work.
I am going to take this last period of time to point out that this can be accomplished without reducing our effectiveness in Parliament through the many measures that have been raised already today: electronic voting, audiovisual conferencing, parallel Parliament for statements and debates to go on the public record. There are many ways that we can be both more effective in Ottawa and more effective in our constituencies with more time there.
I also want to point out that this addresses a significant barrier to women in Parliament. It will be 100 years before we have a gender-equal Parliament at the rate we are going. One of the barriers is that women do tend to be the ones who are providing care in their constituencies to elderly family members or who have more of the household responsibilities. About 66% of family caregivers are women who can do some of that work in the evenings when they are in their constituencies, but cannot do that when they are in Ottawa. This would be good for women's equality. This would be good for the constituency. It would be good for parliamentarians to have a better balance of time in their constituency working for their constituents.
So that is my pitch here, that we rebalance our calendar for the benefit of all and for our parliamentary democracy.
Paris Agreement October 4th, 2016
Madam Speaker, I just want to remind the member that there has been a historic commitment to indigenous communities by this government, and it has been far more than words; it has been action.
I would like to remind him of the action yesterday, committing to a national price on carbon. I am excited that we are working toward having the clean energy economy supported fully by this government through the investments that I mentioned, but also through becoming a test bed for innovation, increasing our own use of clean technologies, and supporting entrepreneurs.
We intend to improve energy efficiency standards for consumer and commercial goods. There are many other elements in our plan to—
Paris Agreement October 4th, 2016
Madam Speaker, for the Conservative member, there have been analyses about the economic benefits of a transition to a clean-energy economy for well over a decade, and those are some of the analyses that came out of the Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, which his government not only eliminated, but then it took down all that information, the research, the data, the economic analysis that was on the website, because it did not want the public to see. It is the very analysis that informed his prime minister's decision to commit to putting a price on carbon in 2008, which the Conservatives woefully failed to do. Thanks to inaction by his government, our country dropped 70% in terms of our market share in the clean energy economy.
Paris Agreement October 4th, 2016
Madam Speaker, I have immense respect for the member opposite, and we did enjoy our time together on the environment committee.
I would like to confirm that we have committed to reducing the subsidies for fossil fuels; and that will be phased in. We also committed to putting a price on carbon, and I am delighted to remind the member that we made that announcement yesterday. Further than that, we are working on a plan to address this government's own greenhouse gas emissions in operations right across the country. I look forward to discussing that further with the member in the months to come.
Paris Agreement October 4th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to be engaged in this debate today. I also want to congratulate my colleague from Ottawa South for his leadership on the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy for many years, which is an organization that did the kinds of analyses that the Conservative member was talking about and showed that taking action on climate change would be positive for the economy as well as the environment.
What I would like to do next is to thank the citizens of Vancouver Quadra for their commitment to action on climate change, and for their support for my various efforts to put this front and centre in the agenda of the government over the past eight years.
Vancouver Quadra is home to many pioneers who understand the challenge of climate change and are committed to solutions. Whether they be members of the David Suzuki Foundation, which raises awareness; professors who have researched this issue and spoken up, such as Dr. Bill Rees, who was the inventor of the concept of the carbon footprint, the environmental footprint; entrepreneurs working on solutions with fuel cell batteries and other clean technologies; the youth who have engaged in a number of organizations and gone door to door to raise the issue of climate change and the impact on their generation; or ordinary people in the streets of Vancouver Quadra, this is a high priority in my riding.
In addition, it is an emotional day for me to rise in support of the important part our government played in the Paris agreement and as a problem solver with respect to climate, and to rise the day after our Prime Minister announced that our federal government would ensure there is a national price on carbon.
A carbon tax has been part of the lives of British Columbians for almost a decade. Our citizens are proud of it. They are proud that the emissions were driven down over a number of years by this carbon tax. They are very proud that our economy outperformed the rest of Canada for most of those years. The carbon tax in British Columbia helped return the B.C. Liberal government to power for its third and fourth terms. This is something that has been proven elsewhere, and it is about time that Canada has a federal government that is prepared to move forward on it.
As everyone knows, during the election campaign, we promised to protect the environment while stimulating the economy. We promised to take a leadership role nationally and work with the provinces and territories to address climate change and put a price on carbon emissions to reduce carbon pollution. That is exactly what the Prime Minister announced in our plan yesterday.
In fact, the Prime Minister has positioned Canada as a world leader on this front. Look at what we have done in the past year. In December, we participated in negotiating the historic new climate agreement at COP21 in Paris. The Prime Minister also signed the Paris agreement in New York on Earth Day.
The first ministers have committed to implementing policies in support of meeting or exceeding Canada's 2030 target of a 30% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels, and there are five working groups helping to build a framework and a plan to turn this into a reality.
At the North American Leaders' Summit in Ottawa this summer, we made an extraordinary commitment. We pledged that by 2025, 100% of the electricity that the government uses in facilities managed by Public Services and Procurement Canada, one of the government's largest real estate custodians, will come from clean energy sources.
To action our commitments, our Prime Minister committed to providing an additional $20 billion for green infrastructure over 10 years. In addition, in our recent budget, almost $3.5 billion over five years was announced to address a range of climate issues, including air pollution and ecological protection, and to improve environmental assessments and restore public trust.
We are also investing to help Canada make up for lost time in the global clean technology economy.
There are $280 million to support the development of clean technologies and innovation in this sector in Canada.
The investments also include $120 million in non-polluting transportation networks and charging stations, an additional $50 million for sustainable development technologies in Canada, as well as $86 million for energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy sources.
This brings me to a subject that is very important to me, since I have been tackling it directly for the past few months, namely, what we are doing to reduce carbon emissions resulting from federal government operations.
The federal government is the largest employer, property owner, and purchaser in the country. As such, it can make a real difference. By getting our own house in order, we are reaffirming our commitment to the fight against climate change worldwide.
As part of the federal sustainable development strategy, we have ambitious targets and a plan to reduce federal greenhouse gas emissions.
To help achieve these reductions, in budget 2016 we announced we would invest up to $2.1 billion in repairs and retrofits to our wide range of properties and buildings and in the greening of government operations. That includes improving military housing, which is so badly needed, upgrading border infrastructure, and modernizing the generation of energy for marine communication and traffic services.
It also includes significant reductions in the carbon footprint and energy use of our buildings in the national capital region and elsewhere. For example, Public Services and Procurement Canada manages six heating and cooling plants that serve 85 buildings in the national capital region. These plants currently generate an annual average of 117 kilotons of greenhouse gas emissions, and they are in need of major updating.
We will therefore take this opportunity to implement more efficient technologies that will reduce both our long-term costs and our emissions by over 45% in the future. This will also enable us to examine the idea of using biomass as an alternative source of energy, which could produce even better results.
In fact, when I spent a day learning about the emission reduction leadership at the University of British Columbia in my riding, I toured the new biomass fuel power plant that is contributing to the university being on track to achieve its goal of a 67% reduction of emissions by 2020. Climate action is about reducing emissions, saving money, and creating jobs.
I wrote my thesis on global warming 24 years ago. I helped build the foundation for B.C.'s climate action as the provincial environment minister for three years, and now I have the privilege of working on climate solutions in this government. I am happy to say we are creating a systematic plan to reduce the government's own greenhouse gas emissions. We will do that by acquiring tools, improving the environmental performance of buildings, equipment, and operations, minimizing fuel consumption and exhaust emissions from the federal fleet, and supporting green or low-carbon procurement. The plan also could include reducing the carbon footprint of employee activities like travel and commuting.
Our success depends on the collaboration of federal employees, so we will be involving them and seeking their contributions so that they can bring their ideas forward. We are also studying their successes abroad and in other provinces.
We are working toward having a coordinated, ambitious approach for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the federal government, and I ask members to join us in working toward a clean, sustainable economy that is Canada's future.
National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act September 30th, 2016
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Scarborough Southwest for his eloquent words. As someone who has had a security role at the highest level in his career and now is in the role of representing the citizenry and its concerns about security as well as respect for civil rights and privacy, could he share his thoughts about how this oversight and review committee will improve the results of our agencies on both those fronts, both security and privacy and rights?
National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act September 27th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Vancouver East for her dedication to the protection of the essential civil rights and privacy concerns of her constituents and other Canadians as well as a strong security safety net.
The bill, like other bills, will go forward to a committee where there will be ample opportunity to make the case for why there might need to be changes, and there may be amendments proposed. There may be amendments accepted.
This government has already shown its willingness, for example, on Bill C-7, the RCMP collective bargaining, to accept amendments from the House committees. That is new. It is one way we are doing better than the previous government. As opposition members prior to the last election, we felt it was a waste of the abilities, intelligence and commitment of MPs to have us be in committees when there was no chance of amendments going through.
That era is behind us and there is an invitation to committee members to put forward their best arguments, discuss those and bring forward amendment, and who knows? It is possible that amendments will be accepted or not, but that opportunity is there and it has been shown to be there.