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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
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act February 14th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, I take the member's expressions of care and compassion around the victims of this crisis in good faith but it was his government that over 10 years set up roadblocks in the guise of community consultation that prevented many communities from being able to go forward with safe consumption sites that would have saved lives in their communities.
I am pained to hear that a clause is deemed a reason to not support this important law that needs to go ahead quickly as a foundational building block to save lives.
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act February 14th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in favour of Bill C-37, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
As we have heard from other members in the course of this debate, the illegal production and trafficking of controlled substances continues to be a significant problem in Canada. Our government is profoundly concerned about the current opioid crisis and the growing number of opioid overdoses and tragic deaths across the country.
Today, I will speak to the human aspect of this crisis, as well as some of Bill C-37's proposals to help address the health and safety risks associated with the diversion of drugs from the legitimate supply chain to the illicit market, one important source that contributes to this public health crisis in Canada.
It is critical that we ensure our drug control legislation, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, or CDSA, is modern, effective, and can better protect the health and safety of Canadians. This is an urgent priority for me and for our government.
In that respect, on December 12, 2016, the Minister of Health introduced Bill C-37 in the House of Commons. This bill supports our government’s commitment to drug policy that is comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate, and evidence-based, and which balances both public health and public safety for Canadians.
As you are all aware, this bill proposes significant changes related to supporting the establishment of supervised consumption sites as a key harm reduction measure. It also contains important elements which aim to ensure that controlled substances used for legitimate purposes are not being diverted to the illicit drug market.
We must work tirelessly to ensure that controlled substances used for legitimate purposes are not diverted to the illicit drug market, where they are deadly and have led to hundreds of tragic accidental drug overdose deaths, 914 last year in my province of British Columbia alone. That is 80% more than the previous year, fentanyl being the major contributor to this awful statistic.
The 914 are actually not statistics; they are people and they are us. There were 914 people who died in British Columbia from overdose deaths last year. They are human beings. Each life, in its own unique way, is interwoven with families and communities. They are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters. They loved others and were loved, they belonged, they shared their aspirations, and they inspired their friends. They were people, like each of us, who, in their own way, enjoyed their lives, work, and challenges, who were powerful, contributing, and recognized, who were moved to make the world a better place. They are human beings.
Donald Charles Alexander Robertson, known as Alex by his friends, was caught off guard by this crisis. He passed away just over two weeks ago due to an accidental death caused by the opiate fentanyl. I chatted with Alex the evening before. He was a close friend and work colleague of my son Erik over many years. His life was interwoven with ours, his community with our community. In the words of my son Erik, Alex really was an amazing, capable, wise, joyous, humble, grounded, passionate, brilliant young man. He was an innovator and emerging leader who loved and was loved by many. His memories, teachings, and legacy will inspire many of us for decades to come.
Let us not detach ourselves in this debate and lose sight of the humanity of this crisis in the quotation of statistics. The victims of the fentanyl crisis, they are us. I want to express my deep condolences to Alex's parents and his sisters, Chrissy and Leslie, to his extended family, friends and co-workers. I hope the passing of Bill C-37 will be one plank in the foundation that we need to build to help eliminate the unintended exposure to deadly illicit opioids and the harm they cause over the years to come.
I would now like to focus specifically on how Bill C-37 would modernize Canada's legislation to reduce the risk of controlled substances like fentanyl from being diverted from legitimate producers, importers and distributors and secured by the black market. The measures being proposed to address gaps in Canada's drug framework are designed to respond to this evolving opioid crisis.
First, while targeted amendments have been made to the Controlled Drug and Substances Act since it came into force in 1997, the provisions of the act have not kept pace with the quickly evolving licit controlled substances industry and the illicit drug market. Many of the legislative amendments being proposed in Bill C-37 will modernize the CDSA to strengthen law enforcement. They also enhance the government's ability to monitor and promote compliance of the regulated parties who handle, buy, sell and transport controlled substances as legitimate products every day.
These improvements will bring the CDSA into alignment with other modern federal legislation designed to protect public health, and these changes will reduce the risks of these drugs being diverted from the legitimate supply chain to the illicit markets that are creating havoc in the lives of the accidental victims. Professional tools are proposed within the framework of the CDSA to improve the government's ability to incent compliance with the requirements for safe and secure procedures and practices under the CDSA and its regulations.
Second, Bill C-37 would establish the legislative framework to support the development of an administrative monetary penalty scheme, or an AMP. Once the new monetary penalties are in place, it will allow Health Canada to fine a regulated party for a violation of the provisions of the CDSA or its regulations, as defined in the regulations required to bring the scheme into effect.
Third, Bill C-37 proposes amendments which would allow military police to be designated as a police force under the CDSA. Currently, military police are not afforded the same protections as other law enforcement agencies in terms of handling controlled substances under the Police Enforcement Regulations.
In the proposed provisions of Bill C-37, military police could be designated as a police force, in their respective areas of jurisdiction, which would allow them to exercise a full range of investigative tools in the course of the investigation of drug-related crime.
These kinds of enforcement mechanisms are important to save lives.
A fourth aspect of the bill includes improving inspection authorities under the CDSA to bring them in line with authorities and other federal regulations.
Currently Health Canada inspectors are only able to inspect sites where authorized activities with controlled substances and precursors are taking place. Under Bill C-37, new authorities are being proposed to allow Health Canada inspectors to enter places where they have reasonable grounds to suspect that unauthorized activities with controlled substances or precursors are taking place.
There are many more aspects to the bill to better control substances, like fentanyl, which are potentially dangerous chemicals. It is urgent that the bill go forward for public health and safety. Bill C-37 is a comprehensive package with many other aspects that have been debated today and in the previous days.
There is more to be done but this is an important step along the way. It will make the CDSA a more comprehensive and compassionate act that encourages timely compliance, deters non-compliance, and ultimately contributes to the government's objective of protecting the health, safety, and the lives of Canadians, valuable lives, the lives of people like a bright, fun, caring 29-year-old man his friends knew as Alex.
Henry Charles February 10th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand in the House today to remember Musqueam Elder Henry Charles who passed away January 28 early in the morning.
Henry Charles was a member of the Musqueam Band. He grew up on traditional territorial lands, adjacent to the University of British Columbia, that were home to the strong, united Musqueam people for thousands of years.
Henry Charles was a pioneer in recognizing the importance of preserving Hun'qumi'num', the local Musqueam language. As a native historian, storyteller, and official Musqueam speaker and greeter, Mr. Charles's effort to preserve and revitalize his traditional language celebrates his community's unique world view and preserves its traditional knowledge for future generations. He forged connections between storyteller and listeners that promoted literacy, the love of language, and intercultural understanding and appreciation between indigenous and non-indigenous people alike.
Beloved husband, father, grandfather, Henry was an exemplary elder and he will be dearly missed by all.
Business of Supply February 9th, 2017
Madam Speaker, I would like to know how the hon. member can say that the government misled Canadians when we presented that platform in good faith.
All of the Liberal members discussed it. The Prime Minister and the former leader of our party presented this in our platform in good faith.
Why is this being called misleading? It was in good faith—
Business of Supply February 9th, 2017
Mr. Speaker, I take strong exception to this resolution that is being debated today, that “the government misled Canadians on its platform and Throne Speech commitment”.
That is absolutely not my experience. The intention of the Prime Minister was genuine. I was part of a small group of members of Parliament who were invited to sit with the Prime Minister in his own home, as the Liberal leader, to discuss this matter in a way that was real, genuine, and with interest all around the table.
The Prime Minister is exceedingly committed to a co-operative Parliament. We have seen the benefits of that. We have seen the benefits of the change in tone. We have seen the empowerment of parliamentarians at committees. We have seen Senate reform that is completely changing the partisan divisive nature of the Senate.
I would like to ask the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith what evidence she has that there was intention to mislead Canadians on this platform commitment. Secondly, if the member who campaigned on balancing the budget, given the fact that there was—
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member for Surrey—Newton reminding me of that initiative of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement as we travelled together as members of the Standing Committee on International Trade. Indeed, having a side agreement on the environment was a very important aspect of entering trade with a country like Colombia. In fact, it is important for any country that we do trade with, and that began with the North American Free Trade Agreement. It continues and is improved in agreement after agreement today.
It is hugely important to Canadian citizens to know that our protection of the environment will not be weakened in Canada as a result of a free trade agreement and, in fact, the agreement itself may serve to strengthen protection of the environment in our trade partners.
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the positive comments by the member opposite about this Canada-European Union free trade agreement, which both the former government and our government have worked so diligently to bring to fruition.
As the member is likely aware, our government did not take a position on the TPP because we wanted to consult Canadians. We have done that, very fully, over the period that we have been in government. That is a key, I would say a seminal, difference between our government and the former government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. There tended to be a lot of decisions made by government for Canadians without consulting with Canadians.
This has been an important initiative on our government's part, to hear from Canadians, the stakeholder groups, the interest groups, and individual citizens before taking decisions on major initiatives that may well affect them.
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member's concern for his constituents, and for the environmental and economic health of coastal British Columbia. As the member is very well aware, a huge part of the economic vitality of British Columbia is completely dependent on trade.
This is an agreement with partners that pay wages that are, in many cases, higher than we pay in Canada, that have environmental standards, and measures such as carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems that are more robust than we have in Canada.
Trade is important in British Columbia and on our coasts, and those principles of environment and labour health in Canada are being advanced.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be part of this debate on CETA. Having listened to the previous speaker, the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I was disappointed, but not surprised, by the partisan and inaccurate sound bites with respect to the current government. However, I want to thank her for having given credit to members of the previous government and their work to build this very important trade agreement, especially the member for Abbotsford. It is always important to recognize that we are building on the work, over the long run, of members on all sides of the House.
I am going to talk about small and medium-sized businesses in my remarks, for the simple reason that I was the founding owner of a business that went from small to medium-sized. I have not been involved with that business since I entered politics in 2001. There were more than two decades during which I dedicated my efforts and talents to developing that business, so I understand not just the importance of small and medium-sized businesses but the challenges they face.
Canada needs to increase its competitiveness and productivity. We know that, and an important way to do that is to support small and medium-sized businesses. In my riding of Vancouver Quadra, there are many clusters of emerging innovation in clean tech, biotech, innovative arts and culture, and information technology. In innovation, there is the University of British Columbia, which has a world-leading cluster of innovation. Workers and owners and their families, like in Vancouver Quadra, would benefit from the support CETA would provide to small and medium-sized business groups.
Exports play a very important role in the Canadian economy, as we know, contributing to growth, productivity, and employment. Overall, exports of goods and services are the equivalent of just under one-third of Canada's GDP. Either directly or indirectly, export enterprises employ one out of every six Canadian workers. Small businesses alone make up 90% of Canadian exporters and, in 2011, were responsible for $68 billion, or 25%, of the total value of exports.
Small and medium enterprises, or SMEs, are about people. SMEs employ some 10 million Canadians, or nearly 90%, of Canada's total private-sector workforce. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada released a report last year profiling SMEs and their characteristics as Canadian exporters. The report found that 10% of Canadian SMEs exported goods and services in 2011, with export sales accounting for about 4% of total company revenues. We can and need to grow that.
The report also points to superior financial performance by exporters compared with non-exporters. Specifically, exporters generated higher sales, pre-tax profit margins, and returns on assets, on average, compared with non-exporters. As well, exporters are more research and development intensive than non-exporters, spending 8% of annual revenues on R and D, on average, compared with 6% for non-exporters. Exporters are also more growth oriented than non-exporters, with a higher percentage growing their sales by 20% or more per year compared with non-exporters.
SMEs clearly have a significant role to play in Canada's future prosperity, and our government certainly believes in supporting our hard-working SMEs in succeeding in this role, leading to more jobs, a strengthened middle class, and more tax dollars for our important social safety nets.
One way to support SMEs is by ensuring that there are accessible export markets abroad, with advantageous conditions within these markets for them to compete. The findings of the report I mentioned support the government's continued commitment to advancing an SME growth and export agenda through the establishment of new trade agreements.
Currently, Canada's SME exporters continue to focus predominantly on the U.S., with 89% of exporters selling to the United States and 74% of the value of exports generated by U.S. sales.
With CETA, we will see SMEs diversify their exports and pursue opportunities in the European Union, the world's second-largest market for goods. The EU's annual imports alone are worth more than Canada's entire GDP. The EU is also key for global supply chains, with more Fortune 500 companies than anywhere else in the world. This important access to supply chains is an important avenue of opportunity for the global ambitions of many Canadian people and their families. Of the EU's more than 9,000 tariff lines, approximately 98% will be duty free for Canadian goods when CETA comes into force, with more eliminated, over time, when the agreement is fully implemented.
As well, there are innovations within CETA that will save companies time and money, such as the protocol on conformity assessment, which will allow Canadian manufacturers and certain sectors to have their products tested and certified in Canada for sale in the EU. This kind of regulatory alignment can be particularly useful for SMEs, avoiding the need to set up testing operations outside the country.
CETA will open opportunities for Canadian businesses, including SMEs, in the EU's estimated $3.3 trillion government procurement market. Once CETA enters into force, Canadian firms will be able to supply goods and select services to all levels of EU government, including the EU's 28 member states and thousands of regional and local government entities.
CETA will also provide Canadian SMEs with a first-mover advantage in the EU market over competitors from markets, like the U.S., that do not have a trade agreement in place with the EU. It will allow Canadian businesses to establish their customer relationships, networks, and joint projects first.
Canadian businesses need to be aware of the benefits CETA will bring. We cannot assume that this is always the case. As I remember well, small businesses often lack the time and resources to inform themselves of game-changing international business developments such as free trade agreements.
Plans have been developed to promote recently concluded agreements, including CETA, with SMEs specifically in mind. First, our government is undertaking proactive initiatives to reach out to Canadian businesses across the country and through our missions in the EU market. There is a new CETA web page geared toward Canadian businesses, with links to information and export opportunities. In co-operation with our provincial partners as well as Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada, our government is launching a series of business outreach events featuring technical experts who will be reaching out to small businesses. Outreach is very important to our business community.
Second, we are ensuring, through training, that our teams support international business development through trade commissioners, in Canada or abroad, so that they are fully familiar with the technical aspects of the agreement and can advise their clients about the opportunities they bring. One example is the work the government has done to ensure that trade commissioners can properly advise their business clients on CETA by holding training sessions.
Third, following a detailed assessment, the government will work with specialized industry associations in priority sectors, with a focused, hands-on approach to helping potential exporters.
CETA is an agreement with progressive countries, many of which have strong, or stronger than Canadian, environmental and labour conditions. The inclusion of strong labour and environmental side agreements is very important to Canadians and to our government. As well, CETA's benefits for the Canadian business community are very important to our government. This range of opportunities in the EU and its market of more than 500 million consumers is critical for our country's jobs and the economy.
What a positive initiative this is, and how appreciative I am that our government's former trade minister managed to take this stalled agreement, work with her partners in the EU, and bring the agreement to a close. Our families, our workers, rely on these kinds of jobs.
This is good for Vancouver Quadra, for British Columbia, and for Canada. It is a landmark agreement with our European partners. It needs to be implemented as soon as it can.
Small Business November 23rd, 2016
Mr. Speaker, small business is the lifeblood of communities across Canada, and all Canadians benefit when we promote local businesses.
Small Business BC, which is supported by Western Economic Diversification Canada, is seeking nominations this month for the Small Business BC Awards, and I encourage all British Columbians to nominate an entrepreneur in their community by November 30.
In my community of Vancouver Quadra, the West Broadway Business Improvement Association has a “Stars on Broadway” initiative, which is shining a light on merchants who have been in business for more than 20 years. We have more than 70 of these unsung pillars of the community between Collingwood and Larch Street alone, from Ace Cycles, established in 1946, to the Toybox in 1972, Kidsbooks in 1983, and Nat's pizza in 1992, plus so many more.
From their stores to their stories, small businesses matter. I invite all members of this House to check out and thank the small businesses in their communities.