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  • Her favourite word is rcmp.

Liberal MP for Vancouver Quadra (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 59% of the vote.

Statements in the House

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.

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act September 27th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, there were certainly deep concerns on this side of the House over some elements of Bill C-51, and an absolute commitment to address those concerns. This committee of parliamentarians is just one of the things to which our government is committed.

I have to congratulate the minister who is putting the bill forward, and that this is being done well within the first year of a brand new government. This is complex legislation. It is a critical improvement, so we are acting very quickly as a government.

However, we are doing other things, and one is an overall review of the whole framework of national security. I was very much in favour of our government doing that. I personally put that forward as a recommendation. Even fixing C-51 and even with adding the committee of parliamentarians, there are still big flaws in our overall framework, what I have been calling our security safety net and our respect for privacy safety net, and those will be identified during an overall review.

However, the member compared this parliamentary committee to these very effective independent oversight bodies and institutions like the commissioner and so on. This strengthens those by adding another element. This committee will work with the existing commissioners and the effective work of their offices. This is not instead of. It adds to the whole effectiveness of oversight, accountability and transparency that the member seeks. I share her aspiration for a better framework, and this would deliver that.

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act September 27th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague ably chaired the defence committee for a good part of the time I was the Liberal defence critic and participated on the committee. I want to thank him for his kind words. I would have loved to have kind words of support at the time I was proposing Bill C-622. I reached out to many of his colleagues personally to seek that support, and one member provided it.

One thing our Prime Minister has done is revolutionize the appointment processes in this nation. The kinds of partisan appointments that we were seeing, with justice ministers appointing their former colleagues to judgeships or members of their campaign teams and senators being appointed by a prime minister for their loyalty to a single party, or their ability to fundraise or their potential ability to get crowds in support of the Conservative Party, are over. I am very proud of the leadership of our Prime Minister in his one after another creation of non-partisan appointment processes.

I have every confidence in this committee's ability, with its appointed chair, to work in the best interests of Canadians, and Parliament's responsibility to safeguard and oversee these very important elements of the lives of Canadians.

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act September 27th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to the proposed legislation before us as it would allow us to deliver on the commitment we made to Canadians to improve security and to include scrutiny and review when it comes to the national security and intelligence activities of the Government of Canada.

I was listening to the recent debate and the words of the critic for public safety from the NDP. It occurs to me that some of the concerns the member has assume that there is one right way and one right legislation. I would say that issues of privacy and security are so dynamic in our country and society that having, as he described it, parliamentarians of goodwill and open minds working together is the critical element. In terms of getting something on the table right now, the bill is critical. Therefore, I am very optimistic about the bill.

I want to remind the member for Victoria that the challenges around balancing security and privacy in an Internet age will not stop. There will never be a point where everything is exactly where we can freeze it in time and say, “That's it”. We will have to keep being aware of the issues as they arise and improving our responses to them. The bill is an excellent step forward on that.

As members have heard, Bill C-22 would allow for the establishment of the national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians. It is a multi-party committee that would examine and report on the government's national security and intelligence activities across an array of departments and ministries. This is an area that many Canadians feel is far too opaque, and I certainly am one of those parliamentarians.

Before I get into the details of the bill, I think it is worth reminding hon. members about the many calls in the House for this kind of committee to be created, and this has been happening for well over a decade. There have also been repeated attempts to introduce legislation in the House as well as in the Senate in order to address the concerns that the bill would address.

For example, two years ago, I was pleased to create and introduce Bill C-622, which would have created the intelligence and security committee of Parliament, very similar to the committee that we see in the bill today. However, my bill had an additional element of identifying measures that I felt were needed to increase the accountability and transparency of our Communications Security Establishment and link the operations of sharing information among agencies in a more structured and accountable way.

That bill was debated at second reading barely one week after the attack in this building and the tragic shooting of Corporal Nathan Cirillo down the street, and just 10 days after the tragedy of the killing of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. Therefore, the timing of Bill C-622 was unfortunate. In fact, I had someone on Twitter say that my Bill C-622 was the worst-timed private member's bill in the history of the Canadian Parliament. I had to say that I agreed.

However, it was fully supported by all of the opposition party members, including one member of the Conservative Party as well, because of the need to address improving security and the protection of privacy, and the way that was embedded in Bill C-622.

As I said in this place at that time:

In the wake of the recent deadly attacks on our soldiers and on Parliament itself, all party leaders confirmed their commitment to protect the rights, freedoms, and civil liberties of Canadians, even as security measures are analyzed and strengthened. Indeed, Canadians expect these fundamental aspects of the very democracy being guarded to be respected, and that is the underlying intention of the bill.

Unfortunately, the legislation, as I said, was defeated by the Conservative government of the day just a few short months before it introduced Bill C-51. At the time, the Conservatives argued that the existing review mechanisms were adequate and that the creation of a committee of parliamentarians to scrutinize national security operations would be, to quote the former Conservative parliamentary secretary, “not in the best interests of national security” and “not in the best interests of Canadians”. I could not disagree more. Time after time, over many years, we have heard from experts, including the Auditor General, judges, MPs, and senators, and from ordinary Canadians that in fact just such a committee is in the best interests of Canadians and vital to our national security and our values as an open, inclusive, and rights-based democracy.

In the course of exploring this issue over a number of months and meeting with key members of the security and privacy networks in Ottawa and across the country, virtually no one thought that this committee of parliamentarians would not be an important and essential next step for the Government of Canada. The arguments made by the Conservatives at that time, that there were already surveillance mechanisms over our security agencies, were weak arguments because while some of those mechanisms were effective in their mandates and had very competent heads who were delivering on their mandates, their mandates were narrow and did not include thinking about the laws and policies being applied to the security agencies.

It was not within their mandates to comment on that, so if there were flaws, holes, or outdated elements of the laws or policies that the commissioners, such as the commissioner for CSEC, were applying in their review, they had no tools or teeth for recommending changes to policy. That meant that the oversight mechanisms had to accept the policies and legislation of the day and the limitations thereof, even though this is such a dynamic situation in our Internet age with the moving targets of the various threats of security breaches in our country. That is part of why it is so important to have a committee that has a broader mandate and looks across all of the security and intelligence functions of the Government of Canada.

The second key missing from the individual oversight mechanisms the previous government argued were adequate was that there was no looking across the board at the various approaches, policies, and operations to see where the gaps and duplications were. If there are gaps in the personal privacy safety net and in the security safety net, it could mean that we do not have adequate security for Canadians. It could also mean not having a robust enough approach to protecting the individual rights and privacy of citizens. If there is duplication, that means that resources are going unnecessarily to do work being done somewhere else and that those resources will not then be available for investing in the full application of the policies of the agencies to protect Canadians while respecting individual privacy and rights.

Indeed, the bill before us today is a key component of our government's ambitious national security agenda focused on achieving a dual objective, keeping Canadians safe and safeguarding the rights and freedoms that we all enjoy as Canadians, and which, indeed, are the hallmark of being Canadian and are looked at by countries around the globe as a model for what they aspire to in safeguarding rights and freedoms. That is why it was the central focus of the Liberal platform and has been put before the House.

I will now speak to the details of this legislation.

In terms of structure, the proposed committee would be a statutory entity whose members would be drawn from the ranks of current parliamentarians across party lines. That structure would create a non-partisan responsibility to other members of Parliament to report on our behalf on these matters in a way that crosses party lines and is in the best interest of Parliament's responsibility to the Canadian public to find the right way forward in balancing security and privacy rights.

The committee would be composed of nine members. That would include seven members of Parliament, with a maximum of four being from the government party, and two senators. Given the nature of its mandate, the committee would be granted unprecedented access to classified material. A dedicated professional and independent secretariat would support the work of the committee to ensure it had the tools and resources it would need to carry out its work.

That last sentence is critical. In some of the previous private members' bills that were proposed in the House, that function was not included. Therefore, the resources to get assistance to be able to dig into things and have research done and perhaps travel and all of the support the committee would need to be able to do its work without major constraints were elements that I added to my private member's bill, Bill C-622. It built on the previous work done by the able Liberal members of Parliament who had put forward a bill to create a committee of parliamentarians. Having this dedicated professional and independent secretariat to support the work of the committee, as I said, is critical to its effectiveness.

Another way the committee would be proven effective is by having a broad mandate. This committee would be able to review the full range of national security activities and all departments and agencies across the Government of Canada. That is a key tenet of the bill and crucial to what we are trying to achieve. I mentioned earlier how important it is to be able to find those duplications and to be able to make our security safety net much stronger thereby.

The committee would be able to look at all of this work crossing some 20 different departments and agencies who all are involved to varying degrees in national security and intelligence activities. It would gain a full picture of what the government agencies and departments were doing in national security and intelligence matters. In terms of this mandate, the model we have envisioned goes even further than what exists in most countries with a similar type of committee.

I am proud that our Prime Minister supported a delegation going to London, Great Britain to look at the British committee of parliamentarians that provides oversight, so that we could learn from and build on that model and improve it based on what the delegation heard. We owe a great deal of thanks to the co-operation of the members of parliament of Great Britain who, over the years, have been willing to share their successes, challenges, and ideas on how to make better legislation. It is worth mentioning, incidentally, that this kind of parliamentary body exists in most western democracies, including all of our Five Eyes allies. That is one of the reasons I was so surprised at the previous Conservative government's intransigence in refusing to support this concept. However, that is water under the bridge, and I hope we will see support from Conservative members today under a different, albeit interim, leadership.

The committee would have the authority to self-initiate reviews of the legislative, regulatory, policy, financial, and administrative framework for national security in Canada. In other words, it would be able to analyze whatever it believed needed analyzing to ensure the effectiveness of the framework, as well as its respect for Canadian values.

That is so important, as I mentioned, and represents an evolution from what a previous Liberal government had contemplated for this committee. It is an evolution to a more effective and more multi-layered approach for the committee's responsibilities, which I felt was exceedingly important when I was doing my work on this issue.

Beyond the power to look at the national security framework, it will be empowered to review specific national security and intelligence operations, including, notably, those that are still ongoing. Due to the inherently sensitive nature of the material examined by the committee, there will be reasonable limits on what the committee can share with the public. Committee members will still be able to bring pressure to bear on the government of the day by telling Canadians if they have uncovered something problematic and by letting Canadians know, thereafter, if the problem had been adequately addressed.

Those are incredibly important accountability mechanisms built into this bill. It is not enough to have parliamentary committee members review and find things that are problematic, and then have those buried under a blanket of security without the public ever knowing there was is an issue that needs to be attended to.

As I noted at the outset, several parliamentarians, past and present, have tried to address these matters with other legislative proposals. We certainly look forward to hearing their input, just as I look forward to providing my own input as one of those members. Indeed, all members, through this legislative process, are welcome to give their input.

I have already addressed the point by some that review and accountability mechanisms are already in place when it comes to national security. We have the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, the Security Intelligence Review Committee for CSIS, and the CSE Commissioner. However, as I have mentioned, it is incumbent on parliamentarians to be able to meaningfully review Canada's overarching national security framework, to make sure they can identify key gaps and duplications and also ministries that are doing important work on this but in isolation because their key mandate happens to be something completely other than security and privacy.

We will be encouraging the new committee to co-operate and collaborate with the existing review bodies to avoid overlap and to build on the great work already being done. In fact, in the research I did for Bill C-622, I spoke with former heads of the Communications Security Establishment, who supported the idea of a review committee of parliamentarians. I spoke with former and present commissioners for oversight of CSE, who are also doing very important work. I have to say that our current commissioner has really extended, over the last few years, the kinds of information he is providing in his reports, far beyond what was happening in the commissioner's office before.

These are important mechanisms and oversight initiatives. I am delighted that we will be building on the work they do. They will remain autonomous institutions with distinct mandates, and such collaboration that they will provide with this committee is desirable and will be voluntary.

This committee is going to go far in helping us re-establish the balance between democratic accountability and national security that is so hugely desired by the Canadian public. It is of crucial importance to our government. We heard about it throughout the recent election campaign in 2015. It is of crucial importance to Canadians. We look forward to engaging in constructive and thoughtful debate with members on all sides of the House on this and other issues related to improving our national security while defending and supporting the civil liberties and privacy rights of Canadians.

Governor General's Medal in Landscape Architecture September 26th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to pay tribute to Canada's pre-eminent landscape architect, Ms. Cornelia Hahn Oberlander of Vancouver Quadra. A fearless innovator, a remarkable artist, a visionary, and yes a rebel, Cornelia has been a pioneer, creating her field for more than 60 years.

Last Tuesday, His Excellency the Right Hon. David Johnston presented Cornelia with the first ever Governor General's Medal in Landscape Architecture, awarded to those whose lifetime achievement and contributions have had a unique and lasting impact on Canadian society.

Canadians can experience her signature landscapes that enfold people in nature's beauty and resonance, and pay tribute by visiting places she designed, among them the National Gallery in Ottawa, Robson Square steps and the Law Courts in Vancouver, the Northwest Territories legislature building, and the Museum of Anthropology at UBC.

She is a personal inspiration to me, and it is fitting that someone so inspiring would gift us with a built legacy—

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 September 21st, 2016

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member giving me another opportunity to invite him to have a different approach. As I said, he was part of a leadership that had very little respect for unions and took many actions unilaterally changing the ground rules of collective bargaining.

As the member is well aware, the secret ballot remains an option. The government is not eliminating that option. It was his government that narrowed it down to a single option for collective bargaining. The Conservatives' own secret studies were put on a shelf and not publicized, studies that showed that a secret ballot would skew collective bargaining against civil servants and their representatives.

It is a new era and new opportunity to have a positive tone in negotiations with civil servants. It is one in which we show our respect for the job they do and our understanding of how critical they are to accomplishing the objectives of economic growth, a stable middle class, and making sure that the environment and economy go hand in hand.

Join us.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 September 21st, 2016

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the President of the Treasury Board for shining a spotlight on the critical nature of the challenges facing this country and our government.

Climate change is a global challenge and our government is stepping up to do its share. To do that we need the civil service, the scientists, and the members who are assisting with policy. We need the broad civil service to be on board and excited. I can assure the president that the clear commitment of our government to acting on climate change is very motivating to the civil service.

I recently attended a consultation with a hundred civil servants, including a panel on which there was an environmental leader. The purpose of the consultation was to allow the civil service to consult with the public and groups that represent the public, something they had not been asked to do for 10 years. How demoralizing is it when one has a personal conviction that something is important, but instead is just asked to do what one is told and not consult with the public? This whole event was about the civil service relearning how to consult the public.

It was very exciting and motivating for the young people in the room that they now had a government with leadership. They have a President of the Treasury Board who is committed not just to having a renewed public service, but also a public service with a renewed ability to do the job that Canadians need it to do.