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Crucial Fact

  • 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

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2 October 29th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I am very familiar with that program. The program struggled for years without government support. I appreciate that the government has now picked up the program and is expanding it. For many years it was supported by the Legions, which had to go out talking about their successes in speech after speech, including one at a breakfast policy event where the leaders of that program spoke to constituents in Vancouver Quadra.

However, I want to touch upon the parliamentary secretary's comments about reductions in support for the military. In the decade in which cuts were applied, a number of those years were under Conservative governments, and the cuts occurred because of the deficits that Conservatives had gotten Canadians and Canada into. It was under the Paul Martin government that funding began to be restored for the Canadian Armed Forces.

We are now closing on a decade of deceit by the current Conservative government, which does photo opportunities about supposed increases in funding with troops and equipment in the backdrop, yet has done virtually nothing and is now scrambling to figure out where to put all the hidden cuts that are in its budgets.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2 October 29th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on Bill C-4. Unfortunately, this is another grab bag omnibus bill that has had its time for debate cut off, so some important issues in it will not be adequately aired. I will touch on several aspects of the bill and how they reflect some of the challenges and failures of the government.

I am going to start by pointing out that this budget implementation bill would do very little to address the key challenges being faced by middle-class Canadians as a result of rising costs and stagnant incomes. Bill C-4 would do little to create jobs.

The bill would increase taxes with respect to mining exploration. That is not very helpful. If taxes are increased on mining exploration, then much of the good work to encourage mining exploration and mining development would be undermined.

Vancouver is at the centre of the mining industry globally. Many people who live in the province of British Columbia and many people in my riding of Vancouver Quadra work in the mining industry. The British Columbia government has spent the last 10 or 12 years rebuilding that industry in our province.

In 2001, when the B.C. Liberal government was first elected, investment in mining exploration was down to about $25 million from the hundreds of millions of dollars of annual investment in the 1990s. Slowly and surely the provincial government built up the confidence of the mining industry until over $250 million a year was invested in British Columbia's mining exploration.

Our province spent so much effort in rebuilding this industry by respecting the industry and not adding to its tax burden. Did the Prime Minister consult with the British Columbia premier or the minister of energy and mines when he slapped a tax on this industry?

This is a failure by management, and it shows that the federal government does not understand that for jobs to be created and business opportunities to be provided, the business community needs to have certainty and transparency.

We have seen this kind of management failure in spades in the Conservative government in the area of military procurement. All of us would agree that the Canadian navy, air force and army need to replace billions of dollars worth of aging trucks, helicopters, ships, et cetera so our armed forces personnel have safe and effective equipment. Barely a week has past without yet another story of the Conservative government's incompetence with respect to military procurement.

I want to remind the House that the acquisition of F-35 joint strike fighters was restarted after reports by the Auditor General and the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed that the government knowingly misled Canadians on the program's cost. It was, in fact, keeping two sets of books. In 2010 the Prime Minister claimed the cost would be $9 billion for 65 fighters, but by 2012 the full cost was pegged at more than $46 billion.

That is just one example and there are many others, such as helicopters to replace the aging Sea Kings. In some cases, these Sea Kings are 30 years older than the very pilots who are flying them, so this is a safety issue. There have only been delays and uncertainty with respect to that project.

The acquisition of new army trucks has been ongoing since 2004. That has been restarted numerous times, but nothing is expected there.

The purchase of a new fleet of search and rescue aircraft has taken more than nine years. The government is still not ready to even accept bids.

There is also the issue around the Arctic offshore patrol ships. An independent reviewer said the cost was extraordinarily high for the design phase alone, but the government just plowed ahead, ignoring that point. There were plans to replace the outdated 50-year-old Lee-Enfield .303 rifles used by our Canadian Rangers in the Arctic; that procurement project has been cancelled with no reason given. It is a very flawed procurement process, unfortunately, potentially impacting the safety of our Canadian Armed Forces, and that is a management failure on the government's part.

I want to touch on another area in the bill, the employment insurance premiums. We support this aspect of the bill and we appreciate that after years of Liberal requests, the government has stopped increasing the tax on jobs, which is increasing the EI premiums, as they have been increased over the years, costing billions of dollars to businesses. We support that aspect, but the very fact that the government has been adding taxes to businesses and small businesses is a level of fiscal incompetence, because it shows the Conservatives are not understanding the impact of these taxes on jobs.

Under the current government, that kind of incompetence has been happening in the military budget as well. Under the Canada First defence strategy, a promised cornerstone was stable increases in funding. However, almost immediately, successive budgets were quietly reduced by billions of dollars, allowing up to $8 billion in funds to lapse or stay unspent. There has been essentially no new investment in national defence under the Conservative government, with two small exceptions, and since 2011, successive major budget cuts have been sending departments scrambling to protect the essential capacity and morale required for effective national defence. This is another case of saying one thing and doing another.

Canadians and Liberals are proud of the Canadian Forces, who serve Canada on her behalf without reservation. However, to do their jobs they need to be able to depend on what they are being told, and in fact the government has decreased armed forces personnel in the navy by 11% from its strength in 2004, yet it increased the number of civilian naval employees by 30% over that period. This is managerial incompetence.

The army has fared no better under the current government. Between 2011 and 2013 its budget has been slashed by 22%, yet its headquarters received an extra half a billion dollars in budget increases. We hear one thing, but we see another happening.

Most unfortunately, in this bill we have the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, a backlogged board that will see its number of members slashed so that there will be a further backlog. That ties in to the undermining of the armed forces that we have seen under the government whereby military members and their families are falling through the cracks of government bureaucracy.

As these national defence budgets that supposedly were to be increased have been slashed, the very programs that support military personnel affected by mental illness and injury have been cut. Thousands of Canadian Forces members are affected by mental health issues. They need help through the joint personnel support unit and through mental health professionals to help them get strong again and find alternatives within the armed forces where they can be successful, yet those very supports are not there.

The government must do so much better for our men and women in uniform, just as it must do much better for Canadians.

The Economy October 28th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, today the Minister of Finance met with private sector economists. Did they remind him that the current Prime Minister has the worst economic record of any Prime Minister since the Great Depression, or that the incomes of middle-class families have stagnated while the costs of everything from day care to bus passes have skyrocketed, or that households have taken on record debt just to make ends meet? Did he hear their wake-up call, or is the government's economic plan still just to tell Canadians don't worry, be happy?

Chief Ernie Campbell October 28th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I was deeply saddened by the news this Saturday that former chief Ernie Campbell of the Musqueam First Nation passed away.

Over the years I was fortunate to have known Chief Campbell, a thoughtful, determined leader who helped build bridges and foster understanding among all cultures.

Ernie Campbell was first elected chief of the Musqueam in 1998 and served for 14 years. He was a former residential school student and graduated from Magee Secondary School in Vancouver Quadra. He was also a former boxing champion, so it is not surprising he had a reputation as a fighter for his community. Chief Campbell was a tireless promoter of aboriginal land and fishing rights, and last year led a protest resulting in a negotiated settlement to protect an ancient burial ground known as the Marpole Midden.

On behalf of my Liberal colleagues and all colleagues in Parliament, I would like to express our deep condolences to Chief Campbell's family and community. I have no doubt that he will be greatly missed by all who had the honour of knowing him.

Ethics October 22nd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, Chris Woodcock, the former PMO issues manager, was sent the February 20 email from Mike Duffy, detailing his deal with Nigel Wright. The Prime Minister misled Parliament when he claimed that no one else in his office knew of the deal. It was a PMO office-wide strategy to subvert the work of a committee by Duffy's silence and cover the whole thing up.

Nixon used to call his cover-up experts “the plumbers”. Why did the Minister of Natural Resources hire Chris Woodcock, the PMO's disgraced plumber, as his chief of staff?

Petitions October 21st, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table a petition calling on the Government of Canada to coordinate a full process of public consultation prior to the commencement of any disposal of the Jericho Garrison Lands in my riding of Vancouver Quadra.

These lands are 21 hectares of Department of National Defence lands located in the Point Grey neighbourhood, and they have a mix of trees, green space and historic buildings. They are lands that are significant to the heritage and quality of life of the residents of Vancouver Quadra and the broader community. We know that there is a planned divestment of these lands, but there has been no consultation with the public.

The petitioners therefore call on the government to rectify that and to lay out a plan and a timeline for full public consultation before any active divestment or sale of the Jericho Garrison Lands takes place.

Respect for Communities Act October 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I have been very clear that the Liberal Party supports consultations, and those kinds of consultations took place before InSite's ribbon was ever cut.

We support consultation. We support involving the community. What we do not support is a veto by a small number of vocal voices that are acting on a “not in my backyard” basis or on the basis of a very narrow focus on the fact that the drugs that are being used at these sites are illegal, ignoring all of the preponderance of evidence that this is healthier for the community, safer for the community, and saves lives.

Bill C-2 is unworthy of the hon. members opposite. The evidence is very clear that these facilities are positive for the community as well as for those with the illnesses that require their services.

It is not my time to be asking questions at this point in the debate, but I would say that if there is anything inflammatory, it is actually the Conservative member's party campaign director who, an hour after this bill was tabled, sent out a fundraising letter with the statement that Liberal and NDP members want addicts to shoot up heroin in backyards of communities all across the country. How is that for crass political undermining of the very interests of justice, of undermining the health and well-being of community members?

That is shocking. It speaks to the Conservative government's strategy with respect to this bill and why it is pushing forward with it despite all the evidence that it is the wrong way to go.

Respect for Communities Act October 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, absolutely. The medical community is clear. That is why I was quoting the statement that this bill appears to be founded upon ideology from the Canadian Medical Association itself.

The previous comment about the switching of this bill from the health committee to the public safety committee is more indication of that ideological basis. This bill is not based on evidence. It is not based on compassion for people and family members, many of whom are suffering from previous abuse, mental illness, and other challenges.

Our job is to support them in rehabilitation and in staying safe, and in helping communities stay safe at the same time. This is exactly what the medical community is saying these sites accomplish.

Respect for Communities Act October 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for pointing out that manoeuvre, which is consistent with what I have been pointing out as being a reprehensible toying with the most vulnerable, refusing them the supports they need to prevent deaths and infections and to help with their health concerns.

Why? It is for political gain. It is about reinforcing some messages around public safety that are based on misinformation. The health committee is clearly where this bill should go; it is a health issue and a justice issue, and the evidence shows that public safety is improved with these sites.

Respect for Communities Act October 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question from my colleague.

Yes, education is critical. In a community that I represented provincially a number of years ago, I hosted a crystal meth forum in the school gymnasium. We had people who suffered from that addiction and had come through it, as well as psychologists and police officers, speak to the public and talk to the parents and the students who were in the gym about the dangers of crystal meth.

However, that is the very kind of thing for which the government cut funding in its Bill C-10, when the Conservatives decided that their justice system should be about reducing flexibility of judges, having mandatory sentences, and locking people up and throwing away the key. They are actually reducing funding for the very kinds of preventive and educational activities that are so badly needed in communities.