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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

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns May 12th, 2014

With regard to HMCS Windsor: (a) what is the cost to the government for the repair of the submarine, including transport from the water to the repair facility, broken down by specific costs; (b) when does the government anticipate that HMCS Windsor will return to service; and (c) what caused HMCS Windsor to need these repairs?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns May 12th, 2014

With regard to briefing documents prepared for senior associate deputy ministers and associate deputy ministers from January 28, 2014 to the present: for each document, what is (i) the date, (ii) the title or subject-matter, (iii) the department's internal tracking number?

National Defence May 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives keep saying they are doing enough, but soldiers, their families, and even the National Defence Ombudsman say they need to do a lot more. I trust the soldiers who say government is letting them down at the very moment it is needed the most.

The Conservatives have still not implemented the 36 recommendations of the 2009 national defence committee report on PTSD. They have not studied the report, and there is no evidence that there has been any analysis of that report to track its implementation.

Not long ago, more than 50% of Canadian Forces bases did not even have a psychiatrist, and 40% had neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist. The families of these injured soldiers come to Ottawa to tell us that they are not getting the support they require. My recent access to information request uncovered the fact that Colonel McLean made a very strong case for the National Defence to hire uniformed clinical psychologists, and that was just not done.

Our military personnel deserve better. They deserve to be cared for after the front-line sacrifices they have made to preserve freedom in Canada.

National Defence May 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak about a question that I asked regarding Master Corporal Wolowidnyk and the fact that the government had flip-flopped on its agreement to halt his impending discharge from the forces.

The government offered the master corporal more time to transition to civilian life, but then suddenly pulled that option off the table. Family members of the corporal believed that once the media spotlight was off this member of the armed forces, who is suffering from PTSD and has attempted to take his life, by promising a slower transition to civilian life, the government's would commitment disappeared.

I asked a question about that flip-flop. I asked whether the government would start treating Master Corporal Wolowidnyk and service members like him with the respect and compassion they deserved.

This is a government that has made a practice of promoting an image of being a government that supports our troops, but when it comes to ill and injured soldiers, when it comes to soldiers who have passed away, that support has not been there. We have a number of incidents where families of former members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have passed away have had very disrespectful treatment.

For example, there was a soldier who had passed away and within a couple of weeks the solider's spouse received a letter from the government asking for repayment of the rest of that month's pension because the solider had passed away in the middle of the month and not at the end of it. That was a very hurtful letter, a reminder of the loss and the tragedy.

Another instance was this. Two years after a soldier passed away, the parents received a cheque for 1¢ for the final payout of benefits. That is a pretty painful reminder to a mother and father of the loss of their child.

There have been a number of these kinds of incidents, and the incident with Master Corporal Wolowidnyk is just one more in that series.

It is not just the soldiers who have fallen, who have taken their lives, or who are suffering from PTSD and are no longer with us that I am concerned about. This disrespect and lack of support has equally been for soldiers who are ill and injured.

I contend that the Conservative government has broken the sacred promise to provide troops with the support they deserve when they return from the operational theatre. This sacred promise was made almost a hundred years ago, during the First World War, by Prime Minister Borden.

This Conservative government has not kept that sacred promise made almost 100 years ago with regard to health care for military personnel.

The government has been failing to meet the demand for increased support for troops who were injured in Afghanistan. As we know, there were 40,000 troops deployed to Afghanistan; many of them came back injured and they deserve support for their injuries. However, adequate personnel were never hired to be able to support these groups. The current government has to rectify this situation and provide the support it promised.

Infrastructure May 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, nothing in the response tests my assertion, which is that this funding is dropping 87% this year and next year over last year. It is not until 2019 that the funding level will return to what it was last year, so this is years of delay in critical infrastructure.

I note the member is praising the benefits of the gas tax fund, and I would agree with that. This is a program initiated by a previous Liberal government and it was the right thing to do.

He also praises investment in rapid transit. Just to make a point of comparison, the $500 million that was spent for the Canada line to the airport, a very important federal investment, was actually approved and budgeted by a previous Liberal government. That is $500 million for one—

Infrastructure May 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I asked a question in the House about why the Conservative government was cutting infrastructure funding next year. The answer was that despite the Prime Minister's claims, the economy was not his top priority. The main thing the Prime Minister is focused on is being able to go into the next election and say that he has eliminated the very deficit that he created in 2008 in order to gain votes.

Because of this, important federal investments are being delayed until after the next election. This is in spite of the fact that action now would generate economic growth and help middle-class families. We saw this when the Prime Minister delayed, for two years, his recently announced funding to help first nations children's education. That is a tremendously important investment when fewer than four in ten young aboriginal students even graduate from high school if they live on reserve.

However, Mr. Harper felt that was not as important as his balanced budget target date. Therefore, the funding does not flow until after the next election.

The new building Canada fund is no different. It is a 10-year plan, which Liberals were happy to see, but it is heavily back end loaded and extremely light on funding until after the next election. In fact, for the next two years, the fund will have only $210 million of new funding a year. If we compare this with the old building Canada fund commitment for 2013-14, which was $1.7 billion, this has been an 87% cut and it will not be back to last year's level until 2019. That puts projects like the Broadway corridor expansion of SkyTrain at risk.

Mayor Gregor Robertson of Vancouver held a press conference this week to say that the Broadway corridor expansion of SkyTrain must go forward. However, the federal share of this investment may be delayed many years due to the delay in funding for infrastructure by the Conservative government.

Liberal Party members recently passed a resolution calling for major infrastructure investments of up to 1% of GDP. They understand how critically important infrastructure investment is.

UBC generates more than $10 billion in economic activity annually, but the bus-clogged Broadway corridor that goes right through my riding of Vancouver Quadra, is a major impediment to investment in the corridor, according to a KPMG report written recently. A new SkyTrain link from Broadway to Commercial would connect jobs and innovation centres in metro Vancouver, making this one of Canada's most important infrastructure and economic corridors.

As Mayor Gregor Robertson recently said:

We will see companies from all over the world coming to Vancouver if there’s good connectivity....The cities we compete with globally in technology are well-connected and are invested in rapid transit, and we need to keep pace. So it will have a nationally significant economic impact.

This expansion just makes good sense. In the short run, the Broadway corridor rapid transit project will create jobs, jobs in construction, transportation and manufacturing. In the long run, public transit in the Broadway corridor will improve the quality of life and of our air, reduce traffic gridlock and stress, shorten commute times and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. It will increase our productivity and make Canada a more attractive place to invest.

All we need to do is look at the economic benefits of our life sciences and innovation clusters along the Broadway corridor and the important post-secondary institutions, like UBC in Vancouver Quadra, to know that if we act now, we can realize more benefits for greater Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada. Starving the building Canada fund is not the way to do this.

National Defence May 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, with respect to military equipment procurement, the government has not one shred of credibility left. There have been eight lost years in which the government has not only made an enormous set of promises without prioritizing them, but it has failed to deliver on any procurement that was a competitive bid at this point. Therefore, we are seeing a failure, whether it is land, sea, or air, in terms of the government providing equipment for troops that they deserve.

In conclusion, this is not a recoverable situation for the government. It has compounded matters by making stealth cuts to National Defence, including $14 billion in lapsed funding, and other budget cuts that are causing the armed forces to scramble just to take care of ill and injured soldiers and veterans. It is failing on that.

I invite the member opposite to consider the eight lost years under the Conservative government that have been all promise and no delivery.

National Defence May 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to speak about a question I asked in the House concerning the options report for the F-35 jets. This relates to the government's effort two years ago to essentially prorogue the program of the F-35 purchases.

Why did the government want to prorogue that program? It was because the heat got pretty hot. This has been a systemic failure of a procurement project for military equipment of essentially massive proportions, and the government was caught out. It provided information that according to the Auditor General and the Parliamentary Budget Officer was not true and in fact represented a government that was keeping two sets of books, one for internal consumption and one for the public.

To avoid the scrutiny of the House and the media, the government did what it called a reset to re-examine the options for replacing the CF-18s.

This has been an incredible failure to deliver by the government, with example after example in the area of military equipment causing a growing lack of confidence by industry in the government's ability to manage military equipment procurement. It is causing troops to have to use aging equipment, which can be dangerous, as we saw with the Protecteur, a supply ship on the Pacific coast that burst into flames in mid-sea.

Let us go back to the F-35 purchase decision.

First, the government never addressed the question of “Why jets?”, not just what jets. It went right to a particular product and went full bore ahead to purchase it. “Why jets?” would be an appropriate question to address and to consult on. What is government's predicted need for defence equipment 10, 20, 30, and 40 years from now, and what kind of equipment would serve that need?

These questions were never asked. There was no statement of requirements that would determine what the replacement for the CF-18s would be required to accomplish. Instead, there was a sole source of a very expensive product called the F-35, which was still under development.

Second, this was based on the misinformation that we, being Canada, were already committed to a contract for the F-35. That was simply not true, even though that was the justification put forward by the Prime Minister himself and the Minister of National Defence.

Third, there was no competition, so there was no opportunity for other providers of potential replacements for the F-35 to demonstrate that their products could meet those requirements that had not actually been articulated.

Last, the cost of this particular program has been zooming into the stratosphere. First it was to be $9 billion, then $16 billion, then $29 billion, then $46 billion, and now two think tanks are telling us that this is still underestimating the true cost.

Why not at least start being transparent and put the report forward, as I asked in my question?

Business of Supply May 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, again, with respect for the member, we have outlined a number of actions in our motion, and I hope his party will support this motion.

Essentially, this is a matter of competence and management. This is an important program. There needs to be a review of the problems inherent in the program. We have laid out in our motion some very specific fixes. There has already been a blanket moratorium on some of the low-skilled worker categories. However, a blanket moratorium is not the ultimate solution for this.

The solution is taking seriously that we do not want temporary foreign workers to replace permanent residents and citizens and the pathway to citizenship in our country. It was tried in Europe 20 years ago. It created a generation of problems. We cannot go down the road again. We can learn from European countries that fixed that problem and returned to an appropriate level of temporary foreign workers for their true needs.

Business of Supply May 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question from the member opposite because the answers are right in the motion, and I appreciate his openness to these ideas for which the Liberals are calling. These include the disclosure of labour market opinion applications and approvals for the TFW program, which are not currently disclosed; a tightening of the labour market opinion approval process to ensure that only businesses with legitimate needs are able to access, the program because we have seen how the program has been abused in the enthusiasm to open it up that the current government has had; and implementation of stronger rules requiring that employers applying for the program demonstrate unequivocally that they have exhausted all other avenues to fill the job vacancies.

The member should be aware that even though it has become so much easier to get a permit for temporary foreign workers, the waiting times for actually coming as a potential permanent resident or immigrant have been extended to many times what they used to be. The path to citizenship can take up to eight years. To be reunited with a family member from outside Canada now averages 40 months, up from 5 months just 5 years ago, and on and on. The average processing time for federal skilled workers has gone to up to 34 months whereas in Australia it is 2 months.

Let us focus on opening up those channels, rather than opening up the channels for temporary foreign workers so that it becomes a replacement for immigration.