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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

Tree Canada September 27th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, Tree Canada is our country's leading national tree-planting charity, and I rise today on National Tree Day to offer my warm congratulations on the occasion of its 25th anniversary.

For 25 years, Tree Canada has been growing better places to live all across Canada, by planting and caring for trees in our communities, reforesting rural areas, and by celebrating the environmental, social, cultural, economic, and spiritual benefits of trees.

As a former tree planter and reforestation business owner, I was honoured to join Tree Canada president Michael Rosen and his staff, volunteers, and board in planting their 82 millionth tree in Ottawa near Parliament Hill this afternoon.

I would like to thank Tree Canada for what it does. I also thank the Minister of Natural Resources for being there.

Finally, I would like to thank the thousands of Canadian tree planters across the country for their hard work in restoring Canada's forests in communities and remote regions across the country.

Happy National Tree Day.

Access to Information Act September 26th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I must say, that was a rather surprising speech. The Conservative MP started by criticizing Bill C-58 in its entirety. He then talked about a number of other things that have nothing to do with today's topic. For the first time, the Access to Information Act will be extended to include the Prime Minister's and ministers' offices. This bill gives the Information Commissioner the power to order government information to be released for the first time. We are making substantive amendments that will have the combined effect of reducing delays. There are a number of initiatives in addition to the powers of the Information Commissioner.

Does the member not feel that granting powers to the Information Commissioner is an improvement to our current access to information regime?

Access to Information Act September 26th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, members of the opposition appear to want everything that every expert and academic has suggested for our access to information regime to be in this one bill, which, for the first time in 34 years, addresses the shortcomings. Does the member view the other approach, which is a step-by-step approach our government is taking, as a better way forward?

Access to Information Act September 26th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the remarks of my colleague, who was a member of the previous government. That government actually gave political instructions to ministerial staff to block or delay responses to freedom of information requests that had already been accepted and fulfilled by the access to information secretariat staff. The moral high ground he seems to be taking in his speech is a little curious, given that.

I understand that he also has some measured comments about our bill. I would like to address the comments about frivolous and vexatious applications. First, it is important that our system works for everyone. Second, requests are increasing by 13% a year. Third, there are some requests that gum up the system and are not really intended to secure information.

As the member fairly pointed out, we know that the commissioner, the committee, eight provinces, and many countries have provisions for frivolous and vexatious requests. He criticized the fact that these decisions to accept or not could be made by the government. In reality, people who have their request denied on this basis will still be able to complain to the Information Commissioner, who has order-making powers.

Does the member think it is better to not do this and have an inefficient system, or is it better to actually remove some of these requests that gum up the system?

Access to Information Act September 26th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands for taking the time to point out that there are a number of very important steps forward in terms of this legislation we are debating, Bill C-58. She is aware that this bill will go to a committee, where concerns she is expressing around powers of the Information Commissioner or issues around who defines vexatious applications will absolutely be discussed and ideas brought forward. Our government does have a record of entertaining and accepting amendments at committees.

I appreciate the balanced nature of her comments, but I take issue with her comments around proactive disclosure, for the reason that currently there is no requirement to proactively disclose briefing documents and the kinds of things we will be regulating here. As a result, if there was anything awkward, it could be pulled off the disclosure list. In fact, we know that the previous government exercised political interference, even with accepted applications that the department had fulfilled. It balked them.

To me, proactive disclosure means that people have to disclose those things. They can be counted on to do it, whether they are awkward or inconvenient or not. It is a big step forward.

Yes, things—

Access to Information Act September 26th, 2017

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to be back here debating this bill, and I thank the Conservative member.

However, I disagree with some of the things she was saying. I am extremely proud that our government is truly raising the bar on openness and transparency by revitalizing access to information.

By contrast, according to the Information and Privacy Commissioner, the Conservatives blocked all access to information requests to ministers' offices. Without authorization, they blocked and delayed responses prepared by public officials. After a decade of being negligent and obstructive, the party opposite is now painting itself as a champion of access to information.

Why did the Conservatives ignore this issue for 10 years?

Access to Information Act September 25th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the member spoke of cynicism; I was struck by his choice of word.

The Conservatives knowingly restricted access to information when they were in power. The Information Commissioner conducted an investigation and concluded that political aides blocked or delayed requests without authorization.

Will the hon. member admit that the former Conservative government was not interested in transparency regarding access to information?

Access to Information Act September 25th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I also thank my Conservative colleague for his speech.

It is important that our access to information system work well for Canadians. At present, there are no limits to the number of requests an individual can file or regarding the scope of the request.

A number of members have taken aim at that aspect of Bill C-58, including my colleague, and I have a question for him.

Our system is currently being delayed by frivolous and sometimes vexatious requests. With this bill, we want to change that, because it is unfair to Canadians who file legitimate access to information requests.

Is the member aware that several provinces and territories have a different version of the legislation we are proposing to protect the effectiveness of their respective access to information systems, and that that is also the case for Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom?

I heard several concerns regarding our decision, but I have to ask the following question: do we not have a duty to make the system more effective for Canadians who submit requests in good faith, and to reject those that are not in good faith and are frivolous and vexatious?

Access to Information Act September 25th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I have worked with the member for Edmonton Strathcona on a number of measures, including her environmental rights bill, when I was a member of the environment and sustainable development committee. I have a great deal of respect for her.

I was surprised at the exaggerations and out-and-out inaccuracies in her statement, and I will point out two of them. If we cannot rely on what my colleague is saying in those two inaccuracies, then what else is being exaggerated for political purposes in this debate? It is unfortunate, because this is a substantive bill with substantive issues, and we welcome real discussion, but exaggerated misinformation brings down the tone of the debate.

One of the member's inaccuracies was in saying that we will only be able to review the bill in five years, and that is patently not true. The legislation states clearly that the first review in the five-year rolling reviews would be one year after this legislation comes into force. We expect that to be in 2018-2019. This is all part of a pattern of reforms that we are making that we started right from the beginning by having the committee study the bill and having ministerial directives.

The second inaccuracy was that the member claimed that the bill does not meet the ministerial mandate text, but it does. The bill appropriately covers ministerial offices with the access to information regime. That is exactly what is happening.

Maintaining cabinet confidence has been recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada as an important democratic principle, and we are balancing that principle with access through a very broad proactive disclosure of the information that is most often requested through access to information.

I hope the member can tell me that she is going to work constructively toward an outcome that she can support. I would also like her to correct the record on those issues.

Access to Information Act September 25th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Trois-Rivières for his speech. I have a question for him, but I want to begin by pointing out that these changes do indeed respond to the election promises and commitments made in the mandate letters of the President of the Treasury Board, the Minister of Justice, and the Minister of Democratic Institutions. We are committed to being open and transparent. These legislative measures that we are discussing today are one step among many, but it is a significant step in that direction.

For a party that talks a lot about wanting more transparency and openness, why is the NDP refusing to support this legislative measure that offers the transparency it is looking for? Why is the NDP not going to support the expanded powers for the Information and Privacy Commissioner that are included in this bill? Why is the NDP not supporting the mandatory five-year review, which is a fundamental aspect of this bill that will come into force soon, in 2018-19? Why—