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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was conservative.

Last in Parliament September 2017, as Liberal MP for Bonavista—Burin—Trinity (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 82% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Resignation of Member for Bonavista—Burin—Trinity September 28th, 2017

I am pleased this government supports adding genetic characteristics as an explicit prohibited ground for discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act. The Minister of Justice has written to the premiers of the provinces and territories to get their support. In her correspondence with the premiers, the minister wrote:

In conclusion, I reaffirm the high importance that the provinces and territories take the necessary steps within their respective jurisdictions to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of genetic characteristics.

With an interlocking scheme of federal, provincial, and territorial legislation, our country has achieved comprehensive human rights measures prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, and others.

The prohibition of genetic discrimination should be added to that proud human rights heritage. My plea today, on behalf of all Canadians who have genetic characteristics, is that every premier in our country would join the federal government, and take the action required to do so.

As a woman who has spent 28 years in political life, I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to encourage more women to get involved in what I consider an honourable profession, where it really is possible to make a difference in the lives of others, especially the most vulnerable.

Unfortunately, I have observed over the years why they may choose not to go down that path. It takes a strong individual to stand up and fight back against bullying of any sort, especially if the bully is in a position of authority. While I refer to politics as a profession in which women may choose not to get involved because of these tactics, the harassing and belittling is not limited to politics, nor is it limited to women, but it is safe to say it is more pervasive among men toward women. The question is, why? Why do some people feel it is okay to treat another individual as less than equal?

As I continue to encourage more women to get involved, I tell them of my positive experiences, and that in my opinion there is no profession more rewarding. I also say to them my encouragement does not mean I think women do a better job; instead, we do a different job, based on our experiences.

I thank the Prime Minister for the opportunity to serve in a gender-balanced cabinet. It reinforced my belief that when men and women work together, respect each other, and are treated equally, the best work can be accomplished.

In my 28 years of political life, I have seen and heard it all. I have dealt with and heard about experiences of others that should never have occurred. As I look at my daughter and granddaughter in the gallery, and know that in the 2015 election only 88 of the 338 members of Parliament elected were women, just 26%, the fight for gender equality is far from over.

While some in-roads have been made, it is a fight that all of us, men and women, should take on, so that daughters and granddaughters in our country can have the opportunity to serve and make a difference. As the Prime Minister says repeatedly, better is always possible. By working together, better is indeed possible.

I have said to anyone who will listen that I am blessed with an amazing family. As they watch today from the gallery and at home, I thank them for their tremendous support during the entire 28 years I have been in political life, support that never wavered. They knew how much I appreciated the opportunity I have been given, and that I thrived on it.

Having served in provincial politics prior to being elected in 2008 as a member of Parliament, we knew as a family the job would take me away from home more often than I would be at home. As an MP representing a riding of 240 communities, even when I was in Newfoundland and Labrador, it meant I was rarely home.

My husband of 43 years, Howard, has put up with such a crazy lifestyle, and knowing how much I enjoyed my job, he campaigned vigorously every election to help me keep it. In fact, I always said it was we who ran.

He has been the stalwart in our family: a husband, a dad, a father-in-law, and now a poppy to Katie May, Meadow, Ruby Jude, and Elliott to whom we say, “We love you to the moon and back”. Katie May's response is always “I love you more”.

I thank you for always making me feel you understood how important my job was. Thank you as well for showing me that, as important as it was, you knew it was never more important than you. I am so looking forward to spending more time at home making memories with you for many, many years to come.

Resignation of Member for Bonavista—Burin—Trinity September 28th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, when I ran to be a member of Parliament in beautiful Newfoundland and Labrador, I did not expect to be standing here today resigning from a job I love, representing people I love, and spending time with an incredible caucus, but as well, in the company of incredible individuals on both sides of this place. That includes you, Mr. Speaker, the table officers, pages, security, and all who work in the public service.

We work here, because we know we can play a part in making a difference in our country. As MPs, we are here, because others made it possible for us to have the privilege to serve. I am so thankful to my constituents for giving me this opportunity. It has been an honour to be here. It has been an honour to serve with all fellow MPs, and it has also been an honour to serve for 10 years as cabinet minister in Newfoundland and Labrador and here in Ottawa, supported by a dedicated public service, men and women who are committed to doing their very best.

I have also been blessed with very caring and capable constituency employees in both Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa. They worked tirelessly with me over the past 20 years to respond to the issues facing our constituents. To the many volunteers who worked on my campaigns over the past 20 years, there are no words to express just how much I appreciated their commitment and hard work.

Making my decision was not an easy one for all of the reasons I just stated. However, given my reasons for reaching that decision made it easier, and the outpouring of support for and appreciation of that decision has been overwhelming. No one has been more understanding and supportive than my seatmate and friend, the Prime Minister. He continually reminds his caucus to put family first, because it is so easy for us as MPs to get caught up in our work, work that we love, but can consume us if we let it, and many of us do that.

Standing here saying goodbye, I think of our friend and colleague Arnold Chan, who was taken from his family and friends way too soon. I think of all who battle cancer, and do so with courage. I can think of no one who faced a battle with cancer with more courage than Arnold.

I was the whip when he was elected in 2014, and in addition to other responsibilities in that role, became a confidante and source of strength when needed. For Arnold, I know that sharing my experience with cancer helped in some way as he fought to survive while doing a job he loved. We often spoke about how staying involved and keeping one's mind occupied really does help. He was such a kind, courageous man who fought until the end, and inspired many, including all of us in the House.

Things happen in life to all of us that impact, and sometimes change completely the direction in which our lives go. Things also happen in life to help prepare us for those changes, and while we may not realize it when they happen, it does become apparent that strength and courage are needed to get through difficult times.

The memories I have of the strength and courage of another young man, who dipped his leg in the Atlantic Ocean in Newfoundland and Labrador before starting his marathon of hope, will always stay with me.

I was a reporter with CBC at the time and assigned to cover the story. Terry and I talked about his bout with cancer, and his vision of using his experience to bring a focus to the need for research. As the interview ended, I commented on his curly hair. He had a lot of it. He told me it was a positive outcome for him, having lost his hair while being given chemotherapy drugs to battle the cancer. As anyone who has fought cancer will say, remaining positive is half the battle. Unfortunately, there are other factors beyond our control.

I followed Terry's trek across the country and, like other Canadians, was saddened when it was reported he could not continue. While Terry could not complete the marathon, he made a difference, and 37 years later, people throughout our country take part in the annual Terry Fox Run. In fact, this week is the Terry Fox school run throughout Canada. Terry inspired many, and just as I was inspired by Arnold, I was inspired so many years ago by Terry.

Little did I know that several years later I would be diagnosed with breast cancer, not once but twice, most recently three years ago. Like Terry, I lost my hair, and while it may not look like it now, it grew back curly. As it grew back, I thought of Terry and his curls, but especially his positive attitude.

When illness strikes a family the natural thing to do is pull together and go in survival mode. I saw that with the Fox family, and that is what happened in my family. No one was more determined that I was going to survive my first bout with cancer than my daughter Carla, who was only 25 at the time.

Carla sat through all of my chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and made sure a chart was prepared listing all of the medications I needed to take if I was going to survive. She was determined to make sure I did not miss any. Needless to say, she has a full appreciation of the toll cancer can take, but she also knows surviving cancer is possible.

Being aware of that became even more important, when it was discovered two years ago that I carried a BRCA gene. Having the BRCA gene means the body is susceptible to any number of cancers. It also means those closest to the person are at risk. Getting my head around what having the gene could mean for my children Carla, Jason, and Heidi, and their children, if they inherited it from me, was difficult, and needless to say remains so, because unfortunately, two of my three children did.

While we believe knowledge is power, very personal decisions that involve taking measures to prevent cancer require a lot of courage.

Having a BRCA gene also means running the risk of dealing with genetic discrimination in areas like insurance access and workplace practices. No one should be discriminated against on the basis of his or her genetic characteristics.

Public Services and Procurement February 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, we are working very hard to resolve the pay issues associated with Phoenix. We have put in additional measures to ensure employees get paid for the work they have performed.

In terms of the T4 slips, 300,000 T4 slips have already been issued. If any of them are erroneous, we will work very hard with Revenue Canada and Revenue Québec to ensure they get corrected, revised T4 slips.

Public Services and Procurement February 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, we are working closely with the Canada Revenue Agency, with Revenu Québec, and with the unions to make sure that employees get the correct T4 slips. If any employees get T4 slips that do not have the correct amount, we will fix them immediately, so we are asking them to reach out to us. However, we are working closely with the unions, the Canada Revenue Agency, and Revenu Québec.

Public Services and Procurement February 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, we are making sure that we are taking every possible measure we can to fix the Phoenix payroll system. We are doing exactly that by hiring additional employees, by opening satellite offices, by opening a call centre, and by making sure that any employee who was overpaid or underpaid lets us know about it, then we fix the problem immediately. This is totally unacceptable. We are no more in favour of what is happening with the Phoenix payroll system than the employees who are impacted, but we are going to fix the problem.

Public Services and Procurement February 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is totally unacceptable that employees are going without pay for work performed. That is why we have taken so many extra measures to make sure they indeed get the pay they deserve. We have recognized that there was an injustice done to those employees. However, the injustice was done by the previous government, and we are now trying to fix the problem that it left us with. We will fix it, and the employees will have a payroll system better than they have ever had.

Public Services and Procurement February 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, we have taken extra measures to make sure that our employees get paid the money they are owed. We are putting in place extra satellite offices and hiring 250 additional employees that would not have been necessary had the right decisions been made when the previous government decided to go with this payroll system.

Public Services and Procurement February 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, this is a difficult time for a lot of public service employees, and it is totally unacceptable that anyone who has worked has gone without pay for work performed.

What I regret is the decision taken by the previous government when it laid off 700 compensation advisers, making it impossible for us to do the job that needs to be done. We are—

Indigenous Affairs February 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, there is no relationship more important to our government than the one with indigenous peoples. Our government is fully committed to implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to action. This includes developing a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration. Any decision will be made in full partnership with indigenous peoples.

Public Services and Procurement February 15th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, while the government's payroll system ensures that 300,000 employees get paid every two weeks, there are public service employees who are experiencing pay difficulties in some categories, and that is totally unacceptable. That is why we have taken additional measures by putting in satellite pay offices to help those employees. We encourage them to reach out to us. In fact, the most recent office we put in was in Kingston. We are working really hard on behalf of our employees.