House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was fact.

Last in Parliament April 2010, as NDP MP for Winnipeg North (Manitoba)

Won her last election, in 2008, with 63% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions April 30th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be able to table my very last petition in the House before I leave this place after 13 years. Actually, this will be the very last time that I will say anything on the official record of the House of Commons. I cannot think of a better issue around which to do this than on the matter raised by petitioners from my constituency and across Canada, particularly from the Canadian Grandmothers for Africa organization.

The petitioners call upon this House to follow through with the support that it gave Bill C-393, my private member's bill on the access to medicines regime, to ensure that more drugs flow at costing rates to Africa and other developing nations.

Members will know that this bill was supported by the House of Commons at second reading. It has gone to committee and the petitioners implore members of the House from all parties to see the process through, to discuss this matter at committee, to call witnesses, and to ensure that we change Canada's access to medicines regime to ensure that drugs flow to countries in need and to ensure that Canada lives up to its reputation as a leader in terms of humanitarian and compassionate issues around the world.

I thank all of those who have worked so hard on this issue, especially the grandmothers across Canada. I urge the House to help me leave this as a lasting legacy for all Canadians and the world.

Resignation of Member April 28th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, this is not an easy day to say goodbye after all these years in this place. It has been 13 years since I was first elected and 34 years since I started in political life as a parliamentary intern.

This has been my home away from home. It has been the place where my kids have grown up. Many members may remember my younger son at the age of 8 terrorizing the halls of Centre Block. That holy terror Joe is now a young man at the age of 21. He is here with his father today, and I want to thank him.

I want to thank my husband of 38 years, who has been there through thick and thin, supporting me every step of the way. I want the House to know that contrary to popular opinion, he did not lose his hair because of me.

I want to thank our special son Nick, who has taught me every step of the way why it is important to be in political life and about our responsibility to keep working to ensure that society does not ditch its responsibilities to the aged, the frail and people living with disabilities.

I want to, of course, mention my mom and dad who are watching right now as we speak, Harry and Klazina Wasylycia, who are 91 and 87 years old respectively, and who told me that I was the perfect child until I started to talk. My dad is a proud veteran who met my mother in World War II in Holland, and next week they will together mark the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Holland by Canadians with great celebration and pride.

This is a day of very mixed emotions. I have to say goodbye to my NDP family and to our tenacious and courageous leader who has actually changed politics in this country to the point where we are now just about on the verge of a three-way race.

I have to thank all of my colleagues who are here today and those who came before, and another leader, Alexa McDonough, with whom I started politics in 1997.

I want to thank my staff, especially those who have been with me from the beginning: Chuck Brabazon, who is here today, Jim Thompson in the riding, as well as Adam Moore, Judy Burns and Margaret Platte.

I want to thank all of my colleagues whom I consider to be friends. We are all here for noble reasons, because we want to build a better world. We just may have some different ideas about what that world looks like or how we get there, but we are all on a noble pursuit to fight for what is right and to preserve democracy.

Sometimes this place can be dysfunctional. Sometimes there can be a bit too much heckling, not by me though. But we know when it works, when we work together. When we collaborate and co-operate, it can be magic.

I think about the unity we all had and showed when we adopted unanimously the bill to create the national Holocaust Remembrance Day. I think about everyone in this House wearing blue to mark Prostate Cancer Awareness Day. I think about the cheering in this place when we celebrated and welcomed our Olympians and Paralympians. These are wonderful moments. They are magical moments. We should never lose them or let go of them. There is so much more to be done.

I would like to thank everyone who makes it possible for us to do our jobs, including the political staff of course, but also the clerks, the interpretation staff, bus drivers, technicians, security, the cooks and their staff, the Serjeant-at-Arms, editors, translators and of course the pages. I would also like to thank the press gallery staff and our friends, the journalists.

It has been an enormous privilege for me to stand in this House and to speak on issues of national importance, making a bit of difference on matters for which Canadians are deeply concerned, especially in the area of health care where I am proud to have stood in this House, time and time again, fighting for and standing up for a single payer, universally accessible, non-profit, quality health care system. One thing is for sure. Our fight, our work to defend, preserve, protect and strengthen medicare is not over and we must continue that battle.

The greatest of all privileges I have had here over 13 years has been to serve the people of Winnipeg North, a remarkable, resilient people who have had so many challenges and have worked so hard to overcome them. We have seen, over and over again, the people of Winnipeg North overcoming adversity, working together, building on the strength of our diversity to translate that into acceptance and celebration of our differences, working together when the big banks left us virtually without any branches, to create alternative financial services, and when small convenience and hardware stores left the north end, working together to create the amazing Pollock Hardware Co-op, which is doing a remarkable, record-breaking business.

It is with great sadness that I must say goodbye to some of this work and say goodbye to my friends. However, before I say my goodbyes, I should mention one more thing about Winnipeg. I must tell the member for Ottawa Centre that we have the longest skating rink in the history of the world.

Lastly, I want thank the people of Winnipeg North for their support and, who knows, maybe one day I will be representing them again in the future.

Status of Women April 28th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, in 1921, Agnes MacPhail became the first woman elected to this House. In talking about the women who would follow in her footsteps, she said, “I can almost hear them coming”. Well, there was no stampede.

Just over 30 years ago, I started working in this place with Ed Broadbent to advance the status of women in our party and in politics generally. With the help in particular of Stanley Knowles, we launched the campaign, “A woman's place is in the House-- of Commons”.

Since then women have made some progress, reaching 20%, but that is not enough. There is still no critical mass. Worse, advances made over the past 30 years are being wiped out.

The saddest moment in my 13 years here has been to see the clock turned back on pay equity and to see its elimination from the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Today I want to thank all the women in my caucus who have supported me over these last 13 years, my leader, and women from all walks of life in this House who have been fighting the good fight for women's equality. Together we must carry on because equality is still a distant goal.

Carry on, sisters.

Petitions April 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on alcohol warning labels. This petition follows hundreds of other petitions I have tabled on this subject matter over the last eight years since Parliament almost unanimously supported my private member's motion to ensure labels on all alcohol beverage containers warning that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause birth defects.

The petitioners are very concerned that the present government, the previous government and the last six health ministers have refused to take action on this and have ignored the will of Parliament. They are doing a great disservice to this country by not ensuring that this one mechanism is added to the whole range of options to ensure that women do not drink while they are pregnant because it leads to fetal alcohol syndrome.

The petitioners remind us all about the ongoing news of the devastation caused by fetal alcohol syndrome, particularly the cost to our society, the devastation to families and the toll it takes in terms of our criminal justice system.

The petitioners implore the government to do what Parliament willed it to do eight years ago and to finally place these labels on all wine, liquor and beer bottles.

Health April 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, throughout all this obfuscation, one thing is clear. The government's sudden reversal is a blow to Winnipeg, a blow to Canada, and a blow to the people whose lives depend on a breakthrough in vaccine development.

Will the government at least guarantee that the $88 million set aside for the vaccine production facility will be invested in Canada, will be used for the acceleration of HIV vaccine development, will be used toward discovery research, will enhance Winnipeg and Canada's world-renowned research capacity in AIDS, will support dual capacities and will, in fact, keep sites—

Health April 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the government's spin on its decision to scrap plans for a Canadian HIV vaccine facility has come unspun. Today the health committee heard more conflicting accounts of how the decision was made, some of it disturbing and implying political interference. We have lost a vital public resource, and Winnipeg, by all accounts the winning bid, will lose a projected 70 high-paying scientific jobs plus spinoffs. Canada's proud HIV research reputation has nose-dived.

Will the government now give us the real reasons for all this damage?

Poland April 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, on this National Day of Mourning, we stand together with the people of Poland to mark a tragedy of unspeakable dimensions and to honour the lives of so many Polish people lost on April 10. On behalf of my colleagues, I offer our heartfelt condolences to the people of Poland and Polish people the world over, including the one million Canadians of Polish descent.

I know from many of the 40,000 Polish Canadians in Manitoba the depth of grief being felt. The loss of 96 people, including President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, along with Polish political, military and civil society leaders, is a tragedy that has taken loved ones from their families but has also taken from an entire country the hopes, ideals and aspirations that its citizens entrusted to its political representatives.

I can only imagine the sense of loss and grief being felt, but having been on a recent visit to Poland, I know that the faith, courage and perseverance the people of Poland have held on to for over 1,000 years of adversity will be a source of strength for them now.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to this grieving Polish nation. Czesc ich pamieci.

Petitions April 14th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of constituents who are very concerned about the decision by Canada Post to arbitrarily remove street letter mailboxes from the community I represent, Winnipeg North.

In fact, they know the importance of speaking up on this issue because four of the five mailboxes that were arbitrarily removed by Canada Post in recent months have been returned to the community. There is one remaining at the corner of McAdam Street and Scotia Street in Winnipeg. They urge the government to require Canada Post to return the mailbox to this neighbourhood and to the people that Canada Post is supposed to be serving.

Canadian Human Rights Act April 14th, 2010

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-508, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (genetic characteristics).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and honoured to introduce this bill to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act in order to protect Canadians from discrimination on the basis of their genetic characteristics.

I want to thank my colleague, the member for Hamilton Mountain, for her support with this bill, and I want to urge all members to consider passing it as quickly as possible.

It addresses the fact that genetic discrimination is already targeting and penalizing some persons, and is increasing as genetic testing proliferates. The bill is consistent with the Canadian Human Rights Act principles and is a statement about our acceptance of personal differences and about the integrity of the person whose most basic traits and genetic makeup must not be the basis for discriminatory treatment.

I o thank those who helped make this bill possible, starting with Jo Anne Watton, who is with the Huntington Society of Canada; Vern Barrett, the Huntington Society in Winnipeg; Howard Koks, the Parkinson Society in Manitoba; and all members of the Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Government Appointments April 13th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation terminated a grant to the government's International Development Research Centre that was to be used for an anti-smoking campaign in Africa. Why? The IDRC chair, former Conservative cabinet minister Barbara McDougall, was until recently on the board of directors of Imperial Tobacco. This is not just a major conflict of interest; it is another embarrassment of the government on the international stage.

How did the government miss such a blatant conflict of interest? Will it demand Barbara McDougall's resignation from IDRC today?