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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

Health September 26th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the response today in the House by the Minister of Health regarding the serious issue of this government accessing the personal and confidential files of Dr. Michèle Brill-Edwards is unbelievably irresponsible and speaks to his own decision this summer to cut the drug and food labs in the health protection branch.

I want to ask the Minister of Health, if he cannot even protect the confidentiality of an individual's files, how can we be assured he is protecting the health and safety of Canadians?

The Late Hon. Stanley Howard Knowles September 25th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise today also on behalf of my colleague, the member for Winnipeg Centre, since both of us share in the privilege of representing a constituency that Stanley held for 38 years.

Our only regret today as we take up our rightful places in this Chamber is that Stanley Knowles is not looking over at us from his place at the centre of the table in this Chamber. We know that nothing would have made Stanley Knowles happier and prouder than to know that his constituency, one for which he worked so long and hard, had come home to the NDP on June 2, 1997.

The member for Winnipeg Centre and I, and I believe all of my colleagues in our caucus and all parties in this House share in the responsibility of carrying on the legacy of Stanley Knowles.

We know it is impossible to fill his shoes but we can strive to be like him, fighting for social justice with honour, pursuing righteousness with kindness.

We also know that the best way to carry on his legacy and honour his work is to try to maintain the high standards he set for all of us, the standards of fighting persistently for social justice and always doing it with honesty and integrity. It is our turn to carry on the torch of Stanley Knowles, to carry on his fight for security for seniors, for equality for all people and hope for a better day.

We mourn the loss of a great Canadian, a founding member of the NDP, the conscience of Parliament. But his work, his words, his fighting spirit live on. The best way we could pay tribute to Stanley is to use his own words, words he delivered in 1930 in a valedictory address to Brandon College.

To paraphrase his words, as we stand here in this Chamber our thoughts go back to the pioneering spirit of Stanley Knowles who struggled and sacrificed for this institution here in this place. His memory seems to hallow the very ground on which we stand.

Speech From The Throne September 25th, 1997

If the member would give me another few hours I could certainly list a variety of measures, especially under the taxation system to deal with precisely that question.

One other quick example is that if we did something as simple as environmental conservation in energy efficiency in our own public buildings, retrofit them, with a small investment we could create 4,000 jobs very quickly. That would not be a cost because it would pay for itself in a short time. There are dozens and dozens of ideas. We will keep bringing them forward in the House. I look forward to the member's supporting our proposals.

Speech From The Throne September 25th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, if the member is wondering at all why some provinces are trying to do the best they can in terms of limited health care resources, he should start asking his own Minister of Health how we can revamp the transfer payment system so that provinces are not squeezed. He should consider the fact that if we take $6.8 billion out of the health care system, we will be left with enormous pressures on provincial governments, on other organizations and on families.

It is absolutely critical that we all work together to reverse that trend. I look forward to help from the member in convincing the ministers of health and finance that we need to start increasing transfer payments. It may not be overnight that we get it back up to the $19 billion it was when they took office but certainly we could start today to reverse that so people are not forced into a difficult decision.

The question was how much. We have been very specific on this issue and every other issue. We have said let us work now to increase the transfer payments to provinces at least to $15 billion. That is a small step toward improving the situation. It would make a big difference.

The member asked for specifics. Give me 24 hours and I could fill that time with the specifics we have suggested. Let me make two very quick references.

In the whole area of health care and caring for seniors and children we have said over and over again that if the government would only look at it as something which is an important social investment and a job creation tool, we would be a lot better off in this country. There are thousands of jobs to be created if the government would just realize that it has a responsibility to ensure that there is a measure of quality care for everyone.

Speech From The Throne September 25th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I begin my first speech in this assembly of democracy feeling a tremendous sense of responsibility given to me by the people in my constituency of Winnipeg North Centre, a constituency which is recognized right across this country as a symbol, as an example of the struggle for dignity, equality and justice in society today.

They have given me a responsibility to fight for things that matter most to people, the things that were missing in the Speech from the Throne, the most important issues that affect people on a day to day basis: the matter of jobs, the matter of quality health care, the matter of good public education, the matter of hope for our young people, the matter of security for working families and the matter of dignity for our seniors.

All of us in the NDP caucus feel the sense of responsibility people have entrusted in us. We will keep our promise. We will not break our commitment to raise those issues day in and day out. We will work as we have never worked before to ensure that their voices are heard in this Chamber.

When I was elected I asked my eight year old son what I should say and do. He said “Tell everyone that we will make Ottawa rock”. That is exactly what we intend to do day in and day out in this Chamber.

We are here on behalf of people everywhere saying the rhetoric that ran as thick as syrup in the Speech from the Throne will not end the despair of people living without work or living with the daily fear of losing the job they may now hold.

It will not relieve the stress on families trying to juggle several jobs, the responsibilities they have for the care of their children and the obligation they feel for their communities and their involvement in community life. It will not end the pain and suffering women feel on a day to day basis because they have to live with the threat of violence.

My sense of responsibility, as I make my first speech in the House of Commons, also comes from those who came before me, those who made a difference in the lives of people in my constituency and indeed everywhere in this country. I am very fortunate to claim both Stanley Knowles and David Orlikow as my predecessors, two longstanding parliamentarians who made a real difference.

Who among us would not be familiar with the dogged persistence of David Orlikow who, for 26 years in this House, fought day in and day out for individuals and for policies that would improve people's lives and ensure some measure of dignity, security and equality among all people of all regions of the country? I am proud to carry on his work. I am grateful for his contribution to Canada and I look forward to his ongoing help and advice.

As my leader said yesterday, I also register a great deal of sadness at not being able to enter this Chamber and see my old friend and colleague, Stanley Knowles, sitting at the table. It was a dream I had. Unfortunately it just was not to be. However we are left with his legacy. The best way we can honour the work of Stanley Knowles is to carry on the work he fought for so long and hard for 38 years in the House of Commons.

All of the issues and policies he fought so hard to achieve are now under attack by the Liberal government today. Canadians can be sure that we will fight to preserve a public pension system to stop the erosion of security for seniors in their old age. We will be there day in and day out.

And we will try to do it as Stanley Knowles would have done it, with honour and dignity and integrity. Mr. Speaker, you can be sure that I will be raising many issues in this House but I will take my critic areas very seriously.

Twenty years ago when I was a parliamentary intern in this place I remember hearing a member of Parliament, a member of the then Liberal government, saying “don't worry about high unemployment among women, after all it is men who are the primary wage earners”.

Having been here for the past few days, having heard the Speech from the Throne, are we any further ahead today under this government, or is this government just more subtle about its practice of continuing inequality and discrimination in our society today?

Is it not the case that the privatization and deregulation and off-loading and cutback policies of this government are contributing to hardship and pain and suffering and greater inequalities facing women in our society today?

If women's equality is important would it not be the case that this government would have long ago honoured its obligations under the human rights act to ensure that women in the federal public service were paid on the basis of equality?

Would it not be the case that instead of offering women half a loaf, this government would have said that before it considers spending $12.2 million on bonuses for senior civil servants, it will ensure it meets its obligations and ensures equal pay for work of equal value?

Mr. Speaker, you can also be sure that I will be raising, as much as possible, issues pertaining to health care. Medicare is our most treasured national program, a matter of pride, a matter of equality and a matter of real meaningful intervention in the lives of people. That program is in serious trouble and let us not forget it is because of the policies of this government. Let us not allow members of this government to suggest that it is another level of government's responsibility entirely.

Let us remember that this government in 1993 introduced the most regressive social policy in the history of this country, the Canada health and social transfer, and took the single biggest bite out of health care in the history of medicare.

For many of us it was absolutely galling to read the Speech from the Throne and the statement “we will legislate to put back, to increase funds for the Canada health care system to the tune of $12.5 billion”. We now are at the base floor of $12.5 billion.

This government owes it to the people of Canada and to the future of medicare to ensure that our cash transfer payments for health care reflect the needs of health care, ensure that we are able to meet our obligations and that every Canadian is able to gain access to the best quality care in this country by virtue of being a member of a civilized country.

Deception, absolutely, because in fact the Speech from the Throne did also not mention that under the present formula of this government dollars from the federal government to provincial governments will actually decline in real terms. It does not look at the growth in the economy. It does not consider growth in population.

We will see in real dollar terms a continual drop in funding from this government to the provinces, thereby jeopardizing even further the future of medicare in this country.

There are so many more issues to raise and so little time. I want to acknowledge the challenges we all face. I and many of my colleagues in this caucus are trying to juggle our work as a members of Parliament and also our responsibility to our children.

Many of us have young children. We are grateful for their support and we recognize that we are not unique. We represent many families, many women in this country trying to juggle so much because of the inaction and the lack of attention of this government to those very important issues.

In the name of Stanley Knowles and others who have fought so hard for these issues, we will be as vigilant as possible to ensure that every person in this country is able to live with security, dignity and hope for the future.