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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

Petitions March 31st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and honoured to present a petition signed by many people from Manitoba who are very concerned about funding for the healing programs under the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. They are very worried because that funding comes to an end today.

However, they hold up great hope and they call on the government to think twice, to think with great compassion and understanding of the predicament of aboriginal people, especially those who went through the residential school system.

The petitioners are pleased that our colleague from Churchill and the New Democratic caucus were able to organize an emergency debate in the House just last evening to bring pressure to bear on the government. However, they want to add their voice to all the hundreds of others who have signed petitions to plead with the government to restore funding and ensure that the Aboriginal Healing Foundation is able to continue.

I especially want to note the impact that these cuts will have on organizations in my constituency, including the Manitoba Métis Federation and the Native Addictions Council of Manitoba. Both organizations provide critical services to people who have been through the worst imaginable horrors in going through the residential school system, losing a sense of identity and trying to bring some normalcy back to their lives. They depend on organizations like this one.

Foreign Affairs March 31st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the insincerity of the Conservatives' commitment to battling AIDS has reached new depths. We are now hearing that the government is planning to cut $10 million as of today in funding for the international initiative, something former UN AIDS envoy Stephen Lewis has called unconscionable.

After it broke its promise to build an HIV vaccine facility, which many suspect for good reason was the result of political interference, we had hoped it would at least keep its promise to use the money for HIV programs like AIDS vaccine. Will the government restore funding for the AIDS vaccine initiative and—

Prostate Cancer March 31st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, today members of all political parties are joining together to support Prostate Cancer Canada's campaign to unite Canadians in the fight against prostate cancer, the most common cancer among Canadian men. This year's campaign has taken on a special significance for many of us in the House because prostate cancer has entered the life of one of our own, my leader, the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth.

The NDP leader has chosen to share his personal battle with us. His decision has raised people's awareness of this disease.

He is making a conscious effort to dispel the myths about this cancer that often prevent men from acting in a timely way to monitor their prostate health. While one in every six Canadian men will develop prostate cancer, early detection and treatment has cut the mortality rate to one in every 27 patients.

The member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier has proven that this disease can be defeated. Tomorrow is the first day of April, which is cancer month. Let us unite to fight prostate cancer.

Tuberculosis March 18th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, tuberculosis rates among aboriginal Canadians are skyrocketing at levels higher than many third world countries. This is a national emergency that needs an urgent plan of action and yet the government has no plan, not even on first nations reserves for which it has clear constitutional responsibility.

Can anyone imagine that Inuit TB rates are 185 times the national average and the Minister of Health, the member for Nunavut, is not even raising an eyebrow, all the while trying to slough the responsibility off onto provinces and territories? Aboriginal TB rates are 51 times the general public and yet the government refuses to pay for X-rays to test residents on reserves like Garden Hill in Manitoba. TB is a treatable disease but Canadian lives are still being lost.

However, members do not need take it from me. They need only look at the research and the recent award-winning Winnipeg Free Press series by Jen Skerritt and follow up by reporter Mia Rabson. TB is called ”the forgotten disease”. It certainly has been forgotten by the government and that must end today.

2010 Paralympic Winter Games March 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Sudbury.

We join today with all Canadians in acknowledging and celebrating our Paralympics athletic achievement and abilities. These games spotlight our athletes' will to overcome enormous obstacles to contribute their talents and abilities at an internationally competitive level.

With the games opening ceremonies attracting a packed house of 60,000 last Friday at B.C. Place, clearly the message went out to the world, “We have arrived”. These Paralympics will see 1,350 athletes from 44 countries compete in 64 events.

Look how far we have come from the first winter games in 1976 when we had 12 countries competing. At those games, Canada was represented by six athletes. Today, the number is 55. As has been noted in the House already, we have had three silver medallists, Colette Bourgonje, Josh Dueck and Viviane Forest and now today Canada's first gold medallist, Brian McKeever, for his 20K in cross country.

The 2010 Paralympic Games and the way they are being promoted do not come close to the 1976 games, but we still have time to make up for it.

Many Canadians expected to watch the opening ceremonies live, but only a few of us, those living in British Columbia, had that privilege. However, had they been broadcast, that would have sent a clear message about our values of equality. Unfortunately, we were not up to the challenge and we missed out on an excellent opportunity that will not come around again any time soon.

The problems with captioning of the online broadcast of the games and the lack of accessibility at some of the facilities have also been criticized.

I can only hope that these basic issues will be corrected by the next games.

Today, we are also celebrating an achievement on another front in the struggle for an inclusive and accessible Canada. In December the House of Commons unanimously passed my motion urging the government to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities before the Paralympics began.

Last Thursday, on the eve of the games, Canada did just that and became the 78th country to ratify the convention. We can now celebrate the Paralympic games without questions about our commitment to equal rights hanging over us. Although it took seven years to get us here, we can now say equivocally that there is a strong consensus in Canada, both here in Parliament and outside, behind the convention and its principles and clear responsibilities at all levels of government to follow through with action.

This marks a major and meaningful achievement for the disability community in Canada. I want to acknowledge the instrumental role played by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and the Canadian Association for Community Living in moving Canada's commitment to the convention forward. They have spearheaded an effort over the years that of course received the active support of other advocacy groups such as Independent Living Canada, People First of Canada, Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians and Canadian Association of the Deaf, to name just a few.

We now have a framework through which Canadians living with disabilities can work to achieve equality, equality that is now a matter of right not benevolence or charity. Moreover, there are very clear measures for gauging our progress.

There is much work left to be done. When the Paralympic flame is extinguished, the 12% of Canadians living with disabilities still face unacceptable barriers to daily living and participating as equals in Canada's social, economic and cultural life.

Today, we stand to show our commitment that through these games and the signing of this convention, we will work to ensure full equality. This is a true cause for celebration.

Ukrainian Voice March 11th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, this month we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Ukrainian Voice, the oldest Ukrainian language newspaper in Canada.

In 1909, Ukrainian public school teachers in Manitoba saw the need for an independent weekly paper to reflect the common experience of the growing number of Ukrainians immigrating to Canada. They formed a publishing company and on March 16, 1910, the first issue of Ukrainian Voice hit the streets. It quickly became the glue holding the fast-growing community together. It became not only a news carrier but a voice for the pride of Ukrainian immigrants who brought their strong work ethic and other cultural values to the harsh task of Canadian nation-building.

Ukrainian Voice has maintained that critical role now for 100 years and continues to play a vital role in the dynamic Ukrainian community of the 21st century. Let us today celebrate this great contribution to Canada's cultural heritage.

[Member spoke in Ukrainian]

Request for Emergency Debate March 10th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I rise under Standing Order 52 to ask you to agree to holding an emergency debate as soon as possible on an urgent and life-threatening situation pertaining to Inuit and first nations people in this country, and the emergence of tuberculosis in very serious numbers. I make this case today for an emergency debate because of new information, new revelations that have come to our attention as recently as a couple of hours ago.

Today, representatives and elders from the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and from the Assembly of First Nations brought this frightening reality to our attention. They pointed out that TB infection rates in Nunavut are 185 times greater than most other parts of Canada, and in first nations communities, the rates have risen to 31 times that of non-aboriginal Canadians.

These revelations follow on the heels of an indepth series of articles by Jen Skerritt in the Winnipeg Free Press, who brought to our attention alarming statistics showing, in fact, that rates of TB in many of our communities in Canada, particularly in first nations, Inuit and aboriginal communities, are higher than that of third world countries. One such country, for example, that I visited a year ago, Bangladesh, where I was shocked to learn about TB, only to return home and find out that rates are actually even higher in this country, a first world nation, a country as wealthy as Canada.

This is new information, new data. We are not acting on this information. The government has no plan of action, never mind talking about this information. It is new and it must be talked about.

I urge you, Mr. Speaker, to consider holding this debate so that we can get it out in the open, bring forward to Canadians the serious nature of this issue, and encourage our government to come forward with a plan of action as soon as possible.

If Parliament cannot talk about it, then who can?

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities December 10th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I have a motion, seconded by the hon. member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, for which I believe, if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent. It is on this day, United Nations Human Rights Day, and the day when the Olympic torch entered the chamber, that I would like to move:

That this House calls upon the government to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which was tabled in the House on Thursday, December 3, 2009, as soon as all provinces and territories have officially given their consent and that this House expresses the hope that ratification is achieved by the time of the paralympic games.

Points of Order December 10th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few comments, as well, questioning the wisdom of the government suggesting in any way, shape or form that this supply day motion is out of order.

Supply day motions are one of the few opportunities the opposition has to hold the government to account. It is either through question period or supply day motions. Those are the two opportunities we have to demand accountability from the government on anything to do with its budgeting process. Those provisions are sacrosanct in our rule books.

There has been, over the years, very little attempt to intervene in the choice of opposition supply day motions. So it is quite unusual for the government today to suggest that there is a problem with the wording of this motion.

Our process requires that if there is a problem with a motion, or some disagreement with the actual direction the motion is taking, then the government or anyone concerned has the opportunity to vote against the motion at the end of that day. That is democracy—not an effort to prevent the debate in the first place. That is truly unusual and unprecedented in this place.

We have rules in the House allowing members to challenge the government every step of the way, and at no point should our rules be interpreted in a way that would allow the government of the day to suppress debate. That is the antithesis of democracy, as it does not even allow the issues to get to the table.

I have listened to my colleague from the Liberal Party, whose name is on this motion. He has clearly put on record those sections of the rule book that allow for committees and the House to call whatever documents and whatever witnesses they feel are necessary for the process. That is self-explanatory.

What I wanted to do on rising on this point of order was to make the case that in the true spirit of this place, the focal point of democracy in this nation, under no circumstances should the government try to suggest in any way, shape or form that the rule books allow it to interfere with debate taking place, or to repress it in the first place.

I hope, Mr. Speaker, you will allow this day to proceed.

Petitions December 10th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, finally, I am also pleased to present a petition from people who are concerned about safety in the air and about the fact that the responsibilities delegated to aviation companies by the safety management system is a problem.

The petitioners call upon the government to initiate a commission of inquiry, headed by a superior court judge, to conduct a judicial review into Canada's state of national aviation safety and government oversight of the aviation industry, to be followed by further reviews, at defined intervals.