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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 December 10th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from constituents who are concerned about both animal cruelty and animal suffering. The petitioners call upon the government to support the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare.

Petitions December 10th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions. The first petition has to do with concerns from constituents and others about the 14,000 men, women and children who die every day from tuberculosis, malaria and HIV-AIDS.

The petitioners call upon this House to support Bill C-393, my private member's bill. They are pleased that it received support at second reading, and call upon this House to complete the process and ensure that it becomes law.

Committees of the House December 10th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, on this day, which is United Nations Human Rights Day, I believe that if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move, seconded by the hon. member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, that this House calls upon the government to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which was tabled in the House by the government on Thursday, December 3, 2009, as soon as all provinces have given their consent.

National Holocaust Monument Act December 8th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to participate in the debate on Bill C-442, sponsored by the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park. I am honoured because this is a significant presentation to the House and one that ought to be adopted unanimously. In fact, I wish our procedures would allow us to seek the unanimous consent of the House to pass the bill at all stages and ensure that it becomes law immediately. I know it has to go through a process, and I understand there are some technical amendments that have to be made, but the essence of the bill is something very basic, something very fundamental around which there can be no disagreement, and that is the establishment of a national Holocaust memorial.

It is interesting that it was about six years ago this month that the House came together with all parties agreeing to a bill to establish a national Holocaust memorial day. With that bill and this bill today, the best has been brought out in people in this place. We have come together across party lines and we have done something important.

Today is a historic moment when together we resolve to deal with the fact that we are the only country among the allies from World War II that has not yet established a national Holocaust memorial in its capital.

We have heard about the range of memorials that exist around the world. I found it fascinating that there are many that form the basis for the establishment of such a memorial here in Ottawa. Just to name a few, there is the Ani Ma'amin Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the Auschwitz Jewish Center in Poland, the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service and the Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre in England, the Holocaust Memorial Center in Budapest, the Cape Town Holocaust Centre, Centre de la mémoire d'Oradour in France, the Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance, the Forests of the Martyrs in Jerusalem, the Ghetto Fighters' House in Israel, the Holocaust History Project in Detroit. The list goes on and on. I have named but a few of the memorials that exist in other parts of the world.

It is truly amazing that we do not have such a Holocaust memorial right here in Canada's capital city. Tonight with this bill we are actually making a significant attempt at redressing an oversight. I hope that we can accomplish this quickly.

The purpose of the memorial is no different from the bill establishing the national memorial Holocaust remembrance day. It is two-fold.

The first purpose is to remember the horrors of the past, the six million Jews who were killed, who were slaughtered, who were sent to the gas chambers by Hitler in Nazi Germany in World War II. It is a chapter in our history that must never be forgotten. It is in the establishment of a memorial that we have another way of remembering that sorry chapter in the history of our society. It is another way of ensuring that we never forget that horror that should never, ever be repeated. That is the fundamental reason for such a memorial.

The second purpose is to remind ourselves that apart from the Holocaust, the motivating factors behind the Holocaust, the hatred of Jewish people, the anti-Semitism, the discrimination, the vile nature of attitudes toward people of Jewish faith is repeated today, every day, in incidents that are increasing from accounts by many in our society. They must be part of our discussions today.

I am very pleased that I am part of a parliamentary coalition to combat anti-Semitism. That is an organization of all-party members in this House determined to come together to try to grasp the nature of anti-Semitism and to understand how we can stop the spread of it, and how we can actually ensure that people live in our society with a sense of freedom and security and identity without discrimination, without living under any kind of hatred or discriminatory attitudes.

It is an important initiative in Parliament, but it is one that is certainly in question today because of the fact that so much controversy has happened around mailings from Conservative members slandering Liberal members, accusing them in the most inappropriate way of anti-Semitism.

That has put a cloud over these hearings and in fact has given us all cause for concern. We are hoping that this sorry chapter here in Parliament can be resolved, that the cloud can be lifted and in fact that public apologies can be made.

I want to ensure that we continue with those hearings because we need to be able to say to Canadians that anti-Semitism in any shape or form is wrong. That does not mean, as we have said in our committee over and over again, that criticism of the State of Israel is anti-Semitic in any shape or form, or that constraints can be put on that debate.

However, we have to be sure at all times that we are in fact not giving audience to people allowing them to take this debate and to make broad or sweeping statements about a people suggesting in any way, shape or form that the Jewish people of this country or around the world do not have a right to their homeland, that being the State of Israel.

This is a difficult topic and a major issue before us today. I think the bill before us actually helps us to remember what we are here for and why it is important to stand up and say, “We will not tolerate any form of anti-Semitism, or hatred or discrimination against anyone because of their sex, or race, or faith.

I know that time is limited, but I want to say that it is imperative that all of us in the House go back to our respective communities and speak about the need to stop anti-Semitism and hatred of any shape or form.

I want to reference the work that is happening in Winnipeg, in particular the work by the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg. It is a force, a committee, an organization that is vigilant on a daily basis to ensure there is awareness that the very purpose, the very reason, for the solidarity of our community in Winnipeg is not being threatened by signs of anti-Semitism and a regular occurrence of incidents of hatred that have to be stopped.

In fact, in a recent brief to one of our committee hearings on anti-Semitism, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg clearly documented a number of incidents that are hateful and growing and must be stopped.

I will conclude by citing the words of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg to describe their concerns and why this bill is so important and why it is important we are vigilant every step of the way. The federation states:

Winnipeg Jewry over the past 40 years or more, has generally enjoyed both the physical and psychological security that comes from a sense of belonging to a free and democratic society.

That is the basis for pursuing all signs of hatred, for standing up in support today for the Holocaust memorial, because we want to ensure that people of Jewish faith, of Jewish background and Jewish identity are always able to feel that sense of belonging and to be part of a free and democratic society.

Petitions December 8th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present yet another petition that was organized by the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign in support of my Bill C-393, reforms to the Canada access to medicines regime, and also generally to ensure we meet our millennium development goals.

The petitioners call upon all of us to do our part to ensure that 0.7% of our gross national product goes to development assistance internationally and that we contribute our share to the global fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria.

I want to thank the grandmothers again for their incredible pioneering work in gathering thousands of petitions in support of Bill C-393, and in their show of courage and conviction to ensure that people around the world benefit from the resources of this rich nation.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities December 3rd, 2009

Madam Speaker, today is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. I want to thank all of those organizations, including Independent Living Canada, for organizing the eighth annual celebrations in this capital. I want to thank the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and many other organizations for driving this agenda and ensuring we can advance the state of affairs toward full inclusion for all people living with disabilities.

Today is a day to recommit ourselves to take action and that means ensuring that the UN Convention on Rights for Persons with Disabilities is ratified by our country. We applaud the fact that the government today took a first step toward doing that by tabling a document. I think you will find, Madam Speaker, that there is probably unanimous consent by everyone in the House to ensure this document is passed immediately and sent to New York to complete the ratification process.

This is a day of which to be proud. It is also a day to stand up and fight to ensure full equality for people living with disabilities.

Petitions December 3rd, 2009

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition that was organized by the Grandmothers for Grandmothers campaign who wanted to see Bill C-393 pass through the House to committee.

They are delighted with the results of the vote in the House last night. They urge all parliamentarians to continue working on the bill to ensure that necessary medications get to those countries that cannot otherwise afford them to deal with such horrible and deathly diseases as HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

On behalf of everyone in the House, I would like to thank the grandmothers again for their great work on this issue.

Petitions November 30th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table another petition. The signatures were gathered by grandmothers speaking out for grandmothers in Africa across this nation.

They are very concerned about the status of legislation before the House, which will come to a vote on Wednesday. They urge all members to support private member's Bill C-393. They urge all of us to make the necessary changes to Canada's access to medicines regime, and ensure that the commitments we made to the poorest nations of the world are kept.

Patent Act November 27th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from the Conservative Party is right. This is the only one of its kind in the world. Canada's access to medicine regime, CAMR, was an innovative, pioneering move five years ago. It still is today, but it is not working and it needs to be overhauled. It needs to be fixed. We need to keep our commitment to the world to ensure drugs get to people who need them in developing nations.

For all of the arguments we have heard in opposition today and in the past, there are strong rebuttals. There are all kinds of arguments that have been made in this House and the other place. I am here to urge members to let this bill go to committee so that we can spend the time rebutting those arguments or hearing concerns and making any necessary amendments.

I am not saying this bill is perfect. I am saying it is absolutely essential. We cannot miss this opportunity. We owe it to too many people here in this country and around the world to fail at this point.

Two years ago we had an opportunity to fix CAMR and we did not. We failed at that point. We dare not fail today. We dare not let the world be disappointed by our inaction because we did not have the courage at least to hear the arguments at committee, make the case and improve this legislation. We owe it to those who need our medicines. We owe it to those whose lives have to be saved.

I owe so much to the grandmothers across this nation for the work they have done on this issue. I want to acknowledge their work. I want to thank Sharon Swanson from the Lanark County Grannies who is with us today. I want to thank Peggy Edwards, Kathleen Wallace-Deering, Gillian Sandeman, Elizabeth Rennie, Andrea Beal and Marilyn Coolen from the Ottawa group. I want to thank from Winnipeg the group Grans 'N' More, especially Linda Watson, Enid Butler, Charlotte Caron, Barb Fletcher, Shelley Coombes, Nancy Cosway, Jean Sorko, Jean Altemeyer and many others.

Finally, I want to say that we are doing this for people who need our support. In the last minute of debate, I want to quote Stephen Lewis, who is a pioneer in this area and who helped form the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. I want to quote from an article in the Globe and Mail of Saturday, October 22, 2005:

The 40 million people infected worldwide--26 million in Africa. The millions, mainly young women, without access to treatment because the world won't pay for it....

His voice drops again to a whisper: “And they're all young women, they're all in the 20s and 30s. You go into a hospice, 25 beds, 23 of them filled by women in their 20s. You can't get the drugs to them in time. You know they're going to die in a matter of months”.

In talking about the children, he said:

You go into a little community centre for kids...and I remember this...you have a whole group of kids sitting in a little room. They look as though they're 4 or 5, they're all stunted, and they're really 8, 9, 10 years old, all HIV-positive, and there are no drugs. And you know these kids are measuring their lives in minutes. And you just wonder...why is this? How long can it happen? How long does it have to go on incrementally?

It's just so bad. It's so awful.

Let us not fail these children, these women, the people in other parts of the world who need our help. Let this bill go to committee.

The vote on the bill will be on Wednesday. We do not have enough support for it. All of the Bloc and all of the NDP members are committed to supporting it. We only have a third of the Liberals and a handful of Conservatives. That is not enough to move this bill forward. We need each and every member to think about this and at least allow for a positive vote on Wednesday so we can study this matter further. We must ensure that this country stands up to its promise in the world and is true to the commitment it has made to people everywhere.

Criminal Code November 27th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to add a few comments to this very important debate on Bill C-31. It is a rare omnibus bill before the House.

My colleague and our justice critic, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, spoke on this matter and praised the government for finally bringing forward an omnibus bill dealing with a number of serious issues that ought not to be presented on an individual basis but, in fact, presented for collective consideration.

He has made the point on numerous other occasions that some of the bills introduced by the Conservative government should have been part of an omnibus bill and that it did not make sense to use the time of the House to bring forward very individual, specific pieces to this big puzzle that we are all trying to grapple with, which is how to best crack down on crime in this country and do so responsibly.

We stand in the House so often and hear Conservative members across the way accusing members on this side of the House of being soft on crime every time we dare question or debate a particular item. I hope they are learning from today's debate, both on Bill C-58 and now on Bill C-31, that the New Democratic Party gives very serious consideration to each bill that is before us. We analyze them thoroughly and make constructive suggestions.

On the basis of our analysis, we then choose whether to support a bill or not. If the positives outweigh any negatives and if we cannot get the perfect bill, we usually hold our noses and support the government of the day. In this case, we have said that this is a good bill. It addresses many important issues, but there is one area that has been identified by New Democrat members and also by members of the Bloc that needs to be reconsidered. It has to do with fingerprinting.

We are hoping that, by raising these concerns today in a very serious way with substantial backing and evidence, the government will consider our proposition and ensure that we can deal with this matter at committee.

In the past, members have given their support for the competition about the most wisest MP among us. Members in the House have collectively shown that they agree that the member for Windsor—Tecumseh is the most wise and knowledgeable among us. In fact, he has come to the House on numerous occasions with very wise suggestions and other members have listened to him many times.

Today has to be one of those times. He makes the very important point that we in the House should not be supporting legislation that allows for the taking of fingerprints before a person is charged. I want to quote from his speech. He said:

The taking of fingerprints and this point of not being allowed to take fingerprints unless our police are going to charge an accused person goes way back. It has been in the Criminal Code for more than half a century, since shortly after we had the technology of fingerprinting. It goes way back into the last century.

I think the amendment that we will be proposing at committee needs to be taken very seriously. I am sure that the Bloc will be doing the same. In fact, we hope that will be considered on an expeditious basis because none of us want to see this bill held up. We know that it deals with numerous important issues like providing greater access to the telewarrant process for peace officers. It provides for a mandatory 10-day adjournment where notice provisions have not been followed.

It empowers each province to authorize programs and establish criteria outlining when an agent or a non-lawyer can represent a defendant. It expands the jurisdiction of Canadian courts to include bribery offences committed by Canadians outside Canada. It creates an offence of leaving the jurisdiction in violation of bail conditions. It permits a province to expand the list of permitted exceptions to the prize fighting offence. It updates the legislative language of parimutuel betting provisions.

It updates the provisions on interceptions of private communications in exceptional circumstances. It reclassifies six non-violent offences as hybrid offences. Finally, it deletes provisions of the Criminal Code that are no longer valid or correct, and clarifies wording in various provisions and makes minor updates to others.

That is a long list of important issues. We support 99.9% of this list. We want to see the bill passed to committee and implemented quickly.

We would like the government to seriously recognize the wisdom of my colleague from Windsor—Tecumseh and others in the House for making an amendment on fingerprinting.

In the few minutes that I have remaining I want to talk just generally about the issue of crime and the approach that needs to be taken.

Too often, as I said earlier, we are accused of not giving prompt and swift attention to every procedure and every program presented to us by the Conservative government. Our biggest concern has to do with the fact that the government continues to take a narrow approach to the issue of crime and justice in our society today.

There is nothing wrong with putting dangerous offenders in jail and making sure they serve proper time. There is nothing wrong with making sure that we actually do everything possible to cut down on gang behaviour, drug dealing, the sex trade, and child pornography, which we just dealt with this morning, every issue that is offensive to our sense of what should and ought to be part of any kind of a civil society. Too little time in this place is spent on the root causes of crime.

I want to commend to all members in the House a study that was done in Winnipeg by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives entitled “If You Want to Change Violence in the 'Hood, You Have to Change the 'Hood: Violence and Street Gangs in Winnipeg's Inner City”. It was written by Elizabeth Comack, Lawrence Deane, Larry Morrissette and Jim Silver. What they say in one very brief phrase is that we must look at the root causes of crime as well as have the harsh consequences in place for those who commit the crime. All of the gang members who spoke to these researchers said repeatedly that we need to look at what caused them to get into a life of crime in the first place.

If we can start to look at the lack of inclusion, the poverty, the insecurity, the despair, the previous sexual violence that had been committed, and the root causes of crime, then we will have made a real difference.

I look forward to the government's approach on this very difficult and serious issue.