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

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act November 17th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. Liberal colleague's reasoning is completely wrong. It is unbelievable. The Bloc Québécois member was quite right when she said we need to have some guarantees and promises that a country will respect human rights before we sign a free trade agreement. What the Liberals, like the hon. member for Kings—Hants, are saying is unbelievable, namely, that this free trade agreement could improve the situation regarding human rights abuses and social injustices. How can anyone agree with that argument? It is absolutely unbelievable.

Do we not need to absolutely assure Canadians and Colombians that we will demand that human rights be protected before signing any agreements or accords with that country?

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act November 17th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating my colleague from the Bloc for his excellent remarks on this very serious subject. It is unbelievable, is it not, that the government should be concluding an agreement with Colombia, a country where there are so many murders, cases of torture and violations of human rights?

I put this question to my colleague. How can anyone explain the support of the Liberals and Conservatives for such a terrible bill?

In the name of humanity and all that is just, how can anyone explain a treaty with a country where there are so many murders? As the facts put forth by the member show, since 2008, the number of murders has been increasing. It is 18% higher than the year before. The use of torture is systemic and widespread and workers’ rights are constantly threatened.

How can he explain the support of the Liberals and Conservatives for this bill?

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act November 17th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by thanking my colleague, the member for Hamilton Centre, for his very passionate remarks about a serious issue.

I can only imagine how much it pains him, having sat through the Mike Harris government and seeing that province dismantled bit by bit, to be now here in the House of Commons and to see the same bunch do the same thing to our country and the values that Canadians hold near and dear.

However, I am curious to know how he feels about another party in the House, the Liberals, who have acted in complicity with the Conservatives on this very serious issue, and whether he can justify the party of Laurier, the party of Pearson, the party of Trudeau now standing in the House today and saying that there is no such thing as torture in Colombia, that trade unionists are not being murdered, that human rights are not being abrogated, that women and girls are not being raped.

Could he square this circle in terms of Liberals who suggest, as the member for Kings—Hants has, that paramilitary forces murdering union leaders is in fact a falsehood? Could he help us to understand where the Liberals are at and why in the world they would be supporting the Conservatives with such a right-wing ideology?

Government Appointments November 16th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, the health minister has appointed a Pfizer VP to the Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Having Dr. Bernard Prigent sit on the council is extremely alarming and should never have happened in the first place.

Having drug companies advise the government is like having the big bad wolf advising the three little pigs on how to build their homes.

Does the health minister have the common sense to see this as a huge conflict of interest and reverse the appointment?

Health November 5th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of Canadians everywhere, I say to the minister, stop the broken record, stop the blame game and start acting on behalf of parents who are worried about their children.

In fact, the government has offered no leadership while the provinces have had to work with less vaccine than promised and cut back drastically on a day's notice. Next week they will again be shortchanged on supply.

When will the government become a reliable ally in the fight against H1N1?

Health November 5th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are worried about their children and their families in the face of the H1N1 pandemic. They wonder why it is taking so long to get the vaccine and why their government is not doing its job.

Either the government is hoarding 1.8 million doses or they are a figment of the government's imagination because they are not getting to the provinces. Manitoba, for example, has just been told that its supply for next week will be 10 times less than was promised or than can be delivered.

So, without blaming anyone, what is the government doing to fix the problem?

Business of Supply November 4th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, it appears that I have about five minutes left in the debate to give a perspective that I think has been missing from some of the discussion today.

First, I want to thank the Liberals for bringing forward this motion, part of their opposition day debate. I want to say to them that it is probably important for the Liberals in the House to answer questions, more than the Conservatives.

We have identified one of the root causes of the problems we have faced over the last few days to be the fact that we have in place a single source contract that was signed by the Liberals, Prime Minister Chrétien at the helm, at cabinet in 2001 with the company that preceded GlaxoSmithKline, Shire Biologics for $325 million.

That was 2001, when of course we were in the middle of the sponsorship scandal. That was 2001, when the Liberal government at the time suggested that there had to be a company funded in Quebec, thereby excluding most other possible bidders. As a result, a single source contract for producing all pandemic vaccines went to one company, Shire Biologics.

I raise this because I want the Liberals to account for it. I want their members to know and members in the House to know that Canadians are standing in line for vaccination that they believe is necessary for the health and well-being of themselves and their children, who are worried to death about not being able to get the vaccine for asthmatic children, and who are fearful as pregnant women about what, when and how they will get the protection they need. I want Canadians to know the true story, that behind this problem, behind much of the difficulties that we are faced with today, was a decision made by the Liberals eight years ago for political purposes, it would appear.

I am not here making generalizations or casting aspersions, but it would appear that, in fact, there were political reasons for the decision that was made back then and we are paying the price today. It is infuriating for Canadians to realize that the lineups, the lack of access to the vaccine, can be traced back to the fact that we have a single source contract.

I would like to remind the House about the expert testimony we received at the health committee, and the Liberals were there to hear this, from the company that did not get any contract from the government for producing the pandemic vaccine, and that is Sanofi Pasteur. Dr. Rob Van Exan, who came to our committee, said the following:

My comments were based on the fact that we have had a two-supplier process in Canada for the regular seasonal vaccines since 1992, which predates GSK's involvement in this. I've been with Connaught for 30 years, so I remember this. In fact, Connaught was one of the ones that instigated and negotiated the two-supplier system--

He went on to say:

This is a much trickier vaccine to produce on a seasonal basis than any other. The concerns are not only with the virus changing. What about the source of eggs, and what about viruses getting into the eggs or into the chickens? There are so many places for something to go wrong.

That is why we must have a two supplier contract. Why? That is the first question.

How do we fix the problem? The government has suggested that perhaps it will start looking at a two supplier scenario once again, but it is a little too late, is it not? Why did the government, when it was faced with the knowledge of these problems and the single source contract, and the inability to meet demand as it had predicted, not make changes to the contract, not do something to enhance the production of the vaccine?

Maybe it has to do with the fact that the Conservatives are playing the same kinds of games as the Liberals. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the chief lobbyist for GlaxoSmitKline is Ken Boessenkool, who is a well-known Conservative, a close friend of the Prime Minister's, who served as policy and communications adviser when the Prime Minister was doing his leadership bid, and who more recently became a lobbyist for GSK.

Is it possible that the government did not intervene because the most current version of this drug company was busy lobbying the government and trying to keep hold of this single source of production?

I raise other concerns that we have faced within the last few days that gall Canadians. They now realize that there have been 101 deaths, six since last Thursday when the supply of vaccine dried up and mass immunization clinics across this country were closed. Provinces had to say to people on the priority list that they did not have the vaccine to help them.

I want the House to know that Canadians are galled by the fact that there are Canadians in this country who can go to Medcan, a private clinic in Toronto, or Copeman in Vancouver and get the vaccine they need and want because they have paid $4,000 a year for a membership and are therefore entitled to it.

I thought Conservatives were against that kind of elite access. I thought Conservatives were going to stop the kind of nonsense we saw from Liberals with their entitlements.

Why did the Conservatives not ensure that no private clinic would be able to access this vaccine, and why was the Canada Health Act not upheld?

I also wonder why the government has not been able to present a coordinated strategy with one communication message across this country showing that the vaccine is available and that the government is prepared to do whatever is necessary to save people's lives and to ensure that people get the vaccine they need when they need it.

Product Safety November 4th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, it is true there is a bill that we supported. We actually worked to amend and strengthen it. It is stuck in the Senate. That is a problem.

The fact of the matter is we do not need a new law to ban toys with toxic substances that the government has already banned.

My question is simply, will the government immediately remove these toxic toys from the store shelves?

Product Safety November 4th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats have been trying to get lead and phthalates out of children's toys for over a decade.

Yesterday the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development issued another report showing that the government still is not protecting children from dangerous and toxic substances. The report is very disturbing to Canadian parents who have heard the government talk about this for a long time and are very disappointed that it still has not taken action.

Why does the government continue to fail to protect our children? What does it say to parents heading out to buy toys during this holiday season?

Health November 3rd, 2009

Mr. Speaker, maybe if the committee had met even once, it would have come across this disturbing fact.

The contract for pandemic vaccine for 10 years was awarded by the Liberal government to a single company in 2001, Shire Biologics, which was, in turn, sold to GlaxoSmithKline. Getting 50 million doses from one company is like trying to fill 50 million cups of water from the same tap.

The Prime Minister's old friend, Ken Boessenkool, is now a lobbyist for GSK. Is he the person who has been reassuring the government that GSK would have no problem delivering a speedy supply of the vaccine?