House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was military.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Conservative MP for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2021, with 42% of the vote.

Statements in the House

National Defence April 14th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, so the Prime Minister maintains there has been no wrongdoing by his government as the military failed to eradicate sexual misconduct in its ranks. After being made aware of the allegations against General Vance in 2018, the Clerk of the Privy Council gave the Prime Minister a plan to replace him before the last election. Instead, the Prime Minister chose to reward him and make him the longest-serving chief of the defence staff ever.

Will the Prime Minister admit that he failed women in the military?

National Defence April 14th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals, with support from the Bloc, have shut down the investigation into abuse of power and sexual misconduct at the highest levels in the Canadian Armed Forces. Key witnesses have not appeared, critical information has not been provided and we still do not know how a CDS could remain in his position for three years with unresolved allegations of sexual misconduct against him. The Prime Minister may not care, but this matters to Canadians.

Will the Prime Minister admit he has failed women in the military?

Business of Supply March 25th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important motion before the House today, one that should make Canadians very concerned. It is a motion that should never have had to come before this House. The fact that we, as opposition members, have been left with no other choice but to bring it forward is as important as the motion itself.

The motion is to direct the government to provide the support committees require to carry out their important work, essentially to instruct the government to provide documents and political staff witnesses for the conflict of interest in lobbying in relation to the pandemic spending study and to instruct Zita Astravas, the former chief of staff to the Minister of National Defence and director of issues management for the Prime Minister, and the current chief of staff to the Minister of Public Safety, to appear at the national defence committee for its study on addressing sexual misconduct issues in the Canadian Forces.

Canadians could be forgiven if, after hearing this, they said, “That seems incredibly reasonable. Two House of Commons committees need to hear from critical parliamentary staff to do their work. That makes sense. Why wouldn't they...? Hang on; what is really going on?“

That is why this is such an important motion: It is because this motion is not a root cause but a symptom of something much bigger, something that speaks to some of our fundamental assumptions around the system of government and the values we hold dear.

The defence committee is conducting a study on addressing sexual misconduct issues in our Canadian Armed Forces, including the serious allegations against General Vance, the highest-ranking member in the Canadian Armed Forces, the chief of the defence staff. At the heart of the matter is that it appears that the defence minister, his staff—then Zita Astravas—officials in the Privy Council Office, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office and possibly the Prime Minister himself knew of these serious allegations in March of 2018 and took no action for three years.

No investigation was carried out. General Vance was not suspended. Worse still, in May 2019 the Prime Minister signed an order in council to give General Vance a salary raise to $306,000 a year. General Vance retired as CDS in January of this year, and these allegations have yet to be resolved. A replacement CDS was appointed, and he is now facing allegations of sexual misconduct and has stepped aside from his position during the investigation.

Further, Canadians have learned through numerous media reports that allegations of sexual assault and misconduct in the military have been ignored, investigations have been shut down, critical testimony and evidence have been lost, and charges have been dropped.

Tragically, these are not isolated incidents but a reflection of a much more damaging systematic problem.

A similar report from Justice Deschamps on the misogynistic and toxic culture within the Canadian Armed Forces was published in 2015.

Operation Honour, a military campaign designed to end sexual violence, harassment and misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces, was created. General Vance, who led this operation, was responsible for eliminating the very acts that he himself is now accused of.

The Minister of National Defence was aware of this in 2018 but did nothing. That is the reason for today's motion, and it is why it is so important to hear from Zita Astravas, the former chief of staff for the Minister of National Defence. We need to know what she knew, when she knew it and what she did about it.

We will not be able to make any long-lasting changes to the military's culture if we cannot understand the full scope of the problem and if we do not know where, exactly, things went wrong.

A military stands to defend the values of the nation, but it must also embody them. If the defence minister does not hold the military accountable to those values, including the ability for all members to serve equally with honour, free from sexual assault and discrimination, then who will? If the House of Commons committees cannot do the work to hold cabinet ministers accountable, who else can?

While this motion is about mandating that committees can hear from critical witnesses, it is about much more than that. It is about the fundamental values and foundations of our society. When it comes to ensuring conduct of the highest level in the Canadian Armed Forces, the defence minister says it is not up to him, and the Prime Minister has said that it is not up to him. If it is not up to them, then who is responsible? If they will not act in the best interests of Canadians, who will?

The ends cannot justify the means. Every act at every step must be honourable and carried out with integrity, or the end itself is compromised. Democracy is fragile and is only as strong as the trust and confidence that Canadians place in all of us, their elected officials. That trust is hard won and easily lost.

I strongly urge all of my colleagues in the House to honour the trust that Canadians have placed in them by voting in favour of this motion to ensure that committees can hold the government to account, and in doing so deliver a better Canada for all.

National Defence March 25th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, Canadians continue to learn that far too many military members who have experienced sexual assault and misconduct remain trapped in a culture where their voices go unheard. Bill C-77 protects in law the anonymity and security of victims and witnesses in these cases, but failure to implement this critical charter has allowed serious allegations to be ignored, investigations to be shut down and charges to be dropped.

Why has the defence minister, for two years, failed to ensure that the charter of victims in the armed forces is enforced?

National Defence March 25th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, all military members need to be able to report abuse of power and sexual misconduct, confident in the knowledge that they will not suffer further abuse or reprisal. The passing of Bill C-77 in 2019 ensured that the privacy and security of victims within the Canadian Armed Forces was protected in law. However, this key legislation has not been implemented or enforced. Those who come forward still suffer. Why has the defence minister failed to implement the charter of victims in the armed forces?

National Defence March 24th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is defiant that he has consistently got it right for the men and women in uniform, but he failed to have General Vance suspended or allegations against him investigated. Worse still, he approved a salary increase of $50,000 for him. He approved a replacement chief of the defence staff who also stands accused of sexual misconduct, and he continues to support a defence minister who has failed in his sworn duties.

When will the Prime Minister hold senior officers accountable, starting with the defence minister?

National Defence March 24th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, under the Prime Minister, sexual misconduct at the highest levels of our Canadian Armed Forces continues unchecked. Serious allegations are ignored, investigations are shut down, critical evidence is lost and charges are dropped. Those who are complicit through their actions or their silence remain in senior positions. The government’s consistent failure to act begins and ends with the Prime Minister.

What did the Prime Minister know and when did he know it?

Opposition Motion—Plan for Reopening the Economy March 23rd, 2021

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important topic.

We are not saying, in any way, shape or form, that lockdowns do not have an important health responsibility and consequence. What we are saying is that there can be no economic recovery without opening up the country at some point, when it is safe to do so. What Canadians need to understand is what those conditions are and when that opening can begin.

This motion is asking the government for a plan. It asks under what conditions, and when, we will be able to open the economy, because our businesses, large and small, need to know what those conditions are.

Is my hon. colleague against there being a plan for when we might be able to reopen the economy?

National Defence March 22nd, 2021

Mr. Speaker, understanding who knew what, and when, with regard to sexual misconduct allegations against the former chief of the defence staff is critical to achieving a Canadian Armed Forces where women can serve equally and without fear. As a public servant, Zita Astravas is in service to Canadians. As the former chief of staff to the defence minister, her testimony is required for the defence committee to do its work.

Will the public safety minister confirm when his chief of staff, Zita Astravas, will testify at committee?

National Defence March 22nd, 2021

Mr. Speaker, the Standing Committee on National Defence is looking at serious allegations of sexual misconduct within our Canadian Armed Forces.

These testimonies are important, both for the committee and for the public. However, Zita Astravas, the former chief of staff of the Minister of National Defence refuses to appear.

Can the Minister of Public Safety confirm that his current chief of staff, Zita Astravas, will appear before the Standing Committee on National Defence?