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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was debate.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Vancouver East (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 63% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Questions On The Order Paper February 2nd, 1998

Can the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration indicate what is the average length of time taken to process an individual citizenship request emanating from departmental offices within the Asia-Pacific rim, from initial contact with the department to final approval or refusal of application?

Questions On The Order Paper February 2nd, 1998

What is the maximum number of cases allotted to Immigration officials operating in foreign posts, specifically in the Ministry's Asia-Pacific offices (in Beijing), as regulated by administrative and departmental guidelines?

Division No. 68 December 9th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, earlier this year two reports on sexually exploited youth were released in British Columbia. In September the Downtown Eastside Youth Activity Society released a report examining the situation in the Downtown, Eastside and Strathcona neighbourhoods in my constituency of Vancouver East.

In November a similar report of the sexually exploited youth committee of the Capital Regional District released a report on the situation in Victoria and the surrounding communities.

Both reports came to a similar conclusion. That conclusion is that we cannot isolate the problem of sexually exploited youth from other problems that face our communities and our young people.

In the Victoria study, poverty and homelessness emerged as key issues. Two-thirds of the youths surveyed reported that they were afraid of not having enough money to survive. Almost half of them said that they were living on the street when they first became involved in the sex trade. One-third reported trading sexual favours for a place to sleep.

Housing and poverty were also identified as the problem in the Vancouver study. The difficulty sex trade workers have getting housing and other services contributes to their isolation and makes it harder for sexually exploited youths to get off the street.

Both studies found high levels of drug use among sexually exploited youth. In Victoria 25% were intravenous drug users. In Vancouver the figure was 75%.

The most appalling finding of the study was the number of sexually exploited youth who had been sexually abused prior to their entry into the sex trade. Between 70% and 95% of youth surveyed in Vancouver were sexually abused prior to their entry into the sex trade.

In both studies the picture painted of sexually exploited youth was one of young people who felt betrayed by society and who were struggling to survive. These young people are extremely marginalized.

We understand that there are no quick fixes. We do need solutions that make it easier for exploited youth to leave the sex trade and easier for them to survive until they make the decision to leave.

Among the measures which were put forward in these reports was a network of safe houses, a witness protection program to ensure the safety of sexually exploited youth involved in court proceedings, a change in the age of consent and changes in the law to allow more successful prosecutions against those who sexually exploit children and youth. I will be working with the local community on these particular issues in the New Year.

In addition, there are concerns about how we address some of the problems facing these youths, including homelessness and the treatment of drug addiction. Action on the solutions to these studies identified does require the active co-operation of the federal government. I would urgently ask the federal government to examine these reports with a view to assisting with solutions.

The fact is that the federal government has abandoned social housing. We have not set any targets on poverty. There is no doubt that increasing numbers of children are now at risk.

Many of the young people in the sex trade have completely lost faith with all government and with all authorities. We have to be committed to this. There have been too many reports produced and they all say the same thing, that increasing numbers of our young people are at risk.

It is time for this government to take action to provide housing, to end poverty, to provide better services, to provide better treatment programs for addiction, to assist these sexually exploited youth.

Poverty December 9th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the minister has clearly not heard what those reports are saying.

Will he at least recognize the disastrous performance of the government's youth employment strategy. Since the strategy was announced in 1996, 26,000 fewer young people are working. Instead of defending a failed strategy, will the minister put an effective plan for jobs for young people together now?

Poverty December 9th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

Today another report portrays the tragedy of a million and a half Canadian children living in poverty.

Last week it was food bank usage that doubled. The week before it was child poverty that had increased 58%. They all say that the child benefit is woefully inadequate.

In negotiations with ministers, will the Prime Minister commit to real targets to eliminate poverty and provide the resources to meet those targets?

Division No. 49 December 2nd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Winnipeg—Transcona.

I thank my colleague from the Bloc Quebecois for his very good comments. We agree with just about everything he has said. It is good that the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP stand in solidarity together in the House today to defend workers rights. This has truly been an historic day in terms of back to work legislation.

I would like to speak on several aspects of the back to work legislation, Bill C-24. I want to deal with the question of why the legislation became necessary in the first place. Back to work legislation would not have even been contemplated if the government had the political will and the principle to make the collective bargaining process work.

If the government were committed to Canada Post as a public corporation, we would not be here today debating this very draconian back to work legislation.

As we learn more about what has happened, what has really taken place in the last few weeks and months and now during the nine days of the strike, it becomes clearer and clearer that the minister and the government have had a secret agenda. The direction of the government has been toward back to work legislation.

There is no question that all of us as parliamentarians have heard the very deep concern from our constituents, from businesses, from pensioners, and from other Canadians who rely on the very necessary public service of Canada Post. We understand those concerns.

Why has the situation deteriorated so badly? Why are we now in a state of affairs where the government has rushed forward with back to work legislation?

The fundamental role and mandate of Canada Post are at issue. The government has created a financial and management crisis. When we look at the evidence we see that the government has demanded Canada Post to pay dividends or, let us say it, to pay profits. This public corporation must pay profits of over $200 million over five years.

This flies in the face of what the government said in 1990 when in opposition. At that time it said that Canada Post should be instructed to generate only operating profits necessary to meet its own capital investment needs required to maintain and improve services. That is what the Liberals said in 1990 when they were defending and supporting a public corporation, but now they have changed their tune.

To understand the government's real agenda is to understand why we are here tonight faced with the legislation. My colleagues and I suggest that the government is setting the stage for further privatization. It is deliberately setting the stage to allow Canada Post to be run into the ground. The government has demanded high profits and has already created a two tier system of mail delivery.

For example, we have all witnessed the tragedy of Canada Post. It has closed over 1,700 public post offices in rural areas and 175 public post offices in urban areas. We have already seen the massive privatization that has taken place.

The government is deliberately destabilizing the credibility of the corporation to create a political environment to undermine Canada Post workers and to move forward on its agenda of privatization.

Members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers have a legitimate interest to protect the jobs of their members and to secure full time work.

Is it not strange that parliamentarians, including the members of the government, profess concern about high unemployment? Members of CUPW are fighting tooth and nail to retain jobs in a critical Canadian public service. What do they get? They get legislation that slams them, legislation that ties the hands of an arbitrator to force feed the government's agenda. To add insult to injury the legislation imposes a wage settlement that is actually less than what was on the bargaining table.

The legislation is very draconian and has fines of $50,000 and even $100,000 per day. We have to stop blaming workers. We have to demand that the government act responsibly as an employer. It has already shown that it does not care about pay equity after 13 years. Now it has abandoned collective bargaining as well in its drive to destabilize Canada Post at the expense of workers.

It is essential for the government to seriously address the longstanding grievances of Canada Post and support the development of a positive labour-management climate designed to bring stability to the corporation and its workers.

The back to work legislation is draconian. It is heavy handed and shows the government's real agenda. Our amendment today has been a real effort to bring some fairness to the legislation. In the final analysis we in the NDP reject the back to work legislation. We support the rights of workers to collective bargaining and to strike. We also support the development of a healthy public corporation and the best postal service for all Canadians.

Education December 1st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

Last week in speaking to students at Carleton University, the premier of B.C. spoke out boldly and called on Ottawa and the provinces to work together to freeze tuition fees and reduce growing student debt. B.C. has already led the way in freezing tuition fees.

Will the minister support the B.C. initiative and admit that government must put the brakes on tuition fees and restore government funding now?

Division No. 33 December 1st, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the group 6 amendments and to the changes to the Canada pension plan and the creation of the investment board.

As a new member of the House, like many other new members of the House, it is sometimes a daunting process to go through a bill such as this and to try to make sense of what the bill is really trying to accomplish and what the impact of the changes will really be on Canadians.

Having gone through the bill and listened to debate in the House and having spoken to the member for Qu'Appelle, who is our expert on this matter, we find ourselves at report stage today with an overriding concern that Bill C-2 will endanger the security of retirement for many Canadians.

The problem with this bill is that it will create winners and losers. We have to ask ourselves who will be the winners in terms of changing the Canada pension plan.

When we look at the bill we see that the winner will definitely be the private sector. It will have a huge financial windfall as a result of increasing privatization. Even the business section of the Globe and Mail took note that the changes to the Canada pension plan were a huge financial windfall for the private sector. The privatization of the administration of the plan will create approximately $500 million in commissions for the private sector. It is unconscionable and should not be allowed to happen.

The section question is who will be the losers as a result of the changes to the Canada pension plan. It has been very well evidenced in debate by witnesses before committee and in motions and amendments put forward that the losers under the bill will be women, people with disabilities, widows, widowers and retirees generally. We have to be very clear and frank about the bill. It is about reducing benefits for people with disabilities, survivor benefits to widows and widowers and the ongoing privatization of the Canada pension plan.

For example, even the 16th actuarial report projects that CPP spending reduction on disability benefits by the year 2005 will be over $1 billion. There is no getting away from that. The changes being put forward by the government in the bill are a clear attempt to reduce benefits to those with disabilities who collect Canada pension.

The reality is that those retirees will be hit disproportionately higher than any other component as a result of the Canada pension plan changes. This raises a serious question about the social equity of the plan and the fact that there will be more losers. It will also create greater hardship or inaccessibility for Canadians with disabilities.

The survivors benefit will also be reduced. The amendments of the member for Qu'Appelle address the issues and mitigate the damage that will be created if the bill goes ahead. Widows and widowers who are disabled will also have reduced combined benefits. This is a shocking state of affairs that needs to be brought to the attention of the public.

The second major concern of the New Democratic Party that our amendments speak to is that the changes in the bill will force Canadians to rely more and more on private arrangements, on privatized pension plans. We need to address the reality of working people who cannot afford to buy into private pension plans such as RRSPs. This is another giveaway to the private sector by privatizing the plan and forcing more and more people into a private arrangement.

There is a very serious concern that the bill undermines and erodes the universality and the accessibility of our public pension plan. If we talk to Canadians in our local constituencies, at community meetings or associations that represent seniors, they all tell us that one thing they have been proud of in this country is the fact that we have stood behind and strengthened our universal accessible pension plan over the years.

We now stand at a moment in history where that universality and that proud history of Canada are about to be changed forever if the bill goes ahead without the critical amendments that have been put forward.

The bottom line is that this crisis has been deliberately staged to undermine the credibility of the Canada pension plan, as we move toward more and more privatization, and to create a huge windfall for the private sector.

The amendments of the New Democratic Party balance the scales and ensure that Canadians who pay into the Canada pension plan and rely on it for the future will not be losers.

The motions before the House today deserve our serious consideration if we truly and genuinely believe we want to protect, strengthen and enhance our public pension system. If that is what the bill is about these motions must be approved, but we have a great fear that what is at work here is the government's agenda to create winners and losers, to further provide privatization of the Canada pension plan, and to erode the universality of the plan.

I speak in favour of the amendments proposed by the New Democratic Party. It is an important set of amendments that will seek to mitigate the damage being created by Bill C-2.

Child Poverty November 27th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, that is not acceptable. The federal government is behaving like the schoolyard bully who takes the weak's lunch money and then feels he deserves a reward for buying a small milk. By refusing to index the child tax benefit, the government is allowing it to slowly fade away.

Will the government as a first step commit to fully indexing the child tax benefit?

Child Poverty November 27th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the prime minister.

This morning Campaign 2000 released its report card on child poverty, confirming that child poverty has increased by 58% since 1989. It demonstrates the appalling record of the government on child poverty.

Government talk is cheap considering that the funding for programs our children need has not been there. The new child tax benefit does not even replace what the government has already cut.

Will the prime minister commit now to restoring these cuts?