House of Commons photo

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

Apec November 26th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I was proud to attend the APEC people's summit held in Vancouver from November 17 to 24 with my NDP colleagues, the member for Burnaby—Douglas and the member for Winnipeg Centre.

This gathering of representatives of NGOs, labour, environment, women and aboriginal peoples discussed critical concerns about the impact of trade liberalization and globalized corporate power. We heard powerful testimony about the terrible working conditions and denial of basic human rights.

APEC's agenda of unrestricted corporate trade and control is increasing the exploitation of people and the environment. The right to food, shelter, a living wage, political and civil liberties and protection of the environment must be our priorities.

What comes out of the people's summit is a strong commitment to a vision for action based on meeting our human needs and putting people before profits.

Post-Secondary Education November 25th, 1997

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

Last week students at Carleton University heard that as many as 13 programs could be cut. Students protested against the cuts yesterday and know the role the federal government is playing in the slow destruction of education.

Since 1995 alone $1.5 billion has been taken from post-secondary education. Students at Carleton and across Canada want to know when the government will listen to students and restore funding to education.

Youth November 6th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice.

Yesterday the city of Victoria released a critical report on the problem of sexually exploited youth, many of whom trade in sex for the basic necessities of survival. This issue has been of serious concern for years but has been too often ignored.

Will the minister commit to review and act upon these urgent recommendations?

Criminal Code November 5th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-209 brought forward by the member for Fraser Valley outlines the member's concerns about the serious increase in and problems with joyriding and car theft. No one would question the concerns and the seriousness we have seen in Canada with the growing problem of car thefts which the bill seeks to address.

Between 1990 and 1994 the number of car thefts increased by over 40,000 and the number of vehicles stolen per 1,000 registrations increased by 50%. It is generally known in the community that most car thefts are used for joyriding, in fact something like three-quarters.

There is a concern in the community that dangerous behaviour associated with joyriding makes it a threat to the safety of not only the police but the public and often tragically the joyriders themselves. Probably most of us are aware of various instances and circumstances that have taken place in our local communities and neighbourhoods which involve joyriding and often result in serious injury or even death.

In addressing this bill, which is non-votable and being debated for the record, there is also widespread agreement that we really need to examine new ways of dealing with crimes by young offenders.

In the NDP we believe very strongly—and there is a growing sense in the community—that we need to promote a renewed sense of social responsibility. Our focus must be on finding ways of making young offenders aware of the consequences of their actions. That is important but most important is that the information and studies that have been done show the most critical actions we can take and the most effective things we can engage in are crime prevention and addressing the underlying issues which drive young people to antisocial behaviour and criminal activities.

Unless we can understand the issues and provide the resources and tools to local communities to address underlying issues of antisocial behaviour and crime, the NDP believes that we will not make much progress.

There are different opinions on how we have to build a sense of responsibility among young offenders. Certainly for the member from the Fraser Valley the idea of minimum penalties for joyriding requiring parents to pay for their children's actions is seen as the way to go.

The bill before the House sets out a minimum penalty of a $1,000 fine or six months in prison. It also stipulates that parents or guardians could be required to pay the fines or other penalties incurred by their children if it was felt somehow that their neglect of parenting duties resulted in the child committing the offence.

The problem with this approach is that there is little or no evidence to show that increasing penalties will actually work and will actually deal with the issue of joyriding or many of the other issues facing us in terms of increasing crime among young people.

To talk about the position of the Reform Party and how it has approached this issue and issues it has raised around crime and punishment, commenting in the Alberta Report on the problem of car theft in the city of Regina, the member for Calgary Northeast suggested that without incarceration young punks have nothing to fear.

That member ignored that Saskatchewan already incarcerates a higher proportion of youth than most provinces and has now recognized that it has not reduced crime. Simply criminalizing young people, throwing them in jail and increasing fines, has not dealt with the issue most people would recognize as a problem.

Fortunately for the city of Regina, the Government of Saskatchewan has recognized the limitations of the approach of the Reform Party and what it is advocating. It is looking at more effective ways as one province, and certainly in my province of British Columbia, of dealing with the situation of young offenders.

It is also very questionable whether simply holding parents responsible for the actions of their children will actually impact young people and make them consider the consequences of their own actions. There are cases where better parenting may have prevented the child from committing an offence. However, the more important point is that if the relationship between the parent and the child is so bad that the courts feel the parents have failed, it is not clear at all and there is no evidence to suggest that penalizing the parent will improve the situation.

It is important to point out that according to the National Crime Prevention Council, 97% of young people in custody have suffered abuse at the hands of a trusted authority figure. That is a very startling figure. It should lead us to be very suspicious of superficial approaches put forward by the Reform Party. It should lead us to understand that these approaches have failed.

When looking at the bill we must ask ourselves how we will address the problem by having parents pay their children's fines. Holding parents responsible, even in a limited sense, for the crimes of their children sends out a wrong message.

When dealing with young people who have committed crimes, the goal should be to persuade them to take responsibility for their actions and to prevent these actions from taking place in the first place. Holding responsible someone other than the person who committed the crime seems to us to be a step removed from the objective.

The main problem with the bill is that we cannot deal with issues like joyriding in isolation. We must address the social and economic conditions that cause these acts of antisocial behaviour, criminal acts in the first place. We must also find more effective socially responsible ways to deal with young offenders.

Criminal activity by our young people does not happen in a vacuum. While it is important to state that each individual, whether a young person of 18 years of age or an adult, is responsible for his or her actions, we must recognize that there are societal factors at work which often push young people toward criminal activity. If young people grow up in poor circumstances and in an environment that shows little respect for the rights and needs of children, we should not be surprised that children grow up not respecting society's rules.

One approach that is having some impact in terms of dealing with young offenders rather than jail sentences or penalties is to deal with restorative justice. The objective is to bring about understanding and recognition of the damage that has been done to a victim or to a community at large.

In a program in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, local businesses allow young offenders to pay their fines by working at the local businesses. There is an attempt to bring about better understanding of the crime that has taken place. While some have criticized restorative justice or diversion programs as letting people off scot-free, the fact is the results are positive. At the Maple Ridge program only 6% of the participants reoffended in the following year.

We believe in the NDP that we need to understand the risk factors that increase the chances of a young person being victimized or engaging in antisocial behaviour. We need to ensure early prevention for high risk youth. We need to ensure we are investing in education. We need to ensure families have good support in the community. We need to ensure families have good paying jobs and that there are family friendly workplaces.

Our concern with the bill is that the approach of the Reform Party is to further criminalize young people. This is no answer. It is an answer that may pander to the concerns of the community and may offer a very superficial response, but it does not deal with the underlying issues at work in terms of young people at risk.

We do not agree with the bill and suggest that it is a short-sighted measured to deal with what is a very serious problem.

Petitions November 5th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition to present today calling on the government to end the legal approval of corporal punishment of children by repealing section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Criminal Code November 5th, 1997

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-276, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children).

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table a bill today, the purpose of which is to repeal section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada. Section 43 allows corporal punishment of children by parents and teachers.

I believe that section 43 contravenes the charter of rights and freedoms and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

We hear a lot about societal violence and abuse of children. This section of the Criminal Code legally sanctions corporal punishment which leads to the physical and emotional injury of children.

It is high time that this section of the Criminal Code was repealed to make it clear that this ancient law no longer has a place in a society that upholds and values the rights of children.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Telecommunications Act November 4th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, very briefly I think it comes down to a question of priorities. The priority for the NDP is to ensure that Canadians have good jobs. We have seen a drastic decline in that regard under the Liberal government.

What the Reform Party has offered in that regard has been no different from that offered by the Liberal Party.

Telecommunications Act November 4th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, it is really unfortunate that the member would dismiss another point of view and other arguments as somehow being a fantasy. If the member would listen closely to what really is now developing as a huge concern for Canadians about the impact of trade liberalization, then the member would not be so quick to judge that these concerns are somehow a fantasy or should not be taken seriously.

Second, if the member had been listening closely he would have heard that what was being advanced in our comments on the bill was the need for international institutions that have the ability to also provide regulations. We are facing globalization. Therefore, the issue before us is how to ensure that there is a level playing field and that Canadians do not lose out in the short run as well as the long run.

The member needs to listen carefully to what is actually being put forward.

Telecommunications Act November 4th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.

Part of the problem we are witnessing is that with agreements like NAFTA and now the MAI there will be no rules about the movement of capital around the world where huge profits are being made. There is more than enough evidence to show that very large corporations are making record profits at the expense of jobs. There needs to be in the context of a globalized economy some international institutions and structures that have the ability to ensure that windfall profits are recouped for public benefit.

If the member cannot understand that and understand that we are talking about a matter of financial and social equity, then I guess we have a very different view of how things should operate.

We in the NDP see that under the trade liberalization we are transferring power to very powerful corporations that have absolutely no accountability. There are some very undemocratic organizations. Who are they accountable to? Not to governments, not to the people of Canada or any country. The very real issue is whether they are creating jobs in the long run. There is a small percentage of people who are making enormous profits at the expense of millions of ordinary people, workers who are getting low wages or people who have been thrown out of work. That is why we need to have a fair and open system where we can ensure that windfall profits are properly taxed.

Telecommunications Act November 4th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. Clearly we have a strong difference of opinion on the effect of trade liberalization on Canadians, Canadian jobs and Canadian companies.

I argue very strongly that deregulation is part of a global agenda that is driving us in a direction where larger corporations, multinational corporations, transnational corporations are gaining greater control. The overall effect of that has not been to create jobs.

We are in favour of fair competition. We are in favour of regulation that sets a level playing field. That is not what NAFTA and FTA are about. That is not what the MAI is about. MAI and these trade liberalization agreements are about corporate rule. They are about giving more power to corporations and driving down wages, ensuring that basically there are no environmental standards left.

If the member is arguing that is good for his constituents, I would argue the opposite. Canada has had a long tradition in the shipbuilding industry in the province of British Columbia, in the member's riding and in my riding of Vancouver East. We want to see a government committed to industrial infrastructure and to manufacturing. We have all kinds of workers with the skills and knowledge to create a shipbuilding industry who have been dumped out of work through agreements like NAFTA, the FTA and now the MAI.

The facts show a different story in terms of what has happened in our economy.