House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was environmental.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Edmonton Strathcona (Alberta)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 44% of the vote.

Statements in the House

An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families March 19th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, it is good that we finally get to debate the bill, although there is great concern that we have the budget coming down this afternoon and we presume there will not be any new monies because we do not have this enacted yet.

More an a year and a half ago, the former attorney general undertook that going forward all federal legislation would incorporate the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, yet here we again have a bill directly impacting indigenous Canadians and it simply stops at the preamble that is non-binding.

Why does the government still refuse to make the United Nations declaration binding in Canadian law?

Committees of the House March 19th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, for anybody watching this debate, I am sure it is not with great amusement.

The Liberals object to opposition members not talking about the Champlain Bridge, but they are definitely not talking about the Champlain Bridge when they stand to speak on this matter. They are talking about everything from Islamophobia to who knows what. The incredible thing is that the government has asserted its powers over and over again at committee and in this place to cut off debate. Liberals have the power to move a motion to adjourn the debate and go to the orders of the day. In this particular instance, they claim their priority is to talk about Bill C-92, yet they have sat there for how many hours now, choosing not to assert those powers for what they claim is a top priority: the rights and interests of indigenous children in Canada.

The big question I would put to my colleague is this. Why do the Liberals not want to talk about the Champlain Bridge and if they do not want to talk about the Champlain Bridge, why are they not asserting their powers in this instance instead of asserting their powers to shut down discussion about SNC-Lavalin at committee?

Petitions March 18th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from Canadians who are concerned about the lack of action on eye health and vision care.

The petitioners are calling on the government to commit to acknowledging eye health and vision care as a growing public health issue, particularly with Canada's vulnerable populations of children, seniors, diabetics and indigenous people, through a national framework for action to promote eye health and vision care.

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 March 18th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, when Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed last week, Yusuf Abdullahi lost his sister, Amina Ibrahim Odowa, and her five-year-old daughter, Sofia Abdulkadir, both Edmontonians.

Yesterday, Abdullahi attended a candlelight vigil alongside dozens of Edmontonians to honour his family and the other 155 passengers aboard the Ethiopian Airlines flight. The same vigil commemorated the victims of Friday's mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand. Fifty people were killed in the attacks and dozens more were injured.

Mr. Adbdullahi remarked that “Every family is going through pain. The families of those people who were killed in the mosque, they are going through the same pain I went through, my family went through.”

Also lost in the crash was former Edmonton resident, Darcy Belanger, and other Canadians headed to the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, to aid projects or to go to family reunions.

On behalf of the NDP, I offer our deepest condolences to all those who have lost family, friends and loved ones as a result of this tragedy.

Housing March 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, Edmonton's mayor, Don Iveson, is asking for $1.2 billion over five years for 5,000 new affordable housing units to begin to fill the need.

Our city's non-profit housing provider working group says over 48,000 households are in need. More than 22,000 of those spend more than half of their gross income on housing, putting them at risk of paying for their home or their essentials. Many of these projects are shovel ready, with land secured and buildings designed. All that is missing is for the government to release the federal dollars now. Will it?

Wood Buffalo National Park March 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the World Heritage Committee, after an investigation requested by the Mikisew Cree, found the government failing to address significant threats to Wood Buffalo National Park, a world heritage site. In response, the government allocated a pathetic $27.5 million over five years, a sum its own officials deemed inadequate. Put in perspective, the government paid 200% more just to pave a road in the park.

For decades, federal governments have failed to provide leadership in preventing or addressing mounting damage caused by dams and oil sands projects to the Peace-Athabasca Delta, the life source of this treasured heritage site. The iconic woodland caribou, bison and whooping cranes are at risk.

The government announced, and wait for this, a fund so communities can bring people together to protect species at risk.

How many more court cases will it take to get the government to comply with the law? Do the Liberals really want this world heritage site de-listed under its watch? So much for honouring the treaties. So much for a commitment to preserving natural heritage.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act March 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I would appreciate if the member would correct the slight he made to my colleague.

The Hon. Kim Pate, senator and former long-standing head of the Elizabeth Fry Society and who received the Order of Canada for her work against segregation in prisons, said two days ago that Bill C-83 could have been made meaningful. Instead of just changing the name, the government could have made significant changes by including provisions that would allow for the transfer of those who had mental problems to mental health facilities. I wonder if the member could speak to that.

Would the legislation really resolve the problem we face where so many have been put in segregation and suffer severe mental problems? There are other solutions? I have worked with many people in the criminal law field. I have been to those facilities of incarceration. The Hon. Kim Pate is a person whose advice should be considered.

Bills of Exchange Act February 28th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, it is my absolute honour to rise today in support of Bill C-369.

It is also my honour to recognize that we are gathering today on the unceded territories of the Algonquin peoples.

This bill has been tabled by my colleague, the member of Parliament for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River. I wish to share here that I witnessed how powerful it was for her to finally deliver her first speech on another bill in her Dene language, a language shared by many in her riding and across our northern communities. Having travelled with her in her northern Saskatchewan riding last summer, I can attest to how important it is that she can now finally speak in this place in one of the indigenous languages spoken by her constituents back home. What a joy it was to experience her in her community with her fellow community members, speaking their indigenous languages.

The intention of this bill is to create a statutory holiday on September 30 each year, starting this year. This delivers on call to action 80, issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The title of the report, “Honouring the truth, reconciling for the future”, conveys the depth of the tragedy and the need for action.

It may be noted that the Prime Minister, early in his mandate, publicly committed to deliver on all 94 calls to action. Therefore, we need to be grateful that my colleague has brought forward the opportunity to deliver on at least one of them.

I want to read call to action 80. It states:

We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

It is my understanding and my hope that there is now multiple-party support by members in this place for this bill. I noted that my colleague, in speaking to her bill yesterday, reminded us that we are all responsible for becoming actively engaged in reconciliation.

The intent of the bill is therefore twofold: first, to recognize the continuing need for support for healing for survivors of the residential school system in recognition of the continued impacts down through generations, and to recognize it as a cultural genocide; and second, to directly inform and engage Canadians in knowledge of the residential school system and the harm it caused.

I wish to honour the dedication of the commissioners, Justice Murray Sinclair, Chief Wilton Littlechild and Dr. Marie Wilson, in undertaking the momentous process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is important to honour the many residential school survivors and their families who came forward to share their experiences.

The report conveys the principle that reconciliation is a relationship. I would like to share what the report says. It states:

For many Survivors and their families, this commitment is foremost about healing themselves, their communities, and nations, in ways that revitalize individuals as well as Indigenous cultures, languages, spirituality, laws, and governance systems. For governments, building a respectful relationship involves dismantling a centuries-old political and bureaucratic culture in which, all too often, policies and programs are still based on failed notions of assimilation.

My hon. colleague spoke to this when she spoke to this bill previously, and we were very close to the place where the residential school was unfortunately created.

It also states:

Schools must teach history in ways that foster mutual respect, empathy, and engagement. All Canadian children and youth deserve to know Canada’s honest history, including what happened in the residential schools, and to appreciate the rich history and knowledge of Indigenous nations who continue to make such a strong contribution to Canada, including our very name and collective identity as a country. For Canadians from all walks of life, reconciliation offers a new way of living together.

Canada already celebrates our first nations, Métis and Inuit cultures and languages every year on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day, which is during the summer solstice. My understanding is that initially, my colleague proposed that it be that day. However, she has very graciously agreed to change her bill, so we are going to have a day of celebration in June during the solstice, and then we would have a day of recognition and learning at the end of September each year.

I have had the delight of attending many of the events on June 21 in my riding, joining in the round dances and attempting a jig. Who can resist another bannock burger? It is wonderful to see all the schoolchildren joining in those activities.

The day proposed by Bill C-369 would be a more solemn day, however, to learn about the sufferings of those who were torn from their families, forced to travel far from their families and stripped of their language, beliefs and cultures. For far too many, this was for their entire childhood.

As was pointed out by my colleague, it will be necessary that the government commit well in advance of September 20 this year the necessary funds to ensure that the intents are achieved and that there are clear plans for the day. It is absolutely important that this be in direct consultation with the first nation, Métis and Inuit peoples, in particular in the communities where the activities would occur, which I hope will be every community across this country. The intention is to honour the suffering and provide opportunities for teaching.

My colleague has asked that this day also be recognized as a time for reconciliation for those children torn from their language and culture during the sixties scoop and those from the day schools and boarding schools not yet recognized.

I have been inspired by the initiative of many indigenous people to engage us in the process of reconciliation. My dear friends Hunter and Jacquelyn Cardinal, children of my friend Lewis Cardinal, have founded the Edmonton company Naheyawin, which is reaching out through theatre, through the arts and through round tables to teach people about the treaties. It is a very important action that has not been done across this country. It is so important to my province, where we are the land of the historic treaties and there have been constant calls by first nations leaders for recognition of those treaties.

As Jacquelyn has shared, she wants people to move past feelings of guilt from past wrongs and focus on a better future. She wants people to get past the guilt many feel for the past and look forward to making things better. She hopes the round tables will be based on the Cree word tatawaw, which means, “There is room for you. Welcome.”

I am also very grateful that the famous Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival last year featured and honoured indigenous culture and incorporated many ceremonies to honour first nations, Métis and Inuit throughout the festival.

I am very grateful to my colleague, and I wish to thank her.

Petitions February 25th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition from residents from across Ontario. They are saying to this place that despite being victimized many times over in imposed conflict strategies of war, women bear a lot of the impacts and yet they have great potential for providing support in building peace and security.

Canada's feminist international assistance policy recognizes the critical role of grassroots women. Canada's national action plan includes the role of women. Only 5% of international funds right now are dedicated to peace and security or allocated to equality between men and women.

The petitioners therefore call on the Government of Canada to fund and implement its feminist international assistance policy, focusing support on grassroots organizations through diverse, predictable responsive funding mechanisms to allow the long-term role in civil society, in particular of women, and to increase the financial aid to other countries to 0.7% GNI.

Business of Supply February 25th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, what is puzzling me and why it merits an open review not just before the committee but likely an inquiry, is the confusion apparently held by the Liberals that there is no difference between having a discussion with the Minister of Justice and having a discussion with the Attorney General. Very clearly, they are distinct roles.

When the Minister of Justice was proposing changing the criminal law to introduce these DPA provisions to allow for deferred prosecution agreements or when the government was considering a foreign public officials act, ratified 1999, was the time to talk to the justice minister about whether it should specifically exclude consideration to economic matters, which those laws do.

I wonder if my colleague could speak to that matter. We are in a situation here in which a number of parties, including the Prime Minister, the Clerk of the Privy Council and members of the PMO continued to approach the former attorney general to speak about an ongoing prosecution, when a decision had already been made to bring forward a prosecution under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, 1999, which forbids consideration of economic matters. All that has been revealed to us thus far, until they testify, is their concern about the impact on the economy.