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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was income.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Beaches—East York (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 31% of the vote.

Statements in the House

April 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, in my question to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development with respect to child care the other day, she responded saying that parents had choices and that the government prefers to give parents choices. I want to point out that if there are no spaces, there are no choices.

The previous Liberal government had $5 billion invested over five years. This would have expanded to $10 billion to have a long-term investment in early education and child care. This is what it is about. It is about early education and child care. This was a long-term investment in partnership with the provinces. It was an agreement with all the provinces across Canada to deliver early education and child care to children.

The first act of the government when it came to power was to eliminate the $5 billion, thereby eliminating spaces and giving parents essentially no choices. The waiting lists for the last couple of years have gone up tremendously and the spaces are much too expensive. Parents are having to pay $1,200 to $2,000 a month. It is far too expensive. That does not give parents a choice of any kind.

The Conservatives talk about providing millions of dollars in child care, offering a paltry $250 million, which is then divided among 10 provinces and three territories. Under the $5 billion Liberal government plan, $254 million went to Ontario alone for that first year before the government cut it. Once that was cut, the Government of Ontario had to make that money last. Therefore, it divided it up to $63.5 million a year for a number of years. The last of that federal funding dried up this year. The last of the small amount that they had divided dried up.

In the meantime, the Government of Canada has put no real money into child care. It has made no real investment. The $1,200 it calls universal child care is not a child care program at all. Up until this year, it was only benefiting wealthy families and not low-income families. This year, it is putting a little bit more into low-income families, making it look as if it is increasing. Essentially though, no matter which way we look at it, we are looking at $50 to $100 a month, in fact we are looking at $1,200 a year. This amount does not even begin to pay for one day, never mind a whole month of child care.

It does not build spaces for child care, provide teachers or pay for all the costs that go into the infrastructure as well. Fees are rising for parents all across the country. There are waiting lists in Toronto that are very long, including in my own riding of Beaches—East York. With this $63.5 million lost, there would have been 2,000 child care spaces at risk.

In any case, the province of Ontario picked that up, but that does not change the fact that the Government of Canada has a responsibility to partner with the provinces to deliver a national early learning and child care program, which the government has not done. It is a win-win. It creates jobs and helps parents re-enter the workforce. It gives every child the best start. It leads to a highly skilled labour force. The return on investment is huge. The government is pitting parents against parents and politics over policy in its short-term self-interest. That is not acceptable.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act April 1st, 2010

On what issue?

Italian-Canadian Recognition and Restitution Act March 30th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in favour of the bill. I want to thank my colleague for putting forward the bill.

I do not want to go into too much detail, as my hon. colleague and others who have spoken in favour of the bill have gone into great depth as to the impact on the individuals and the community at the time.

I myself became involved with this particular issue when I was the president of the National Congress of Italian Canadians. In fact, I lobbied and held this file for quite some time, trying to get it approved by the government at the time and by the Conservative government as well.

Many things have been said about what happened. We all know that these were innocent people who were interned, put into military camps, called prisoners of war. Imagine that. The whole community at that time was also fingerprinted, which I think is important, and declared enemy aliens. In other words, in essence they were called enemies of the state. Imagine being a child growing up in that environment, in that community, at that time and how difficult that was.

Many of the people were not only interned, but sometimes after about a year or so, depending on how long, they would come out and be sent to the front to fight in the Canadian military. They would go off to the front lines with a uniform for Canada. So they were good enough to go and get killed serving the country, but at the same time they were not good enough to maintain their freedom, which is rather strange.

Nonetheless, that also happened. It is another element of what went on at the time.

The most important thing is that these were Canadian citizens, all of them. They were never charged with anything. Some them were born here.

The Conservatives have apologized to the Japanese Canadians a decade ago and the Chinese Canadians with respect to the head tax more recently, and then they have worked out arrangements with the Ukrainian Canadians and so on, but not for the Italian Canadian community.

Here they have a problem, and later I will identify what their problem is. It seems the Italian Canadians only deserve an apology in a ballroom somewhere, and maybe that was a mistake because they are not prepared to repeat it in the House of Commons.

That is the apology part, and I think it is high time it happened for that community, given all that has happened.

However in terms of the other aspect, which is the financial settlement issue, the community representatives from the Italian community negotiated on November 12, 2005, with the Government of Canada. The agreement was a settlement of $12.5 million at the time to be administered by a foundation of the community represented by the National Congress of Italian Canadians and other organizations, which I will mention in a moment.

However the government did not think that was good enough. It gave the Ukrainian community a fund and it could administer its own funds, but not the Italians. Italian Canadians somehow are just not good enough or at least are not capable. Therefore the government then set up, according to the minister, what it called a community historical recognition program, which is to be administered by a committee of three, chosen by the government with no consultation with the community at all.

Think of the insult. The Ukrainian community and other communities can administer their own funds, but not the Italian Canadians. No, that is not possible.

I am going read excerpts from a letter from the National Congress of Italian Canadians. It is important to put this on the record.

The National Congress of Italian Canadians (NCIC) deplores the manner in which the minister of immigration, citizenship and multiculturalism...has chosen to bypass the legitimate community organizations who have been negotiating with the Government in good faith to arrive at a fair and equitable resolution on the issue of redress for the internment of Italian Canadians during World War II.

It goes on to say:

That agreement, reached within the parameters of the ACE program, provided a settlement in the sum of $12.5 million to be administered by the community through the NCIC Foundation. This would be in keeping with the administrative process, which has been put in place for the Ukrainian-Canadian community. Unfortunately, the current Canadian Government unilaterally breached the Agreement without notice nor consultation and introduced a new program which is totally unacceptable to our community.

This program clearly indicates the lack of trust by the current minister towards the Italian-Canadian community and its legitimate representatives. Is there any other reason why the Ukrainian Canadian community can be trusted to administer its own program funds while a government administration, with the advice of an appointed committee, is required for the Italian Canadians? The establishment of an advisory committee made up of people who do not represent the community and who cannot pretend to give advice on behalf of our community is an insult. We question the motives of the minister and find his approach to this very sensitive issue repugnant, divisive and insulting.

That is the reaction of the Italian Canadian community leadership with respect to the government's actions thus far on this issue.

I should say that in addition to the National Congress of Italian Canadians, which is an umbrella organization of Italian Canadian organizations across Canada, Casa d'Italia was also involved in supporting this and was a witness at committee. Order Sons of Italy of Canada, the Italian-Canadian Community Foundation, and all of the regional chapters of the National Congress of Italian Canadians right across Canada were the community that was totally bypassed by this government.

However the insult does not stop there. There was no consultation on the so-called committee that the government set up in the community to advise on the use of these funds. At committee, when I asked the minister who he asked, who he consulted to get these people appointed, there was no real answer because obviously no one was consulted.

I will tell members who they are, however. One of them is the president of the Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel riding for the Conservative Party, so I see why he was appointed. Another one works in the Italian Canadian community but has never been involved with this issue, and I believe he is a Conservative as well. Again I see why he was appointed, but the kicker, the real insult, is the third person. This is where it comes right down to where it really is. I do not even know how to say it.

One of our colleagues read to the minister what this man has written with respect to the issue of internment. This is what this gentleman, this third appointee, has written:

We have watched with concern the campaign of Canadian redress. Its leaders are guided by simplified versions of events, drawing on selective evidence, ignoring contrary views and glossing over the fascist history of the Italian communities.

This is what the third gentleman wrote, and when the minister was asked if that was his position, he said,“Well, I think as much as possible we should take the politics out of redress...”.

Excuse me, politics out of redress? They appoint a man who actually believes this was a fair thing, this should have happened? This is what he is saying. Does that mean that is what the minister believes? I have to ask the government. I do not know. The minister never gave me an answer at committee.

Is this what the government truly believes? Is that why this man is on that committee? This guy is Mr. Perin. Is that why he is on the committee? I know what the guy might have written, but why does the government choose him? It totally ignored the elected people from the Canadian community right across this country and arbitrarily appointed three people, one of whom in fact believes maybe there was some truth or some reason why these people were interned, and this is a way to justify, without evidence of course. None of them was every charged or convicted of anything, but one never knows. Therefore, there is no apology, no funds, no respect, and the final insult is maybe we have this committee.

I would ask this House to make it right. I have to ask the House, because it is not going to be done by the government, to make it right, to support this bill and put this behind us once and for all, and to show respect to a community that has done a great deal to build this country.

Petitions March 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is in support of a universal declaration of animal welfare. As there is scientific consensus and public acknowledgement that animals can feel pain and can suffer, all efforts should be made to prevent animal cruelty and reduce animal suffering. This is with the transportation of animals. They are petitioning the Government of Canada to support the universal declaration on animal welfare.

Petitions March 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions. The first one concerns the government's cuts to the organization KAIROS. The petitioners are very upset and state that they, the undersigned Church of Religious Community members, express their grave concern with this decision and ask that the Government of Canada reverse the decision, restore KAIROS' long-standing relationship with CIDA and reinstate its funding.

Child Care March 24th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government does not help parents. These $50 a month are not good for anything when there are no daycare spaces. People already have to wait several years to get a space.

When will the Conservatives give all children a space in daycare and pre-school education?

Child Care March 24th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, child care spaces will close in Ontario this year because the Conservative government cancelled the previous early learning and child care agreements with the provinces.

In Toronto alone, over 2,000 spaces are at risk. The last of the federal funding has dried up. Now at the eleventh hour, the Ontario government has to pick up the tab for the government's negligence.

Investing in our children provides them with the best possible start and the return on investment is huge. When will the government invest in the spaces necessary for early childhood development?

Business of Supply March 23rd, 2010

First, Mr. Speaker, the spectre of people dying is not a spectre. It is true and very much a fact.

Second, the government only changed its version when it said, of course, it will be considering contraception if the G8 wants to go there. There is no such thing as “if the G8 wants to go there”. Canada should take a leadership role and not go in and say, “if the G8 wants to go there”. We know that the G8 is already there. It is Canada that has changed its position, not the G8, and the hon. member knows that very well.

Business of Supply March 23rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I believe we all support reaching the 0.7% of GDP target that we had committed to some time ago. As a matter of fact, the Liberals doubled aid to 0.8% of GDP, and the Conservative government has just frozen the money, meaning that in the next couple of years the money will actually be cut. We were doubling aid money every year to get there, but the current budget freezes it. That is a reversal of policy, which will in fact result in a cut in the future. Therefore, we are not going to get there, not for a while.

Business of Supply March 23rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member conveniently forgets that it was President Bush of the United States, not the current one, who has actually reversed the situation, who declared that money for families could not go to family planning at all, period. In fact, it only went to faith-based organizations that did not provide contraception or any of those services. He actually denied it.

Around the world, women in fact were affected. Other countries had to move into the breach and that is exactly what the government is doing. It is doing the exact same thing as the previous administration of the United States did. Otherwise, why put this particular caveat on this program? Why deny these women the right to birth control, which would save their lives? It is exactly the same ideology and practice. The government is following the same practice as the previous administration.