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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was actually.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Willowdale (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Economy March 4th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, last week, with my former and, let me stress, future Brant MP, Lloyd St. Amand, I toured a dozen-plus abandoned or scaled-back businesses in Brantford. These closures represent hundreds of lost jobs. It was sad.

However, one person said, “Not so. We've taken over one of those plants, so it is a wonderful story”.

I congratulate Brant Screen Craft for the expansion of its company, for making use of the emptied Crane facility, and for creating jobs. That part of the story is indeed excellent.

the purpose of the tour, however, was to highlight the still far greater preponderance of losses. Being able to use the Crane facility is good but the fact that Crane had to close and all those jobs were lost is, I repeat, sad.

I have asked the folks at Brant Screen Craft to give credit where it is due. They said that their corporate tax cuts were responsible for their decision to expand and it was in fact the Liberal government that drastically reduced corporate taxes from 29% to 19%. I am glad that our years of Liberal work in making that competitive helped Brant Screen Craft.

Government Spending February 11th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are breaking the law to protect their own law and order agenda. What irony.

They have seen the facts. They have seen the projections for their crime legislation, but they will not let anyone else see them, even though the law says they should. The same thing for corporate tax projections.

Excuse us if we have gone a little past accepting, “Just trust us”.

Why do the Conservatives not just come clean and admit that they cannot afford their own reckless agenda?

Government Spending February 11th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are facing stark choices. It is the government's deep deficits and increasing debt that are forcing those choices.

We care about families. The Conservatives prefer fighter jets.

We prefer to be tough on the causes of crime. The Conservatives prefer to spend billions on U.S.-style megaprisons.

We prefer to see Canadians retire with dignity. The Conservatives prefer to give billions to a mere 5%, the wealthiest, the biggest companies.

What do the Conservatives not get about what Canadian families really need?

Petitions February 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of a large number of residents of Willowdale urging the Minister of Foreign Affairs to intervene on behalf of Canadian permanent resident Saeed Malekpour, a resident of Richmond Hill who is under a death sentence in Iran, and that the government appeal to the government of Iran to provide a fair judicial process.

Many Iranian Canadians in Willowdale and across Canada worry deeply about the safety and rights of friends and loved ones still in Iran.

I am proud to present the petition and to express our collective concerns on their behalf and on behalf of all Canadians worried about human rights and justice in Iran.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act February 3rd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to remind the hon. member that, although the witness did say that it was not in Panama's interest to sign a tax information exchange agreement, what he meant was that the country would rather sign a double taxation convention. Panama has asked Canada twice to sign a tax information agreement. It is not that Panama does not want to sign an agreement but that it wants to sign a more comprehensive one.

I would like to ask the hon. member this: How will this help Canadian farmers, businesses and individuals who are currently able to export more goods to Panama? How would they benefit if the agreement were not signed?

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act February 3rd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I find it a little challenging to have an allegation that somehow we are responsible for deaths in Colombia.

In any event, I am extremely proud of the fact that my Liberal colleague from Kings—Hants worked incredibly diligently with the Colombian and the Conservative governments to add a piece to the Colombia free trade agreement specifically dealing with human rights. We are, as Liberals, extremely proud of that fact.

It is nonsense to suggest that we somehow support the idea of tax havens and money laundering. As I said in my speech earlier, the people engaged in money laundering and looking for tax havens, whether they be in the Caymans, Panama, Switzerland, Liechtenstein or any number of places, are people who break the law. These are people who will not be paying attention to whether there is a free trade agreement in place. We do not support that.

I reiterate that I am very encouraged by the efforts of both the Canadian and Panamanian governments to move forward on an agreement with respect to taxes. Canada stands in a very good place to encourage countries that are moving forward. Panama is working very hard to move forward with the OECD regulations. This is an opportunity for Canada to encourage that kind of behaviour rather than to discourage it.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act February 3rd, 2011

Madam Speaker, Canadian enterprises of a variety of sorts would absolutely stand to benefit. The expansion of the canal is only one aspect. Of course that includes companies like SNC-Lavalin, but also a whole variety of other companies that engage in construction, provide construction materials and provide consulting services. Environmental technology services are in high demand and Canada is highly regarded internationally as a source of that kind of consulting service.

However, I also want to stress that we heard many witnesses at committee from the agricultural and agri-food sectors. Farmers in many regions of the country have been having a very tough time. We also know that many Canadians in the manufacturing sector have been having a very difficult time. There absolutely is benefit in engaging in greater trade with countries like Panama because the more opportunities we have to export products, services, knowledge and ideas, the more the people in Canada who are involved in producing, creating, and participating in those activities benefit. So it absolutely would be a net benefit to Canadian enterprise, Canadian farmers and Canadian jobs.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act February 3rd, 2011

Madam Speaker, first, I must talk about the amendments proposed by my colleague. He is asking that numerous clauses be deleted, yet he said that they are key clauses. Frankly, that is a problem.

He is asking that clause 7 be deleted, but that clause sets out the purpose of the bill. If the description of the purpose of the bill is taken out, I think that poses a bit of a problem. He is also asking that clause 10 be deleted. That clause contains institutional and administrative provisions. Without these kinds of clauses, there would be no bill.

He is also asking that clause 12 be deleted. This clause deals with panels, working groups and other people involved in administering this bill, particularly in terms of labour and the environment. I know that those topics are extremely important to my colleague. In addition, he is asking that clause 63 be deleted, but that contains the coming into force provision. Without these clauses, there is no bill, and frankly, I feel that my colleague is playing games here in the House. We have already discussed these issues in committee.

I will now say that we will not support the amendments, and I would like to take a bit more time to talk about the bill, as currently drafted.

I just briefly explained why we do not support the amendments proposed by my colleague. In effect, they were already proposed and dealt with in committee, and were they to be put into effect they would effectively destroy the bill. As much as I respect my colleague, I find this a bit of an abuse of time in the House of Commons; it really is playing games. I would rather we dealt with the substance of the legislation, the implementation of a free trade agreement with Panama. I am pleased to say that the Liberal Party is in support of this particular bill.

I will provide members with some statistics. In 2008, Panama had one of the highest real GDP growth rates in the Americas, at 10.7%. Despite the global economic downturn, Panama posted positive growth in 2009, at 2.4%, a trend that was expected to continue in 2010. We await confirmation of those numbers.

The expansion of the Panama Canal is currently under way and slated to be completed by 2014, at a projected cost of $5.3 billion. This expansion alone is expected to generate opportunities for Canadian companies in such areas as infrastructure and construction, as well as environmental, heavy engineering and consulting services, capital projects, human capital development and construction materials. Like the free trade agreements between Canada, Chile and Costa Rica, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the free trade agreement proposed with Jordan but not yet ratified for a number of reasons, the Canada-Panama free trade agreement includes side agreements on labour cooperation and the environment.

Panama is indeed a relatively small economy. We would prefer that Canada were able to pursue multilateral trade negotiations through the World Trade Organization. Unfortunately, those negotiations have come to an effective standstill. We do support the efforts to engage in negotiations for bilateral trade agreements, including with Panama.

Although Panama is a relatively small economy, in 2009 we exported $90 million in goods to that country, which maybe is not as much as to some trading partners, but it is fairly significant for those enterprises, the agricultural, agrifood, construction, and a variety of other sectors in that country. The $90 million is a significant amount of business, and this trade deal stands to significantly increase that figure.

Panama is also a stable country that has made significant progress in recent years in development and democracy, which Canada is well placed to continue to encourage. This is a significant aspect of our trade philosophy.

Freer trade encourages a freer flow of information and a freer flow of ideas. Rather than building walls, freer trade opens windows through which light comes through, and opens doors through which Canadians can engage on all sorts of levels with others. If we isolate countries, our capacity to engage on human rights or to discuss issues, such as the one we and others have raised today, the issue of tax havens, we only reduce our ability to engage with and help those countries improve.

Panama has engaged in significant efforts through the OECD to enhance its activities and its reputation internationally. I believe we stand in a very good position to encourage rather than discourage that effort.

We support this bill. Despite concerns about the current lack of a double taxation treaty and a tax information exchange agreement between Canada and Panama, we should support this bill.

I want to emphasize the fact that the Canadian and Panamanian governments have already begun to work on a tax agreement. Panama has asked that we implement an agreement to avoid double taxation, while Canada would prefer an agreement about exchanging tax information. However, the two governments are in talks to set up a tax agreement.

Although there have been some concerns raised about the suggestion that Panama acts as or provides a tax haven and money-laundering opportunities, the Government of Panama and the Government of Canada have worked very hard so far to establish an agreement on the exchange of tax information.

In the first instance, Panama asked Canada to enter into an agreement to eliminate double taxation. Canada responded by asking instead for an agreement on the exchange of information with regard to taxes. Panama came back and said no. It said that it would prefer a double tax treaty. It should be stressed that the traditional OECD model of a tax treaty, which is the one Canada always signs, has a full article dealing with the exchange of tax information.

We support the bill for two reasons. First, it would provide significant improvements to opportunities for Canadian enterprises and therefore encourage Canadian jobs. Second, because Panama does not have a trade agreement right now with the United States, we heard a number of witnesses at committee stress how the United States is worried about Canada signing this deal because of the significant competitive advantage that it will provide to those very Canadian enterprises. I will include agriculture, agri-food and construction. Earlier in my speech, I outlined a number of the areas in which we would stand to benefit.

That significant competitive advantage for Canadian enterprises, given the lack of a similar agreement so far with the Americans, given the pressure on the American government to sign such an agreement and given the fact that the Canadian and Panamanian governments have been working toward a tax agreement of one kind or another that would provide information on the exchange of tax information, has strongly provided the basis for our support of this bill and for the conclusion and ratification of the free trade agreement with Panama.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act February 3rd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I do have a question with regard to taxes. A number of concerns have been raised by a number of colleagues about the tax haven issue, the worry that Panama provides some opportunity for tax havens.

Now, I will be the first to say that these tend to be taken advantage of by the people who do not actually follow the rules, and there is no indication that increased trade would actually allow any increased activity in this regard. However, there has been some effort of the part of the Canadian and Panamanian governments to enter into some form of a tax agreement, whether it be a double tax treaty to avoid double taxation or a tax information exchange agreement.

I wonder if my hon. colleague could speak a bit to where those negotiations stand.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act February 3rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question and the effort of my hon. colleague in dealing with this issue.

I will not speak for the critic in that regard. My preference in this now, because we have reached a stage given the concerns about commerce and air traffic, where we are being held hostage. We have arrived at this point too late.

Having said that, my hope is that over the next little while, and hopefully after a change of government whenever that might happen, there will be a much greater effort to work out a solution with the United States to address these concerns in a much more effective way.