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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

Budget Implementation Act, 2008 April 3rd, 2008

Mr. Speaker, as this is my first speech in the House of Commons, before I do anything else, I would like to thank the people of Willowdale for electing me and for expressing their confidence in me. Becoming a member of Parliament is a tremendous honour and privilege, and I look forward to doing the best job I can for the people of Willowdale and for all Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Scarborough Centre.

It is fair to say that when the Conservatives came to power two years ago they inherited the strongest fiscal position and the strongest employment growth in the G-7. With all of its inherited surpluses and until recently a strong economy, the government had an opportunity to make smart investments and wise tax cuts that would have strengthened Canada's productivity and competitiveness and better prepared the country for the uncertain times that confront us today.

We Liberals offered some advice. Last fall, the Leader of the Opposition said he favours deeper corporate tax cuts. We need to create a new Canadian advantage now that we can no longer rely on a relatively low dollar and we believe that a competitively low corporate tax rate is just that advantage. Interestingly enough, a few short weeks after the Leader of the Opposition's speech, the Conservatives acted on this Liberal proposal. At least they took our good advice.

Liberals have long been in favour of getting value out of taxpayers' money and shifting resources from areas of lower priority to areas of higher priority. Instead, the Conservatives chose to focus on reduced transfers to some of the most vulnerable in Canadian society, including literacy programs, the court challenges program, and programs to enhance the status of women in this country.

For a succinct analysis of the economic record, let me quote from a recent editorial in the Globe and Mail:

Which party took a country that was drowning in debt and instituted tough, painful savings to lift the federal accounts back into surplus, where they have remained for more than a decade? That would be the Liberals.

And which party, by failing to heed the warning signs of an economic slowdown and by both cutting the GST and spending as if there were no tomorrow, set the country up for a budget...that could, if the Conservatives don't watch their step, tip Canada back into deficit spending? That would be the Conservatives.

At the provincial level, in 2003, the finance minister and his Conservative friends in Ontario ran an election on a balanced budget and then lost. When Dalton McGuinty called in the auditors he was told he had inherited a $5.6 billion deficit, and he had to clean up that mess.

At the federal level, here is a small history quiz. Before the current Prime Minister inherited large Liberal surpluses, who was the last Conservative prime minister to actually balance the books, even in one year? It was not Kim Campbell, Brian Mulroney, Joe Clark, or John Diefenbaker. It was not even R. B. Bennett or Arthur Meighen. No, we have to go back all the way to Sir Robert Borden in 1912 to find a Tory government that balanced the books. This is a pattern of Conservatives who run big, fat deficits until voters call on Liberals to clean up the mess.

True to form we have now seen the largest spending over two budgets in a row. The finance minister has become the biggest spending finance minister in the history of Canada. He has brought us perilously close to deficit spending with no longer any contingency. Canada's government is now 14% bigger after the last two budgets.

What do we want to bequeath to our children and their children? Certainly a low national debt, and we Liberals reduced that debt from a peak of over 70% of GDP in 1994-95 to 35% in 2005-06.

We now have a massive infrastructure deficit: bridges that fall down, potholes, raw sewage dumped into oceans, and inadequate public transit.

For the benefit of both current and future generations we urged the government, rather than pay the full $10 billion allocated to debt paydown, to pay down that debt by $3 billion and to provide an immediate $7 billion injection into the infrastructure needs of the nation. This would have provided a significant down payment to address Canada's infrastructure deficit and would have been a much needed investment in our future. But no, this was good Liberal economic advice that the Conservative government did not heed.

I will stress that the Liberals understand the need to pay down the mortgage on the house. The Liberal government clearly did so when needed, but right now the walls are cracking and the roof is starting to leak. Our wonderful country has incredible potential, but we need investment in infrastructure critical for our future productivity and global competitiveness.

However, here is a separate concern. Including legislative changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in the bill is wrong. It is a blatant Americanization of the process to bury a contentious issue in a bill that, in weighing the alternatives, we otherwise did not find enough to warrant forcing an election on the Canadian people.

This clause has nothing to do with the budget. It should not be in the bill in the first place and should be separated out. These provisions put completely inappropriate discretionary powers into the hands of the minister, a minister and a government already showing ideological biases. We cannot fix the immigration backlog by allowing the minister to cherry-pick some over others. Doing so does not increase the numbers.

We cannot fix the immigration backlog without funds, either. Note that the Quebec government announced $68 million in new funding for immigration. Ontario announced more funding, as did British Columbia. Contrast this to the relatively tiny amount the government has suggested will somehow miraculously do the work that is needed.

If the immigration provisions are not separated out of the bill, then the Liberal members of the Standing Committee on Finance will ensure that these added immigration provisions are subject to the full detailed and high scrutiny for all Canadians so they can fully understand what the government is trying to do with these back door tactics.

Federal-Provincial Relations March 31st, 2008

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance has no credibility. Six Ontario budgets were deficit budgets. The Minister of Finance is the last person we would look to for advice on the provincial economy.

When will the Prime Minister rein in his Minister of Finance?

Federal-Provincial Relations March 31st, 2008

Mr. Speaker, in Ontario, hard-working families are losing their jobs but instead of working with the province, the finance minister continues to criticize Ontario even today. This is the same minister who gave Ontario Walkerton, wanted to jail the homeless and left a $5.5 billion deficit.

When will the finance minister stop damaging Ontario's economy with his petty grudges?