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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

Points of Order June 2nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would just add that many times members in this House vote for or against specific legislation, not necessarily because they do or do not support it but perhaps, in some cases, because they feel that a very just cause can be improved by voting for better legislation.

I echo my colleagues who have said that just because members vote a particular way does not mean they deserve personal insults.

I do not agree with many of the things my Bloc Québécois colleagues say or the reason they are here, but every member of this House was elected by a majority of Canadians and therefore has a right to be here.

Every member here, no matter how we feel or how we vote, deserves to be treated with respect and civility, which is the only we can all show respect for this institution.

Canada Post Corporation Act May 28th, 2010

Only young parents? What about old mothers?

Canada Post Corporation Act May 28th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I will speak today to the library book rate, the specific proposal to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act to reduce the rate of postage for library materials.

I congratulate my colleague from Brandon—Souris for bringing this motion forward and, as another colleague mentioned, for his tenacity in continuing to pursue this. I am also pleased to congratulate my colleague on this side of the House, the member for Mississauga—Streetsville, our opposition critic who has also recommended that we in the House support these amendments and therefore support my colleague from Brandon--Souris in his efforts.

I have a personal story that has led me to support this. When I was very young, my family moved to a very small town in rural Ontario. It had a small library but it had been left unattended for quite a few years and had few books and very few materials. My mother, seeing the need, volunteered as the town librarian to provide an opportunity for some adults, although in our case it was mostly children in this small town. The biggest challenge she had was finding books.

As an aside, I congratulate my colleague for adding a variety of other materials to this list because now, in 2010, CDs, tapes and a variety of other materials complete the picture of all of the materials available.

However, when I was a little girl many years ago before CDs and videos, my mother had a great deal of difficulty finding books for the community. There is no question that small town and rural libraries will find that books and all these other materials will be significantly less available and they will be much more reluctant to obtain them if the cost is the way it currently stands. On the positive side, there is no question that so many of these small town and rural libraries will bring in far more materials, books, CDs and videos for so many people in their communities if they are capable of doing so at a reduced cost.

In a country where we all agree that education is important and that opening up horizons, particularly for our children, is critical to the success and the future of this country, particularly in these areas where they would not otherwise have those opportunities, that doing so is tremendously important.

One of our primary jobs as parliamentarians is to ensure that taxpayer money is spent wisely, effectively and transparently. There are concerns about what this might mean in terms of reduced revenue to Canada Post. I am, therefore, pleased to support this on the basis that it will go to committee and that my colleagues at committee will be in a position to review what this may mean in terms of reduced revenue to Canada Post, but it is in that forum that we will have the opportunity to analyze those details and deal with them appropriately at that time.

I would like to congratulate my colleague from Brandon—Souris on his ongoing support for this bill. I know that he has been behind this issue for a long time.

I would also like to congratulate my colleague from Mississauga—Streetsville, who is our opposition critic. She is the one who recommended that members on this side of the House support the member for Brandon—Souris.

I am very familiar with the situation facing rural libraries. When I was little, we lived in a very small town, and my mother became the volunteer librarian. The hardest part of her job was finding books and other materials for the library. She worked with adults as well as lots of kids.

I know that it was a real challenge for her, but she really appreciated getting books and other materials for people in the community. That was really important.

I know that reduced fees for inter-library loans are really important, not only for rural libraries and small towns across Canada, but also for the people who will have a chance to read and look at these books. That is the most important thing.

I want to reiterate that those of us on this side of the House are proud to support the member for Brandon—Souris on this bill. We hope that the committee will discuss it because we have questions about costs and outcomes in terms of reducing Canada Post's revenue. This bill is a very good idea. We will support this bill, and we hope that it will pass.

Parkinson's Disease April 23rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, April is national Parkinson's Awareness Month and this week is Parkinson's Awareness Week.

Since Parkinson's Awareness Week first began in 1984, it has given us all the opportunity to learn more and help others learn more about this devastating neurological disease that affects some 100,000 Canadians.

This week highlights the importance of research into the causes and treatments of Parkinson's. At the forefront of advocating for this is Parkinson Society Canada, which this year is celebrating 45 years of supporting and serving Canadians and their families affected by this disease.

Parkinson Society Canada is urging all Canadians to take part in fundraising events being held in communities across the country this week, events that will raise money and awareness for the causes, symptoms, treatments and needs of people with Parkinson's and their loved ones.

We cannot give up our search for a cure.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns April 19th, 2010

With regard to all government advertising from April 1, 2009 to December 9, 2009, including, but not limited to, television commercials, radio ads, magazine ads, newspaper ads, billboards, train wraps and other advertising venues, to promote Canada’s Economic Action plan or www.actionplan.gc.ca: (a) what companies were used to produce each commercial/ad; (b) what media outlets were used to air/publish each commercial/ad; (c) what criteria was used to select the commercial/ad placements; (d) how much did it cost to produce and air/publish each commercial/ad; (e) how often are the commercials/ads aired/published; (f) how much commercial broadcast time, air time, newspaper space and other communication venue available was ordered per outlet; and (g) how much was spent per outlet?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns April 19th, 2010

With regard to Access to Information Requests: (a) how many were made to each department during each fiscal year from 2004 to 2008; (b) how many were made to each department from April 1, 2009 to December 9, 2009; (c) how many were responded to by each department during each fiscal year from 2004 to 2008; and (d) how many were responded to by each department from April 1, 2009 to December 9, 2009?

National Volunteer Week April 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, this week is Canada's National Volunteer Week and I wish to underline the importance of volunteers to our country.

The work of volunteers often goes unnoticed, but some of our most valued institutions run on volunteer work. Thousands of volunteers work every weekend without pay to ensure that things like hockey and soccer happen for our kids. Without volunteers, many children simply would not have access to community sports and activities.

Consider the Olympic Games: while our athletes proudly represented us in competition and in the media, it was the thousands of volunteers working behind the scenes who made this major sporting event possible. The Olympic Games could not have happened without them.

Volunteers work in more than just sports. They work in hospitals from coast to coast to coast, in schools, in political parties and in grassroots clubs.

This week gives us an opportunity to highlight the invaluable contributions these people make to their communities.

Volunteers make our communities—

Canada-Columbia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act April 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the point is things are not perfect. I will point out that President Uribe in fact respected the democratic requirements to not run for another term, but that is not the point.

The point is we engage in trade with all sorts of countries that do not have perfect electoral situations. Women do not have the right to vote in a number of countries with which we promote trade. Do I object to that? No. I support engaging in trade as much as possible because of the firm belief that the more we engage in trade, the more we can highlight the fact that we expect to see democratic reforms and improvements to human rights. Rather than hiding behind walls, rather than pretending they are not there and simply not engaging, by engaging and supporting our trading partners, we are also helping them to improve the democratic process and human rights.

Canada-Columbia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act April 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question. Some progress has been made, but the situation is not perfect. That is why we are taking part in this debate. We want to improve the human rights situation in Colombia. Is it better to go on criticizing or to offer our support, to show them that we have seen some progress and we want to help them continue in that direction?

I am not the only one saying this. The American President, Mr. Obama, congratulated President Uribe for the progress made in terms of human rights in Colombia and the in fight against the murders of trade unionists in that country. He noted that there had been appreciably fewer deaths related to the labour movement and increased prosecution of individuals who commit egregious human rights violations.

Some progress has been made. Are we going to encourage Colombia or continue criticizing?

Canada-Columbia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act April 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I first want to say that I understand completely the efforts on the part of members of the other opposition parties in expressing the concern regarding human rights. I indeed applaud them for ensuring that this is such a significant part of the debate.

I want to stress that we as Liberals share all of those same concerns. This is one of the ironies of this debate, and I would suggest that this is true for most members of the House in its entirety, that we are all very concerned about human rights, that we all want to see significant improvement in human rights for all Colombians.

I suggest that the differences lie not in our collective desire to see improvement and our collective concern for human rights but our views on how to accomplish that, and in this case in particular for Colombians. It comes down to a difference of approach, whether we support the approach of using walls as opposed to windows, of avoiding versus engaging, and engaging in criticism as opposed to providing support.

I completely agree with the members of the opposition parties about human right in Colombia. We know that respect for human rights is a problem in that country. The Liberal Party wants to see change, and I believe the same can be said for most members in the House, no matter which party they belong to.

We know that there are problems and of course we want to find solutions for Colombians with respect to the human rights situation, but the question is how. How can we really help Colombia? Is it better to use walls or windows? Is it better to criticize or to provide support when that country takes action to improve the situation? Is it better to deny there are problems or engage in fixing them?

I want to speak a bit about those three different approaches.

If we talk about walls versus windows, is it better for the people of Colombia to have Canadians says that this is a problem, that we disagree with it, that we see human rights as a big problem so we will not participate? Is it better to tell Colombia to put up its walls so we will not see what goes on behind them? Is it better to say that windows are a better approach so we can see through them, so they will shed daylight on what goes on, so they can be opened and allow in fresh air?

These are serious issues. These analogies may seem somewhat simplistic, but they do make the point, in my view, of whether it is better to raise walls and hide behind them and pretend that we do not see what goes on, or whether it is better for Colombia to have an opportunity to open those windows to allow the light in, to allow us to participate in a dialogue.

Is it better to criticize, or is it better to support Colombia? We could say no to this free trade agreement thereby limiting our economic engagement with Colombia. We could say from that perspective that we do not agree with what happens there, that it should be changed, but it is all just criticism.

The alternative is for Canadians to provide support, and the only way for us to support Colombia is to engage with Colombia. It is absolutely a difference between a philosophy of trade and an opportunity to engage, as opposed to some people unfortunately viewing trade as somehow encouraging behaviour that we do not support.

I stand here on not only a very personal basis, but on behalf of the Liberal Party as well. We feel very strongly that trade gives us the opportunity to participate and support the government of Colombia, the businesses in Colombia, the Colombian people when they engage in activities that further human rights as opposed to us standing back and criticizing. I would venture that it is all too easy for us to sit back and criticize rather than get involved, do the work and provide support when it is needed.

The other option is avoidance versus engagement. We could just avoid the problem, or we could engage.

As one of my colleagues said a little while ago, if we do not sign this free trade agreement with Colombia, we could all go home and pretend that the problem never existed. However, what on earth would Canada and Canadians be able to do to further human rights and enhance them if this agreement goes off the table? If anybody in the House believes that Canadians and Canada will have any further influence, that there will even be any attention paid to the challenges faced by Colombians, then he or she is naive, with all due respect. It will simply not be part of the discussion any longer.

On the contrary, if we engage, if we sign this free trade agreement, if we involve Canadian businesses with Colombian businesses, if we involve Canadians with Colombians, then it would give us the opportunity to work on a regular basis with the Colombian government, Colombian businesses, Colombian non-profit organizations, Colombian labour movements and the Colombian people to move the whole issue of human rights further. It would give us the opportunity to enhance economic activity, which we believe is fundamental to improving human rights, and to continue, rather than avoiding, rather than having it disappear from anybody's radar screen.

Thanks very much to my colleague from Kings—Hants, we now have an amendment to the agreement that would force an additional level of engagement specifically on some of these issues.

I have full respect and admiration for all of my colleagues who have engaged in this conversation, because this is an issue about which we are all concerned. It is a difference of approach.

I will therefore be supporting this bill, specifically because in our view those concerns warrant a much greater level of engagement than simply saying that we are not interested any more.

The Liberal Party truly believes that fuller economic engagement will allow Canada to exert its influence over Colombia in terms of the human rights situation we are currently debating.

Since the election of President Uribe in 2002, Colombia has made progress in reducing violence and human rights violations despite an armed conflict fuelled by the drug trade.

This progress is largely due to close collaboration with international organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Progress has already been made because international organizations have become involved and people are participating in commercial enterprises.

I will stop there because I want to answer my colleagues' questions. We have to decide if we want to build walls or windows; if we want to criticize and deny the problems or become engaged.

In order to truly improve the human rights situation in Colombia, I choose engagement. I will be voting in favour of Bill C-2.