House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was workers.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Kildonan—St. Paul (Manitoba)

Lost her last election, in 2019, with 28% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committees of the House June 17th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 22nd report of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, entitled “Summary of Evidence of Capacity Building on Reserves”.

I take this opportunity to recognize my colleague, Kevin Waugh, a former school trustee, who understands education and carried the passion of that to this study.

However, it is a study that we did not have an opportunity to complete. All members of our committee would encourage the next government and the next INAN committee to consider continuing this important work, which deals with the training and employment of indigenous people on reserve.

Winnipeg General Strike June 17th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, 100 years ago, the Winnipeg General Strike was the largest labour action ever seen, lasting six weeks as thousands walked off the job demanding better working conditions. Thirty thousand civilians left their jobs on May 15, including veterans who six months earlier had fought in World War I. First out were the 500 telephone operators known as the “Hello Girls”.

A courageous young woman named Helen Armstrong played a big role in the movement. She held soup kitchens for strikers and their families, free for women. For her involvement, she was imprisoned three times and called a female Bolshevik. In commemoration, we held a soup kitchen in the Ukrainian Labour Temple to honour the strong women and men who took part in fighting for workers' rights.

It is because of these courageous strikers that the next prime minister, a Liberal, brought in major labour reforms. One hundred years later, I am proud to stand here today to celebrate what they achieved for women and Canadian workers across the nation.

Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement Implementation Act June 11th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, that was an interesting speech. At this time, when there is so much exaggeration, we need to be very careful about how we present the facts. There is an onus on all of us to ensure that what we say has a sense of truth and validity and that we can back it up.

How can the member say that indigenous people have been somehow shortchanged or relegated to the back seat on this agreement? I want to take a minute to quote the Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde. He said:

The provisions addressing Indigenous Peoples in the USMCA make it the most inclusive international trade agreement for Indigenous peoples to date. The protection for Indigenous people's rights in the general exceptions to the agreement will protect inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights as well as increase stability, certainty and integrity to international trade.

I would ask the member to explain why she put perhaps confusing statements on the record, when the truth is that indigenous people are proud of the Liberal government for making a better international agreement.

Committees of the House June 5th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 21st report of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, entitled “Main Estimates 2019-20”.

Petitions June 3rd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions related to indigenous artifacts.

The petitioners ask that we try to retain these artifacts in Winnipeg. Residents from Kildonan—St. Paul and other Canadians call on us to find a home for these artifacts in Winnipeg.

Petitions June 3rd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions today.

The first petition calls on governments to finally complete the building of a water treatment facility for Shoal Lake 40, a community that has waited over 100 years for road access. While Winnipeg enjoys the water and freedom, they are left stranded. Now they are looking for a water treatment plant.

The petitioners, mostly from my riding in Winnipeg, are calling for the water treatment plant to be built.

Committees of the House May 30th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, two reports of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

The first is the 19th report in relation to Bill C-92, an act respecting first nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families. The committee has studied the bill and has decided report the bill back to the House with amendments.

With the introduction of Bill C-92, we mark a historic turning point for first nations, Inuit and Métis children and families. Bill C-92 would finally put in law what indigenous peoples across the country have been asking of governments for decades: that their inherent jurisdiction be affirmed so they can decide what is best for their children, their families and their communities. The amendments that we accepted at committee yesterday would strengthen the bill further. We will continue to listen to our partners on this important legislation.

The second is the 20th report in relation to Bill C-88, an act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendment.

Mennonite Heritage Week May 28th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to recognize and support Motion No. 111 to declare the second week of September as Mennonite heritage week, an overdue recognition of the Mennonite communities and their important contributions to Canada.

Mennonites fled Europe as refugees. They fled persecution. They fled because they had beliefs that others did not. They were persecuted because they were pacifists and they moved from one country to another. In 1566, the Mennonites were scattered over Germany because of the persecution of their culture. The very first group of Mennonites to arrive in Manitoba came from eastern Europe. When I go door to door and meet many Mennonites in my community, they say proudly that they came from Ukraine and can share that history. As we know, many Mennonites came from Russian-occupied Ukraine, where their homes and properties were confiscated.

Mennonites arrived in reserves in 1874. They had a special agreement with the Government of Canada and settled on reserves on the east and west sides of the Red River. In 1923, the federal government opened its doors to Mennonite immigration and communities were eager to find new lives on the Canadian Prairies. Between 1923 and 1929, over 25,000 Mennonites managed to immigrate to Canada.

Through selfless action, the Mennonite community is known for its service to the community. Mennonite families and organizations have worked tirelessly to settle newcomers to Canada and their work deserves to be recognized and appreciated. These are people willing to give of their own time, their own savings and their own dedication. They go out of their way to help other refugees and immigrants settle in Canada.

In fact, the Mennonite community is one of the largest private refugee sponsorship groups in Canada. Today, almost 200,000 Mennonites call Canada their home. Winnipeg has one of the largest urban Mennonite populations in the world, with more than 20,000 Mennonites and 45 Mennonite churches. There are over seven in my riding alone.

Many of my constituents in Kildonan—St Paul's Mennonite community have a dedicated history of supporting and welcoming newcomers, sponsoring hundreds of new Canadian families since the private refugee sponsorship began. Many families are very concerned about the individuals fleeing the United States and looking for a haven in Canada, with tolerance, being open-minded and questioning why anybody would want to block the border at Emerson or look at somehow blocking people from coming to Canada, saying that their history and tradition is one of opening their arms and welcoming people to Manitoba, not blocking them. I find this particularly heartwarming and fitting, given that this year is also the 40th anniversary of the private refugee sponsorship program.

By the end of the Vietnam War, the Mennonite Central Committee negotiated a groundbreaking agreement with Ottawa to match Vietnamese refugees with private sponsors and brought them to Canada as permanent residents. Based on these agreements, the federal government introduced the private refugee sponsorship program, allowing groups of five eligible to sponsor refugees directly. Even now, there are families and organizations asking if Canada would increase the number of refugees and private sponsorships that Canada would take.

From 1979 until 2018, approximately 12,000 people arrived in Canada through MCC Canada's private refugee sponsorship program. That is a program that helped individuals with intense needs, with no cost to government, often providing the supports necessary for those families to be on their feet and proudly paying taxes within months, something we can aspire to and support 100%.

It is only through dedicated partners, such as the Mennonite Central Committee, that our Liberal government was able to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees who were escaping conflict. Many of them live in Kildonan—St. Paul, and many of them are members of the local Mennonite church. They are active members and volunteers, building community hand in hand. As noted by a Winnipeg Free Press article published on the anniversary of the private refugee sponsorship program, “many of the time also came as immigrants to this country and in refugee-like situations.... [We're] absolutely playing it forward.” That is a philosophy we see in Kildonan—St. Paul.

Winnipeg's Mennonites have contributed greatly to Canadian society, helping to build our city and grow our multicultural community. The Mennonite community in Winnipeg built the Mennonite hospital, now known as Concordia Hospital, which is in northeast Winnipeg. It was run, funded, carried and supported by the Mennonite community. Unfortunately, it is now going through drastic changes, and many members of the community are looking to support that facility, as it has been very special to them from the time they created and supported it.

In my hometown of Winnipeg, the Mennonite community has established many well-known, reputable manufacturing companies, such as Price Industries, Loewen Windows and Palliser Furniture. They make a point of providing an opportunity for indigenous people, refugees and women to work. The charity and goodwill of Mennonites, and their ability to help, occurs not only at home with charities but also in the workplace. Some of us may have taken a Triple E motorhome or trailer on a camping trip or have put in excellent Loewen windows or doors, which are perhaps, I would argue, the finest in the world.

I remember listening to a group of these very entrepreneurial business owners from the Morden-Winkler area. They made a commitment to create a job for every single graduate from their local high schools. That became a reality. Instead of watching young people move away from their communities, they built the resources and built the dream. They have probably doubled the population in their cities since they came to me. At that time, I was the provincial minister of industry, and we were looking to support the Mennonite community with its growth strategy. It is about compassion, entrepreneurship and making a difference.

Time-honoured, community-oriented, Mennonite-operated companies like the ones I mentioned have made contributions to small communities and large communities alike. In fact, one of them is part of a brand new industry. It is called Delta 9, and it is growing, very successfully, legalized cannabis in my area. We were very happy to help it out as well.

It is incredibly fitting that the second week of September was chosen to be Mennonite heritage week, as it is the traditional time when the Mennonite Central Committee's relief sales are held every year in Canada and the U.S. It is my hope that during this time, as we celebrate Mennonite heritage in Canada, we will work together in service of our communities and celebrate our diversity.

Natural Resources May 28th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, today I recognize the made in Canada mineral program that has reached global attention as countries around the world have been adopting sustainable practices set forth by the Canadian mineral sector.

The Towards Sustainable Mining 2019 Excellence Awards recognize the work of Canadian companies who advance social, environmental and economic practices. These practices include indigenous relations, health and safety, biodiversity and water management.

I would like to congratulate the winners of the 2019 TSM Excellence Awards. Glencore's Raglan Mine increased local Inuit employment by 110%. IAMGold's solar energy initiative reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 18,500 tonnes annually.

Canadian mineral companies are operating in over 100 countries across the world. Let us all be proud of our innovative practices that Canada's mineral sector has set here at home and around the world.

Winnipeg General Strike May 16th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, 100 years ago, on May 15, 1919, Winnipeg unions declared a general strike.

Reacting to oppressive laws and dangerous working conditions, 30,000 workers rose up to demand basic human rights. Labourers, public servants and even the city police walked off the job. Manitoba's Conservative government declared the strike the work of Bolsheviks and “alien scum”, new immigrants.

Then the federal government sent in the Northwest Mounted Police as strike breakers. On Bloody Saturday, their violent actions caused the death of two workers and ended the strike. Even today we hear the echos of this dangerous thinking, as immigrants are scapegoats and working-class people are marginalized.

Two years later, a Liberal government took power, enacting sweeping reforms to our labour laws.

I, for one, am proud to be part of a government that works to advance the rights of all Canadian citizens.