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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

Corrections and Conditional Release Act October 23rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, there will be a fundamental change in the way people who are in an isolated cell are treated. That includes a minimum of four hours out of their cell daily and at least two hours of meaningful human contact with staff, volunteers, visitors or other compatible inmates. There will also be a daily visit by a medical professional.

By contrast, people currently in solitary confinement are only entitled two hours daily out of their cell, with minimal human contact and access to programming. This does not go as far as what the NDP advocates but goes much further than what the Conservatives advocate. The Liberals have made a positive step in the right direction.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act October 23rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand today and speak to Bill C-83 and the impacts of the corrections facilities and our justice system on real people. In particular, my interest is on indigenous people, and how they are treated by the justice system and in our correctional facilities.

We are looking at a bill that will actually do what it promises and what it needs to do, which is eliminate solitary confinement. That was the major goal, and that is what this bill will do. It is also going to hold guilty parties accountable for breaking the law. Each and every Canadian wants to ensure that we have a justice system and a corrections system that are going to hold offenders to task, that they are receiving the proper penalty, and hopefully that they receive rehabilitation services to make them meaningful and active participants in our society.

Ultimately, we want fewer repeat offenders, fewer victims and safer communities. That is why our government is strengthening the federal corrections system, aligning it to the latest evidence and best practices so that inmates are rehabilitated and better prepared to re-enter our society safely.

This bill will eliminate solitary confinement, following recent court decisions and introducing a more effective system that will be called the structured intervention unit system. It will also provide better supports for victims during parole board hearings. It will increase staff and inmate safety with the new body scanner technology. It will also update our approach on critical matters like mental health supports and becoming more sensitive to indigenous offenders' needs.

There is no stronger case to reflect on than the Ashley Smith case, where a young girl was throwing crabapples at a mailman. She ended up in a youth facility, and her experience was then compounded with various acts of aggression and hostility because she felt she was not being treated fairly. Young people who are faced with a situation of hopelessness reach out in any way they can. Ultimately, Ashley hanged herself in a correctional facility operated by the Government of Canada.

It is hard to understand how a young woman would feel so hopeless in a facility that is supposed to be providing rehabilitative services. Ashley Smith's story is one that we should all reflect on. We would reflect on the fact that here was a young girl who was placed in a youth facility for a month in 2003, at the age of 14, after throwing crabapples at the mailman.

I am sorry, but this hardly seems like a reason to end up in confinement, whether it is in a youth facility or not. I have three children. I do not believe any one of them has ever actually thrown a crabapple at a mailman, but I am sure they have done things that might even be worse. The point is that this young girl was thrown into jail, a youth facility, and that experience was compounded. Instead of getting out and rejoining society, she might have had another small infraction, and then it was extended and extended to the point where her life held no hope that she could see, and where she would rather commit suicide than go on living in her condition in solitary confinement. It was a tragic situation and one that this bill is addressing.

We know more can be done, and more needs to be done. We know from the statistics that many of the people in our correctional facilities come from an indigenous heritage. Indigenous people far outnumber those from other communities. We must address the root causes, and that is a much more complicated and longer journey. However, I am proud to say that this is a government that is finally taking steps forward. We have a Prime Minister who has made a commitment to the indigenous people of this country, and to all of us, that this is an issue that we are finally going to address. Progress is being made.

When we go back to look at the bill itself, there is a need to make changes. This is a government that has taken steps forward, and there is no doubt that there are those in our community who will be concerned that some prisoners may be dangerous to the guards, to other inmates and to themselves, and that solitary confinement plays an important role in our correctional facilities. However, they need to understand that this was not the best way to help people. In fact, people in solitary confinement do not receive the supports they need to become stronger and healthier: the mental supports, the health supports and the supports they need to function in a very stressful circumstance.

Therefore, I am very pleased to see that we are eliminating solitary confinement and looking for new alternatives that would keep those offenders from the general population while allowing them to retain access to rehabilitation programs, mental health care and other interventions. Ultimately, effective rehabilitation and safe reintegration are always the best way to protect Canadian communities.

This is an issue that we are looking at federally, but it has also been addressed provincially. I note that in May 2018, Ontario passed Bill 6, the Correctional Services Transformation Act. On May 7, 2018, the province implemented a hard cap on days spent in segregation.

The number of inmates who are in segregation has been dropping, and we are glad to see it. In 2011, there were 700 inmates in solitary confinement, and now that has dropped to 340. I am pleased to say I am a member of a government that is finding a way to eliminate solitary confinement.

While the correctional investigator has looked at the situation and acknowledged that the reduction in the use of solitary confinement is an improvement, he has also raised concerns that this decline may be related to increased violence among inmates. There is more to do, as we know, and we must continue to move with society to make appropriate amendments.

The structured intervention units would replace solitary confinement. Individuals would be separated from the mainstream inmate population, generally for safety reasons, and they would be assigned to a secure intervention unit. This would separate inmates when necessary, while continuing to provide them with rehabilitative programming, mental health care, and other interventions and services that respond to their specific needs.

This bill does several other things, including providing supports to victims. The bill would allow audio recordings of parole hearings. At this point, these are only available to victims who do not attend. The recordings would now be available to any victims, even if they attend, and would be an important record for them to review for the future.

The proposed bill also puts in law the guiding principles to affirm the need for CSC to consider systemic and background factors unique to indigenous offenders. This is an important and positive step for all Canadians, in particular our indigenous members of our society.

Petitions October 18th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, my second petition relates to artifacts. The citizens and residents of Kildonan—St. Paul and other Canadians want to draw the attention of the House of Commons to the fact that the previous Harper government instituted a policy whereby artifacts would be centralized in central Canada, in Gatineau.

This policy is an affront to the Métis people of Manitoba, other historic communities, and those concerned about artifacts in Canada. Therefore, the petitioners are calling on Canada to reverse this bad decision, cancel the plans to centralize the historic artifacts and resources held by Parks Canada in one facility, and commit to maintaining regional facilities for artifact storage and curation, especially in Manitoba.

Petitions October 18th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today. The first is from residents of Kildonan—St. Paul and other Canadians who are concerned that the only two emergency wards serving the residents of North Winnipeg, West St. Paul and East St. Paul are going to be closed imminently by the provincial government.

The aim of the Canada Health Act is to ensure that all eligible residents of Canada have reasonable access to insured health care services. The petitioners are therefore calling on the federal government to urge the provincial government to reverse its decision to close the emergency rooms in North Winnipeg and save lives.

Petitions October 17th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, my second petition is related to Ukrainian nationals who have biometric passports, and allowing visa-free travel to Canada for periods of stays up to 90 days, given Canada's longstanding relationship with Ukraine.

Petitions October 17th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions today. The first one is calling on the government to commit to keeping historic objects in their context, so that they can be readily available to scholars, scientists, and the members of the originating communities; cancel plans to centralize the historic artifacts and resources held by Parks Canada in one facility; and to commit to maintaining regional facilities for artifact storage and curation in Manitoba.

Petitions October 15th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition signed by residents of Kildonan—St. Paul and other Canadians particularly on this day, defender of Ukraine day, a state holiday in Ukraine, first celebrated in 2015 on this date due to the Russian provocation and military intervention in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Canadians make up approximately 18% of my riding where these individuals laid down roots, set up businesses and organizations to make immeasurable contributions to the development of our country.

The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to grant Ukrainian nationals visa-free travel to Canada for periods of 90 days.

Filipino Heritage Month October 1st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to stand to speak to this motion. I would first like to thank the member for Scarborough Centre for bringing forward this important motion, which recognizes a special community that has come here to Canada, through an annual Filipino heritage month. I am extremely proud to have been a seconder to the motion.

The Filipino community is especially significant in Winnipeg and in Manitoba in general. I am very proud of that heritage and the fact that I represent Kildonan—St. Paul, a riding that has over 7,000 very active Filipino members.

Talking a bit about history, Winnipeg has a long tradition and heritage with respect to the Philippines. In the 1950s and 1960s, very few Filipinos came to Canada. It is estimated that there were about 800, most of whom lived in Winnipeg.

By 1968-69, we had a special agreement with the federal government where we looked at enhancing our garment industry, which was second only to Montreal's garment industry. The Filipino community, assisted by the federal government, came to Winnipeg to build this thriving industry sector. At that time, 450 garment workers came.

In 1968, almost all of them were women. They were proud. They were strong. They were highly skilled. They were determined to make a life for themselves and their families, and that is exactly what they did. The community grew. By 1972, another 1,211 garment workers in total had come to Winnipeg. Today, the community exceeds 77,305 active citizens.

Their total population in Canada is approaching a million right now. According to the 2016 census, there were 837,000 Filipinos. It is a strong and vibrant community, as we have heard from others. However, it is also one that understands the importance of democracy and political activism. Liberal democracy has been a vital goal of Filipinos throughout time. We have seen that play out in Canadian politics, in their activities at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.

I am proud to say that Dr. Rey D. Pagtakhan actually lives in my riding of Kildonan—St. Paul. He was the first member of Parliament of Filipino heritage to be elected into this House in 1988. He served until 1997. I wish Dr. Rey well. He is strong, healthy and still politically active.

Fifty years ago, the women came to the garment industry primarily to make a big difference, and that is exactly what they did. When they came, they got a free ticket to Winnipeg and $125 spending money. We can only imagine. I am hoping they also got a parka if they came in November.

It was a tough group of women who came. They earned $1.20 an hour doing piecework, which is not easy work. Did they give up or go back? No. They stayed. They shared a house or accommodations, and they worked together. Now they are a thriving community of professionals, health care workers, administrative workers, tradespeople, entrepreneurs and politicians, and are well integrated throughout Canadian society.

We see many of them involved in schools or at church. On Sundays they are often barbecuing at Kildonan Park. They bring their fishing heritage and traditions, and we see many rods in the Red River. Across many of the 100,000 lakes in Manitoba, we see Filipino families catching fish for the barbecue later on at Kildonan Park. We see them in sports, in culture and in the very fabric of our governance. We are very proud to have such a strong and vibrant community.

This past August, with the member for Winnipeg North, I had the privilege of making a trip to the Philippines. We spent some time in Manila and met with embassy representatives as well as those from the Senate and Congress. We had a tour of the city, met locals and strengthened the ties and relationships between Canada and the Philippines.

I am very proud to have the opportunity to work for my Filipino Canadian voters and population, and I am thrilled to be a member of the Canada-Philippines Interparliamentary Group. It is my honour to be a seconder to this motion to celebrate Filipino heritage, and to support the motion by my colleague from Scarborough Centre.

Indigenous Affairs September 27th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, our government has partnered with the Métis through the Canada-Métis Nation Accord. Through this accord, the Métis nation has identified improved access to the delivery and control of affordable and social housing as a key priority. Would the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations update this House as to progress on this shared priority?

Infrastructure June 20th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, severe weather events are a significant and growing problem across Canada. My province of Manitoba has seen first-hand the devastating effects flooding can have on our communities. These floods have forced residents from homes, businesses to relocate or close, and caused residents to worry annually what the year's flood season may bring.

Could the Prime Minister please update the House on the steps that our government is taking to improve the resiliency of Canadian communities, especially those in Manitoba?