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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word is indigenous.

NDP MP for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski (Manitoba)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 46% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Preclearance Act, 2016 March 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to agree on his initial point that the House is not the place to discuss by-elections, but I will say that it is perhaps an indication that the Liberals are considering the NDP candidate a threat in that election. We have certainly taken note.

Back to the topic at hand, what is clear, as has been pointed out, is that we are living in an unprecedented time. We are very concerned about what is happening day in and day out at the border. New Democrats are certainly in support of more fluid movement, but given what has been happening, and given the potential for Canadians' human rights and the right to privacy to not be protected, it is simply not something we can support. We are concerned that the government seems to be deflecting from this point or changing the channel. We believe that this is far too serious a point to ignore, and that is why we stand in opposition to Bill C-23.

Preclearance Act, 2016 March 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in my speech, we certainly know from a number of human rights advocates, representatives of the Muslim community in Canada, and transgender activists that what is in Bill C-23 leaves a tremendous gap and puts at risk respect for human rights, the Charter of Rights, and Canadians' privacy rights as they pertain to procedures conducted by U.S. border officials.

We are living in an unprecedented time. I was blown away by the fact that a Montreal resident, a Canadian citizen, born and raised in Canada, Ms. Manpreet Kooner, was turned away at the border after six hours of being investigated. This is not the time to conduct ourselves as though nothing has changed. Clearly, the government has not caught on to that. This is the time to ensure that what we are doing is protecting Canadians' human rights, protecting their right to privacy, and standing up for the charter.

Preclearance Act, 2016 March 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand in the House to speak in opposition to Bill C-23, a bill that we in the NDP have been clear that we oppose for a number of very key issues.

Before I begin, I want to reflect on the fact that my colleague from the Liberal Party spent an inordinate amount of time talking about what our friend, who is running for the NDP in the Vanier byelection, said. Emilie Taman is a legal expert who has worked in the area of human rights, whose passion is human rights. She has reflected the true analysis of the bill. The assertions made by my colleague to dispute her comments are false.

I would expect better from a member of the government. Instead of defending his party's positions, he is choosing to attack somebody running in a by-election. That seems beneath the role of somebody who is in government, in the context of serious legislation like this, and really speaks to the fact that the Liberals are playing cynical politics with legislation that we know will have an impact on people's human rights, on their privacy, legislation that certainly does away with potential safeguards that need to be in place.

We support allowing for greater fluidity of movement across the border, but this bill is not about that.

Just in the House today, we were talking about the latest executive order put forward by President Donald Trump and its implications on Canadians and obviously all those affected. Our leader, Tom Mulcair, rose in the House to talk about the latest incident of a Canadian, Manpreet Kooner, a resident of Montreal, born and raised in Canada, who was turned away at the border after six hours of investigation. She is a Canadian citizen.

This is the impact of Trump's America. This is what is happening at our borders right now. This is a major issue of concern for us. I do not know why the Prime Minister did not reflect that concern and denounce, as he should, the position of President Donald Trump. However, this is the reality of today. This is what is happening at our borders today.

Bill C-23 would only exacerbate the kind of disrespect of people's human rights and privacy rights. Instead of protecting Canadians, the Liberal government is trying to change the channel, deflecting to by-elections and not listening to the major concerns many have raised with respect to the legislation.

Why are we as New Democrats opposed to the bill?

First, it would allow for increased powers for U.S. officers on Canadian soil, provisions regarding carrying firearms, strip searches, detention, and interrogation.

A second reason is the lack of provisions protecting the rights and freedoms of transgender people during strip searches.

Another reason is the invasion of privacy on Canadian soil, the search of travellers' electronic devices and access to the digital universe, as it is known.

Another reason we are opposed is because of the additional difficulties for Canadian refugees and permanent residents going through pre-clearance on U.S. soil.

Finally is the ambiguity surrounding compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its extraterritorial application.

These are critical reasons. We are talking about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a document of which the Prime Minister has indicated on numerous occasions he is very proud. This legislation allows searches and actions by U.S. border agents that could very well go against what is protected in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. People are beginning to see through the rhetoric put forward by the government because the actions do not match what is being said.

A number of well-respected individuals who know a great deal about the issue at hand have also shared their concerns and opposition to Bill C-23.

Peter Edelmann, a lawyer and member of the national immigration section of the Canadian Bar Association, said that he was concerned about the application of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He asked how we could be assured that the U.S. CBP pre-clearance officers would be subjected to the charter as the bill did not specify their stature as agents of the state.

Howard Greenberg, an immigration lawyer who has chaired the immigration committee of the Canadian Bar Association and the International Bar Association, was speaking to the power of U.S. officers to detain and question travellers on their reasons for wanting to withdraw from the pre-clearance area. He indicated that at some point it may change from a situation where travellers were simply responding to a question to a situation where they were failing to respond to a direction of an officer. The ambiguity is somewhat dangerous for the traveller.

With respect to the fact that there was a lack of provisions protecting the rights and freedoms of transgender Canadians during potential strip searches, Brielle Beardy-Linklater, a transgendered human rights activist who I have the honour of knowing, indicated that travelling as a transgender person was already complicated. Any additional measures that could bring humiliation might simply stop members of the community from going on vacations or a business trip

Craig Forcese, professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, indicated:

Put simply, in Hape, the Supreme Court concluded that the Charter typically does not follow the flag – that is, that it does not generally attach to the extraterritorial conduct of Canadian government actors. The Court did, however, raise caveats to that conclusion. Consent of the foreign state to the application of the law is an obvious exception. But so too is what the Court called “some other basis under international law”...The difficulty in deciding what those other bases are stems from the Supreme Court’s rather unpersuasive approach to prescriptive and enforcement jurisdiction in international law.

Alex Neve, secretary general, Amnesty International Canada, a renowned organization when it comes to human rights, was speaking to biometric screening at the border. He indicated:

....we certainly have signalled the very real potential that there are serious human rights violations that can ensue if, for instance, those new technologies aren't used responsibly. That's number one. Number two, they do not have effective safeguards in place, so it often comes down to questions of safeguards and review and oversight, and we know, for the large part, that Canada's national security framework is lacking on that front.

We also heard from members of the Muslim community, a community that has been targeted repeatedly over the last number of years, certainly the targeting of which we have seen grow as a result of the politics of hate and racism that the policies of Donald Trump have been encouraging. We must take very seriously the concerns put forward by the Muslim community, particularly as it pertains to the potential for racial profiling and targeting of Muslim Canadians and Muslim travellers.

Safiah Chowdhury, a representative of the Islamic Society of North America, indicated:

Many of us have been arbitrarily questioned for no reason whatsoever, but simply because we are Muslim. We always build in extra time to go to the airport because of the extra screening we expect to go through. Right now when I travel through, say, Pearson, if I am questioned in a way I don't like or I think infringes upon my rights or I think is trying to put me in a position that makes me answer questions that typecast me in a certain way, I have the opportunity to leave and go back to my home. However, under these provisions that are being presented, there will not be that opportunity.

Ms. Chowdhury goes on to explain the concerns that many have raised in the Muslim community.

We do not stand here and take this issue lightly. We feel strongly that the human rights and rights to privacy of Canadians must be protected. We feel strongly that Bill C-23 does not do that. We are very concerned. We do not support the government's insistence on making this about other issues, while disregarding the major gaps that are at play here.

In the age in which we live, where Canadians are being turned back at the border, where they are being disrespected and, frankly, mistreated, this is not the time to pass a bill that would further endanger those travelling and that would certainly put them in a situation where they would be increasingly more vulnerable.

This is why I am proud that we are opposed to Bill C-23. We certainly would like to see the government change course.

Preclearance Act, 2016 February 22nd, 2017

Madam Speaker, I am proud of our position in the NDP, which stands in firm opposition to Bill C-23. It is not only a reflection of our party principles, we are also echoing the major concerns Canadians are bringing forward with respect to racial profiling and the profiling of trans Canadians, and everyone who is concerned about privacy rights.

Therefore, my question is not only for the Conservatives but it is for the Liberals as well. Given what is in Bill C-23, how can we, in good conscience, accede such power to the Americans rather than stand up for privacy and Canadian human rights?

Economic Development February 22nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it took a whole year and a half for the Prime Minister to visit the Far North, but northerners are still waiting for action from his government.

This week, northern leaders are meeting to discuss and develop a plan for the future of the Port of Churchill. They want the federal government to step in and nationalize the port, and work with first nations and local partners to take it forward. However, first, we need the government to stand up to the American billionaire who is holding us hostage.

When will the government show leadership, step in, stand up for Canadian jobs, and save the port and the community of Churchill?

Youth February 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, questions are directed to the Minister of Youth and it is simply disrespectful that he refuses to answer any of them. While it is a great idea, the Prime Minister's youth council is not transparent. We do not know who he is meeting with, and we do not know what is going to come of it.

The reality is that young Canadians are facing significant challenges, and they deserve to have access to this process. Young Canadians also deserve accountability.

Will the Prime Minister make this information public, yes or no?

Business of Supply February 9th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question, which is very important. What indeed will it take? That is what we want to know.

The first step is really for the Liberals to acknowledge that they broke the promise they made to Canadians. The consensus excuse is truly unacceptable.

Canadians are angry and frustrated. They believed the Prime Minister’s promise. That is why we have tabled this motion. We are asking the Liberals to recognize that they broke this promise and that they obviously need to change course and respect Canadians’ demands for electoral reform.

Business of Supply February 9th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I also want to acknowledge my colleague's commitment to the issue of electoral reform.

Many of us in the House, despite the party we come from, have expressed real opposition to what the government has been doing on this front. As we in the NDP have indicated, we are committed to democratic reform. Proportional representation is something we heard from thousands of Canadians as a model to be followed, and we are certainly keen to push that vision forward.

Obviously here today we want the Liberals to take ownership of breaking the promise they made to Canadians, and we certainly hope they will see the light and their wrong ways and change course as we go forward.

Business of Supply February 9th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I realize that members across the aisle are speaking from the same playbook on this. I can only imagine how difficult a debate like this would be for them.

The fact of the matter is that the Prime Minister repeatedly indicated, and I quote, “Mr. Speaker, I have said many times that 2015 will be the last election held under first past the post”.

The Liberals' slogan in the last election was “Real Change”. Breaking this promise, a fundamental promise, on electoral reform is the opposite of real change. People expected bold leadership from the Prime Minister. They expected him to stand up for his promises. What we are discussing here is a fundamental broken promise. The Liberals should apologize.

Business of Supply February 9th, 2017

Madam Speaker, my colleague, the member for Salaberry—Suroît, spoke very powerfully to the motion we are discussing here today. This is an NDP motion that we are all very proud of, which is receiving tremendous support across the country. It is certainly a position that is receiving tremendous support across the country. I just want to repeat it for the sake of those who are tuned in or are tuning in.

The motion we put forward today states:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government misled Canadians on its platform and Throne Speech commitment “that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system”, and that the House call on the government to apologize to Canadians for breaking its promise.

I have heard the consternation from Liberals across, questioning why we are using such strong language, like “misleading”. It is because that is exactly what the Liberals have done. Let us go back into recent history to get a sense of that.

On June 16, 2015, the Prime Minister promised that the 2015 election would be the last federal election conducted under the first past the post system, and that he would present a bill in the House of Commons within 18 months of his election.

On December 4, 2015, the Prime Minister repeated this commitment in his throne speech where he said:

To make sure that every vote counts, the Government will undertake consultations on electoral reform, and will take action to ensure that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.

On December 17, 2015, in an interview, the Prime Minister said:

It would be easier to do nothing and sit back and just say, 'Okay, you know what, this worked for us, I think we can make this current system work for a few more mandates' ... But that's not the kind of leadership that Canadians expected.

That was the story on February 4, 2016, March 11, 2016, May 11, 2016, October 19, 2016, November 6, 2016, December 1, 2, 5, and 7, 2016, and January 10, 2017, but on January 12 is when the story starts to change. The new Minister of Democratic Institutions twice refused to repeat the Prime Minister's election promise on electoral reform, and avoided the question by saying that she was committed to getting briefed on the file.

What we have seen transpire over the last three weeks is a full, complete turnaround for all of these other statements, and in fact a very clear statement from the government that it is willing to break its promise to Canadians on electoral reform. The Liberals are willing to go that far, and they are using all sorts of excuses in the House which outside of this chamber we would call “lame” to describe what has transpired here. I have never heard such pathetic excuses from any government when it comes to a situation where it has so blatantly broken its promise to Canadians.

I read a quote where the Prime Minister himself mocked the notion that the Liberals would possibly pull away from this commitment, because it was so important to them. This is the height of cynicism in politics. It is why so many Canadians are so frustrated and angry about the way in which the government has broken its promise. The excuses that we are hearing from the government are simply not going to cut it, nor is the reference to no consensus and that 45% only wanted this or that.

We are talking about a government that was elected by 39% of Canadians. It was fine for that percentage to be recognized as a legitimate win, and nobody here is saying that it is not a legitimate government, yet when the Liberals are throwing numbers around like this, it is as though they cannot move forward on this, and they fill in the blank and keep referring to a lack of consensus.

The point here is that the Liberals made a commitment to Canadians. Canadians believed them. Many Canadians voted for them, because they feel deeply about this issue. Now the Liberals have turned around, and like many politicians of the past, they have broken their promise.

I want to share a few thoughts about an article that came out today. The title of that article is “Millennials finally fall out of love with [the Prime Minister] after he abandons electoral reform”. Obviously, it is a provocative title. However, once one reads the article, there is a logical argument made that for many young people, electoral reform was identified as an important issue. Democratic reform is something young people feel strongly about. It is a system whereby their voices, their issues, are respected and heard in real terms. It is something they feel very strongly about, and they attached these values to a Prime Minister who spoke to many young people and who ultimately made a very clear commitment to young Canadians, and all Canadians, that if he were to be elected, he would make a difference.

Young people, for generations, have had promises to them by governments broken. Once again we are seeing that happen, but this time by a Prime Minister who truly claims to care about young people and the issues that matter to them.

There is a long list of things the Prime Minister alluded to that are not being acted on: the creation of good jobs for young people, and I have spoken many times in this House about the rise of precarious work for the millennial generation; the promise to do things differently when it came to pipelines, and obviously we know that young people are extremely concerned about climate change; and the need to respect the rights of indigenous people.

We know the rhetoric that was thrown around on the commitment by the government to legalize marijuana that was used to get votes from young people. Now we are seeing a very different tone from the government on that issue.

Last week the gallery was full of young people who were here in the hope that the government would live up to the tweet the Prime Minister sent in response to Donald Trump's racist immigration ban. Yet even there they did not see the government act on the kinds of values they and many of us as young Canadians hold so dear.

We are seeing a pattern whereby the government is pulling away from things it promised and issues it said it would stand up for young people on. However, nothing has been more blatant than this particular broken promise, this very obvious walking back from a commitment it made, repeatedly made, in black letters on white paper. I have mentioned the dates. We have all been in the House when the Prime Minister has said it. We heard it from his minister.

I want to acknowledge the thousands of Canadians who engaged in the consultation process the NDP held and those who came to the parliamentary committee meetings across the country. These are people who took time out of their lives, away from their families, and travelled to different communities. They took that time because they felt strongly about this issue. They believed that the current government, as it promised, was actually willing to make a difference.

Not only are we asking the government to apologize, the New Democrats are joining with many Canadians to say that what the government has done is unacceptable. Broken promises are unacceptable. A broken promise on electoral reform, something that is so fundamental to building a healthy democracy that truly represents us, is unacceptable.

Canadians deserve better, young Canadians deserve better, than a Prime Minister and a government that is willing to mislead us, as we have seen here today.