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NDP MP for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski (Manitoba)
Won her last election, in 2015, with 46% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Youth Employment October 25th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, after a year of the government turning its back on young people, delegates at the CLC youth conference today symbolically turned their backs on the Prime Minister. Young Canadians are growing increasingly frustrated by their precarious future.
Yesterday, I invited the Prime Minister to our national forum on the rise of precarious work in the millennial generation.
Will the government recognize that this trend is a result of policies, many brought in by Liberal governments, that are marginalizing the millennial generation? Will the Prime Minister recognize that young Canadians do not need selfies, but that what they need is economic change?
Millennial Generation October 25th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will be hosting a national forum on the Hill entitled The Precarious Generation: Millennials Fight Back.
We invite all to attend this forum, the first of its kind.
Millenials have something to say about their future. The stories we heard were often very moving and more powerful than what we could have imagined.
The most common words that have come up at our consultations across the country are “hopelessness” and “anxiety”, and common phrases are “I've done everything I needed to do and I still can't make it” or “The deck is stacked against me”.
Young workers represent only 15% of the labour force, but more than 25% of unemployed workers. In fact, 48% of young workers have part-time jobs, and often that is not by choice.
The struggle for justice for our generation is a struggle for all Canadians. It is part of a global struggle against exploitation and marginalization, a struggle for a better social and economic system for us all.
Tomorrow's forum is only the beginning.
Labour October 24th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, with a non-answer like that, the minister and the government may come to figure out that their jobs are precarious too.
Millennials in Canada are facing a precarious future. Today, I would like to invite the Minister of Finance and the minister for youth, the Prime Minister, to a national forum that we are hosting on the rise of precarious work in the millennial generation this Wednesday on Parliament Hill.
Young Canadians expect more from their national leaders when it comes to dealing with the insecurity they face. Therefore, today I ask the Minister of Finance if he will step up and show leadership to fight against the rise in precarious work for young and all Canadians.
Labour October 24th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, last weekend, the Minister of Finance told Canadians that they would have to get used to job churn. He said that a few days after the Bank of Canada downgraded its economic outlook for our country.
Job churn is a reality for many Canadians. They deserve a government that shows leadership, not one that tells them to “get used to it”. That is unacceptable.
Will the minister do something about the increasing prevalence of precarious work for Canadians?
Employment Insurance October 5th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, another promise made, another promise broken. Over 3,000 mothers were denied sickness benefits under the Harper government, but during the election campaign, the Liberals promised they would drop all federal opposition to their class action lawsuit. These women have waited and waited and waited, and had nothing from the government.
Instead of spending millions fighting them in court, when will the government give these women the benefits they deserve?
Temporary Foreign Workers October 3rd, 2016
Mr. Speaker, the temporary foreign worker program is a source of national embarrassment. Today, migrant workers, advocates, and labour brought their calls for status and justice to Ottawa.
The reality is that migrant workers in Canada are exploited. Their rights are abused and they are under constant threat of deportation. We also know that the program puts downward pressure on Canadian wages. This is exploitation by design.
Will the government stop the rhetoric, listen to migrant workers, and end the exploitation?
Business of Supply September 29th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I would like to sincerely thank my colleague for her efforts on this issue and for fighting for human rights day after day.
The issue is why the Liberals are refusing to support this motion. It really is a fundamental issue. We wonder why the federal government is opposing transparency and accountability. Those are the values that the Liberals championed during the election. They bring them up in the House of Commons.
Yes, this debate in the House is about an issue that is very important and very serious. We are proposing that a committee be created to ensure transparency and respect for human rights. We really are wondering why the Liberals are refusing to create this committee. I am certain that Canadians are increasingly wondering about that, given what this government is doing.
Business of Supply September 29th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, it strikes me that the Liberal member, along with many Liberal members, loves to live in the past of the last federal election. If he had continued to read news that has come up based on this exact discussion, he would know that the NDP has been very clear and has called for the suspension of that deal and for looking into exactly how these arms are being used. Obviously we have all been made aware of very disturbing information about the way these arms are being used in the conflict in Yemen.
I appreciate that the Liberals cannot always handle the facts and certainly like to use very positive-sounding rhetoric, but the government is continuing the policies of the previous government when it comes to arms exports. This is something that increasingly Canadians find to be unacceptable. We are asking for real leadership on something as fundamental as transparency.
Business of Supply September 29th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke.
I am honoured to rise in the House to speak to our motion calling for transparency from the current government. This motion is rooted in our deep concern and that of many Canadians when it comes to our country's arms exports.
I would like to thank my colleague, the member of Parliament for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, for her work on this front and her broader work on human rights.
We rise in the House every day to speak about issues of great importance. Before us is literally an issue of life and death and our role as a country on this front. While today's motion focuses on the need to strike a committee calling for greater transparency of our arms exports, we in the NDP are proud to stand up against a regressive warmongering agenda that we see continued by the current government.
First, I will provide some background. As it stands today, Canada is now the second-largest arms dealer in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and China are among the top 10 destinations for Canadian military goods. This is according to the Department of Global Affairs' report from 2015. We are of course aware of the fact that reports over the past year have also indicated that Canadian sales of military-related equipment have increased to countries with poor human rights records.
Saudi Arabia, according to Freedom House, is one of the worst of the worsts when it comes to human rights. We know that Canada agreed to a $15 billion deal for light armoured vehicles between Saudi Arabia and Canada's General Dynamics. This is the largest arms trade deal in Canadian history. We also know that our arms sales to China have soared to $48 million. Reports have also indicated that Canadian-made weaponry has been used in the Saudi Arabian-led war in Yemen, where over 6,000 people have been killed and one of the world's worst humanitarian situations continues to deteriorate.
Cesar Jaramillo from Project Ploughshares told us that Canadians should be worried. He talked about how Canada addressed the UN Security Council and highlighted the importance of protecting civilians in conflict zones. He noted that it is civilians who are most often at risk as a result of arms dealings, in particular with regions engulfed in conflict and notorious for their poor human rights records. Mr. Jaramillo, like many others from the not-for-profit sector and others who are interested in peace, has indicated that Canada's actions simply do not reflect the kind of rhetoric we have heard.
Peggy Mason, who once served as Canada's United Nations ambassador for disarmament, has said “it’s hard to justify Canadian weapons exports to any Mideast country”. She note that “It has been a bedrock principle of Canadian export...policy…that Canadian arms exports would not contravene international law including UN arms embargoes, [and] would not contribute to undermine international peace and security”. Once again, the rhetoric of the current government does not match its actions.
Canadians do not agree with the current government's ramping up of support for arms deals like the ones I have referred to. In fact, polls show that most Canadians disapprove of arms deals with human rights abusers. Now it is true that the deal with Saudi Arabia was signed under the previous government. However, we know that the current government has not changed that approach. So much for the slogan of real change.
As we have seen in the House today, there is no question that the discussion around arms exports involves a very important discussion of jobs. This is a key point because Canadians are facing increasing unemployment. Our unemployment rate has crept up to 7%. Our job growth is essentially flat. Compared to 12 months ago, the economy has added just 77,400 jobs. During this time, 35,700 full-time jobs have been lost. Those 113,000 jobs that have been added are part-time positions. It is clear that the ongoing trend of full-time jobs being replaced by part-time employment is a cause for major concern amongst Canadians.
Now, when we talk about unemployment, I do not have to look past my own home of northern Manitoba to see that grim reality. In addition to the many first nations that experience extremely high rates of unemployment, we know from the experience of this last summer that it has been a difficult time for our region in terms of jobs, with the closure of the port of Churchill, the announcement of the closing of the mill in The Pas, the dismantling of the East Side Road Authority, and the insecurity that surrounds our value-added jobs associated with mining.
The reality of rising unemployment is grim. It is grim where I am. It is increasingly grim across the country. It is particularly grim when you apply a generational lens. My generation, the millennial generation, is facing an increasingly difficult reality when it comes to jobs. In fact, the unemployment rate amongst young workers in Canada is double the national rate, at over 13%. A growing number of young workers are in temporary work. Many are calling this an emerging crisis.
I am proud of our NDP initiative to hear from millennials about the rise of precarious work, the rise of contract work, the rise of temporary work, jobs that have no benefits and no pensions. What I hear time and time again from young people across our country, from Halifax to Vancouver, from Whitehorse to Toronto, is that they want access to good jobs.
Where is the federal government when it comes to the discussion of good jobs? My answer is that I am not really sure. There has been no leadership when it comes to creating a robust, sustainable job creation strategy across our country. Instead, it has been a policy of inaction, misdirection, and, frankly, the threat of future job losses.
In regions like mine, the federal government is sitting by while people in industry after industry lose their jobs. In places like B.C., we saw the federal government approving the Petronas LNG deal, running roughshod over first nations' rights, and failing to invest in the green economy, in sustainable green jobs.
All the while, the government has been looking to ratify the TPP, a trade deal that will further erode good jobs in our country to the tune of at least 35,000 jobs. This is not the sign of a government that is looking out for Canadian workers and their jobs. To say that somehow arms deals and arms exports will save us is simply not the case.
The second point is one of values. The Prime Minister and his government have made it clear that they want to turn a new page when it comes to values. Granted, we had 10 years of a government that practised the worst kind of fear-based politics, a politics of division. Many Canadians sought a positive, progressive vision in the last election. Many believed in the slogan of real change put forward by the government.
Since that election, we have seen the Prime Minister speak of his feminism and the importance of a feminist approach. Sadly, the government's support of such arms deals is neither real change nor a reflection of feminist politics. It is not feminist to sell arms to countries that have appalling human rights records, to states that regularly abuse the rights of women. It is not feminist to sell arms to countries that execute people because they are gay or members of the LGBTQ community. Many women and men across Canada want to see the government live up to the values it espouses.
Ultimately, the government ran on a platform of increased transparency and accountability, and that is exactly what the motion aims to do. In an area as important as manufacturing and the export of arms, this motion is critical. It is about doing what is right. It is about truly standing up for human rights and feminist politics. It is about standing up with a vision for good Canadian jobs. It is about standing up for good Canadian values.
Port of Churchill September 20th, 2016
Mr. Speaker, this has been a tough summer for Canadians in terms of job losses, and northern Manitoba has been one of the regions hardest hit.
Let us go back to 1997 when the Liberals privatized the port and the rail line in our region and sold it to a U.S. billionaire. This summer, that billionaire shocked all of us and shut our port down.
Will the government listen to the northerners, the UCTE, PSAC and so many others and bring the port back under Canadian public control? Will the government stand up for good Canadian jobs and save this vital, strategic Canadian asset?