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  • Her favourite word is young.

NDP MP for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski (Manitoba)

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

Statements in the House

Persons Day October 18th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, today we celebrate Persons Day. Eighty-eight years ago, women were legally defined as persons in Canada. This decision paved the way for some women's participation in public and political life. Indigenous women continued to face racist barriers that prevented them from getting involved in politics publicly. Immigrant and working-class women faced different barriers.

In the fight for equality, nothing has been given to women. What has been achieved is the result of tireless struggle and solidarity. This week, as millions of women took to social media to share their experiences of sexual harassment and sexual assault through #metoo, we are reminded of the inequality we still face.

As we look ahead, there is much to fight for, such as justice for missing and murdered indigenous women, child care, economic justice, and an end to sexual violence. We need men to own up and step up, and we need to move beyond individual acts and work together collectively to push for system change and to achieve the equality and justice we deserve.

Port of Churchill June 15th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, Churchill, Manitoba is facing a crisis. Almost a year ago the port was shut down. Now it is the rail line. The community is suddenly isolated. Businesses are hurting; people are worried. We need immediate federal action. What Churchill is facing is a national disgrace. Our north deserves better.

Will the federal government step in to address the immediate crisis, and finally work to re-nationalize the port and the rail line, and work with northern and indigenous communities to get it working again?

Northern Manitoba June 15th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to share the sense of frustration and abandonment that many face in our region of northern Manitoba, frustration that the federal government is nowhere to be found in these tough times.

Churchill and the Bay Line communities are devastated. The American billionaire that owns the rail line and the port has left people completely stranded. Fishers in Norway House, Wabowden, and Fisher River, as well as many others, are fighting the dismantling of the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation. Workers and families in Thompson and Flin Flon are worried as they receive news of major job losses, including the loss of value-added processing jobs. First nations are not seeing the commitment to increased funding for education, housing, and child welfare or to treaty land entitlement.

Northern Manitoba has given a great deal to Canada. It is time for the federal government to step up, to nationalize the port and rail line, to protect FFMC, to stand up for good jobs, and to live up to its commitment to first nations. We demand that the Prime Minister act. It is time to stand up for our north and our Canada.

Public Safety April 5th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, once again flooding has hit Manitoba. There are many evacuees and most are from first nations, including Peguis First Nation, the largest in Manitoba. This is not the first time that this is happening, and every time it happens, first nations are hit the hardest.

The Prime Minister likes to talk about first nations, but what people in crisis on the ground need is immediate action. Will his government work with Peguis and other first nations to provide the long-term flood mitigation that they need now?

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?