House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was years.

Last in Parliament March 2014, as NDP MP for Trinity—Spadina (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 27% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions June 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from people who are very concerned about animal rights. They note that animals are sentient beings capable of feeling pain, that they are not property and that stray and wild animals are not sufficiently protected by animal cruelty laws under the property section of the Criminal Code.

Therefore, they are calling on the federal government to recognize animals as beings that can feel pain, to move animal cruelty crimes from the property section of the Criminal Code and to strengthen the language of federal animal cruelty laws in order to close loopholes that allow abusers to escape penalty.

Petitions June 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I have four petitions.

The first one is from people, mostly seniors, who are very concerned about the Conservative government making changes to the old age security program and changing the age of eligibility from 65 years to 67 years. They are calling on the government to reverse that measure.

Transportation Safety June 12th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, three people lost their lives in the VIA crash in Burlington. Yesterday, I asked the Conservatives to stop ignoring the Transportation Safety Board's recommendations and take action to put safety first. I did not get an answer, so today I am giving the Conservatives another chance.

Yesterday, I submitted a motion to the House to immediately mandate that automatic braking systems be installed on all trains. Will the minister support this motion? Yes or no.

Transportation Safety June 11th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, three engineers paid with their lives when VIA derailed in Burlington.

For a decade, the Transportation Safety Board has asked the minister to mandate automatic braking systems and voice recorders for all trains. Derailment after derailment, year after year, the minister failed to act. Today the safety board asked the same thing again.

How many more crashes and how many lost lives will it take for the minister and the Conservative government to act and put safety first?

Ethics June 7th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, obviously keeping Mike Duffy's expenses quiet is a partisan move, and only Conservatives have a $90,000 payout orchestrated out of the Prime Minister's Office.

Since he acted alone, how does the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport know about this secret fund and about this payout?

My question is simple. Is the secret fund in the PMO a trust account?

Ethics June 7th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, only the Conservatives have a secret fund controlled by their chief of staff and only Conservatives—

Chinese Canadians June 7th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, many generations of immigrants have established themselves in Canada by operating restaurants, stores and supermarkets. They provide affordable food and household goods to thousands of families. They hire hundreds of workers and add to the vibrancy and vitality of many neighbourhoods. These small-business owners and workers often work 14 to 18 hours a day, arriving before dawn to pick up fresh produce, toiling in hot kitchens and serving their customers until late at night.

Today, in their busy lives, 25 Chinese business owners and workers are visiting the House of Commons. They wish for better policing support and easier and faster family reunification so that their loved ones can join them in Canada.

Let us work together to make their wishes a reality, and let us celebrate these unsung heroes in our communities and in our House of Commons today.

Main Estimates 2013-14 June 5th, 2013

Very briefly, Mr. Speaker, I can think of lots of things to do with $92 million. I can imagine how many buses that would purchase. I can imagine how many child care spaces we could create each year. I can imagine how many hours of home care support and how many seniors could be served with $92 million. As to the bill that is stuck, I do not understand why we need a Senate. The best way to deal with it, of course, is to stop funding it.

Main Estimates 2013-14 June 5th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, perhaps my friend was not here when the former leader of the New Democrats and I moved a motion to ban partisan fundraising by senators of all parties and to institute a cooling-off period for appointments of party insiders and failed candidates. In fact, I am reading from that motion, which the member did not realize had been debated in the House. We voted on it.

While New Democrats were making reasonable proposals, what did the Conservatives do? Conservatives only made Senate reform suggestions that would never pass. They have been spending time doing nothing all these years, because their goal, ultimately, is to play political games rather than bring greater accountability to the Senate. They claimed to want an elected Senate, then appointed senators in record numbers. They said they wanted to clean up the Senate, then refused to beef up the Senate ethics code. They said that taxpayers should not subsidize political parties, then had taxpayer-funded senators working on fundraising for the party.

I could go on, but we certainly have debated that motion, and we have had many proposals in the House in the past.

Main Estimates 2013-14 June 5th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, this debate tonight is not about a few bad apples in a barrel; it is about the fact that the entire barrel is a pork barrel. The entire barrel is rotten, and it needs to be fixed.

The people of Canada have lost confidence in the Senate, which is neither democratic nor accountable. The people of Canada are looking to this House to show leadership.

This motion seeks to force reform and to get the barrel fixed, which is much more important than just going after a few bad apples. Of course, they are not all bad apples. There is no question that there are some senators who are outstanding citizens and who have contributed a great deal to our country in their careers. There is also no question that there are many individual senators who work hard in the red chamber and who seek to serve the country well. They have done nothing wrong.

However, even if all the senators were in that league and none of their colleagues were a Conservative or a Liberal crony, helping themselves to public funds while doing the bidding of their patrons is unacceptable. Even if they are all working hard, we should still fight to stop funding the Senate and force reform.

This motion is not about those cronies who are abusing their appointed positions. It is about the institution that has become degraded and corrupted by its political masters. The prime ministers, whether they were Liberal or Conservative, have loaded it up with cronies for their own ends. Through patronage appointments and supporting the Senate, they have undermined democracy. The only way we can stop this degradation and abuse of public funds and trust is to cut off the funds.

As hon. members on the Conservative benches and the Liberal benches have pointed out, abolishing the Senate will require constitutional change. However, cleaning up the act in the meantime can be done. That is what this motion is about.

Cutting the funding is something we can do in this House to stop the abuse and force reform. We, the democratically elected members of this House, have an opportunity to force the issue by stopping funding. We have an opportunity to force the issue so that this House can debate, and the country can contemplate, democratic institutions.

We have an opportunity. More than that, all those here who believe in democracy have a responsibility to uphold democratic principles and principles of good governance. This is about democracy. This is about transparency. This is about accountability. This is about good governance.

All members of this House must agree that the Senate is not democratic. It has not been transparent. It is clearly not accountable. That is not the fault of individual senators. The problem is the institution itself, which has become nothing but a creature of the government in power.

The current Prime Minister spent his earlier career in politics railing against this institution of patronage. He spent his career crying out for reform and for a triple E Senate: equal, effective, elected. Remember that, Mr. Speaker? He campaigned on that when leading the Reform Party.

Now is the chance. Where is the Prime Minister on this? The current Prime Minister cried out when former prime ministers Mulroney and Chrétien and Martin loaded the Senate with patronage appointments. He cried out for reform. He cried out and campaigned for reform for years, until he finally got in the position to do something about it. What did he do? He started larding the pork barrel with patronage appointments, blatantly and cynically, so that he could overwhelm the Liberal majority in the Senate.

As a result, excellent legislation for sending affordable drugs to African kids was killed. A bill dealing with climate change was waived out of hand.

While he was larding it up, he claimed, in the most cynical way, that he was making appointments to facilitate Senate reform; this while he was bloating the institution with more senators than ever, all getting public funds, which was a clear abuse of public funds.

Rather than reforming the senate, he has undermined democracy. He did not appoint just cronies and media personalities and celebrities. He appointed failed Conservative candidates, failed candidates for this House. He appointed candidates for Parliament who had been defeated in their own ridings. They had been rejected by voters. They could not get elected. The current Prime Minister, the long-time spokesperson for democratic reform, whose former party was called Reform, made these cynical and undemocratic patronage appointments.

In one of those cynical, undemocratic—in fact, anti-democratic—appointments, he appointed a defeated candidate to cabinet. It was someone who had been rejected by the electorate, someone who could not get elected. That undemocratically appointed senator became a cabinet minister. That was not democratic. That was a slap in the face of democracy. In fact, it was a slap in the face of this House.

With that appointment, the Prime Minister was not just further degrading the Senate; he was further degrading this House of Commons and he was further degrading democracy.

Who has been served by these patronage appointments? It is clearly not the people of Canada, who have no say in the matter. The Conservative Party has been served and the Prime Minister has been served.

The two senators now under scrutiny for abuse of public funds and public trust worked very hard to get their appointments, not for the people of Canada but for the Conservative Party.

What we have here is an institution that is an extension of the Conservative and Liberal parties' election machines. That cannot be fair. That cannot be just.

Why was the $92 million spent on the Senate not shown in the election spending reports? We know for sure that they were fundraising. They were campaigning.

I have no doubt that if the Prime Minister were still in opposition and the bad apples of the day were all Liberals, he would be crying out for reform. He would have been leading the charge with this motion. He would have been looking to stop this waste.

Instead, the Prime Minister has been making the pork barrel even worse. He has even put more pork into the barrel. He has not been accountable. He abandoned his principled pursuit of a Triple-E Senate as soon as he had the chance to mould that Senate to his own ends.

He has forgotten that we were elected to serve the public trust, not to abuse it. He has undermined democracy. It is the responsibility of every democratically elected member of Parliament to stop the abuse, force reform, fix the barrel and stop feeding pork into it. Empty it, get rid of the rot, and vote for this NDP motion to stop funding the Senate.