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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was children.

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

Helen Lu June 4th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I stand to honour the mother of charities Helen Lu, better known in Toronto as “Mama Lu”.

Nothing gave Helen Lu greater pleasure and pride than helping those in need. Charity was Mama Lu's passion. She was one of the founders of Toronto's Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care and its community wellness foundation. Her trademark was her running shoes. She wore them almost every day as she did not want to miss one minute in her service to others.

For Mama Lu, there were always more opportunities to serve, be it seniors of Yee Hong, the Heart & Stroke Foundation, the United Way, or victims of flood and famine. For her 30 years of selfless service to others, Mama Lu was recognized with the Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism in Ontario, in 1998, and Yee Hong Centre named a room after her.

We will miss Mama Lu, but her spirit and her legacy will live on through those who dedicate themselves to volunteering and serving others.

Petitions June 4th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from Canadians all across Canada who are urging the federal government to instruct the Parks Canada Agency, which is responsible for the operation of the Rideau Canal and the Trent-Severn Waterway, not to reduce the hours of operation or shorten the season of operation and to return service to 2011 levels.

The petitioners call upon the government to provide Parks Canada with the necessary funding for both the Rideau Canal and the Trent-Severn Waterway to return to 2011 operating hours and length of season, so that Canadians and visitors can safely enjoy these waterways.

Petitions June 4th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present, and the first is from petitioners from the city of Toronto.

As summer is upon us and a lot of people are on their bikes and walking on the street, the petitioners are concerned about street safety.

The petitioners want to see the federal government make sure that heavy trucks and trailers have side guards installed, which is good for the environment and saves lives of cyclists and pedestrians. They note that Jenna Morrison's life might have been saved had the truck had a side guard.

Before any more senseless death occurs, the petitioners urge the federal government to introduce legislated regulations under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to require aerodynamic side guards for trucks and trailers.

Petitions June 3rd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from folks in Toronto. Petitioners are asking the Government of Canada to introduce a regulation under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act requiring aerodynamic side guards for trucks and trailers to prevent cyclists and pedestrians from being pulled under the wheels of these vehicles. They note that side guards on trucks have been a legal requirement in the U.K. and the European Union for many years, and there has been a significant drop in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in these countries. They point out it is in fact a key recommendation by the Chief Coroner for Ontario in his study on how to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe.

Petitions June 3rd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions. One is from Canadians from coast to coast to coast asking the Government of Canada to not reduce the hours of operation of the Rideau Canal and the Trent-Severn Waterway. They note that they are both national historic sites and represent a significant part of our Canadian heritage, are renowned all over the world for their natural beauty and as engineering marvels and are a vital part of the economies in their respective regions.

Infrastructure June 3rd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, municipal leaders gathered in Vancouver this weekend to tackle the $171-billion infrastructure deficit. They wondered why Conservatives ignored the FCM's call for dedicated public transit funding and voted down the NDP's national transit strategy.

Now the Ontario government is asking for a meeting to partner with the federal government to break traffic gridlock. Will the minister meet with Canada's largest province, or does he plan to ignore it also?

Fair Rail Freight Service Act May 23rd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, that is a perfect question.

Yes, that would have been the time to set all the legislation in place. It would also have been the time to make sure that there was VIA Rail legislation, which we still do not have. As a result, passenger rail service is declining at a time when other countries around the world are increasing their passenger rail services.

Remember, more than 70% of all goods in Canada are shipped by rail. If we do not have good rail service, we do not have good export capabilities.

Fair Rail Freight Service Act May 23rd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, to have a successful export policy, and for Canada to have a good reputation around the world as being a country that knows how to export, we have to deliver products on time. We cannot say that we will send a number of containers of logs or tonnes of grain, but then have the containers not show up on time. Therefore, it is critically important for our export market to have a good transportation system.

Unfortunately, a fundamental weakness with Bill C-52 is with the outline of the arbitration process, which could not only be too expensive for some shippers, but the option of arbitration is only available when contract negotiations fail and not in the case of violations to existing service level agreements.

For example, if CN promised a certain performance standard through the service agreement and violated that service agreement, that should automatically trigger arbitration. However, in this case, the bill does not say that. The bill says that one can only go into the arbitration process when the contract negotiation fails, which could take a long time, could be very costly and it is not exactly what the shippers want.

Fair Rail Freight Service Act May 23rd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, after we have been pushing the minister for five years, since I became the transport critic, I have personally been writing letters, bills and working with the Coalition of Rail Shippers. I have met with all of them and they do support it. On February 20 they provided a comprehensive list of recommendations, not just for the NDP but for every member of Parliament in every party. It lists the problem, why it is a problem and then a fix. It was very clear. They took the bill, dissected it and made very clear recommendations. None of what they wanted went into it. They do want some action. However, they certainly want to be listened to.

One aspect of the consultation process is to hear and listen. It makes no sense to consult and then not listen to any of the recommendations. These shippers came to the transport committee and we consulted with them, but none of their recommendations were accepted, which is unfortunate.

Fair Rail Freight Service Act May 23rd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, the shippers have been voicing their discontent since 2007. A talk-it-out-and-wait tactic was employed, starting with the promise of an expert panel review. The freight rail service review started in 2008 and the independent expert panel's final report was tabled in early 2011. There were a lot of pent-up expectations. In the fall of 2011, the Conservatives started a mediation process. It did not yield any results. CN and CP were unwilling to make any meaningful concessions. The mediation process was led by retired Conservative politician, University of Calgary Chancellor Jim Dinning. It failed. Mr. Dinning released a report in June 2012. Then the Minister of Transport promised legislation in the fall.

We gave the government a model piece of legislation using the expert panel's recommendations. Perhaps the CN and CP lobbying effort was too powerful and as a result they were successful. There were dozens of documented visits to government offices. A media campaign undertaken by CN showed its determination to keep the status quo.

It is quite unfortunate that we have such a watered-down bill as a result. There is massive disappointment in the industry. However, they see it as a first step. Hopefully, there will be better legislation in the future when the NDP form the government in 2015.